Through the heart of the Forest to Theydon Bois
Summer or autumn
Wild flowers in Roding Valley Meadows; ancient trees and much more in Epping Forest.
Unsurfaced paths in Epping Forest can get very muddy.
Central line tube to Loughton or Debden, returning from Theydon Bois
Starting from Debden (ABCDEFG) 5–5½ hours; starting from Loughton (HDEFG) 2½–3 hours.
Undulating terrain; short sections on road from Debden and to Theydon Bois, and a longer stretch from Loughton; otherwise well-defined footpaths much of them surfaced, apart from a more difficult path beside Loughton Brook.
Click on a marker on the map for route details
Stage AB: Debden station to White Bridge
At the end of Station Approach turn left into Chigwell Lane then cross to the other side and walk down to Oakwood Hill, entering from the right. About 40m along Oakwood Hill a path leads off left into Roding Valley Meadows. At path junctions turn successively right; then left through the woodland and scrub of Lower Brick Clamp; then right to pass Great Horseley Meadow on your left, with the fen on your right, then left to walk down to the surfaced riverside path, where you turn right to follow it past another meadow and through part of the recreation ground until you come to Charlie Moule's Bridge on your left. Cross it then turn right to follow a grass track across the meadows. Keep heading downstream parallel to the river on your right, i.e taking all the right forks, until you come out into Luscious Mead. Here, ignore the right fork which leads round three-quarters of the meadow, but keep roughly straight ahead to a kissing gate and through a patch of woodland and turn right when you meet a surfaced track. Shortly this loses its surface and follows the Roding on your right down to the White Bridge on you
Stage BC: White Bridge to High Road
Cross the White Bridge and follow the surfaced track around the angling lake, turning left roughly half way along across the playing fields. Continue straight ahead across the road and up Green Walk and across Loughton Way, turning left into Thaxted Road at its end. At the corner a footpath leads off on the right to a footbridge across the tube lines. Beyond the footbridge follow the footpath through a gap in the next hedge then bear left to follow it across the next meadow and into Linder's Field LNR. Keep roughly straight on across the open grassland, bearing right at the far hedge until you come to a hedged exit path. Follow this across Powell Road and up to The Drive, where turn left up to North End and left again up to High Road (A121).
Stage CD: High Road to Green Ride
Cross by the bus stops and follow the footpath straight ahead with the cricket ground on your right. Beyond the cricket ground bears right, first through woodland then on a broad open ride, emerging on Epping New Road with the Warren Wood PH over the road on the left. Walk 50m right up the road to the crossing, then continue straight ahead on the grass track. About 100m on fork right (leaving the London Loop) into the woodland and follow a broad path that brings you to Rangers Road (A1069) opposite the Connaught Water car park. Cross the road and the car park and take the surfaced path just right of the information board. Follow this past Connaught Water on your left until it joins Ashmeads Lane. Turn left on Ashmeads Lane for 50m then bear right on the path, marked at intervals by white posts, that leads across the grassland. The path converges with Epping New Road, near which it meets a surfaced track. Turn right to walk across the road and past the car park and bear left on the surfaced track. Shortly it meets another similar track: turn left and continue past Strawberry Hill Ponds until you meet Forest Road/Earl's Path, with Earl's Path Pond on your left. Cross the road and continue straight on along the Green Ride, looking out for where it meets the Loughton Brook: this is signed to deter cyclists and at one such sign you will see a concrete pipe bridge down on the right carrying the footpath up from Loughton. To shorten and simplify the route, continue up to the Green Ride, a broad surfaced footpath, and turn right to follow it to point E. To continue beside the Loughton Brook, go down to the footbridge, which is point D.
Stage DE: Loughton Brook valley
Above the concrete pipe footbridge, footpaths lead up the valley on both sides of Loughton Brook: follow the one on the right – neither managed nor surfaced, so it winds around meanders and obstacles – keeping as close to the brook as you can, until you come out on the Clay Road just below Baldwin's Pond, passing a footbridge over the brook about half way up. Cross the ride and follow the footpath on the right of Baldwin's Pond that heads up the slope towards the Forester's Arms. Bear left on a footpath before you reach it, and follow this high on the slope above Loughton Brook – there are many side paths, so keep on the best-defined path, going gradually up. Later the path swings back towards the brook, meeting the Green Ride close to where it crosses the brook, at the crown of a bend with the dip to cross the brook just down on your left. Turn right.
Stage EF: Green Ride to Coppice Row
Turn right to follow the Green Ride, sweeping round left and up past Great Monk Wood on the left. Reaching the road (Golding's Hill), cross and go straight on on a surfaced track that curves left around the car park then right, down into a steep valley then up through Furze Ground. Turn left at a T-junction, and soon you come to another road – Coppice Row.
Stage FG: Long Running to Theydon Bois
Cross the road (Coppice Row) then walk through the car park and turn right, following a surfaced track through Long Running, parallel to the road. It joins (Coppice Row) on the fringes of Theydon Bois, opposite Sidney Road. Continue down Coppice Road from here until Theydon Green opens up in front of you. Walk down across the green to the bottom, where the main road sweeps right and up over the railway bridge, and Coppice Row continues as a left fork towards Theydon Bois station.
Stage HD: Loughton station to Green Ride
Walk away from Loughton station up Station Approach, then fork right into Station Road and continue up Forest Road. At the road junction turn right into Shaftesbury and take the track leading off on the left. This swings right down to the brook, which you follow – approximately because it winds – across two plank footbridges, then up to a concrete pipe bridge. Do not cross this but take the footpath that leads up close to the brook on the right. (If you wander off the footpath to the left you will come to the Green Ride – a broad surfaced track. Turn right to follow this and look out for the concrete pipe bridge down on your right.)