Epping Forest Walks: The Best London Day Hike


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Living in the concrete jungle of London can wear you down sometimes and leave you with a yearning to get into nature for a day. Whilst there are a number of national parks close to London such as New Forest and South Downs Park these probably require at least spending the full weekend to do them proper justice.  One of the best options, if you want to go on a day hike in London, is to enjoy one of the many Epping Forest walks available in the ancient woodlands in the north-east of London.

An Epping Forest walk is the perfect antidote to living in busy London and as Epping Forest is over 2400 hectares, there are plenty of trails to explore.

With plenty of transport options available from all over London, hiking in Epping Forest is a must-do day trip for visitors to the city who want to see a different side of the British capital or for long term residents that want to get away from the hustle and bustle of London life. 

How to Get to Epping Forest

The best way to get to Epping Forest if you’re living in London is to take the Overground to Chingford Station. Trains depart from Liverpool Street Station and only take 30 minutes and will take you directly to the entrance of Epping Forest.

Another option is to take the Central Line to Loughton or Theydon Bois station and then walk to the entrance of the park. 

If you don’t live near these lines, there are also a number of buses that go to Epping Forest such the 20 and the 397. If you haven’t already, then I highly recommend downloading the Citymapper app which will give you up to date transport routes for how to get anywhere in London. This will ensure you’re not caught out if there is an expected strike or repair works in London!

Finally, for those that prefer to drive to Epping Forest, there are a number of parking lots near various entrances to the forest.

Beuatiful woodland on the Epping Forest walk
Beautiful woodland in Epping Forest!

The Perfect Epping Forest Walk

There are a number of marked walking trails in Epping Forest such as the Beech Trail (2.5 miles), Gifford Trail (1.25 miles), Chestnut Trail (3.25 miles) and Holly Trail (2.5 miles).

The Epping Forest walk outlined here is a combination of some of these marked trails that we have found to be the most convenient if you are relying on public transport and are wanting a solid half-day walk.

From Chingford station, this fantastic 11km, 3-hour circular hike that will take you through some of the best parts of Epping Forest.

The start of this Epping Forest walk
The start of the hike!

When exiting the station, walk towards Royal Forest Hotel and Butlers Pond where you will see a trail that leads you to the Connaught Water lake. The lake is absolutely stunning and popular with dog walkers, however, once you leave this part of the forest the number of people on the trails greatly reduces.

From Connaught Water Lake head to Strawberry Hills Pond where the wildlife becomes more abundant. There are a number of trails that continue from this area but if you’re sticking to the circular day hike head towards Loughton Camp before continuing towards High Beach.

Connaught Water - you will pass this on many Epping Forest Walks.
Connaught Water

At High Beach, you’re about two-thirds of the way into the hike so if you need some extra energy there is a pub where you can stop for a meal.

From High Beach, it’s essentially one path to follow all the way back towards Chingford station which will including walking through some dense forest and open fields as you get closer to the station.

Path back to Chingford, near the end of your Epping Forest hike.
Path back to Chingford

Other Epping Forest Walks

If this 11km circular walk sounds like too much or doesn’t seem challenging enough there are a number of other paths and routes to choose from in Epping Forest. There is approximately 284 kilometres of hiking paths in Epping Forest so you certainly won’t run out of options!

One option for those people wanting a longer Epping Forest walk is to essentially walk around the full perimeter of the park that is approximately 21 kilometres. You can also start this route from Chingford station and it takes you through towards Loughton and Theydon Bois. If you are relying on the train to get to Epping Forest, you can cut this hike by half by taking the train back from Theydon Bois.

Looking for another day hike from London? Check out our guide to the Seven Sisters Cliffs Walk!

Another option for people wanting a shorter walk is to simply cut off parts of the circular walk outlined above. For example, you could turn back at Strawberry Hills Pond rather than continuing on to shorten your Epping forest walk.

All in all, the possibilities are endless at Epping Forest and ultimately, you can create your own walk or hike based on your needs. The trails are reasonably well marked on Google Maps but alternatively, you can download the Maps.Me app which tends to be more reliable for hiking and walking paths.

If you plan to visit Epping Forest regularly, it can be worth visiting the Epping Forest Visitor Centre at High Beach. They are open from 10 am to 3 pm on Friday to Sunday and have a wealth of information on the area. The centre is run by volunteers and they can share details on various walks in the park as well as wildlife to keep an eye out for.

Epping Forest: The Perfect London Day Hike
More beautiful forest…

Eating and Drinking in Epping Forest

If you don’t bring any food with you for your Epping Forest hike, you’ll be happy to know that there are plenty of options for eating and drinking located inside and nearby the forest. The Victoria Tavern and Foresters Arms are traditional pubs located in Epping Forest, while another popular option is the Robin Hood Thai Restaurant if you prefer international food.

If you’re just making a quick stop and are looking for a cafe, consider heading the Original Tea Hut which offers quick meals and hot drinks.

There are also a lot more options located on the periphery of the park if you choose to end any of these Epping Forest walks in Chingford or near Loughton Station.

Looking for another day hike from London? Check out our guide to Richmond Park Walks!

Epping Forest is one of the best day hikes in London and a perfect way to get out of the hustle and bustle of the city to enjoy some serene nature. 

Have you been to Epping Forest? What are your favourite Epping Forest walks? Add a comment below!

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Michael is a co-founder and writer for The World Was Here First. When not obsessively searching for flight deals, Michael likes being ultra-competitive at table tennis, gazing at street art, and contemplating life while sipping a dram of fine single malt whisky.

Comments

  1. Hi – looks beautiful! Are the trails clearly marked? Is there signage from the rail station? Always hard to tell and research footpaths from Google maps!

    Reply
    • Hi Lili! I suggest downloading Maps.Me on your phone – it’s an offline maps app that is much better to use for hiking compared to Google Maps. There is some signage at Epping Forest however I always like to have the offline maps with me as it’s easier to follow!

      Reply
  2. When I was a child I was taken to High Beach and we enjoyed seeing the wonderful rhododendrons…….this was about 60 years ago so bound to be some changes. Can’t find it on map – are the rhododendrons still there?

    Reply
  3. There are so many brilliant places to walk around in Epping Forest. Here are just some of my favourites.
    Wanstead Park is a great place to walk round. It has 3 ponds and the remains of Ornamental Water plus a ruined folly and a temple. The sense of history you feel as you walk round is fantastic. It has an interesting back story, the heiress bankrupted by her husband and dying of unhappiness. People often report sightings of her ghost, the white lady, including my husband. The nearby Wanstead has a high street crammed with chic cafes and restaurants and a nice park for children. A very good day out.
    I love walking round Knighton Woods and Lords’Bushes in Buckhurst Hill opposite Bancroft’s School. It has a very happy atmosphere and it is interesting to trace the leftover bits from its days as the garden of a big house, like bamboo round a pond and rhododendrons.
    Higham’s Park Lake is just as beautiful as Connaught Waters and walking round it doesn’t take too long and is a great walk. You could also walk from here back to Connaught Waters, tracing the path of the River Ching. It becomes particularly good as it goes through Hatch Forest on Woodford Golf Course.

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