A guided walk to the very edge of London through historic Epping Forest. Step over the Meridian on Pole Hill and leap out of London at Connaught Water: Longhorn cows, ancient oak pollards, twisted hornbeam included. Finishing at The View.
Epping Forest, an ancient royal medieval hunting Forest previously known as the Forest of Essex and Waltham Forest, was saved from development in the 19th century. The campaign, bringing together popular protest, demonstration, parliamentary debate and legal challenges led to the Epping Forest Act of 1878 by which the City of London Corporation became Conservators of the Epping Forest.
This walk will take you from Chingford Station, built in 1873, along roads of late 19th century terraces and villas bordering the Forest and into the ancient woodlands and grassy glades of the Forest itself.
Pole Hill is so called after not one but two obelisks marking the Meridian and has fine views towards Greenwich. It is associated with T.E. Lawrence, 'Lawrence of Arabia', who used to stay on Pole Hill with a friend in a hut known as the Cloisters. We'll ascend Pole Hill, admiring Chingford Golf Course (the Royal Epping Forest Golf Club celebrates 130 years of playing here in 2018) and then descend into Bury Wood.
Connaught Water is named after the Duke of Connaught, Queen Victoria's son who became the first Ranger of Epping Forest, a position currently held by the Duke of Gloucester. Connaught Water was created from an earlier area of water described in 1896 as a 'dismal swamp known as the Forest Pool'. Today it stands on the border of London and Essex and is a popular destination for day trippers and locals enjoying its waterfowl, boardwalk and seating.
Barn Hoppitt, Bury Wood and Butler's Retreat
Barn Hoppitt – a hoppitt is an old local word for an area of pasture – is one of the many SSSI (Sites of Special Scientific Interest) in Epping Forest. It is significant as a rare 'wood pasture' habitat with ancient oak pollards, many at least 500 years old and so older than the nearby Tudor Queen Elizabeth's Hunting Lodge.
We will also visit Bury Wood to see its hornbeam pollards, picturesquely twisted and characterful trees and pass by Butler's Retreat, a former 19th century barn where refreshments have been served to Epping Forest visitors since 1871.