The country park at Panshanger was in the estate of Panshanger House, of which little now remains but the ruins of the stables and the orangerie (below). It was landscaped by both Repton and ‘Capability’ Brown. The vast and venerable Panshanger Oak stands near the site of the house. The valley bottom was used for gravel and sand extraction by Tarmac until 2014 and then turned over for public use – 1,000 acres of nature reserve, lakes, woodland, grassland with the Mimram running through on its way to Hertingfordbury and its confluence with the Lea.
The path is now open all the way from Poplars Green to Thieves Lane on the outskirts of Hertford. Long horn cattle seasonally graze parts of the park to maintain wildflower growth.
Tarmac has pretty much vacated the site but there are relics of its presence, not only the pits that are now home to wildlife but also tracks and river crossings.
The Mimram flows broad and shallow over gravel through Panshanger, feeding the lakes that host swans and dabchicks and grass snakes, and provide winter residence for tufted ducks, teal, and pochards amongst others
It takes some finding but there’s another water pump in the park, situated below the site of the mansion.
The park is well used by walkers, picnickers and joggers. A gate overlooking the valley near the Hertford end accommodates tokens of affection and betrothal.