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HERITAGE - 19: EPPING FOREST, ABOVE LOUGHTON - Walk Deeper Into The Woods, Off The Footpaths
Off the beaten track, through dense woodland...
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).
Twisted and gnarled roots, decaying trunks...
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...
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.
Epping Forest: Figures In A Landscape
Follow the history with its Tudor and Stuart hunting pageantry with William Addison as he takes you through the woodlands, the Tudor lodge at Amesbury Banks, Ditches Ride and the remains of Iron Age hill forts near Loughton and on the right of the Epping road (A104) as you go away from London. This book was written as a companion volume to his earlier"Portrait Of Epping Forest". Retrace some of the footpaths and tracks I've covered here and in the previous page on Epping Forest.
Incidentally, for the less able there are some tracks that can be followed by wheelchair (providing you have an able-bodied companion for the odd dips). There are also some welcoming catering premises and pubs - I'd recommend 'The Owl' on Lippitt's Hill, 'The Plough' at Sewardstone near Chingford, and the 'Forest Gate Inn' just off the A104 near Ivy Chimneys.
Trees budding despite exposed and dead roots...
See also in this series:
HERITAGE - 15: A WALK IN THE WOODS, 1 Epping Forest Trail Via High Beech To Loughton;
HERITAGE - 16: A WALK IN THE WOODS, 2 Wanstead Park And Wanstead Flats;
HERITAGE - 24: WHIPPS CROSS AND HOLLOW PONDS, Another Branch Of Epping Forest
Lots more images, maps/diagrams and book choices