London Day Trip: Hiking in Epping Forest

Home to nearly 9 million people, it’s safe to say London is huge. A couple weekends ago, I learned just how huge when we hopped on the Central Line for an hour and got off on the edge of a straight up forest. Yes, that’s right, a forest in London. We took the Central to Loughton, where it was a quick walk into the woods for a day of hiking in Epping Forest.

After stopping into Sainsbury’s for some more water and a bathroom break (they have them there!), we set off up a couple of lovely streets and into the forest.

This hike was not our most scenic or difficult, but it sure was convenient to be able to take the Tube.

We knew going in that it would be a 3 out of 10 on the walking scale. We used this guide and our beloved OSmaps to find our way around the forest to Epping station, where we’d hop on to get the Tube home.

Epping Forest was declared “The People’s Forest” by Queen Victoria in 1882. We encountered many people (and pups!!) out on the trail, whether they were walking, running, biking or horseback riding.

I imagine the forest would be prettier in a more leafy season, but even in the barren wintertime, it was a treat to get outside and explore.

We had to hustle out to the forest because of the limited daylight on a winter’s day in London. The whole hike had a dusky quality to it. I’m still getting used to the darkness of winters in London.

Me walking Photo

One of the sights we passed was a first set of Banks, the name I am now forgetting. This ancient structure looks more like a hill nowadays, but pretty darn impressive work for first century tools!

A lot of the hike was along well established trails, like the Forest Way. This made for a lovely and easy to follow stroll.

The trail was not without its climbs, which made for lovely views.

And, of course, it’s not an English hike without passing through rolling green fields.

The M-25 is the unofficial border of London. Epping Forest is just on the border of London, so at points on the trail you can hear it, see it or even cross it.

It’s an amazing contrast – suddenly, you’re out of the fields and crossing a motorway. Even the horses cross!

Afte the M-25, we weren’t far from our lunch destination. Our walk provided us two options, The Good Intent Cafe or The Horseshoes Pub. During a cold winter’s walk, the cozy pub option won.

I’m glad it did. The meal I got was basically my dream hiking pub lunch – delicious chicken, chips and a whole bunch of veggies. It was super filling and tasty. Andrew got the burger since they were out of pies that day, and he agreed that our lunch was excellent.

From the pub, we continued on to Epping via a mix of trails, off-trails and roads. We passed another set of banks, this time the Ambresbury Banks. Used as a fort, archeological digs have unearthed tools dating back to 700 BC at the site. Crazy!

From there, it was an easy walk through the woods to Epping, to catch the Tube. It was a great day outside and very easy to get to. Who knows, we may just head back to see it in full bloom!

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