The Epping Forest Gateway is the area in Chingford also known as The View, next to the Queen Elizabeth’s Royal Hunting Lodge, Royal Forest pub and Butler’s Retreat cafe, at the top of Rangers Road. There is plenty of free parking or you can walk up from the Chingford railway and bus stations to the Queen Elizabeth’s Hunting Lodge which takes about 10 minutes. There is a small car park opposite the Hunting Lodge at Barn Hoppitt and larger car parks at nearby Bury Road and Connaught Water.
The Queen Elizabeth’s Royal Hunting Lodge is a lovely building, built for Henry VIII in 1543, and was used as a grandstand to view the Royal hunts and as a platform to shoot the Epping Forest fallow deer by crossbow from the higher floors. You can have a good look round these days and there is a full programme of activity as well as a visitors centre with a good pub next door or a more upmarket cafe in Butler’s Retreat to the other side.
As part of the green arrow way marked trails in Epping Forest scheme it is now the gateway to two really enjoyable and very family friendly Epping Forest Walks; The Holly Trail and the Willow Trail. You can find the map of how to get to each walk on the side of the Visitor Information Centre, or if they’re open then just ask.
The Holly Trail is a classic family walk in Epping Forest starting in Bury Road Car Park Chingford walking along well maintained tracks and bridleways. It’s about 2.65 miles which took me an hour to complete. You can find the full walking route here.
The Willow Trail covers a similar distance and includes a thoroughly enjoyable walk around Connaught Water. It’s an ascinating walk (you’ll get the joke if you read the walking route description) and was one of the first of the green arrow way marked trails in Epping Forest. I did the Willow Trail walk last weekend and they’ve corrected the maps and finished all the refurbishments of the pathways so now it’s much better than when I wrote the original walking route description, which you can find here.