Walks in Loughton's Forest
Short Epping Forest walks in and around Loughton from the book by Chris
and Caroline Pond
With historical notes
Published by the Loughton and District Historical Society 2002
of the illustrated book may be had from the LDHS
at Forest Villa, Staples Rd, Loughton, Essex, IG10 1HP, price £3,
or through any bookshop.
Copyright 2002, C & C Pond
the history of Loughton and its present are inextricably linked to its
Forest. 1300 acres of Epping Forest are situated in Loughton, which is
more than twice the whole area of Burnham Beeches, and more than a third
of the area of the whole parish. Nikolaus Pevsner wrote of Loughton "trees
hold their own in this otherwise suburban town". That is a gross
understatement: there are, perhaps, ten trees for every Loughtonian. Yet
it is surprising how little Loughton folk know and use the Forest, excepting
always dog-owners, horse-riders, and toddler-walkers. It is always there,
on the western and northern edge of the town, no more than twenty minutes'
walk from the furthest corner of Loughton. But on many of these walks,
we have quite often seen nobody at all more than fifty yards from the
In local history, it was the opportunity the Forest gave for grazing
animals and supplying fuel that gave Loughton the kernel of its economy
for perhaps a thousand years, and gave it and the other forest villages
something of an edge over purely agricultural places. It was the defence
of those rights by one Loughton man, Thomas Willingale, and the support
given him by public-spirited men such as the Buxtons, that led to a stay
of execution for Epping Forest when commons all over the country were
being enclosed for private profit. And the Corporation of London, who
subsequently made Loughton the headquarters of the Forest administration,
finally achieved its preservation. For 124 years, they have exercised
their benign guardianship of this wonderful asset, and at no expense to
The Forest has never been enclosed and cultivated, but it has been managed
by man throughout its written history. It is not, and never has been in
historic times, an entirely natural landscape, a wildwood, a British jungle,
as some commentators have alleged. Since Norman times, it has been a wood
pasture; and in the early centuries, a royal forest, where other activity
was subordinated to the preservation of game for the royal enjoyment.
A wood-pasture is essentially the maintenance of an area for the twin
purposes of providing timber and grazing, and implies a mixture of grassland
and treed areas. The Forest in Loughton was formerly very much more open
grass than it is now. As we take the walks in this book, there will be
times when we say "the view from this point was formerly open and
extensive - now it is closed by tree growth". That is the result
of the great decline of grazing over the last 100 years, and of the cessation
of pollarding - the cutting back of trees to head height on a cycle every
few years. As a result of this, the forest canopy has become much more
dense, cutting off the light below the trees that enabled the growth of
many species, particularly of wild flowers, that the Victorians saw as
common, but which are now rare or extinct in our Forest.
Much though we may regret these losses, what an asset Loughtonians have
on their doorsteps! The bustle and business of the modern High Road is
left behind when you enter the woodland. The air is purer and more exhilarating.
The thousands rushing for the train, queuing in the supermarket, hastening
to the M25, are far away. Depending on the wind and where in the Forest
you are, the sound of traffic may be in the background. However, you are
less than 15 miles from Charing Cross, but you might as well be in the
Highlands. Nobody directs you which path you can take, or where you must
enter the Forest. You can do so in the heat of summer, when the asphalt
on the roads melts, in the snow, in heavy rain, or when a gale whips in
a thousand acres of trees a noise louder than an aircraft taking off.
In fact, the Forest is often at its most attractive in extreme conditions,
and it changes remarkably when night falls. Owls are numerous and vocal,
even on the Forest edge, and all sorts of rustlings and strange noises
reach your ears; from the haunting call of the vixen, to the strange,
staccato, bark of the muntjac.
These are short walks, mostly of about an hour's duration, in that part
of Epping Forest situated in the parish of Loughton. They are designed
for non-specialist strollers rather than for purposeful and experienced
ramblers, to whom we suspect they would seem rather short and tame. The
Forest, with its mostly clay soils, can get rather wet. In winter, and
after heavy rain in summer, sound, well-fitting footwear is called for.
A walking stick is useful for beating down the odd bramble, or to assist
anyone a bit unsteady, but not essential. The times we give are those
that might be expected for a fairly gentle family stroll, taking time
to admire a view, and the occasional rest on a handy log, and the distances
include diversions to walk round a pond or to avoid a muddy patch or fallen
These are walks that anyone, a group, or a family, can fit into a Sunday
afternoon, or the odd hour at any time of year. They are ideal for Loughtonians
who have visitors from afar who want to see the Forest - but remember
to tell them to bring stout shoes. We hope they will also be of value
to those from farther afield - who may drive out to the numerous pleasant
pubs on the forest edge on a summer evening, or stay in our hotel or guest
houses, or who visit the thirty restaurants in the High Road.
The Forest is different season by season - the fresh green leaves unfurling
in the Spring, the shepherds' crooks of the bracken fronds, the catkins
and blossom; the welcome shade of high summer, with sun-baked ruts like
iron grooves in the path, and the dried up shingle beds of the streams,
along which you can often walk. In autumn, of course, the colours are
magnificent. They do not approach the vivid tints of the New England fall,
but their chrome yellows and browns still give subtle beauty. Later, the
forest floor is carpeted with leaves, acorns, and beech-mast, and the
winter winds howl through the trees. Once in a while, snow covers all,
and transforms the whole scene into a strange and beautiful white sculpture,
when families from the town go up to the forest for sledging or snowball
Whatever the season or the weather, get out in the Forest. If you live
in Loughton, you can do so at a moment's notice. If you come from further
afield, then a car or train journey may be called for. Whichever way you
come, you will not be disappointed.
Note - car parking is possible in many places provided by the Conservators.
Many people, however, find it more secure to leave cars other than in
car parks, on street at the forest edge, and that is what for the most
part we recommend. Please park considerately, and if you are not from
Loughton, note where you have left your car. It isn't much use as with
one couple we heard of, merely to remember you parked under a large tree!
Start point: Staples Road Pond. Distance: 3.4 miles. Time: 1hour 10 minutes
approx. Terrain: hilly, wet in winter. The land rises from about 140ft
at the beginning to 300ft at Loughton Camp. Refreshments: two pubs (the
Royal Oak and Victoria, Forest Rd) about 100yards into Loughton from the
start /finish point. Car parking: on street in Shaftesbury by the dam
(avoid school collection/delivery times).
If you get lost anywhere on the first three walks, remember all the streams
drain down to Staples Road Pond.
From the centre of the dam over Staples Road Pond, take the steps on
your left down to the dipping platform, and then walk along the red path
behind the wooden post and rail fence.
Staples Road Pond, also called the Reservoir, was dug about 1880 as a
flood precaution. It was full by 1882, when some builders working on constructing
Glendower and Forest Villa rescued a woman who had fallen into the pond.
The Loughton Brook has always been prone to flood the centre of Loughton,
because of the probability, about every 5 years, of abnormally heavy rain
on the forest ridge causing the lower reaches of the Brook, after it leaves
the Forest, to overflow. The Reservoir was never, as has sometimes been
suggested, a source of drinking water.
In the 1960-1990 period, the pond became badly silted up so as almost
to disappear, and the estate of houses called Shaftesbury was built lower
down across the course of the brook. In 1982, serious floods in the Staples
Rd/ Shaftesbury area ensued. In 1995, the pond was deepened, and the present
dam built, designed to withstand the worst surge of water calculated to
be expected in a 75-year period. The banks around the dam are flower-rich
- when it had been completed, the grassland was sown with the seed of
typical wild plants from the area.
Follow the brook/pond inlet on its western side, crossing it by a wooden
railed bridge. Cross a second bridge, this time without rails, and leave
the path, climbing the valley side on the west, until you come to the
Green Ride, a wide path for walkers and riders, turning right on to it.
The Green Ride was cut through the Forest in preparation for its official
dedication by Queen Victoria in 1882. She was driven along it in an open
carriage to High Beech. It is a well-known walk in its own right, but
in these walks we follow only short stretches of it. This part of the
Green Ride was an open trackway before the Ride proper was constructed.
It was known as the Ridings, and may have been a dividing line in the
Follow the ride down the slope to where it crosses a tributary of the
Loughton Brook by a culvert. Turn sharp left once over the stream onto
a path going westwards [note; this section can be boggy. You can avoid
it by going through the trees to its north.]
After about 50 yards, the path divides. Take the right fork, going uphill.
This path dives below beech and hornbeam, with prominent roots across
the path (take care!) and in wet weather becomes a runnel off the hillside.
As you climb the hill, notice how large and stately beeches take over,
in a more open landscape. Towards the top of the hill, notice the many-stemmed
beeches, with grotesque gnarled shapes. This is the result first of coppicing,
which was the cutting off of the tree at ground level, leaving it to regenerate
in as many as half a dozen stems round the old stump. After this, the
individual stems - which had become in time trunks in their own right,
were subjected in this part of Loughton to lopping, whereby the trees
were "topped" at shoulder height, allowing many branches to
spring from the cut, which were later lopped for firewood.
The last lopping was in 1879, and thereafter, the trees grew into strange
and deformed shapes. Lopping was practised over much of Loughton, except
in Monk Wood and Loughton Piece, but coppicing was common only several
hundred years ago, and in this area of Loughton Camp. The coppiced, then
pollarded, beeches have been living for perhaps as much as 700 years,
making them the oldest living things in the area. After the cessation
of lopping, the canopy of the forest also became much denser, preventing
much of the growth of flowers and other plants on the floor of the wood.
After a few silver birches, you will see the ramparts of Loughton Camp
up ahead. They take the form of a ditch and bank, in roughly circular
form. Go up onto the mound, and bear left, proceeding clockwise around
the bank, taking note of landmarks such as notice boards - it is easy
to become disoriented on the camp, especially when there is no sun. Note
the contorted, many-trunked beeches, in which children love to play hide
and seek. Squirrel, rabbit and woodpecker are often found on the camp.
In the snow, you will often see tracks of fox, fallow, and muntjac. It
had the last active badger sett in the Forest, disused by 1961.
Loughton Camp is a scheduled ancient monument, but has never been thoroughly
excavated or investigated. It is a roughly circular defensive hill-fort,
dating to the Iron Age. The banks have become eroded over the centuries,
and may well have been topped by a defensive fence or palisade. The area
encircled is about 11acres. In the Forest also is a similar, but larger
encampment at Ambresbury, about half a mile north of the Wake Arms roundabout;
there is no truth in the commonly told story that the two camps saw Boadicea's
last stand against the Romans. The camps have to be envisaged in a landscape
much more thinly wooded than at present, where sighting of an enemy would
be easy. Nowadays they would make poor defensive positions.
The views from Loughton Camp were once superb, extending to the south
over London. But these gradually got hemmed in by tree growth, and are
now non-existent. (see map p. XXX) The camp was the setting for the supposed
murder in R Austin Freeman's detective story The Jacob Street Mystery
(1942). The participants come down by train from Fenchurch Street to Loughton
Station, and take exactly the way described in this walk to the Camp.
The Camp was not recognised as an ancient monument before about 1880.
D'Oyley, the Loughton surveyor, who drew up the maps for the Epping Forest
Commission, marks only the area to its north, as Dick Turpin's Cave; which
appellation later got applied to a pub in High Beech. Turpin was indeed
active in the Forest in highway robbery and burglary. Old houses in Loughton
had their upper storeys closed off at night by a flap and prop called
the Turpin Trap, but most of the stories told about him are apocryphal.
Follow the bank round (at one point it seems to peter out into a bog,
but in fact carries on the other side) until you get to the point at which
you entered. Then descend into the ditch, or fosse, below the bank, and
carry on until you come to a path on the left after about 100 yards. The
path is on the steepest part of the ramparts, which can be better appreciated
here than from the mound. The path starts where there is a clump of five
beeches, formed from an old coppice stool, on your left. Descend by the
path, down the hillside, until you come to a plank bridge, which crosses
the officially unnamed tributary of the Loughton Brook sometimes called
the Debden Slade Brook. Cross this bridge onto the south side of the brook,
and follow this bank, with its mossy sides, through pollard beeches and
hornbeam. Several uprooted trees at this point have fallen towards the
stream: note their small rootballs. You then come on your right to another
bridge: cross it to the north side (the ground on the north side gets
boggy, usually because of mountain bike use) and go through a thicket
of holly, until in about 50 yards you come to the open clearing, Debden
Slade. The vegetation here is mostly bracken, bramble and oak seedlings
and saplings, no longer kept at bay by the commoners' cattle, for which
the Slade was a favourite grazing place. A fine crab apple is situated
on the right hand side of the Slade, halfway along.
The Slade was formerly much bigger than at present, and was the place
to which the poor children entertained at the Shaftesbury retreat (see
the LDHS publication, From Mean Streets to Epping Forest) played games.
Continue following the stream on its north bank, until you come back to
the culvert on the Green Ride. Cross the culvert, and follow the stream
on its south side until it rejoins the main Loughton Brook. Cross the
brook by the earthen bridge, and carry straight on up the hill.
This conical hill is Staples Hill and is mainly hornbeam, beech and holly.
Staple is the Old English stapol, meaning marker-post, and this may have
some relevance to marking or pointing the way to Loughton Camp, on the
adjacent hill. At the top, by some fallen trees, you will see the outline
of James Cubitt's Staples Road School ahead and to the left. The views
from Staples Hill are not as good as they once were, because of tree growth,
but in winter, you can still see across to Shooters Hill in South London.
It was on Staples Hill that the inhabitants of Loughton used to gather
at midnight on 11 November (or 1 November until 1752) in each year ceremonially
to inaugurate the lopping season. With much carousing, the first blow
was struck, and the first bough severed, and some of the loppers believed
that if the custom was not observed, then the lopping rights would be
voided. The last lopping was on 11 November 1879, after a night of drinking
at, and a torchlit procession from, the Crown Inn. Lopping continued latterly
until 23 April in the following year.
Bear diagonally right across the grassy area and pass a large standing
stump 8ft high to your left. The path descends with more views to emerge
opposite Forest Villa and the Retreat House (Melbourn Cottage) in Staples
Rd, adjacent to the dam [for information on the houses and school in Staples
Rd, see Walk round Loughton]. In winter, the air around Staples Road is
often still laden with wood smoke, as many of the households seem still
to like to burn logs.
Nowadays, however, the old Loughton custom of wooding - that is, going
into the Forest to collect driftwood - is almost forgotten, though still
permitted within certain limits. What of course was not allowed was the
assisting of living wood to become driftwood, which was usually accomplished
by a strong line with a weight attached, which would be looped round a
frail-looking branch and pulled down.
Staples Hill holds a large population of grey squirrels. They are of
course found everywhere in the Forest - the last reds died out about 1960.
Attempts were made by the Forest authorities to exterminate the greys,
but this was given up as hopeless in about 1965. The Staples Hill squirrels
not only feed on woodland products, especially beechmast and hornbeam
seeds, but also cross the road to raid dustbins, gardens, and even kitchens.
In this way, they extend their food supply and active season, and thus
their numbers, and can often be seen re-crossing the road with a crust
of bread or biscuit in their jaws. The Staples Hill squirrels are also
very vocal. Fred Speakman, the High Beech naturalist, wrote of squirrels
emitting tiny sounds, inaudible within a few feet, but the population
on Staples Hill, possibly because of its density, can often be heard churring
and chirruping at full volume.
Walk 2 Three Ponds
Start point: Staples Road Pond. Distance: 2.3 miles. Time, 50 min. approx.
Terrain: mostly level or with gentle rises, ground more firm than on many
Forest walks. Refreshments: as walk 1.
From the middle of the Staples Road dam (walk 1) follow the path along
the bank left. For details of the Reservoir, or Staples Road pond, see
walk 1. Walk between two metal posts, and go straight ahead between the
trees, until you come out very shortly on to a wide, unsurfaced, path.
Turn right on to this path, and continue gently uphill, between beeches
and holly, until you come to the wide, gravelled, Green Ride. Turn left
on to the Ride, walking between stands of beech and oak, many of which
post-date the lopping era, and are therefore spear trees. In about 10
minutes from the start, you reach the Earls Path car park, either side
of the Loughton - High Beech road. Take care in crossing the road: there
is no speed limit at this point, and cars tend to speed down the hill.
This area, to the north of Earl's Path, was one of those cleared and
parcelled out into ¼ acre building plots in the 1860s. Fortunately,
no actual building took place, and with the passing of the Epping Forest
Act of 1878, and the subsequent arbitration by Sir Arthur Hobhouse, all
these plots were returned to the Forest.
Earls Path Pond is on the south side of the road. Like all the ponds
in the Forest, it is man-made, but whereas Staples Road Pond was dug for
flood control, that at Earls Path was excavated for gravel extraction,
and was formed about 1890. Each parish had to maintain its own roads,
and good sources of road metal in the form of gravel were very much sought
after. The parish sometimes gave work to unemployed labourers in digging
out and carting the gravel, and Earls Path, where the pit was adjacent
to a road, must have been convenient for this purpose.
The pits, when flooded, became pleasant ponds, and Earls Path, with its
white water lilies, spatterdocks, irises, rushes and water mint, is an
especially pleasant roadside lake, very popular with fishermen. Presumably
at some time the pond was deliberately stocked, as it is not fed by any
brook or stream. Earls Path Pond is also rich in amphibians, and the area
between here and Staples Road is one of the places in the Forest where
lizards are seen. Along Earls Path, between here and the Robin Hood pub,
are numerous other gravel diggings and holes, on both sides of the road,
which fill up with water in times of heavy rain, forming a strange, semi-aquatic
Follow the gravelled ride along the east side of the pond, and after
about 220 yards, bear left, when the water of Strawberry Hill Pond comes
Strawberry Hill lies to the south of Earls Path and the east of the Epping
New Road, which was built in 1830 alongside the western boundary of Loughton,
one of the first by-passes in the country. The pond, along with ponds
further to the north, resulted from gravel digging for roads.
Strawberry Hill Pond is completely different from those at Earls Path
and Staples Road. Its banks are bare, showing at all times of year the
reddish gravel and shingly soil. Old Loughton folk call it "the Gravels"
for this reason. The roots of trees stick out from the banks, often in
crazy contortions. This undermining of trees, leaving the roots exposed,
was common in gravel extraction, when it was forbidden actually to uproot
or destroy any tree in the operations. A number of the trees, destabilised
by the banks, lean at strange angles, or have become dwarfed.
Strawberry Hill Pond is very much a place for children, who love to run
and hide among the banks, feed the ducks, and climb on the trees, some
of which are particularly well adapted for that purpose, provided parents
exercise due caution. There is an island, on which the wildfowl can take
refuge, and much bracken and gorse, the latter often in flower even in
winter (the old country saying goes, when gorse's out of flower, kissing's
out of fashion).
Trees round the pond include beech and oak (with one strange clump of
trees on the north-west side seeming to be three oaks and two beeches
all out of the same stump, with a holly thrown in for good measure) and
also, on the west side, sweet chestnut, which bear their small nuts cocooned
in many and long - spined seed cases in autumn. A single old crab on the
west side is laden with fruit in the autumn. The open area to the west
of the pond is one of the parts of the forest where flowers are common;
purple heather, foxglove, and coltsfoot, for instance. Rabbits inhabit
the heath, and keep the grass well-cropped.
Walk all round the pond until you can see the surfaced ride ahead. Cross
it by a many-trunked beech, and walk straight ahead, with two recently
repollarded beeches on the right of the path, for about 200 yards, when
a plain unfolds ahead. This area, the Stubbles, was also enclosed for
eventual building. On the right hand side beyond a hedge is Fairhead's
Nursery, formerly Paul's, from which the public cannot be excluded, but
which is not generally traversed.
The plain, home to numerous rabbits, has a number of seedling and sapling
oaks growing in the grass, and at its centre, a fine clump of six beeches
and an oak. Walk along the plain till you get to the Nursery Road car
park. Turn left into the road, and carry on downhill till a small plain
opens up on the right. Nursery Road was one of the streets laid out by
Maitland, Lord of the Manor, in 1865, when he was seeking to enclose and
develop Loughton's forest.
One of the best panoramas of the town is visible from the seat on this
clearing. On the right is the grey tower and flagpole of St John's Church,
which replaced Loughton's mediaeval church in 1844, with some fine cedars
in front; and rising in the centre is Queens Road, with the houses of
Pump Hill at its summit. To the left are the Staples Road schools.
Walk along the path by the seat. As you near the belt of trees, the backs
of the houses in Staples Road, ended by the green tower of Forest Villa,
come into sight. Many of the houses in Staples Road, two storeys from
the front, are three or four at the back, because of their hillside sites.
Enter the wood and carry on obliquely left, with the gardens of Forest
View Road on your right. The path emerges at the junction of that road
and Smarts Lane, with the two pubs, the Victoria Tavern and the Royal
Oak. On the opposite corner was Ney's Retreat, or the Cyclists' Rest cafe,
now a private house. Turn left into Smarts Lane, with additional views
between the houses, and walk along it between two necks of the Forest.
That on the left was formerly a clearing where swings and amusements were
offered. Cross Earls Path into Shaftesbury (formerly Staples Road; renamed
1996) and return to your starting point.
Walk 3. The Loughton Brook and Blackweir Hill Pond
Start point: Staples Road Pond. Distance: 3.5 miles, 1½ hours approx.
The walk can be shortened to the round hour by omitting the Blackweir
Hill Pond. Terrain: level, then with distinct and gentle rises, ground;
wet near brook after rain, otherwise quite dry, especially on Blackweir
Hill. Refreshments: as walk 1, plus the Foresters' Arms, at Baldwin's
Hill, and the Gardeners' Arms at York Hill Green.
As in walk 1, from the centre of the dam over Staples Road Pond, take
the steps on your left down to the dipping platform, and then walk along
the red path behind the wooden post and rail fence. Cross the railed and
plank footbridges, but keep to the western bank of the Loughton Brook
- do not climb the bank to the Green Ride as in walk 1.
The Loughton Brook takes the water falling on a very wide sector of the
Forest stretching approximately from the Loughton parish boundary on the
west as far north as the Wake Arms and as far east as the A121. West of
this watershed, the streams drain into the Lea, but the Brook is a tributary
of the Roding, which it joins nowadays at the end of Roding Road, pursuing
a sinuous course between the Drive and Forest Road, then behind Brooklyn
Avenue and through the grounds of the Roding Valley High School. It is
a noted geomorphologic feature, a river in "old age" that has
carved out a deep valley in the gravels and clays of the hill caps. Easily
noted is the undercutting of one side of the banks, and deposition on
the other, with many sinuous bends. The bed of the brook is gravel.
Cross the side stream that leads in from Debden Slade, bearing right
back to the main brook, and then turn left, alongside the brook. The path
can get muddy in the winter, but you can walk equally well a few yards
higher up the valley side. The brookside path is a favourite haunt of
snakes. Should you see one, do not be afraid. Most are grass snakes, which
are quite harmless, and the occasional adder will be shy and will not
harm you unless attacked.
Follow the path on the west side, passing a bridge over the stream, at
the top of the clearing, beyond which you can see the white-painted Loughton
The whole area of the brook was cleared in 1997, but there has been considerable
regrowth of shrubs and saplings since. As you carry on northward, there
are some good oaks pollarded at that time. The valley becomes a bit barer
and more open, and you cross another side stream coming in from the west
(no bridge but only a long pace or short jump). The trees are now predominantly
beech. Pick your way over the roots of a nice 2-stemmed beech, up the
grassed bank of the dam over Baldwins Hill Pond.
Baldwins Hill Pond was dug at the same time as that at Staples Road.
It lies higher, and the dam is crossed by a broad ride called the Clay
Road. This was another of the roads laid out, but in this case not metalled,
by J W Maitland when he, as Lord of the Manor, tried in 1864 to enclose
all of Loughton's forest. Had it been developed, the heart would have
been torn out of the woodland. The Pond was cleared, and the outlet rebuilt,
in 2000. It is a pleasant small lake, with a clearing beyond.
On to Lost Pond (you can return to the start at this point by crossing
the dam and recommencing the walk at *)
Turn left along the Clay Path (or Clay Road as it is sometimes called).
The western part of this road is much more overgrown than the eastern,
with a pleasing mixture of sedge, dog rose, gorse, bramble, and bracken.
The trees are oak, beech and hornbeam, with many saplings. No doubt the
conservators will eventually clear the area. Note the channel made by
an occasional stream through the gravel, as water forms runnels off the
Just before you reach the clearing (Peartree Plain) at the top, where
the Green Ride crosses the Clay Path, you will see a path on your right,
entering the trees in a direction of about 4 o'clock. The path is well
marked at first, but especially in autumn, becomes obscured by leaves.
Keep along the path, bearing generally left (if you bear right you will
come back to the Clay Path). After a few minutes, you will see the Lost
Pond in its slight dip.
The Lost Pond, or Blackweir Hill Pond, is often reckoned the most picturesque
of all Forest ponds. It is entirely girt about by trees, mostly beeches,
with some silver birch. On summer days, the light is superb, dappled by
the leaves, and in winter, the stark beauty of the trunks, thrown into
relief by rime, stands out against the half-frozen water.
Make a circuit anti-clockwise of the pond, noting an 11-stemmed beech,
which must have sprung from an ancient stool in the last 150 or so years.
It is at this point you will leave the pond when you have made a circuit
of it. On the east side of the pond stood until recently the climbing
tree - a hornbeam into whose straight trunk somebody had screwed iron
rungs, which children could climb. This tree fell in the 1990s, and has
not been replaced.
Another practice, frowned on by the Conservators, of course, is carving
on trees. It is especially prevalent here, where large, smooth-trunked
beeches abound. None of the hundreds of inscriptions still visible are
very old - the trees seem to bleed them out after about 30 years. One
wonders, however, whether the Barbara who loves me of 1965 still does,
and whether JJA and RR from 1970 are still together!
When you have completed the walk round the pond, set off downhill and
generally right from the 11-trunked beech. At the foot of the dip is a
small stream, which you can cross by a beech that is strangely broken
off about 4ft from the ground. In a minute or so, you come out to the
top of Baldwin's Hill Pond. Follow its western side till you get back
to the Clay Path.
Cross the dam, and carry on along the eastern side of the pond. The path
leads into a clearing, and a long and quite steep hillside, at the top
of which the Foresters Arms pub can be seen. This hillside was thinned
in 2001, and once again, the pond is visible from the road as it was in
the nineteenth century. The trees that remain, oak and hornbeam, have
grown since the cessation of lopping in 1879, and are quite sizeable.
The banks of grass at Woodbury Hill and Baldwins Hill still maintain more
flower species than much of the forest, including heather, scabious, wood-anemone
You can either return along the west bank of the brook, or by a mixture
of path and forest edge higher up. The brookside walk has already been
described, but the variation is as follows.
Keep to the mid-point of the hill until a paling fence comes into view.
This is the northern boundary of land belonging to Dryad's Hall, which
was enclosed by Robin Allen for his house, then called Woodberry, in the
Robin Allen was secretary of Trinity House in London, and one of Loughton's
first commuters, as he declared in his memorandum to the Epping Forest
Commissioners in July 1876. The enclosure he made, which is wooded in
an indistinguishable way from the surrounding Forest, was allowed to remain
by the 1880 Arbitration.
Follow this fence on its north-eastern face about 20 yards from it (it
gets wet nearer the fence) until you come out onto a track leading to
Dryad's Hall itself, the front of which you pass on your right. The Hall
was after the death of Allen, the home first of Percy Alden, the journalist
and Labour MP for Tottenham, and then, renamed in the 1920s, of Oswald
Silberrad, who had invented the means of detonating TNT. Follow the track
right until you come to a triangle and the street, Woodbury Hill. At a
house just to the left is a blue plaque to Sarah Flower and William Bridges
Adams, respectively hymnodist and poet, and railway engineer, inventor,
and pamphleteer. For further details of this area, and of Staples Rd,
see Walk Round Loughton.
However, you need to turn right. Take the path down the side of Woodbury
Knoll, a house built by G L Bruce in 1903. This is said to incorporate
its predecessor buildings, Lincoln's Cottages, within the fabric. The
path leads up to Woodbury Hollow, or the Hole, where a pair of 17-18th
century cottages remain, plus an old house refronted by the Zimmermann
family, whose initials remain in the gable end. An engraving of what is
thought to be this house before refronting is on p. XXXXX. Rejoin Woodbury
Hill by turning right, and carry on past Loughton Lodge into the Forest.
From the large chestnut tree (seat) outside Loughton Lodge is an excellent
open view across to the terrain covered by walk 2 and to High Beech -
even in summer you can see the spire of its church. Beyond the two rustic
posts across the track, at the top of Forest Way, 100 yards further on,
take the path down the hill through the wood, rather than turning left
down the road. This takes you down the north side of Staples Hill and
out to what remains of Harding's Plain, outside Staples Road school. In
safer times, till about 1970, this grassed area was used by the schoolchildren
as their playground. Turn right just inside the forest edge on to the
path that skirts Staples Road, or walk along the road itself, back to
the starting point (300 yards).
Walk 4. Debden Green, the Deer Sanctuary, and Loughton Parks
Start point: Debden Green. Distance: 3.1 miles. Time: 1hour 10 min. Terrain
- hilly, the beginning of the walk muddy in winter or after rain. The
land rises from 185ft at the beginning to about 340ft at the summit, half-way.
Refreshments; none (there is a café, the Nosebag, in the old stables
of Debden House, open during the camping season, April-Oct; but this is
for campsite users). In August and September, this is a good walk for
blackberrying. Bus: 20, 167, 204, H1 to corner Pyrles Lane/Chester Road,
and walk (1/2 mile). Car parking: on street by Debden House, in Ripley
View, or on small triangle of land at the start of the walk - do not obstruct
entries. Do not park in Debden Lane itself.
If you get lost on this walk, all the streams drain down to the campsite.
This walk starts from the signposted public footpath in Debden Lane,
adjacent to the three cottages on the left hand side. This was an old
green lane, now encroached on by sapling growth, shown on the Chapman
and Andre map of 1777. The three houses, originally Alpha, Beta, and Gamma,
were built about 100 years ago by W R Clarke of Debden Hall (which was
on the site of Ripley View and is now demolished). Follow the path uphill,
with the paling fence on your right. It can become very muddy after rain,
but there are numerous tracks off to the left, which skirt the worst areas.
On your left are the grounds of Debden House, which is owned by Newham
Borough Council and is used as an educational centre and campsite - in
the summer you will see the tents and vans of the campers.
There is a good deal of vegetation along the path by no means common
throughout the forest; for example, field maple, elm, hawthorn, and further
up, wild service. There are also many blackberries - in the autumn this
whole walk is well provided with them - and many suckers of English Elm.
Dutch Elm disease affected this corner of Essex badly from the 1960s,
and many tall elms had to be felled. The stools sucker freely, but when
the young growth gets to a certain size, it too succumbs.
If the main path is very muddy, it is worth cutting diagonally right
across the field beyond the campsite, where there is often a mowed swathe,
and entering the wood at the top, turning right along the path just inside
the woodland to rejoin the main path higher up where it is drier.
After about 10 minutes, you are in Birch Wood, a later addition to the
Forest, once zoned by Loughton Council for housing. The high wire fence
of the Epping Forest Deer Sanctuary comes in sight on the right. The Sanctuary,
108 acres in extent, was purchased by the Conservators and instituted
in 1960. It is not part of the legal Forest. The deer can use leaps to
get into the Forest proper. (??Richard - is this still so?)
Some fine oaks and beeches dot the wood and surrounding land from here.
Birch Wood was an area of coppice, though coppicing must have ceased a
long time ago. Do not try to cross the patch of bramble or scrub you see
at first - this will just frighten any deer that happen to be nearby.
Wait until you get to a point where the fence is only a couple of yards
from the path. It is often possible to see lone deer, or groups, especially
with binoculars, in the deer park in front of you, with the green bulk
of Gaunt's and Ruddock's (or Redoaks) Woods (Theydon Bois) in the distance.
There are also distant views across Essex towards Ongar. As you near the
fence, you cross the parish boundary (unmarked) between Theydon Bois and
Loughton. Follow the path parallel to the fence (it goes through several
dead and dying beeches at this point) onwards to the back entrance of
the deer sanctuary, where the (very strict) regulations concerning it
are posted. This is another good point to observe the deer. The building
up ahead is Birch Hall Farm; Birch Hall (Theydon Bois) itself is beyond.
Birch Hall and Wood are curious misnomers, since there are few birches
in this wood where beech is most noticeable. In old records, the spelling
is "Burch", and this may indicate a derivation from the old
buch, which became in modern English beech.
A stile in the fence on your left leads to a path diagonally set across
a meadow, part of the Forest buffer-land. In the far corner, though obscured
by bushes, are another stile and a rather rickety bridge over the stream.
Ignore the bridge on the right-hand side of the field: this just leads
into the adjacent meadow. Cross the bridge, re-enter the Forest, and follow
the stream on its far (west) bank in a left hand (with the flow) direction.
This is a very fine valley, with many beeches. The stream enters a culvert,
and the Debden House campsite is again visible ahead.
Debden House owned the fields hereabouts, which William Waller described
accurately as "park-like"; they were indeed called "Loughton
Parks". Many rabbits graze on the slopes here, and venture onto the
Forest as well. Hares are not unknown. There are good, and unusual, views
of the Forest, which surrounds on all sides the fields of the Parks.
Turn right onto the path just inside the Forest. At the first turn in
the boundary, you come to a cleared area, where there are some convenient
logs for resting. Fallen trees are valuable to the Forest ecology as a
habitat for insects and other invertebrates, and are also home to many
fungi. These are especially noticeable in the autumn, and include bracket
fungus, and (usually earlier) oyster mushroom. On the forest floor are
to be found many others, including shaggy inkcap, and fly agaric. There
also seem to be more than the usual number of birds hereabouts, including
tits, nuthatches, robins, and wrens.
Take the lower of the two paths (the one nearer the campsite), which
enters an area with a group of seven pollard beeches, and numerous fallen
trees. Ahead is one of the largest beeches in this part of the Forest,
a huge specimen with a massive canopy, and a many stemmed trunk six or
seven paces round the base. It was no doubt a coppice stool that sent
up several trunks that over the centuries knitted together. Keep well
to the left of this tree, the path going through an area of bracken and
birch. Keeping left, follow the path along the ridge - dotted with large
beeches - and pass on your immediate left a curious straight line of five
beeches and an oak. It was in this area that deep ditches were cut as
tank traps in 1940; they were later filled in. This is a good area in
which to see the forest deer.
You will see the surfaced line of the Green Ride ahead of you; turn left
onto it, until you cross the Broadstrood stream by a bridge. Just beyond
the bridge, turn left on to another ride. This descends with a couple
of turns, including one over a wide railed bridge over another stream.
Hedgerow shrubs, including elder, sloe, and many blackberries flank the
After a few minutes, you come to the forest gate. From the path that
goes off to the right just before it, you can see the back of Hartshill
(now Forest Rise), a grand house built by Edmond Egan for John Gregson.
Go through the gate. On your left are the buildings of a former farm,
and then the white painted Debden Mount, once in the possession of the
Upton and Warwick families, a handsome house of mid-19th century appearance,
and on the right, Elm Cottage, once the home of the van der Gucht family,
probably of 17th century origin, a "lobby-entrance" house. After
some newer houses comes early-19th century Debden House itself, home of
the Standidge and Pryor families: it was bought by the East Ham County
Borough Council in 1949, and is kept by their successors in first-class
order, with pleasant gardens. Day-camping facilities are available for
a nominal charge, whereby you can roam through the grounds, have a picnic
or barbecue, and see this walk from the "inside" of the park.
It is also worth walking along the north-east side of the green to look
at Algars, formerly The Beeches, another of Loughton's weatherboarded
houses, again of 17th century origin. On the other side of the main lane,
further south, are the forlorn entrance gates, some 200 years old, of
the former Debden Hall. The wooded land hereabouts, though in the Green
Belt, is the former garden of Debden Hall-as late as 1955 it was not wooded,
and is not part of the Forest - it is in the hands of a land company.
In this old garden, on the Grosvenor Rise side, is a strange mound, marked
as an antiquity, but which has not been excavated. Here also is Home Mead,
which is being preserved as a nature reserve by Epping Forest Council.
Further along Debden Lane towards Theydon Bois, the last house in Loughton,
is the superb mock-Tudor country house, Ripley Grange (no admittance,
and not visible from the road). It was built in the 1920s by Charles Clarke,
owner of the Caribonum Company, has 40 acres of garden, and was on sale
in 1999 for £4million.
Walk 5. Fairmead and Connaught Water
Start point: Entrance to the Warren, Warren Hill. Distance: 3.8 miles.
Time: 1hour 20 min. Terrain - Level. Parts of the walk are muddy in winter
or after rain, but alternatives are available. Refreshments; none (there
is usually an ice-cream van at the Connaught Water car park in summer,
but the café there has been closed.) Buses - routes 20, 397, and
549 stop (ask for Spring Grove) by the Horse Pond at the bottom of Warren
Hill, the ¼ mile walk. Car parking: on street in Warren Hill or
Nursery Road - do not obstruct entries, and do not park at the right angled
bend between the two roads.
If you ask any visitor to Epping Forest where Connaught Water is, he
or she will reply, "Chingford". But in fact, this, the biggest
Forest lake, is not in Chingford at all, but is equally shared between
Waltham Abbey and Loughton parishes. The usual approach to it is from
Chingford, hence the confusion, but this walk takes in a portion of Loughton's
southern boundary that is seldom approached from the town itself.
At the 90-degree bend that forms the junction between Nursery Road and
Warren Hill is a gated road that leads to the Warren, home of the Forest
administration (no admittance). Take the surfaced ride that strikes off
between this gated road and Nursery Road - that is, to the north of the
The path leads between hedgebanks of oak (including at least one exotic
Turkey oak) and bramble. After a short distance, it divides. Take the
left fork (the right leads to Strawberry Hill Pond; walk 2) and carry
on along the surfaced ride. There is a small clearing on the right, with
good oaks and silver birch. On your left, you will see the fence of the
Warren grounds, and in a field just beyond the fence, a stone obelisk
that a former tenant erected to his favourite horse. The traffic of the
A104 (ex A11) Epping New Road will be seen beyond.
The path emerges at a gate into the Fairmead car park. Keep on the south
side of the car park, and cross the A104. Take great care, as traffic
commonly reaches 70 mph on this straight stretch of road. Note that from
about this point, all the streams drain via Connaught Water into the River
Ching, and thence into the Lea, whereas before it, they drain into the
Loughton Brook and then the Roding.
On the other side of the A104, turn sharp left along an unsurfaced ride
almost parallel with the road. However, this ride is frequently very wet,
and an alternative route is to carry straight on from where you crossed,
until you reach the old Fairmead Bottom Road, now a dead end, onto which
you turn left. The ride keeps just to the Loughton side of the (unmarked)
boundary with Waltham Holy Cross parish. This road predates the Epping
new Road, and was formerly a through route from Buckhurst Hill.
Fairmead Bottom, or Loughton Fairmead, was a plain created for hunting
purposes. The deer would be driven out of cover of the trees on to the
plain, where a grandstand was erected in the xxxx century for the nobles
to watch the chase. The timber frame of the standing remains, incorporated
in the Warren house.
Path and road will lead you to Palmer's Bridge, about 30 yards from what
was the junction with the Epping New Road. The Fairmead Bottom Road was
closed to traffic in about 1972, and its surface is now very poor indeed,
but it can still be entered by motor vehicles from its junction near the
motorcycle meet tea hut at High Beech.
Where the ride joins the road, walk along the road, and take the second
path (called the Red Path) on the right, keeping the stream on your right.
(The first path, with the stream on the left, leads to Grimston's Oak).
For much of its length, the Red Path is the boundary between the two parishes.
But note that on the Loughton side, very few of the trees have ever been
lopped, despite lopping rights having subsisted till 1879. This area was
simply too far from the settlement of Loughton to make lopping viable.
Oak predominates in this area, and is especially noticeable in the late
autumn, when the oaks generally retain a mantle of yellow leaves after
the other trees have shed theirs.
After a few minutes, Connaught Water comes in sight on your right. You
may also hear the buzz of model aeroplanes, which are flown on Chingford
plain about 200 yards south west. The water is a fine lake, created in
188X, with four islands, three of which are in Loughton, as the parish
boundary with Waltham bisects the lake For decades it was one of the prime
centres for boating in the Forest, an attraction in its own right. In
the 1880s, a paddle steamer plied on the lake (a small illustration is
on p. XXX), but mostly, rowing boats and canoes held their own, until
the hirer ceased business in the early 1990s.
Nowadays, the birds reign supreme, and are noted for their variety and
interest. Moorhen, coots, mallard, great crested grebe, Canada geese,
pochard and wigeon are among the waterfowl seen, plus, of course, the
mallard. Connaught water is a favourite place for children to feed the
waterfowl, and in winter, the residents are joined by numerous gulls,
whose swoopings and altercations cause much merriment.
Walk round the lake anti-clockwise. The first seat and island you come
to are in Loughton, the second, in Waltham; and then on, the western bank
is in the latter parish. The edges of the lake have been stabilised of
late, and a firm walk the whole way is assured whatever the rainfall,
the streamlets that used to cause boggy areas having been carried under
the path in pipes. The edges are reasonably clear, allowing appreciation
of the fine trees, mostly oak, and the views.
The lake is well stocked with fish, and frequented by anglers. In the
spring, during spawning, if you are lucky, you may see the fish leaping
from the surface.
On the southern edge, you come to a brick culvert, which carries the
River Ching away to the south, and at that point re-enter Loughton. The
culvert replaces a rustic bridge erected when the lake was dug: it is
less picturesque, but more efficient. The large car park then comes in
sight - carry on round the eastern side of the lake, past the site of
the old boathouse and tea hut, back to where you joined it. Turn right
onto the Red Path, back to the car park, and then walk left along Rangers
Road to its junction with the Epping New Road. (You can also go on to
Chingford by turning right, a fine walk across Chingford Plain to Queen
Elizabeth's Lodge, the Royal Forest Hotel, and Chingford Station, whence
you can catch (Mon-Sat) a no. 397 bus back to Loughton.)
At the top of Rangers Road, cross the Epping New Road (again, being very
careful), and enter the Forest by a stile about 25 yards north of the
junction. (The stile was missing in late 2001) The path divides, and you
should bear right. This area was cleared in 2001: it was formerly occupied
by a dense stand of sweet chestnut, and regeneration of this species can
To your right, you will see a clump of pines. Make for this clump by
a side path. Pines are not, of course, native to the Forest, and these
were planted when the owners of Warren Hill House enclosed the grounds.
Just beyond the pines opens up one of Loughton's least known but most
impressive views. Over the treetops on your left is the Roding Valley,
the buildings "down below" obscured by trees. The vista is entirely
rural, and extends from Chigwell to Hainault Forest. 100 yards further
on, visible through a low fence (private, do not cross) is Warren Hill
House, a superb Victorian Gothic mansion, occupied in Edwardian times
by Sir Daniel Mackinnon, and later by the Lusty family, who were the makers
of Lloyd-loom woven furniture. It is now divided up into flats, and parts
of the former grounds are Epping Forest buffer land.
Retrace your steps to the pines, and turn right. This is a heath, with
clumps of heater and many rabbits, which keep the sward short. Ahead is
a fine oak, unlopped, with an extensive canopy and a bole about 14ft in
circumference. Join the ride, turning left by the oak, and descend the
hill. You will see ahead of you the postbox at the top of Warren Hill,
where the walk started.
Walk 6. Great Monk Wood
Start point: Goldings Hill Pond. Distance: 3.2 miles. Time, about 1hour
20 minutes. Terrain: The walk keeps generally to the 300ft contour, but
because the area is intersected by valleys, there are several quite steep
descents and climbs. There is one stream to be crossed, which requires
average agility. Bus - 250 and H1 stop at the beginning of the walk and
also at the Broadstrood Lodge end of it. Car parking - on street in Baldwins
Hill. Refreshments: the Foresters' Arms, in Baldwins Hill.
We have left this furthest corner of Loughton's Forest to the last. James
Brimble, author of the standard book on the Forest in the 1950s and 60s,
would argue the best should always be left to last. Monk Wood is certainly
rather different from the woodland to its south. Firstly, there are fewer
pollard trees - it is not true there are none - and secondly, the land
is high, and divided by the valleys of streams like the ribs of an umbrella.
The woodland is more open than to the south, and the paths are rather
less definite. This is a walk on which it easier to get lost than the
preceding six. But there is no fear of actually losing your way. Each
of the valleys, if you follow it downstream, leads to the one place, the
head of Baldwins Hill Pond, and so you can always find your way back to
the starting place.
Monk Wood, it is commonly alleged, remained immune from the Loughton
practice of lopping because it was under the direct control of the abbot
and monks of Waltham, hence its name. This, however, we find rather doubtful.
The abbey of Waltham was dissolved in 1536, and the rights passed to lay
lords of the manor, in the same way as the whole of the three manors of
Debden, Alderton and Loughton, which make up the present parish. It is
quite likely the real reason why lopping was not reckoned to be valid
in Monk Wood was simply its distance from the main settlement. After all,
the lopwood had to be dragged laboriously by sledge off the Forest, and
pulling a sledge up and down the valley sides, with or without horse power,
for over two miles was not a task to be relished, or indeed, needed, when
there was plenty of similar wood much nearer Loughton. And hornbeam, which
burnt slowly and gave out a lot of heat, is not prevalent here as it was
Whatever the explanation, Monk Wood is certainly a superb piece of forest
Get off the bus at Goldings Hill Pond, or park the car just along Baldwins
Hill from its junction with Goldings Hill. Walk along to the most southerly
point of the pond. Goldings Hill Ponds, which were quite often regarded
just as "Loughton Ponds", had their origin in watering horses
and cooling wagon brakes, though there was probably gravel extraction
there too. A ford through the upper pond allowed wagons to be driven through
the water, so as to expand and cool the brake blocks before the long descent
down Goldings Hill. A similar horse pond exists still at the foot of Buckhurst
Hill, opposite Spring Grove.
The configuration of the ponds was changed in 2001, during de-silting
and restoration operations, and as always after such work, they looked
bare and derelict. Nature soon restores its own, and within a year, they
will again be pretty and placid. Eutrophy - that is, the natural refilling
of ponds by silt and driftwood, and their recolonisation with plants --
is a natural phenomenon, and every so often, re-digging has to be undertaken
to keep them open.
Follow the southern boundary of the south pond, and take the first path
leading left from it, just by a very tall oak. The path descends through
beeches, until you reach after about 350 yards the first stream. The stream
is crossed by some logs round which the water flows, and the path rises
through hornbeam and beech to come out onto the wide, surfaced Green Ride
opposite a 9-trunked beech, regrowth round an ancient coppice stool. Turn
left on to the Ride and follow it past a clearing where some recent pollards
stand, some dead, until you come to a bridge. 20 yards beyond this first
bridge is a path off to the right, just by a silver birch trunk that at
some time has been cleanly snapped off about 12ft from the ground. If
you continue along the Green Ride till you come to a pair of culverts,
you have gone too far!
The path, which is unsurfaced, descends to two log bridges or culverts
over two more of the Monk Wood steams, and then begins to climb, through
beech, oak and birch, until you reach a very pleasant glade, with moss,
bracken and coarse grasses. On your left, you will see an oak, which looks
as if it had been recently pollarded, with regrowth perhaps a tenth as
wide as the trunk about 10ft from the ground. In all probability, this
resulted from wind damage, but the tree does give an idea of what most
of Loughton's forest looked like 125 years ago. The old loppers would
leave one bough on a beech to continue growth. If this is not done, the
tree may die.
Enter the trees as the path goes through some rather boggy stretches
(which are easily circumnavigated) and you come after a short distance
to another oak and beech glade. At the end of this, the path crosses a
large fallen beech, and you can see on your left another of the Monk Wood
streams, this one being the Wake Valley stream, two arms of which descend
from the area of the Epping New Road near Wake Valley Pond, on Loughton's
north-western extremity. At this point the track becomes less marked,
but keep right, and if there is a seeming choice of paths, choose the
right hand one. You will now have been walking for about 50 minutes.
Keeping right, you descend to the valley of another stream. The path
goes down to where it looks as if there should be a bridge - but in fact
there is none. The stream, which is about 4ft wide, can however be crossed
at several points where the banks open out. Resume the broad path the
other side, which leads out to the Green Ride.
Here you have a choice. You can turn left, which brings you out in about
5 minutes to the Broadstrood car park in Goldings Hill. Here was once
a pleasant keeper's lodge, built for J W Maitland when he was Lord of
the Manor, for his keeper, Luffman, before the Corporation were appointed
conservators. It was a half-timbered construction, unfortunately demolished
Cross the main road, which can be very busy, into the car park, and turn
immediately right, parallel to the A121, along an unsurfaced horse ride
waymarked with white posts. In a few minutes, this leads down to the new
keepers' cottages by the side of Gregson's Ride. Gregson was the owner
and builder of Hartshill (walk 4), and it is said (we have never seen
any evidence) that the ride was made to allow delivery of materials to
the Hartshill site when the house was under construction.
Cross the road again, and walk back to the starting point, now in view.
As you do so, you will pass on your right the 13th milestone, erected
in the late 18th-century by the Epping and Ongar Turnpike Trust. This
is a listed structure, without doubt the smallest in Epping Forest, and
was maintained by the Loughton Town Council in 1998-99 along with the
other two milestones in Loughton, one halfway down Church Hill, the other
opposite Spring Grove.
If on rejoining the Green Ride you turn right, you can carry on to the
point at which you left it, and having crossed the two culverts under
the ride about 75 yards further on from where you originally turned right,
strike out left by a path rising between the trees. This path follows
the stream to Baldwins Hill Pond, and you can then cross the dam in front
of it, and ascend the bank on its east side until you reach Baldwins Hill
at the Foresters' Arms.
The Theydon Bois
& District Rural Preservation Society have a number of escorted
walks in the forest around Theydon Bois in the Summer. These are free
and all are welcome.
in Essex - John Harris's excellent web site of Essex Walks.