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|A circular walk from Chingford Station to High Beach and back.|
This circular walk is about 7½ miles and can be completed in about 4 hours including the small diversions and a short stop for lunch. You could take a lot more time and walk at a much more leisurely pace, spend more time at the various locations of interest and/or spend more time over lunch.
You can see Queen Elizabeth's Hunting Lodge (Tudor), Connaught Water (Lake), Strawberry Hill Pond, Loughton Camp (Iron age earthwork), High Beach (view across to London), High Beach Church and of course lots of forest and wildlife. You may even meet some of the Epping Forest cattle (English Longhorns).
The figures given in square brackets  are Ordnance Survey grid references for use with the map mentioned in the Notes section at the bottom of this page. Instructions for using these references are also to be found in the Notes section.
The walk - distances given for each section are approximate.
After leaving Chingford Station  walk across the forecourt to Station Road and turn right along it. After a few hundred yards you will see Chingford Plain across the road on your left. Follow the pavement alongside the road until you reach a point where the pavement runs out. Cross the road to where the pavement restarts on the other side and continue in the same direction. You will soon arrive at the Royal Forest pub  which may look an imposing half-timbered building but it is modern being only about 100 years old. Continue past this to the Queen Elizabeth Hunting Lodge.
2. Queen Elizabeth's Hunting Lodge to Connaught Water (Two thirds of a mile)
You will be able to walk round the outside the lodge at any timel but opening hours are restricted so you may not be able to go in to see the interior. Butlers Retreat next to the lodge provides light refreshments. Go to the back of Butlers Retreat where you will see a stone obelisk. Looking out across Chingford Plain from this obelisk you will see, slightly to your right, two small dirt paths; take the left-hand of the two.
If you refer to the aerial view (link above) you will see, in the right half of the picture, three paths forming an inverted 'Y'. Move your mouse cursor over this part of the map and, on the superimposed map, you will see that one of the paths is labelled 'Horse Ride'. This is the path referred to in the previous paragraph.
Follow this path until you reach a wide sandy coloured track  running across from left to right (these are the paths forming the other part of the inverted 'Y' mentioned in the previous paragraph). Don't go along the left hand leg but go across onto a grass track.
If you refer to the aerial view again you will see, to the right of the 'Y' junction a 'V' shaped area pointing into the trees towards Connaught Water. The grass track runs along the edge of the 'V' into the point. You will see from the aerial photograph that Connaught Water is just a short distance through the trees.
When you reach another junction bear left over a small stream. Very soon after you will reach the edge of Connaught Water .
3. Connaught Water to Strawberry Hill Pond ( 1 mile )
Turn left and follow the edge of the lake, in a clockwise direction, for about one third of a mile until the path crosses another small stream, which may not always have water in it, and which goes under the path via a culvert (pipe) . Near this point there are two islands in the lake quite near the shore and the culvert is just past the second island. This leads to a T-junction where you should turn left. Once on this path it should be easily identifiable as the correct path because it is completely straight, both in front of you and behind you, at this point.
Follow this path until it joins a small tarmac road along Fairmead Bottom . Turn left onto this road and follow it until an obvious track crosses it  then turn right off the road onto the track. Off to each side of this stretch of path there are some small ponds formed from World War II bomb craters. You will eventually reach a main road, A104, which you should cross. This road carries fast traffic and should be crossed with care. About 30 yards after crossing the road the path reaches another surfaced track , running from left to right, and you should turn left onto the new track. At the next T-junction  turn left and, after about 250 yards, look out for a pond on the left  which is Strawberry Hill Pond.
4. Strawberry Hill Pond to Loughton Camp (1 mile)
After looking round the pond return to the same track and continue in the direction in which you were originally travelling.This track will eventually pass another pond and reach a road called Earls Path. Cross the road and continue on the track. This section of path runs along Loughton Brook valley where the stream, on your right, has cut some classical meanders. You will eventually reach a point where the track goes downhill and then uphill and slowly levels off then curves left, right, left, right and finally left. Just before the last left curve there should be a small opening through the undergrowth edging the track which will give you easy access to the forest .
Head into the forest keeping very slightly left until you reach an obvious ditch and bank  which is Loughton Camp. The bank is about four feet high and ten feet wide so you shouldn't really miss it.
A word of warning here! When you get away from the track there are no obviously identifiable landmarks although you will probably find Loughton Camp if you can traverse a straight line for a relatively short distance. The edge of the ditch and bank is about 80 yards from the track and the earthwork is about 200 yards in diameter. Once you reach the camp you can follow the ditch and bank around it but you must be able to identify the point at which you first reached the bank so that you can then head back in the correct direction to find the track again.
5. Loughton Camp to High Beach (1 mile)
When you return to the track continue in the direction in which you were originally going (turn left onto it) and turn left at the next junction  (ignore the track marked on the OS map labelled 'Centenary Walk', as this track is all but invisible on the ground, and look on the OS map for the next small track which passes between the words 'Little Monk'). Follow the path until you once again reach the A104 and, again, be careful when you cross as this road is straight and traffic travels fast. Go straight across and continue along the path on the other side. At the next junction  turn right and continue until another path crosses the path that you are on (this is a new path and is not marked on the OS map). Continue by going straight across. Turn left at the next junction onto a wheelchair path (again this is a new path and is not marked on the OS map) and keep straight on at the next junction. This will bring you to the Information Centre at High Beach.
Next to the Information Centre is the Kings Oak pub. There is a kiosk adjacent to the pub which sells light refreshments.
NOTE: There is no public transport to or from High Beach except for taxis and you would have to telephone for one of those.
6. High Beach to Chingford (2 ½ miles)
From the front of the Kings Oak pub  walk across the green in front of you to the road on the far side. Turn left along the road. Keep on this road ignoring any junctions to the side until you reach Arabin House on the right (post box set into the wall) where you should take the left fork in the road . This road will take you past High Beach Church . Continuing past the church will bring you to a T-junction where you should turn left. Follow this road until you see an obvious path on the right  just after a road junction on the left. Turn right onto the path which has a hard sandy looking surface. Stay on this obvious path ignoring any turns left or right. You will eventually cross over a small stream back onto Chingford Plain  and from this point to where you joined this sandy path at High Beach is about 1½ miles.
At this point you should go straight ahead, off the wide path, back up the narrow dirt path you originally came down. Don't follow the wide path as it curves to the left. You will arrive back at Butlers Retreat and Queen Elizabeth's Hunting lodge. Turn right down the road back to Chingford Station.
Remember that the forest is a living organism and, consequently, is subject to change. My directions are based on how the forest looked when we did our walk and although I have tried to pick landmarks that are unlikely to change you may find that there are some, hopefully small, differences.
Map of the area
I strongly urge you to putchase a copy of the Ordnance Survey Map 'Epping Forest and the Lea Valley' (Explorer 174) at a scale of 1:25000 (2.5 inches to the mile). This map shows all the features mentioned above together with most of the paths and would also have the advantage of enabling you to deviate from the above walk without becoming lost (assuming that you can actually read a map). There are no signposts or waymarkers in the forest.
I obtained my copy of the map from Guidepost where maps may be purchased on-line and delivered by mail but it is also available at many large stationers and bookshops. This map shows a small part of the area, at the start of the walk, shown to the same scale and includes Connaught Water (the blue patch just above the bottom of the map and below the words 'The Warren').
The map measures approximately 4 feet by 3 feet but is folded in such a way as to enable you to look at small parts of it without unfolding the whole sheet which makes it easier to use on a windy day. It is a good map but it's not perfect. Some paths are not shown and some paths which are shown as wide tracks are barely visible. I have included grid references of some of the locations for use in conjunction with this map.
If you don't know how to use Ordnance Survey grid references read the following section.
Along the top and bottom edges of the sheet you will see a scale starting at 30 (left) and going up to 50 (right ) and there is a similar scale along the left and right edges which runs from 85 (bottom) to 99 then 00 to 15 (top). Take the first 3 figures of the 6 figure reference and use the first 2 figures of these to find the position along the top or bottom scale. The third figure of the three then gives how many tenths to count up from this marker. The last 3 figures apply in a similar way to the left or right edges.
We can take Chingford Station as an example . We split the reference into two groups 392 946 and look for 39 along the top or bottom scale. You will see that the spaces between the grid lines are sub-divided into tenths so count 2 (tenth) divisions further on. This is your horizontal position. Now look for 94 along the left or right edge and count 6 (tenth) divisions further. This is your vertical postion. Where the two imaginary lines cross on the map is Chingford Station.
There are only three places that I know of where refreshments are available. They are the Queen Elizabeth Hunting Lodge area, the northern end of Fairmead Bottom (which would require a deviation from the above route) and High Beach. You could, of course, carry your own with you if you want.
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