Epping Forest Heritage Walk: Hollow Ponds and around
Meet Leytonstone Station, outside Church Lane entrance
Leytonstone Station, Church Lane, E11 1HE
Guided walk from Leytonstone Station linking local heritage buildings, Alfred Hitchcock and Epping Forest’s Hollow Ponds. Discover how public campaigns led to the Forest being saved in 1878 and its 140 years as a City of London open space.
Leytonstone, situated on the ancient road from London to Epping, is a Forest parish whose inhabitants had commoners rights to graze cattle in Epping Forest. Locals fondly remember the Friesian cows that wandered down the High Street and into their front gardens. Today the City of London continues to graze a conservation herd of Longhorn cattle in Epping Forest though not generally in this area. Leytonstone was originally :Leyton-atte-Stone after the Roman mile stone, the stump of which still survives on Hollybush Road beneath an 18th century marker. In 1856, the coming of the railway to Leytonstone made for easy access to Stratford and Central London and the character of the village shifted from rural to suburban.
In 1722, Daniel Defoe passed through Leytonstone remarking on the Green Man pub, after which the Green Man Roundabout is named. Alfred Hitchcock was born and raised in Leytonestone: there are mosaics illustrating several of his films in the Station subway. Other 'celebrities' include Damon Albarn, David Beckham, David Bailey and Sir Derek Jacobi.
Hollow Pond, generally called Hollow Ponds by locals (including Damon Albarn when he came to write 'Hollow Ponds' for his 2014 solo album) was originally created by the extraction of gravel in the 19th century. This left pits in the naturally marshy land: in 1905 the local council recruited the unemployed to expand the lake to create a place of beauty and recreation. Up until 1981 there was a very popular open air bathing pool, the Lido to the north of the Hollow Ponds. Rowing boats are available for hire in the summer months and there are a number of tea huts situated nearby along the Whipps Cross Road.
There are a range of habitats in this area around Hollow Ponds ranging from acid grasslands of Leyton Flats to the woodlands growing around the Ponds and up to Eagle Pond, Snaresbrook. There are some fine ancient oaks in the woodlands and much secondary growth of hawthorn, birch and holly. Waterfowl include Canada Geese, Moorhens, Coots, Mallards and a much loved Egyptian goose. The area is very popular with dog walkers as well as walkers, picnickers and people just looking to relax in a beautiful natural environment.