Heart of the Forest
Grid ref: TQ 412 981 (click for o/s map)
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Epping Forest is set on a ridge of high land between the river valleys of the Lea and Roding, with its highest point a mile or so south of Epping. The ridge consists of patches of gravel laid down by the Thames aeons ago on top of beds of sandy clay, and it has a network of springs and water courses. The heart of the forest, with many massive ancient trees, lies to the west of the Epping Forest Conservation Centre at High Beach.
To see many of the best of the Forest's habitats, follow Three Forests Way – signposted Loughton – from the High Beach car park and turn left at Debden Slade on to Green Ride. Follow Green Ride all the way to Long Running, then return via St Thomas' Quarters and Verderer's Ride.
Leave the M25 at junction 26 and head east along the A121 towards Loughton. This brings you to the Wake Arms roundabout where the A121 meets Epping New Road and the road to Theydon Bois (B172). The Wake Road turns off the A121 on the right just before the roundabout and leads to the Conservation Centre.
Chingford station (BR Liverpool St) is a short walk from Queen Elizabeth's Hunting Lodge. The central parts of the Forest are a longer walk from Loughton or Theydon Bois stations on the Central Line, and bus services run from Debden station on the same line.
Forest accessible at all times.
Worth a visit at any time of year.
Call Forest Information Centre on 020 8508 0028. (The Conservation Centre is run by the Field Studies Council for school visits: phone 020 8508 7714.)