Bestselling author Freya North supports getting out and active at Panshanger Park.

Welwyn Hatfield Times: Author Freya North.Author Freya North. (Image: Supplied by Tarmac / Freya North.)

Earlier this month, Tarmac’s Panshanger Park launched the ‘PanshanGo’ campaign, encouraging people to get outdoors and experience nature to improve their overall wellbeing.

As part of this, visitors to the park are being challenged to complete one to two activities in the park each week, and then share their experiences.

Hertfordshire resident Freya North has discussed what she enjoys doing at Panshanger Park. 

Across her 27-year career as a professional author, Freya has founded and run the Hertford Children’s Book Festival, is a patron of the Society of Women Writers and Journalists, and Pointers In Need, has judged at the Costa Book Awards, and is an ambassador for Bowel Cancer UK.

She now lives on a small farm in rural Hertfordshire, with her family, horses, dogs and sheep.  

Freya’s 15 bestselling novels include her debut Sally (1996), Pillow Talk (2008), The Turning Point (2016) and Little Wing (2022).

Her latest novel, The Unfinished Business of Eadie Browne, is out now and it has had some celebrity endorsements.

Hertfordshire-based actor Simon Pegg, of Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz and the Mission: Impossible movies, posted on Instagram his love of Freya's new book.

And the audio book is narrated by Sherlock star and recent Strictly Come Dancing contestant Amanda Abbington.

When she’s not writing or working on the farm, Freya is a regular visitor to Panshanger Park. 

Commenting on what she – and her dogs – like about the park, Freya said: “Whatever the season there is always something new to notice, whatever the weather the park has its own character. I love how it embraces the seasons – snowdrops into daffs into bluebells.

Welwyn Hatfield Times: Freya North walking her dogs at Panshanger Park.Freya North walking her dogs at Panshanger Park. (Image: Supplied by Tarmac / Freya North.)

Now that one of my dogs has gone completely blind, she feels really confident along the paths, but it also has the open space for my other dog – a Greek rescue – to bound around making friends!

“One of my favourite sights is seasonal and therefore something to look forward to each year – and that’s the graceful and serene longhorn cattle with their calves.

"I also adore the Panshanger Oak – it really sparks my imagination and I often stand still and just gaze at it, trying to grasp all the things that have happened throughout the centuries whilst this mighty tree continues to grow.

Welwyn Hatfield Times: The Panshanger Great OakThe Panshanger Great Oak (Image: Tarmac)

“Whatever the weather, I like to go on Saturdays and Sundays – it really demarcates the weekend from the week as I can enjoy a more leisurely walk – and my dogs now expect it!

"I like to walk and talk and sip great coffee from Planted Coffee Co – plus of course chat to other dog owners about their pooches and bump into friends.”

Reflecting on the benefits of getting outside, active and experiencing nature, on her own mental health and wellbeing, Freya said: “I find that the fresh air with a brisk walk is a proven way to release endorphins – those feel-good hormones.

It’s important to be aware that a change of scene can be really positive – even invigorating. I live on a farm and, especially in winter, the yard chores can be a bit of a drag – but I find that even if I’m clad head to toe in waterproofs, coming to Panshanger for an hour or so always lifts my spirits and energy.

“If needed, I’ll either give myself a break by meeting friends and talking nineteen-to-the-dozen with them, or if I’m on my own I will listen to an intriguing podcast as that’s a great way to spark curiosity and ignite the imagination. Often, though, as I walk my head both clears and yet also fills with ideas.

Welwyn Hatfield Times: Author Freya North in her cycling gear.Author Freya North in her cycling gear. (Image: Supplied by Tarmac / Freya North.)

“Also, I enjoy riding my road-bike outdoors, especially on the hills in East Hertfordshire, as it always gives me that perfect combination of invigoration and achievement.



"If I’m stuck with my writing, going out on my bike provides both the respite and the boost that I need.

"Often, just the rhythm of turning the pedals frees me up so that ideas for plots and characters can flow.”

Discussing the ‘PanshanGo’ campaign, Freya added: “The PanshanGo campaign is an absolutely wonderful initiative to get people out and about – whether with families or friends or just for some empowering me-time.

"It's also a great time of year to discover all those positive glimpses of spring!”

Welwyn Hatfield Times: The Unfinished Business of Eadie Browne by Freya North.The Unfinished Business of Eadie Browne by Freya North. (Image: Alan Davies)

The Unfinished Business of Eadie Browne is a nostalgic and uplifting novel about friendship and finding yourself, set in a small Garden City and in Manchester in the 1980s.

It’s an emotional read that captures the experience of leaving home and tasting independence at university for the first time.

"I’m probably more proud of this novel than any of my others," writes Freya on her website.

"The research was personal, uplifting, nostalgic, and cathartic. It really is my love letter to youth – to a time and a place… Manchester in the late 1980s.

"I spent perhaps the most memorable and formative four years of my life there and my fondness for the city remains undiminished even though these days I hardly recognise – it’s changed so much."