Epping Lower Forest
A circuit via the Essex Way and Gernon Bushes
Spring or summer
Ancient trees, songbirds and wild flowers in the woods and green lanes.
Some sections of path cross arable fields that may be ploughed; paths can be very muddy in wet weather, especially in Lower Forest.
Central line tube to Epping, or park in The Woodyard in Lower Forest (nr D)
Gently undulating terrain, mainly along well-defined unsurfaced footpaths and green lanes; some road walking in Epping to get back to the station.
Click on a marker on the map for route details
Stage AB: Epping station to Gernon Bushes (Essex Way)
Leaving Epping station, cross the railway via the footbridge about 50m up Station Approach, and walk down to the end of Hillcrest Way. Turn right down the hill and, 50m down, turn left on to a footpath. This grassy path goes past buildings, then first along the verge of an arable field then across it, then through the hedgerow and along the lefthand verge of the next, emerging on to a road. Turn left along the road then after 30m left again on to a loose-surfaced track, that soon becomes Steward's Green Lane – a grassy track between hedgerows. Turn right when the green lane meets a road and follow this for 200m past the Theydon Oak PH, taking a footpath that leaves on the left where the road starts to bend right. This passes through a pasture, then through a hedgerow and along the lefthand verge of an arable field, then across the corner of the next and along its lefthand verge, then along the verge of the next field up to the entrance to Gernon Bushes nature reserve.
Stage BC: Gernon Bushes nature reserve
On entering Gernon Bushes, turn right to follow the perimeter path down into the stream valley then across two footbridges and up the valley on the other side. After a brief sight of the M11 on the right, go through a gate on to the central track, turning left to follow it past a pond on the right then past a boardwalk entering from the left. Go right at the next intersection on a surfaced track then, on meeting another surfaced track, go straight on on a footpath, continuing around the perimeter of the wood with glimpses of the disused railway that borders it on the right. The path finishes at Garnon Mead. Turn right and walk down to the end, turning right again there to walk down under the old railway bridge.
Stage CD: Lower Forest
Beyond the railway bridge the Lower Forest starts. Follow the informal footpath running parallel to the road on the right, down to where it meets the main road (the B181) and cross to a footpath that continues into the woods. You are now on the old Stump Road that once was the high road from Harlow to London. Soon it crosses the broad central ride and here turn left to follow it. Take the next path leading off left, down towards the lake, walking round to the right of it then continuing straight on, back towards the B181. You come out opposite The Woodyard, a short road leading to its namesake. Walk down the road and continue on a footpath that passes to the right of the woodyard, between its boundary fence and a large pond. This brings you out into a large open meadow via a stile.
Stage DA: Return to Epping station
Beyond the stile, turn right on a broad grass track, turning left to follow it around the edge of the meadow as it approaches houses and a tall hedge. Meeting a crossing footpath, turn right along the edge of a (in 2009) building site with a (what was then newly excavated) pond on the left, then through a wooded section with a long pond on the left, and finally half-right diagonally across a recreation ground, heading for its car park. Go through the car park and out on to the road (Stonards Hill), turning right down to the High Road. Turn left on to High Road, then bear left into Hemnall Street, and turn fourth left into Kendal Avenue, following it down and round to the right, then straight across at its junction with Station Road into Station Approach, and back to Epping station.