We had heard from other dog walkers that this is one of the best places to visit with your dog and we could not agree more! But what they didn't say is how vast Epping Forest is! If you haven't been before it can be difficult to know where to start. With any walks we plan to visit this big, we always ask these 3 questions - What is the best area to visit? Where can dogs be off lead? Where can we park? (Psst - If you are familiar with Epping forest please feel free to skip the answered questions and read through our experience of the trail we found.)
What is the best area to visit? As we were planning to go on a warm spring day, we wanted to make sure that there was somewhere to stop for some lunch and drinks along with our walk. We also wanted a trail that was a good distance to walk and offered different terrains as Yianni loves to jump streams, run up and down hills and investigate the different smells.
Where can dogs be off lead? Yianni loves the freedom from his lead when out on a long walk, so we know to check for this where ever we go. Throughout this forest, there are bridle paths, free-roaming wildlife like Deer and cows. Due to this, they ask that throughout all of Epping forest, dogs are kept on the lead or off the lead and under control at all times. As well as the wildlife you may also come across roads on the routes you take on your walk.
Several local councils have issued Dog Control Orders that apply to you and your dog when walking in and around the area. There are Forest Keepers which are special constables and they are empowered to enforce both the bylaws and dog control orders.
When walking your dog in any part of the Forest that is in the following boroughs, you must:
- Clean up after your dog.
- Put your dog on a lead when directed to do so by an authorised officer, which includes Forest Keepers.
The following rules apply in four boroughs in the Epping forest:
- Epping forest District - You must not walk more than four dogs at once.
- London Borough of Waltham Forest - You must not walk more than six dogs at once, comply with dog exclusion areas indicated by signs - including children's play areas and keep your dog/s on their lead in designated areas.
- London Borough of Redbridge - Comply with dog exclusion areas indicated by signs - including children's play areas and keep your dog/s on their lead on highways, footpaths and grass verge.
- London Borough of Newham - You must not walk more than four dogs at once, comply with dog exclusion areas indicated by signs - including children's play areas and keep your dog/s on a lead on highways, footpaths and grass verges.
Our final question - where can we park? Not everywhere has great parking that has enough space for everyone but this is a place to walk that does! When we looked into parking we were lead to the City of London website which listed 52 different car parks through Epping forest. It is a great link to show you where the car parks are located and their names but it doesn't provide a postcode for you to input if you're using a satnav system to direct you on your way. So as great as this website is, we would say to use google maps to locate a car park or contact one of the Epping Forest information centres.
Beech trail, High beach.
With all this information we found the Beech trail, High Beach. There was plenty of parking, 3 pubs in the area and an Epping forest visitor centre for information of the trails and area. Here is a map of the trail that we walked and it can also be found here.
Luckily for us, the weather report was spot on and our day was filled with sun and a little cloud to keep it from being too hot. We started our walk from the car park on Wake road and as soon as we go out of the car, we were greeted by other dog walkers (something Yianni loves the most) To our delight we come across the Acorn Hut for a coffee and a warm sausage roll to kick-start our day of walking!
Our journey began walking the marked trail through the woodland until we got to the road crossing which is about 10 minutes into the walk (before you get to the road, you can see it ahead and also there is a gate to walk through). Once we crossed the road we had the option of following the trail on the right or to go off trail to the left. Normally we would follow the trail when walking in a new area so that we can get a feel for it, but this time we chose to turn left! Yianni was definitely glad about this choice, as we hit some small hills that he loves to run up and over. Our first thought was - this would be great if you were on a bicycle! We then came across a calm running stream, which was the perfect place to stop for a drink and for Yianni to play with his new favourite toy.
The sun was shining and the cloud that was around had cleared but we had cover from the trees to stop us from getting too hot. As we continued walking we realised how big the forest really is and began to wonder if leaving the trail was the best idea! Luckily for us, we enjoy walking and we got to experience the beautiful sounds of the wildlife. What a walk it was and Yianni had nothing but fun! Going off the trail meant that the suggested 1.5 - 2-hour walk in the area, ended in a 3.5-hour walk! We came across several pond area's where we just sat and took in the beauty and silence of what was around us. Yianni didn't sit for long obviously but he enjoyed wandering around smelling the different scents of the surrounding area.
Once we found our way back (we say this as we did get a little lost - a big thank you to google maps for getting us back) we headed to the Kings Oak Hotel that has a large outside area to rest for a drink and bite to eat in the sunshine. Dogs are allowed in the gardens, but they ask that they are not taken into the bar area. They also have a play area in the garden, if your children aren't worn out from the walk!
We hope you get the chance to visit here with your family, we definitely will be returning and venturing through more trails in the area!
To end we would like to sum up what this walk will offer you in 3 words - Adventure, Beauty, Tranquility.
Love from the Aurora Pets family x