HERITAGE - 19: Walk Deeper Into The Woods

Off the beaten track, through dense woodland...

Close-up of one of the trees that's fallen victim to old age and the elements, almost as if carved
Close-up of one of the trees that's fallen victim to old age and the elements, almost as if carved | Source
Whoever 'VP' was, has left their initials in perpetuity on this sawn tree trunk (near the unmade road that leads from Avey Lane to a lower car park)
Whoever 'VP' was, has left their initials in perpetuity on this sawn tree trunk (near the unmade road that leads from Avey Lane to a lower car park) | Source
Starting point, the pond that lies at the heart of grazing land near the A104, where in summer you'd see longhorn cattle graze peacefully
Starting point, the pond that lies at the heart of grazing land near the A104, where in summer you'd see longhorn cattle graze peacefully | Source

On an indifferent mid-March day I headed up to Epping Forest again to take more pictures. The weather improved marginally as I neared High Beech near the King's Oak (see 'A Walk In The Woods'). A stiff walk through the woods downhill as far as the golf course, across the hill and back up parallel with Wellington Hill brings me back to High Beech. After a chat with friends, tea and sausage roll I set off again for Brad's snack bar near the Robin Hood roundabout on the A104 Epping road.

As I had my camera with me, I set out along the old road away from the well used road. I took off away from broken-up tarmac, across squelchy grass and chocolate gateau-like mud to the pond at the edge of the grazing land where later in the year a small herd of longhorns chomps on lush green grass and weeds. After taking a few shots around the pond I headed back parallel to the road and the busy A104. The undergrowth is more interesting at this time of year, small trees shooting up between the older, established giants, bushes growing out of felled trees and nature's recycling plant hard at work. .

Follow me as I push on between nature's sculptures and tall trees in their prime...

The area, part of Epping Forest near Loughton

On the map, close in on Avey Lane (middle left), follow it down rightwards almost to the crossroads where the Robin Hood public house stands on the eastern side of the roundabout. There's the snack bar at the end of an unmade road, follow the road down, past the car park on your right. Look left and you'll see the pond (pictured above). The path to there can be a bit like chocolate gateau at times, and squelchy. Bear with it and look around, then follow through the woods back northward - parallel with the road you can see through the trees - and that's the route I took in a round-about fashion. You can't get lost. Keep the road to your right and you'll come up near the roundabout. Turn left and through the trees to the back of the snackbar and its small car park. Brad or the girls can provide hot or cold drinks, hot or cold snacks (like bacon and/or sausages in rolls or sandwiches, cheese or ham rolls - see what's on the board).

Enjoy!

Twisted and gnarled roots, decaying trunks...

You could turn this one upside down and it would still make sense - looking along a fallen tree trunk from the severed branch end
You could turn this one upside down and it would still make sense - looking along a fallen tree trunk from the severed branch end | Source
Let's get down to the root of the matter
Let's get down to the root of the matter | Source
Nature's scultpure, like towers of wood that reach to the light
Nature's scultpure, like towers of wood that reach to the light | Source

Avoiding tangled roots I passed through this woodland, dodging overhanging boughs and holly bushes, ducking and swerving, taking pictures. I might be 68 soon, but I had the time of my life here. The weather had improved noticeably, to allow the sun through dissipating clouds as I progressed through gaps in the fence made for walkers, to stride along below the level of the main road. A few more opportunities offered themselves before I headed back within the wooden fence and up over the low hill towards Brad's snack bar for a well earned tea. However...

Shapes from a Grimm fairy tale...

Close-up, near enough to see the smaller wildlife (except they've all scarpered)
Close-up, near enough to see the smaller wildlife (except they've all scarpered) | Source
One of the bivouacs set up like a tent frame -  you'll  find many of these all around here, and in Wanstead Park (see 'A Walk In The Park')
One of the bivouacs set up like a tent frame - you'll find many of these all around here, and in Wanstead Park (see 'A Walk In The Park') | Source

There were still some shots that 'begged' to be taken. These two below were my last before heading back to the small car park to stow my camera away.

This one immediately below showed a tree awaiting spring and a new cover of buds and leaves, although its nearside neighbour told a different story.

Bottom, a bush has sprouted from the crumbling, moss-covered trunk of an old tree. 'Waste not, want not' is Mother Nature's mantra. There wasn't a lot of animal life in evidence, mostly birds. The small furry creatures waited for darkness, their burrows gaping around the roots of surrounding trees and culled wildwood. There's a programme of pruning underway here, to allow breathing space for healthy growth, but not in this particular corner of Epping Forest.

Follow the seasons with Ben Law as he takes you through a study of the woodlands, the flora, the fauna, the weather and how the latter affects the others. A fascinating overview of nature from close-up

Trees budding despite exposed and dead roots...

Nature's net-work seen against the sky - looks like a trunk call
Nature's net-work seen against the sky - looks like a trunk call | Source
And a network of branches - a young tree growing from an old trunk reaches for the sky (nature's recycling plant)
And a network of branches - a young tree growing from an old trunk reaches for the sky (nature's recycling plant) | Source

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11 comments

billybuc profile image

billybuc 20 months ago from Olympia, WA

I would imagine that late at night those woods would be quite spooky. Great fodder for a ghost story or two.

Thank you for taking us along on your hike. Great pics and enjoyed the narration. Maybe one day I'll join you on a "walkabout."


annart profile image

annart 20 months ago from SW England

Wonderful photos. I love wandering around the countryside like this with my camera; it's exciting to find shapes and textures and surprising scenery or objects. Wood has such varied texture, can be the shapes of animals or faces or anything else! Driftwood on the beach is the nearest to what you've found here.

Love it! I was on your walk with you, looking around and wondering at nature.

Ann


alancaster149 profile image

alancaster149 20 months ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire) Author

Maybe I'll take you up on that walkabout, Bill (although 'walkabout' usually involves hundreds of miles down under, the Aborigines take weeks or months). Might be worth a ghost story. An image might be reversed, I'll have to look into it. Mind you, some parts of Epping Forest are spooky even by day, lots of standing water - there's a high water table near High Beech, which means no wandering away from footpaths!

Ann this is less than ten miles of built-up London, out by Wanstead or Whipps Cross (near the hospital) and Woodford. After it's a fairly straight road to the Robin Hood roundabout (and pub in the layby - there are quite a few of them nearby as well).

I like wandering about on the shoreline (anywhere between the South Gare at Teesmouth to Scarborough). At Robin Hood's Bay - him again! - at low tide there's an ice cream van at the bottom of the boat landing, but it's not as photogenic as some of the inshore fishing boats [that are] moored near the shore. Would have been great in the 19th Century with 'Whitby Cats' on the foreshore or in harbour, and 'Yorkshire Keels' moored in Scarborough or Whitby.


annart profile image

annart 20 months ago from SW England

Yes, it's amazing what countryside and woodland is to be found near city centres. I know the area a little but not well. Yes Whitby would've been great in the 19th C.


alancaster149 profile image

alancaster149 20 months ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire) Author

The local photographer Frank Sutcliffe recorded the scenery in and around Whitby at the time of Victoria and Edward VII. There is a Sutcliffe Gallery on St Hilda's Terrace (near the harbour, close to the Natwest Bank) in Whitby where you can get views taken by him with his plate camera (I've got postcards I framed on the landing wall outside our bedroom). There's a vast collection to choose from, www.sutcliffe-gallery.co.uk


annart profile image

annart 20 months ago from SW England

Thanks for that. Lots of my family history is around Whitby and I have a few 'ancient' photos but not much. I'll have a look at that site. Appreciate you taking the time to pass on the info.


alancaster149 profile image

alancaster149 20 months ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire) Author

It's on me Ann. I've got a library of books here only I look at - whenever. They need 'airing' from time to time.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 14 months ago from Queensland Australia

Thanks for taking us on a walk through Epping Porest Alan. It looks like a quite unique type of forest landscape. I enjoyed the read and the photos.


alancaster149 profile image

alancaster149 14 months ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire) Author

Proper highwayman country, John. Dick Turpin hung out around here, as well as a colourful character known as 'Sixteen String Jack', who used different colour hose suspenders. Jack was hanged at Tyburn, Dick at the Knavesmire near York (he stole a mare named 'Black Beauty' and her foal near Doncaster when he was on the run, found himself in a cell in York Castle and wrote to his brother for a 'character reference' - the postmaster, also the shoolmaster - recognised his handwriting and alerted the authorities. Turpin was wanted for murder near where he came from in Essex, so he went to the gallows).

Ned Kelly would have been at home here as well, although you didn't see that many outlaws wander around here with buckets on their heads.

Ever see Mick Jagger's portrayal of Ned Kelly? Hugely entertaining, but I don't know how accurate.

Glad you enjoyed the 'walk'. There are two others, one a longer walk a little further north in this part of Epping Forest, the other at Wanstead Park, which is officially part of the same forest but is cut off from the rest by housing developments and busy roads. I've just had an idea for another 'offshoot' of Epping Forest known as Whipps Cross near Leytonstone, E11 (use the link to the right here 'A Walk In The Woods').


Jodah profile image

Jodah 14 months ago from Queensland Australia

Thanks for sharing that interesting history of the area, Dick Turpin and "String Jack". I have seen Mick Jagger's portrayal of Ned Kelly, and also Heath Ledger's which is also good. I think Ray Winston was in that one too.


alancaster149 profile image

alancaster149 14 months ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire) Author

I'll have to have a look at Heath Ledger's 'Ned Kelly'. Didn't know Ray Winstone was in any film like that, although he's often done Underworld characters, gangsters and the like. (He also did the voice of Beowulf in the animated version, with the body of Conan the Barbarian).

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