With summer fast approaching, we thought it would be a nice idea to bring you a quick guide to some of the best green spaces East London and West Essex have to offer. These parks and forests bring us sweet respite from the hurly-burly hustle and bustle of London life, giving us a fantastic opportunity to unwind and reconnect with nature.
So, whether you are thinking of buying or renting in the area or if you’re a long-time resident, we hope this guide shows you what’s out there and encourages you to enjoy your local environment this summer.
Wanstead Park and Wanstead Flats
The City of London Corporation’s numerous green spaces in East London and West Essex include Wanstead Park and Wanstead Flats, and they’re a big part of everyday life for many local residents. Not only can you wander, picnic, bike ride, birdwatch, and more whilst visiting, you’ll also be doing so on historic former grounds of Wanstead House.
Check out our Wanstead Parklands Area Guide for a more in depth look at the area.
If you’re really looking to get away from it all, Epping Forest is the place to go. Made up of over 50 different areas of grassland, woodland, and other habitats with 100 lakes and ponds to enjoy, Epping Forest certainly has a magical air to it.
Spanning 2,400 hectares, the forest is found throughout our part of East London and West Essex, stretching all the way from Manor Park in the south to up beyond Epping to the north.
Living in E4 has plenty going for it, but having access to Chingford Plains and all that it has to offer has to be up there vying for the number one reason why so many people settle and stay in the area.
As you would expect, the vast open spaces of the plains are great for dog walkers and bike riders, but don’t be shocked to see lots of kite flyers and model aircraft enthusiasts while you’re there as well. Be sure to refuel in The Larder at Butler’s Retreat once you’ve stretched your paws too.
Just north of Chingford Plains is a small, but beautiful lake that goes by the name of Connaught Water. This part of Epping Forest has always been popular with locals, but recent improvements to the paths and car park have made it even more accessible.
Great for walkers, anglers, birdwatchers, and more, Connaught Water should definitely be on your list of local places to visit this summer.
Hainault Forest Country Park
Fancy doing something more than just strolling? Why not visit the meerkats of Hainault Forest Country Park before heading off to explore the surrounding woodlands? You’ll see lots of other farm animals while you’re there too...not to mention an array of owls and exotic birds!
There’s also a boating lake here and the Vision Redbridge Sport and Health team run excellent free guided walks through the park as well. Check out what’s coming up here.
Knighton Wood and Lords Bushes
Knighton Wood and Lords Bushes are the sort of places you don’t really want to tell anyone about, as you’d rather keep it all to yourself. Similar to Wanstead Park, these green spaces in between Woodford and Buckhurst Hill are formed from the old gardens of what was once Buxton Estate, and there are plenty of old landscaped features still in existence.
Keep your eye out for the ancient rhododendrons and the Pulpit Oak (a magnificent 400-year old oak tree with a girth of over 5 metres! See picture above) whilst exploring the woods.
Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
For a far more modern experience, jump on the Central line and head down to Stratford for a mosey about. With over 560 acres to explore, you can unwind in the parklands to the north of the park, take a guided boat tour of the grounds, or make use of one of the many free trail guides provided.
Oh, and there are one or two sporting venues there, too, should that be more your thing!
Woodford Green has given its name to the town that now surrounds it, but this small open space is still important in its own right. You’ll find one of the oldest cricket clubs in the country here, as well as the famous Winston Churchill statue in front of the equally well-known Hurst House, all of which makes Woodford Green a landmark that signifies ‘coming home’ for many locals.
Roding Valley Meadows Nature Reserve
If wild flowers are your thing, Roding Valley Meadows should be top of your list. This beautiful nature reserve is the largest remaining water meadow in the county of Essex and you’ll find over 160 acres of protected land here with flowers such as Southern Marsh Orchids and Devil's-Bit Scabious thriving throughout.
Highams Park is the relic of what was once the grounds of the Highams Estate, making it yet another garden that has since been turned into a public green space. The house of the old estate still stands and is now better known as Woodford County High School for Girls.
Created by renowned landscaper, Humphrey Repton, Highams Park is a convenient green space for locals to enjoy at their leisure. Dog walkers, runners, and strollers all come here throughout the year and the park’s lake offers visitors an interesting focal point, with nesting swans a glorious attraction.
Chalet Wood by Paul Hancock