Can’t believe I have lived in London all this time and still not explored London’s greatest woodland. But today seemed the perfect day to rectify that – with our pale skin we would sizzle in this sun on the beach and the forest would hopefully provide some shade.
It did involve suffering the Central Line out to Theydon Bois and a 10 minute walk from the tube into Epping Forest without much shade but otherwise it was the perfect choice.
The first thing to know is, Epping Forest is big. Over 8 miles from north to south. So visiting with kids you’ve got to pick a small area and if you possibly can take bikes.
There are 9 main trails through Epping Forest, (you can download trail maps here but would still recommend a proper map as you can’t navigate from them). Most of the trails are a bit long for walks with small children so we did a cut down version of the Oak trail walking up Coppice Row and entering the Forest where the trail has you crossing the road.
We were very soon into the heart of the Forest. Even as an adult the great oaks, beech, hornbeam and silver birch trees loom magnificently tall. As a child they must seem to reach the sky.
And we scarcely saw a soul, which made it even more magical and mysterious. We really could believe we had travelled back to when London was surrounded by its great dark forests. We rejoined the Oak trail above Jacks Hill Cark Park and then followed it around to the Deer Sanctuary.
In the heat we ambled very slowly … inspecting huge bushes of blackberries we said we’d come back for in August. We lost count of the number of the very grand peacock butterflies we saw but despite skirting the length of the deer sanctuary didn’t see a single deer!
It was just too hot and the deers like us made the most of Epping Forest’s shade, staying out of the sun. Another time maybe.
Getting There :
We got the Central Line out to Theydon Bois which takes 40 minutes from Oxford Circus. Its about 10 minutes walk from the tube station.
Alternatively, you can get the Overground out to Chingford which has the advantage you can take bikes on the weekend and outside rush hour. If you wanted to combine with Waltham Abbey get the 255 or 66 bus from Waltham Abbey to Wakes Arms roundabout.
Do let me know how you enjoy it, if you do visit Epping Forest and for more ideas on cool places to visit in London with kids sign up for my newsletter …