Located just 25 kilometers north of London in the county of Essex, Epping is a tranquil getaway from the hectic streets of the big city. Surrounded by countryside, yet close enough to London to be on the London Underground network, Epping’s biggest attraction is the ancient, 6,000-acre Epping Forest.
The forest is a nature lover’s haven, filled with bridleways and paths that lead through the trees. What makes this forest truly remarkable is that it was originally one of the royal hunting forests, frequented by kings. Head to the Epping Forest Visitor Center to find out about organized walks, which feature themes such as bats and archaeology, or assist the wardens in tree planting.
On the southern edge of the forest you will find Queen Elizabeth’s Hunting Lodge. Built in 1543, this timber-framed Tudor building was where Henry VIII came to watch hunting. Also worth a visit are Wanstead Park and the vestiges of two Iron Age settlements including Loughton Camp Hill Fort. Both Iron Age forts are thought to date from about 500 BC. To learn more about the forest and its history, check out the Epping Forest District Museum; this museum provides information on the area’s earliest inhabitants.
Separated from the outer suburbs of London by the forest, the town of Epping has a history of its own recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086. To experience the charm of this old market town, head to the High street, which has a number of large and small retailers as well as a market on Mondays.
The town has a plethora of timber-framed buildings dating from the 17th century, the oldest being the Black Lion public house. Also worth a visit is the Gothic water tower, built in 1872; St Johns Parish Church, built in 1889; and Copped Hall, a burnt-out shell of a Georgian mansion situated on a ridge surrounded by beautiful gardens.