Epping and Theydon Bois
Celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Essex Way in 2022 with a circular walk from its starting point in Epping.
4.8 miles (7.8km)
Epping London Underground Station, Station Road, Epping, postcode CM16 4HW, grid reference TL462015.
From M11 J7 take the B1393 London Road to Epping. From M25 J26 head east on the A121 Honey Lane and at the Wake Arms roundabout that the first exit B1393 Epping Road. From the A414 take the B181 at the Talbot roundabout, through North Weald, to join the B1393. The station is well served by buses and is a terminus on the London Underground Central Line.
OS Explorer 174 Epping Forest and Lee Valley
The Station Café provides an opportunity for refreshment at the beginning or end of the walk. At half-way, there are pubs, cafés and restaurants, even a fish and chip shop, in Theydon Bois.
Places of interest
The Essex Way was devised in 1972 and runs for 81 miles across the county, from Epping station to Harwich Old Lighthouse. It is waymarked throughout by discs depicting a pair of red poppies. An illustrated guide is available free on the Essex Highways website. To the south and west lies Epping Forest; threatened in Victorian times by development and enclosure for agriculture, the forest was saved by an Act of Parliament and is under the stewardship of the City of London Corporation. A small part of the forest lies north of Epping between the B1393 and B181 and is known as the Lower Forest (the main forest is on higher ground); it can be explored from the small public parking area on The Woodyard (grid ref. TL471030).
- The starting point is a green plaque on the wall outside Epping tube station, marking the start of the Essex Way. Looking at the plaque, 40 metres along the pavement to the left is the entrance to a footbridge over the railway lines. Cross the bridge to emerge in a cul-de-sac which leads to a road called Bower Hill. Turn right and after 50 metres cross the road to enter the footpath next to Bower Court; you are following the very first sections of the Essex Way. The path soon emerges onto fields, then passes through a gap in a hedge to turn left and follow the field edge to emerge on Stewards Green Road.
- At this point the Essex Way turns left along a bridleway. If you fancy a very long walk across the county to Harwich then take that route. To continue on our walk, cross the road and take the footpath up a tarmacked lane leading to Little Thorn Hall Farm. At the farm head straight on through a wooden gate leading onto a golf course. Join a surfaced path but proceed with care; show consideration to the golfers and give way to any playing their shots. There are even some bells provided by which you can sound your presence. After the second bell the path passes across the course; aim just to the right of the electricity pylon on the opposite side. Once there, turn right and follow the hedge on your left, along the edge of the course. Pass a second pylon, on your right, then cross a wooden stile beside a metal gate, onto a concrete path leading through woodland with the noisy M25 just beyond; there is a close view of the overhead gantry before junction 27 (with the M11). Pass a third pylon on your right and the path then turns left, passing under the M25 via an underpass.
- South of the M25 the path bends left; after 80 metres turn off right to join a path on the right of a ditch. Follow this as it meanders for 750 metres – off to the right you will see the trains on the line between Epping and Theydon Bois - until the path leads off across a wooden footbridge at a field corner, to emerge in a rough meadow. Keep to the left, passing a small but beautifully spreading oak tree, until you cross a metal footbridge with a squeeze stile at the far end. Turn right and follow the hedge line; the path goes on to join a fenced concrete path adjacent to the railway and then crosses the lines via a footbridge. You are now in Theydon Bois.
- Follow the road, past the Indian restaurant; The Bull pub is on the left. Opposite the pub head along Forest Drive where there are further places to eat and drink. Continue all the way to the dead-end of Forest Drive where a footpath continues, passing between garden fences and a ditch. After 400 metres take a wooden bridge on the right and continue left, through a kissing gate beside a field gate, to head towards a dead tree at the top of the rise. Beyond this the path joins a well-used, hedged track heading downhill to another kissing gate, after which the path turns right to follow the edge of a pasture, through another gate and left onto a lane. Head up the lane to now cross over the M25.
- On the other side of the bridge, keep left and pass through a gap beside a metal gate. Follow the path straight on, passing under the overhead pylon cables, and continue downhill. Skirt a redundant wooden kissing gate and continue on, to emerge opposite the school on Ivy Chimneys Road. Turn right then turn left into Centre Drive. After 600 metres, just past the turn into Woodland Grove, turn left down an alley footpath which leads back to the station (if you would rather avoid a flight of steps down then continue along Centre Drive and turn right).