Walks And Walking – Epping Forest Centenary Walk
If you walk in Epping Forest as often as I do then you will know that the Epping Forest Centenary Walk is the most important annual event in our walking diary. If you don’t walk in Epping Forest as much as I do then you are probably asking yourself ‘why?’.
So, to explain: the Epping Forest Centenary Walk celebrates the passing of the Epping Forest Act of 1878 whereby Epping Forest was declared a Public Open Space and, further to this, when Queen Victoria visited Chingford in 1882 she declared Epping Forest become “The People’s Forest”.
I think it is this connection that has endeared so many walkers, and purist of the outdoors, to Epping Forest. And, to their credit, that The City of London Corporation still manage Epping Forest in strict conformity with the original Epping Forest Act. You can see a larger, more up-to-date Epping Forest Centenary Walk map here.
The Centenary Walk starts in Manor Park, East London, so from Manor Park train station walk left up the A117 Forest Drive, walking left down Capel Road at Wanstead Flats. What makes this walk fairly challenging is that it is not way marked, although the City of London have created some fabulous Epping Forest Way Marked Trails that are well worth checking out, so you will need a map or GPS to keep you in the right direction.
Whilst walking along Capel Road there is a natural cut through on the right hand side onto Wanstead Flats but there is no clear path so you will need to keep the road on your left and enjoy the view across the flats on your right hand side until you reach the A114 Centre Road, keeping your direction to Lake House Road before walking in a more northerly direction on a track just behind the houses in Belgrave Road to Bush Wood.
From Bush Wood walk to the top of Leytonstone and the Green Man roundabout following the underpasses to Hollow Pond and then up to Snaresbrook Road. Cross straight over, where Epping Forest becomes more dense at the back of Forest School, all the way up to Woodford New Road following the noise of the A406 North Circular at the Waterworks Roundabout.
Keeping to the underpass you then enter Walthamstow Forest walking northerly to the Epping Forest Public Open Space and then behind the houses at Gascoigne Gardens to cross over Oak Hill by the Court Hotel and then up to the Highams Park Boating Lake to the A1009 Chingford Lane. From the Woodford Golf Course you walk through Hatch Forest, over Whitehall Road walking left and then walk up to Warren’s Pond which is close to Chingford Station if you were to walk left down Rangers Road. This is the 7 mile point and a good place to turn back or keep going!
Chingford is the Gateway to Epping Forest and home of Queen Elizabeth’s Royal Hunting Lodge and the Epping Forest Longhorn Cattle.
If you decided to carry on then…. from behind the Queen Elizabeth’s Royal Hunting Lodge head down to Chingford Plain and curve right into the main entrance to Epping Forest along the wide grassy paths to Connaught Water, an area that has been recently refurbished with a lovely accessible circular walking route for all family members, buggies and wheelchairs.
From Connaught Water it is plain sailing all the way up to The Warren where the Epping Forest Centenary Walk does get easier at this point just running along one clear wide track through Little Monk Wood to Baldwins Hill up through Great Monk Wood and Strawberry Hill Ponds crossing Earl’s Path up to Staple’s Hill and Loughton Camp. It is normally after the steep climb to Loughton Camp that I have a few wobbles and think about heading back down to Loughton Station but I do find that if I push through I have a much more enjoyable and rewarding walk by the end.
Keeping to the Green Ride walk through Furze Ground up to Jack’s Hill and Ambresbury Banks iron age hill fort to Epping Thicks eventually leaving Epping Forest at the Cricket Ground to rejoin the B1393 Epping New Road into the High Road to the end of the Epping Forest Centenary Walk at Bell Common.
To get home, just continue walking along the High Road, turning right down Station Road all the way down to Epping Station. The Epping Forest Centenary Walk is one of the most demanding at 15 miles but also one that encompasses all of Epping Forest and its greatness.