▷ Epping Forest




In August Middle Way walkers returned to Epping Forest blinking into full sunshine after what had seemed weeks of grey skies and downpours. The meeting place, Chingford Station, boasts a splendid mosaiced roundel, and a reminder of the age of steam trains and perhaps a Brief Encounter?

Effortlessly led by Alex (with an impressive clipboard), we walked to the Epping Forest visitor centre and Queen Elizabeth’s Hunting Lodge before turning right into the forest, and immediately stumbled upon something one would normally only find on a walk in late autumn or winter – mud! It seemed very odd to be negotiating pools of water in high Summer, but we managed without any unfortunate incidents to spoil the day.

It was a wonderful walk in the woodland, the silence pierced on occasions by the sound of speeding cars and motor cycles on the busy roads that bisect the forest, although those with no sense of direction and lack of map-reading skills would surely have become hopelessly lost. Striking, though, was the lack of wildlife to be seen, although perhaps the sight of a impressively large heron on Connaught Water provided some compensation.