Walks And Walking – Epping Forest Walking Routes
Epping Forest was originally reserved as a royal hunting ground. That’s a hunting ground for royals to hunt, not to actually hunt the royals!
Unless you zig zag around the forest, it is quite a stretch to get more than a 2 hour walk out of the forest unless you follow the The Forest Way which starts in Loughton and heads straight upwards to Hatfield, covering a good 25 miles.
Most are short walks, mostly of about an hour or 2 in duration and are designed for non-specialist strollers rather than for purposeful and experienced ramblers, but well fitting footwear is still called for. A walking pole is useful for beating down the odd bramble, or to assist anyone a bit unsteady, but not essential. If you are heading in to the forest glades then some decent walking gear is recommended as getting tagged by brambles is a distinct possibility.
Queen Elizabeth I used to hunt there, hence the aptly named Queen Elizabeth I Hunting Lodge, which is now a museum dedicated to the forest. However, it’s histroy dates back much further than that with the remains of a Roman settlement at Loughton Camp. On many occasions I have spotted fallow and the smaller muntjac deers in all parts of the forest. Muntjac Deers are related to the dark fallow deer and were introduced by James I in 1612. However, they have since become a pest of the farmers in the area.
Queen Victoria once said “It gives me the greatest satisfaction to dedicate this beautiful forest to the use and enjoyment of my people for all time” as she rode in an open carriage from Connaught Water along Fairmead Bottom to High Beach to the jubilant crowds. At the Epping Forest Conservation Centre, a trail leads you through an ancient landscape of coppiced and pollarded trees, identifiable by their massive crowns.
In local history, it was the opportunity the Forest gave for grazing animals and supplying fuel that gave Loughton the kernel of its economy for perhaps a thousand years.Epping Forest has never been enclosed or cultivated, but it has been managed by man throughout its written history. Since Norman times, it has been a wood pasture which is essentially the maintenance of an area for the twin purposes of providing timber and grazing, and implies a mixture of grassland and treed areas.
Initially, there were far more open grassy areas of the forest but over the last 100 years there has been a great decline in grazing. Coupled with the cessation of pollarding means that the forest has become much more dense, cutting off the light below the trees that enabled the growth of many species, particularly of wild flowers, that the Victorians saw as common, but which are now rare or extinct in our Forest.
Easy Short Walks
Easy walks that are suitable for all of the family, mostly up to 5 miles which should take a leisurely 2 to 3 hours to complete. Epping Forest can be quite muddy so it is advisable to wear a good pair of walking boots or waterproof walking shoes. Facilities can be quite limited in Epping Forest with High Beach being the most central location for refreshments and toilet facilities. For more information about Epping Forest visit their official website here.
Knighton Wood and Lords Bushes Walk
An easy 1 mile walk suitable for all of the family and small children through this small island of Epping Forest, can easily be extended by an extra few miles if required.
Holly Trail Walk
A simple 3 mile classic family circular walk following The Holly Trail, one of the official Epping Forest walking routes, starting in Chingford.
Wanstead Park Walk
A gentle 4 mile circular walk in Wanstead Park, lakes and woodland on well maintained walking routes, tracks and paths.
Family Favourite Walk
An awesome 5 mile circular walk from Chingford taking in all of the best sights of this part of Epping Forest. Following the main walking routes this walk starts at Chingford Plain and takes you to High Beach, Loughton Camp, Kate’s Cellar, Strawberry Hill Ponds, Connaught Water and the Queen Elizabeth Hunting Lodge.
Moderate Longer Walks
These walks are typically between 5 to 10 miles long and can be quite challenging. These types of walks can take between 3 to 5 hours to complete at a good walking pace. Epping Forest has a myriad of pathways so always make sure you have a paper or digital map with you and take refreshments and plenty of liquids with you to keep hydrated. There are plenty of Epping Forest Fallow Deer, Muntjacs and other wildlife to be found on these walking routes so it is always worth keeping as quite as you can to avoid scaring them off before you get to see them!
An easy 6 mile circular walk from Chingford to the famous Epping Forest Bikers Cafe.
High Beach Church Walk
A simple 7 mile circular walk from Chingford to High Beach Church and back via the Centenary Walk, one of Epping Forest’s most well known walking routes.
Oak Trail Walk
A gentle 7 mile circular walk along The Oak Trail, one of the official Epping Forest walking routes, including buffer lands, deer sanctuary and Ambresbury Banks.
High Beach Walk
A good 7 mile circular High Beach walk from Connaught Water in Chingford including a visit to the Queen Elizabeth Hunting Lodge.
A good 7 mile circular walk from High Beach, in the heart of Epping Forest, following The Forest Way walking routes through to Upshire and Copped Hall Gardens.
Chipping Ongar Walk
A good 7 mile circular walk in Chipping Ongar starting at the unique Log Church in Greensted following the Essex Way walking routes and back via the Three Forest Way to Ongar Castle Motte and Baileys.
Kates Cellar Walk
A decent 7 mile circular walk starting and finishing in Chingford, exploring Epping Forest’s Kate’s Cellar at Loughton Camp.
Ambresbury Banks Walk
A solid 8 mile circular walk from High Beach to Ambresbury Banks Fort and then following the main Epping Forest walking routes to Loughton Camp near Loughton.
Essex Way to Epping Walk
A solid 8 mile linear walk along The Essex Way walking routes from Chipping Ongar to the ancient woodlands of Epping Forest.
Deer Sanctuary Walk
A solid 9 mile circular walk starting in Debden following popular walking routes to Abridge, Theydon Bois and then back via the Epping Forest Deer Sanctuary at Birch Hall.
Epping Green Walk
An easy 9 mile linear walk starting in Epping Green following The Forest Way walking routes to the Centenary Way and ending at Chingford Plains.
Waltham Abbey to Epping Walk
An epic 9 mile linear walk from Waltham Cross to Epping Town via Waltham Abbey and Epping Forest following the historic Green Lanes walking routes.
Good Long Walks
These walks are typically over 10 miles where you can really immerse yourself in Epping Forest and try some of the lesser known walking routes and hidden treasures, taking in as many as you can on a day long walk. Always be fully prepared for good long walks and long distance walking routes taking plenty of fluids, refreshments and plenty of plasters just in case!
Copped Hall Walk
A great 10 mile circular walk from Loughton to Copped Hall House, using some of the most popular walking routes in Epping Forest.
A solid 10 mile circular walk from Loughton to Jack’s Hill and Copped Hall House following well known Epping Forest walking routes.
Gifford Wood Walk – Extended
A good 10 mile official Epping Forest walking route from extended from Theydon Bois to the start at Lodge Road to Copped Hall, Upshire and Warlies Park to the new Gifford Wood and back down to Theydon Bois via the Epping Forest Deer Sanctuary.
An easy 11 mile circular walk from Hainault Forest Country Park to Abridge and back folowing popular Essex walking routes.
Queen Boudicca Walk
An epic 12 mile circular walk, and one of my Epping Forest favourite walking routes, from Epping Town to Ambresbury Banks and the Queen Boudicca Obelisk with plenty of sightings of the Epping Forest Fallow Deer at Copped Hall.
Epping Forest District Walk
An easy 14 miles circular walk from Epping Station to Birching Coppice, North Weald Bassett, Hastingwood and back via Thornwood. This is another of my favourite Epping Forest walking routes.
I did a series of short walks in Epping Forest over the Easter weekend in 2012 when it was gloriously sunny and perfect for walking: