37 – Epping Forest, a short family stroll 2.2 miles – 25th October

In short: half term week has meant taking three short walks rather than one longish one – this isn’t the most challenging and in fact is the shortest of the three but it is extremely pretty and a lovely pre-lunch stroll for a family group including an energetic octogenarian and a pair of teenagers. Delicious lunch in a cafe at the forest’s edge. 1 hour walking + 45 mins pitstop.

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The Chingford side of Epping Forest is very familiar to me as I grew up here and so often return to visit my dad – which is what we are doing this week – i.e. a short walk followed by a lovely lunch in a picturesque cafe. The colours of the autumn trees are gorgeous but a gloomy overcast day means the photos haven’t done these justice at all.

We park in the small, free car park opposite Queen Elizabeth’s hunting lodge on Rangers Road, postcode E4 7QH. From here we cross the road and go through a gate opposite, turning right to pass in front of the Butlers Retreat cafe, which we will be returning to later.

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There are toilets available to visitors in the modern glass-fronted information centre adjacent to the now white painted hunting lodge.

We take the path just at the back of the cafe beside the drinking fountain passing a pond on our right and heading slightly downhill on a wide grassy path.

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After crossing a couple of ditches we arrive at the bottom of the slight hill and cross a wide bridle path to continue straight on between trees and beside a small stream to arrive at the lovely local beauty spot, Connaught Water. Here we turn right and follow the paved path around the lake.

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Just after the car park we fork right along a path waymarked as a trail – this is more of a bridle path in terms of surface. We ignore paths off left leading back to the lake and waymarked trails right until we come to a more significant path arriving from the right. Here we turn left and head back towards our starting point.

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At the next major junction of paths we take a left and after a short while realise that this is in fact the path that we had crossed on our way to Connaught Waters

We take a path right uphill shortly before the one we descended on – and despite being only a few yards from our original path, we find that we have a completely different view on our surroundings. Stunning!

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At the brow of the hill the Butlers Retreat building comes into view on our left, with it’s outside tables under a spreading oak tree. Here we stop for a super lunch – their homemade savoury tarts and salad are always delicious – and a lovely coffee.

A great little family walk – even the teenagers enjoyed it!!

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