About the Forest

About the Forest

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Epping Forest is the largest open space in the London area at just over 6,000 acres, stretching from Manor Park in East London to just north of Epping in Essex. It’s a magnificent resource for people and wildlife, allowing visitors to explore the open grasslands, majestic beech woodlands, look deep into its ponds and listen to the birds, just a few miles from central London.

Entrusted to the City of London as Conservators by the Epping Forest Act of 1878, to maintain its natural aspect, the Forest was dedicated by Queen Victoria ‘for the enjoyment of my people for ever’.

Much of the Forest is of national and international conservation importance with two thirds of it being designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest and a Special Area of Conservation. These designations are due to its large numbers of ancient trees which support a wealth of wildlife, including wood-boring beetles and fungi, its ancient grasslands and heaths, as well as its many freshwater ponds. Oak, Beech, Birch and Hornbeam are the dominant trees.

Of the over 100 ponds in the Forest, few are natural, originating rather as cattle ponds, horse ponds, gravel extraction, through land drainage, bombs, V2 Rockets and golfing hazards!

You will also find two Iron-Age earthworks, the Queen Elizabeth Hunting Lodge (1543), the Greenwich Meridian line, teeming animal, insect and bird-life; ancient woodland, grassland, heaths, bogs and marshes – and hills with views to central London! It’s a very special place.

There is good public access, with tube, train and bus routes and stations around it. There are many car parks, tea huts and cafes and ample pubs.

Three visitor centres provide information for the public.

  • Epping Forest Visitor Centre at High Beach, managed by the Epping Forest Heritage Trust.
  • Epping Forest Visitor Centre at Chingford, managed directly by The City of London.
  • The Temple in Wanstead Park, focussing on the heritage locally.

Click here to download a central, close-up Forest map, courtesy and copyright of City of London and there, explore further perspectives of this wonderful space.

Even Dick Turpin hung around here for a while!