While Wanstead may be our heartbeat, the places surrounding E11 are just as important to us here at Petty’s, and the Epping Forest Centenary Walk takes you through a grand swathe of the areas we serve.
History of the Epping Forest Centenary Walk
Published back in 1978 to commemorate the Epping Forest Act of 1878, the Epping Forest Centenary Walk has been popular with local ramblers and visitors to the area ever since.
At the time of writing, a used copy of the original booklet by Fred Matthews and Harry Bitten, who were members of the West Essex Ramblers back then, is available for sale on Amazon for the princely sum of 76p (although it’ll cost you a further £2.80 for delivery).
The price in 1978? 15p!
Inside, you’ll find an overall map of the forest as well as a more detailed one of the walk itself.
The walk covers around 15 miles, starting at Manor Park and finishing up in Epping and there are a few variations of the walk (including the Epping Forest Traverse Walk, created by Peter Aylmer and published in his Essex Cicerone guidebook, which reflects some of the changes the forest has seen over the last 40 years).
The original can be broken down into two parts if the full 15 miles is too challenging:
- Part one: Manor Park to Chingford
- Part two: Chingford to Epping
Some variations of the walk take the end point of walk one (and, therefore, the starting point of walk two) to Buckhurst Hill, which extends the ramble to around 16.5 miles. Naturally, this will suit those who wish to hop onto the Central line home, while the Chingford route will be a preference for anyone looking to jump on the London Overground.
While the additional miles and a trip to Buckhurst Hill will be welcomed by some, those who are planning to knock off the full 15 miles in one day will appreciate the Chingford halfway point, as they’ll be able to grab refreshments at either the Royal Forest pub or the Butler’s Retreat café.
But, what will you see along the way?
Well, the common starting point for the walk is Manor Park station, although there are even variations on this. From there, the ramble takes you across Wanstead Flats towards Harrow Road playing fields before heading northwards up and across the southern end of Bush Wood.
A brief brush with underpasses that take you beneath the noisy A12 and the Green Man roundabout brings you into Leyton Flats in between Hollow and Eagle Ponds, then it’s on up towards Walthamstow and another busy A-road, the A406.
Through another underpass, you come out on the northern side of the North Circular and continue to head north up into Highams Park, past its famous boating lake and on into the grounds of Woodford Golf course.
Hatch Forest comes up fast and you’re well on your way to Warren Pond. Over Ranger’s Road and you’re at the halfway point - Queen Elizabeth’s Hunting Lodge - and a well-deserved break.
Suitably refreshed, you’ll now walk north-easterly towards the west side of Connaught Water and through Peartree Plain up into Hill Wood and High Beech. Across the Epping New Road now as if heading towards Blackweir Hill, before turning left to walk around the south-easterly edge of Little Monk Wood on Green Ride.
From there, you’ll continue along Green Ride and over Golding’s Hill, through Furze Ground and across Coppice Row. After a short while, Green Ride bears right towards Epping Thicks and Bell Common...and, more importantly, the finishing point.
Cup of tea, anyone?
An annual celebration
You can, of course, complete this walk at any time, either by yourself or with friends, but the very best way to do it is to join in the celebratory annual walk that commemorates the saving and preservation of this incredible green space that surrounds us.
The all-day event is held on the third Sunday of September (2019’s celebration will fall on the 15th) and is organised by the Epping Forest Heritage Trust, the West Essex Ramblers, and the Conservators of Epping Forest.
Bookmark the Epping Forest Heritage Trust’s homepage or follow them on social media (Facebook and Twitter) to ensure you don’t miss out on this magnificent marking of such an historic act, one that has saved Epping Forest from development for many years.