13 October 2013: Epping Forest in Autumn — Chingford via Salisbury Ponds to High Beach and back by Lippitts Hill

This forest walk faced a weather change after the Indian Summer of the previous month.  We endured steady rain and dripping trees until lunch time.  On the other hand everything was tranquil, and autumn colours were coming through.  After twenty four hours of rain the paths proved boggy but negotiable.  Just two participants this week – the two Steves.  We both found the walk worthwhile.

Strawberry Hill Pond (on a nicer day)

Strawberry Hill Pond (on a nicer day) (Nigel Cox / CC BY-SA 2.0)

From Chingford Station we walked up to admire Queen Elizabeth’s Hunting Lodge, then along the track north to Connaught Water with its ducks and grebes in their element.  North-west through woods and meadows to Strawberry Hill Pond; then along Three Forests Trail past Loughton Camp (an important iron age settlement which we failed to explore, as we’d stayed on the firmer track above) and on to High Beach for a drink at The King’s Oak.  This pub has been gastrated lately: it attracts family lunchers, but remains a comfortable rest stop for hikers as well.

We then walked along quiet lanes eastwards to Walgrove House – an imposing palladian pile – and down shaded Pepper Alley into the set-aside fields of what is now Willow Farm (Day’s Farm on the map).  Here a huge disused Dutch barn bears witness to the shift from arable farming to horse care. Walking past the throbbing helicopter base at Lippitts Hill and into more stately woodland, at Stewardstone we decided to skip Gilwell Park, the Scouts’ training base.  We continued south through Hawk Wood to re-enter the wide Chingford Plain, with dog walkers but no Sunday golfers in view.

Metropolitan Police helicopter at Lippitts Hill

Metropolitan Police helicopter at Lippitts Hill (Terry Joyce / CC BY-SA 2.0)

We made it back to the station at an early 2.30 pm.  We had done well to complete the circuit on a very soggy day, resolutely cheerful.  At points we almost felt like singing in the rain …

Steve Butters

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About Humphrey Southall

Director, Great Britain Historical GIS; Reader in Geography, University of Portsmouth
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