Camping And Walking In Epping Forest Essex
Camping in Epping Forest, for me, conjures up images of finding a secret spot next to a stream where I can pitch up my gear and spit roast a wild squirrel on my fire. Now, that’s never going to happen for several reasons; I don’t like camping, I’m scared of the dark and I can’t hunt.
This type of ‘wild camping’ is illegal in Epping Forest, as it is anywhere in England unless you have special permission from the land owner. Wild camping with motorhomes is also not allowed and you will be moved on by the forest rangers regardless of whether there is a ‘No Camping’ sign or not. The main parts of Epping Forest do get busy in to the early hours so you’re not likely to get much peace if you camp in close proximity to your transport but you may be fine if you just have a canopy, or make use of one of the many bivouacs in Epping Forest, and don’t light a fire. In Scotland wild camping is far more acceptable and very popular.
The most sensible and safe option is to camp nearby and enjoy Epping Forest during the day with plenty of walks in Epping Forest trying to track down some of Epping Forest’s native Fallow Deer or, failing that, a trip to the Epping Forest Deer Sanctuary.
Here is my quick guide to camping in Epping Forest for your walking holidays.
Debden House Centre
Debden House Centre is situated in Loughton, Essex, and right next to Epping Forest. They have 7 fields, including 4 fire fields, with over 300 pitches, many with electric hookup for caravans and campervans. You have to fill in an enquiry form on their website for more details. Debden campsite is open from 1st May to the 30th September yearly.
Woodland Camp is situated a short drive from Epping Forest in Romford, Essex. They have assorted areas for camping within a Woodland Valley, with one of the larger Woodland Plateau camping areas featuring a “camping shelter” large enough for 30 people, an outdoor BBQ and a campfire location. Their website is easy to use, very informative and includes a video and image gallery. Woodland Camp is open all year round.
Lee Valley Campsite
Lee Valley Campsite is situated in Sewardstone, Chingford, Essex and offers a perfect location in Epping Forest. They have 1,000 acres for tents and caravans, or you can choose to stay in a cosy cocoon or family cabin. They have a very comprehensive website and you can book online quite easily. Lee Valley Campsite open all year round.
Here is a full list of walks in Epping Forest
Click on the link for the latest Epping Forest Map 2012 with up to date news, visitor centre details and information on Epping Forest walking routes. There is also a very good Epping Forest walking map available at the Epping Forest shop at the Queen Elizabeth Hunting Lodge in Chingford so that you can plan your own special walking routes in and around the ancient royal hunting grounds of Epping Forest. Click here for Camping in Epping Forest.
Easy Short Walks
Easy walks that are suitable for all of the family, mostly up to 5 miles which should take a leisurely 2 to 3 hours to complete. Epping Forest can be quite muddy so it is advisable to wear a good pair of walking boots or waterproof walking shoes. Facilities can be quite limited in Epping Forest with High Beach being the most central location for refreshments and toilet facilities.
Gunpowder Park Walk A simple 2 mile circular walk in Gunpowder Park offers leisurely walking routes in an area of conservation near Waltham Abbey.
South Woodford Walk An easy 3 mile linear walk from South Woodford to Chingford following the Epping Forest Centenary Walk.
Willow Trail Walk A simple 3 mile classic family circular walk following The Willow Trail, one of the official Epping Forest walking routes, around Connaught Water.
Epping Forest Family Walk A 3 mile family stroll randomly around the ancient woodlands of Epping Forest from High Beach.
Holly Trail Walk A simple 3 mile classic family circular walk following The Holly Trail, one of the official Epping Forest walking routes, starting in Chingford.
Chestnut Trail Walk A simple 4 mile classic family circular walk following The Chestnut Trail, one of the official Epping Forest walking routes, starting in Wanstead.
Wanstead Park Walk A gentle 4 mile circular walk in Wanstead Park, lakes and woodland on well maintained walking routes, tracks and paths.
Family Favourite Walk An awesome 5 mile circular walk from Chingford taking in all of the best sights of this part of Epping Forest. Following the main walking routes this walk starts at Chingford Plain and takes you to High Beach, Loughton Camp, Kate’s Cellar, Strawberry Hill Ponds, Connaught Water and the Queen Elizabeth Hunting Lodge.
Moderate Longer Walks
These walks are typically between 5 to 10 miles long and can be quite challenging. These types of walks can take between 3 to 5 hours to complete at a good walking pace. Epping Forest has a myriad of pathways so always make sure you have a paper or digital map with you and take refreshments and plenty of liquids with you to keep hydrated. There are plenty of Epping Forest Fallow Deer, Muntjacs and other wildlife to be found on these walking routes so it is always worth keeping as quite as you can to avoid scaring them off before you get to see them!
Queen Elizabeth Hunting Lodge Walk An easy 6 mile circular walk from Queen Elizabeth’s Hunting Lodge to High Beach and back via the Epping Forest Green Ride walking routes.
Chingford Walk An easy 6 mile circular walk from Chingford to the famous Epping Forest Bikers Cafe.
Pole Hill Walk An easy 6 mile circular walk from Chingford to Pole Hill Obelisk and back via the Epping Forest Centenary Walk.
Gilwell Park Walk A good 6 mile circular walk around Gilwell Park, home of the Scout Association, with a Secret Bluebell Wood Video as an extra bonus!
High Beach Church Walk A simple 7 mile circular walk from Chingford to High Beach Church and back via the Centenary Walk, one of Epping Forest’s most well known walking routes.
Oak Trail Walk A gentle 7 mile circular walk along The Oak Trail, one of the official Epping Forest walking routes, including buffer lands, deer sanctuary and Ambresbury Banks.
High Beach Walk A good 7 mile circular High Beach walk from Connaught Water in Chingford including a visit to the Queen Elizabeth Hunting Lodge.
Upshire Walk A good 7 mile circular walk from High Beach, in the heart of Epping Forest, following The Forest Way walking routes through to Upshire and Copped Hall Gardens.
Waltham Abbey Walk A leisurely 7 mile circular walk from Waltham Abbey through the Epping Forest Lee Valley Park walking routes and the Royal Gunpowder Mills.
Chipping Ongar Walk A good 7 mile circular walk in Chipping Ongar starting at the unique Log Church in Greensted following the Essex Way walking routes and back via the Three Forest Way to Ongar Castle Motte and Baileys.
Jacks Hill Walk A good 7 mile circular walk from Jacks Hill in Theydon Bois including a visit to the Epping Forest Deer Sanctuary.
Kates Cellar Walk A decent 7 mile circular walk starting and finishing in Chingford, exploring Epping Forest’s Kate’s Cellar at Loughton Camp.
Ambresbury Banks Walk A solid 8 mile circular walk from High Beach to Ambresbury Banks Fort and then following the main Epping Forest walking routes to Loughton Camp near Loughton.
Essex Way to Epping Walk A solid 8 mile linear walk along The Essex Way walking routes from Chipping Ongar to the ancient woodlands of Epping Forest.
Deer Sanctuary Walk A solid 9 mile circular walk starting in Debden following popular walking routes to Abridge, Theydon Bois and then back via the Epping Forest Deer Sanctuary at Birch Hall.
Epping Green Walk An easy 9 mile linear walk starting in Epping Green following The Forest Way walking routes to the Centenary Way and ending at Chingford Plains.
Hainault Forest Country Park Walk An easy 9 mile linear walk from Hainault Forest Country Park folloowing the Three Forests Way and London Loop walking routes to Chingford.
Waltham Abbey to Epping Walk An epic 9 mile linear walk from Waltham Cross to Epping Town via Waltham Abbey and Epping Forest following the historic Green Lanes walking routes.
Good Long Walks
These walks are typically over 10 miles where you can really immerse yourself in Epping Forest and try some of the lesser known walking routes and hidden treasures, taking in as many as you can on a day long walk. Always be fully prepared for good long walks and long distance walking routes taking plenty of fluids, refreshments and plenty of plasters just in case!
Copped Hall Walk A great 10 mile circular walk from Loughton to Copped Hall House, using some of the most popular walking routes in Epping Forest.
Loughton Walk A solid 10 mile circular walk from Loughton to Jack’s Hill and Copped Hall House following well known Epping Forest walking routes.
Gifford Wood Walk – Extended A good 10 mile official Epping Forest walking route from extended from Theydon Bois to the start at Lodge Road to Copped Hall, Upshire and Warlies Park to the new Gifford Wood and back down to Theydon Bois via the Epping Forest Deer Sanctuary.
Abridge Walk An easy 11 mile circular walk from Hainault Forest Country Park to Abridge and back folowing popular Essex walking routes.
Queen Boudicca Walk An epic 12 mile circular walk, and one of my Epping Forest favourite walking routes, from Epping Town to Ambresbury Banks and the Queen Boudicca Obelisk with plenty of sightings of the Epping Forest Fallow Deer at Copped Hall.
Theydon Bois Walk A solid 13 mile circular walk from Theydon Bois following The Essex Way walking routes to the Roman Road and Gernon Bushes Nature Reserve.
Epping Forest District Walk An easy 14 miles circular walk from Epping Station to Birching Coppice, North Weald Bassett, Hastingwood and back via Thornwood. This is another of my favourite Epping Forest walking routes.
The Forest Way Walk The Forest Way is a 25 mile long distance linear walk along the walking routes, footpaths and green lanes of Epping Forest and Hatfield Forest.