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Take a walk on the wild side in Bishop’s Stortford’s parks

PUBLISHED: 16:00 24 July 2016 | UPDATED: 14:48 26 July 2016

Southern Country Park

Southern Country Park

Archant

With improved access to the wetland, grassland and woods of Bishop’s Stortford’s parks, there’s never been a better time to visit, says Countryside Management Service projects officer Ellie Beach

Bee orchid (Bob Clift)Bee orchid (Bob Clift)

The south-west corner of Bishop’s Stortford has new things on offer this summer for nature lovers. Two new walking routes have been developed by the Countryside Management Service on behalf of East Herts Council and volunteers have been busy installing hundreds of waymarker posts and information discs to mark the routes as well as interpretation panels in the five parks in the area.

Leisure & wildlife

The Parks and Beyond circular walks aim to get people exploring and learning more about the green spaces in this area of east Herts. Southern Country Park, an award-winning Green Flag Park, has something for everyone. Visitors can enjoy a gentle stroll around the park or if you’re feeling more adventurous, why not have a go at orienteering? There is also a large grassy area ideal for kite flying and ball games. Dogs are welcome in most parts of the park as long as they are kept under control. You can even test your pet’s skills on the dog agility course.

For a close up view of wetland wildlife, a trip across the boardwalk gives visitors the chance to get up close to the fascinating birds, insects and invetebrates that live in the reedbed and lake. You might catch a glimpse of an elusive water rail or be lucky enough to watch reed and sedge warblers – summer migrants all the way from Africa – building their nests. Look out for dragonflies and damselflies hunting above the water during the summer months, while between June and August, the chalk banks here are ablaze with wildflowers and alive with bees, hoverflies and butterflies. You can even cast a line – Fishing can be undertaken from the designated platforms on the main lake.

Volunteers planting a hedge (Bob Clift)Volunteers planting a hedge (Bob Clift)

Help conservation

If you want to get active and have a positive impact, then practical conservation work could be for you. The Friends of Southern Country Park carry out monthly sessions to help manage this lovely site. Practical conservation tasks carried out have included woodland management works, tree planting, hedge laying, fence repairs, step installation and improvements to local Rights of Way.

Beyond the country park

From Southern Country Park visitors can reach Northern Parkland, Thorley Wedge, Bishop’s Park and The Firs on foot, by bike or on horseback. The waymarked (green and orange) traffic-free routes follow tarmac paths, grassy footpaths and bridleways that link together the five parks. The walks go past residential areas and through a range of habitats including woodland, grassland and wetland.

Marbled white (Bob Clift)Marbled white (Bob Clift)

A new leaflet with a map of the circular routes has been created to help people explore the area and each site has its own interpretation panel with information about its history and what you might see on a visit.

Southern Country Park hosts its annual Get Park Active day on July 26. From midday-3pm there will be many family activities as well as a dog show (entries welcome). Visit eastherts.gov.uk/bishopsstortfordparks for more information and to download the leaflet.

CMS works with communities in Herts to help them care for and enjoy the environment. For more information visithertslink.org/cms or call 01992 588433.

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