Epping Forest (Greater London - England)

Wanstead Park - Chestnut Trail

Not 1, but 2 of my friends, specifically told me about Epping Forest. On reading about it, I came to know it is the largest urban forest in London. When there are about 5-6 metro stations through the length of the forest, you can imagine how big is it actually. So, I didn’t want to miss it out. It was autumn when I moved to London and it would have been the best time to visit Epping. But unfortunately, I hadn’t known about it, then. It would have been pointless to visit a forest in winters. By late summer, one fine Sunday, we set off to Epping. 
Reading more about the place, I figured that there are several way-marked routes that allow self-guided walk/trek in this forest. They were also listed in accordance to the length and difficulty. I chose the short ones and there were 7 tracks. 2 trails that impressed me were Holly Trail and Chestnut Trail, as the former has the Queen Elizabeth Hunting Lodge and the latter has the most waterbody. I finally decided on the Chestnut Trail.

From the Wanstead Metro station, a short walk took me to the entrance of Wanstead Park, where the path of Chestnut trail was on a board with a direction pane below it. It was a circular trail of about 5km, so, I went exactly on the opposite direction since that ways, the Temple can be reached sooner. But unfortunately, the Temple would open only by 12 noon and we continued on the trail. Within a short while we were on the banks of Heronry Pond and proceeded to the Northumberland Avenue, much to my dismay. We were walking on an absolutely regular black topped road with houses on the side like any other area in London… I was so pissed to know that I came almost to the opposite end of London from my home, to walk on a road, that looks exactly like my street!!!!

A bit of walk on this and then I was in the banks of Perch Pond. I spotted a Grotto soon after that. A Grotto is an ornamental building that was built to look like ruins in the middle of a lake/pond. This was usually the venue of some spooky dinners and get togethers of the rich merchants of yesteryears. However now, it’s actually in ruins.

Further ahead was the Ornamental Water and it was a very long walk around it. There was no way to cross it in between anywhere. The water wasn’t really fresh, it was murky and there weren’t too many birds. The forest too, in Wanstead Park, was more like a grassland, than a forest (unlike Fryent County Park). I was more towards bored by the time I reached the farther end of this loop of Ornamental Water and I was dragging myself to get back to the starting point. 
Almost at the end of it, I was back at the Temple and it was open. It’s more a like a library or study area where the history of Wanstead Park and the palatial house that was once here. It was never a location of any religious significance. It was called a Temple, because it looks like a GreecoRoman Temple!
The temple itself was built in 1760 as a garden feature. The original palatial house was called the Wanstead House and has been here since Tudor times when Princess Elizabeth I met her sister Mary on 1st August 1553 when Richard Rich owned the place. However the building was built over and over several times. In 1820, this house was pulled down due to financial issues.The final rebuilding of the Wanstead House was in 1735. It was then designed by Jean Rocque. It was a 300-acre plan which can be seen till date in its original papers. It was the first Georgian – Palladian Mansion in England. There are also some statues in display here including an Andromeda, a figure from Greek mythology. Its original location was in front of the Grotto.  

Here’s a tip: If you’re living somewhere close to Epping or atleast within half an hour travel, go ahead and visit the place. It is not worth it to go there if it’s difficult to access or far away for you. Just visit the country park closer home. May be other trails in Epping have a different topography, which I can’t comment on.

To Get There:
As said earlier, the forest is huge and there are 17 metro stations of Central line from Wanstead to Epping in 2 routes that cover Epping Forest!
Here's the map of all way-marked trails - CityofLondon Walking
All trails (incl non-marked) - Walks & Walking
To reach the place we went - Nearest metro: Wanstead
Timings of the The Temple - 12:00 to 17:00 in summers & 10:00 to 15:00 in winters

Dedicated to Venkat

Bhushavali N

An ardent traveler by passion. I am a wanderlust.. Read more about me here.

17 comments:

  1. Even though I have lived in London I never visited Epping Forest. Looks like a great place to visit - and I never realised how huge it was! Will make an effort to get there next time I am down that way!

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  2. Such a shame that you were disappointed with your visit. I've never actually been to Epping Forrest, as you said; I'd only visit if I know people who live there. Still, this looks like a lovely day out, and your photos show it off nicely too.

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  3. I didn't realize there was such a big green space so close to London. It's so sad that you didn't enjoy your time so much there. But I will have to agree, that water looks not so healthy. But London has quite a few parks, so I'm sure you have plenty of others that you did enjoy.

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  4. You seem disappointed with the outing. Not to worry, the best of us will still have a few dismal days 🙂🙂🙂

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  5. Wow, I used to live in London and I had no idea this existed! I loved the Grotto, looks very spooky indeed!

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  6. Wow what an absolutely beautiful and gorgeous place to be able to visit. It looks absolutely amazing and peaceful. Love your beautiful photographs!!! Shell

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  7. I didn't realise this was located so close the hustle and bustle of London. It looks beautiful and serene. :)

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  8. Nice park! You keep posting lovely spots I have never been aware of. I would love to get there on my bike.

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  9. Thanks for writing up this post. It always fees like such a treat to be able to feel as though you are in the middle of the country side wile still being so close to a city. The best of both worlds really.

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  10. I've never heard of this. I have 2 different friends coming there this spring so I will make sure they are aware of this.

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  11. I didn't realize there's a forest in London. I can only imagine London as the lovely city where Kings and Queen exist. This is like the off the beaten track of London.

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  12. London is lucky to have this forest, perfect for family during weekend :)
    You look cute at your photos sitting on the grass!

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  13. This doesn't look like the London I see on TV. It's amazing to see your pictures of walking trails and woodlands. :)

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  14. Exploring nature has always been a great stress reliever. The routes you went through are nice to look at while walking. It must be nice to inhale the refreshing air of nature.

    ❀ Grace ❀

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  15. Walking along green areas like these with just the sounds of silence for company can be so refreshing at times. I would go without expecting any dramatic. That hanging tire swing reminds me of India.

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  16. wow, it seems a lovely place to walk. gives central park a run for its money!! great photos too.

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  17. Such a lovely place to visit, near to the greenery.. NIce..

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