Epping Forest

Should you be in the London area and feel a need for some exercise on Sunday September 14 you might consider heading to Epping Forest for the annual Epping Forest Centenary Walk organised by the the Friends of Epping Forest from Manor Park station to Epping.

The walk starts off across Wanstead Flats

The route was devised in 1978 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Epping Forest Act, 1878, which placed responsibility for the forest in the hands of the City of London, giving them the powers to take on the landowners who were then rapidly putting up fences around their properties. Although the City haven’t always seemed to have the best interests of the forest at heart, and various governments have interfered negatively (most recently during the London 2012 Olympics where they twisted the City’s arm to allow a temporary police building on Wanstead Flats) they managed to roll back some of the encroachment and have preserved pretty well all but the southern tip “for the recreation and enjoyment of the people.”

The advantage of going on the organised walk is that you meet people and there “will be ample stops and pauses when short explanatory talks will be given on the Forest and its management and history in furtherance of the Walk’s objective to promote the appreciation and knowledge of this priceless Open Public Space!” You also won’t get lost, which is rather easy to do on some sections of the walk.

Queen Elizabeth’s Hunting Lodge at Chingford is worth a visit

There are timings given on the site linked above for those unable to walk the full 15 or 16 miles. But if you want to take pictures, it is probably better to walk it on your own, or with a small group of friends or family as I did in 2009, though it has taken me 5 years to put the pictures on the web – at Epping Forest Centenary Walk.

And of course you could split the rather long 16 mile route (and longer when you get lost or wander off to take photographs) into several sections. Something I’d heartily recommend as I was more than shattered by the time we reached Epping station for the journey home. I was calling it Effing Forest by the time we finished.

Pole Hill at Chingford is a little under a mile from the route

It would make two rather nice walks, splitting the route at Chingford. You could even make a short detour to some interesting parts nearby – such as Pole Hill, which has a pole, or rather an obelisk which was erected by an astronomer royal on the Greenwich Meridian so he could line up his telescope from the Royal observatory and make sure it was pointing due north. Some time later they decided to move the meridian a few yards, though I suppose if the telescope was still in the same place it didn’t really matter.

There are many seriously old trees in the forest, but also some open space – forests are not just trees


My London Diary : Buildings of London : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

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