Straddling a ridge on the outskirts of London, Epping Forest is one of Britain’s most revered patches of woodland. In 1882, when Queen Elizabeth proclaimed the 600 acres (243 hectares) known as Epping Forest to be the people’s forest, the area became a destination for leisure seekers. Today, the tradition continues with locals and visitors to the region using the forest for hiking, bird-watching and mountain biking.
Start your day with a stop at one of the visitor centers found throughout the park. Here you can learn about the ecology and history of the forest. Listen in to a ranger talk and find out why the forest is one of just three Special Areas for Conservation in the area. Interactive activities will entertain children for hours and leave them excited to explore the winding paths that lead from the centers into the forest. Before you leave a center, pick up a trail guide to help you discover the regions of Epping Forest.
Keep watch for the local wildlife as you hike along the trails. As well as deer, rabbits and squirrels, the forest is home to many rare species of bird. Epping Forest is a popular destination for bird-watchers, with great crested grebe, woodpeckers and skylarks commonly seen nesting in the trees.
Experience the thrill of mountain biking; rent a bike from the Cycle Hire Centre located within the forest. Safety information is provided for first-timers and a map gives information about the various trails.
Epping Forest is located approximately 15 miles (24 kilometers) from London and can be reached by car in less than an hour. Free parking is available at all entrances to the forest. Use public transport to reach the forest via the city of London. The forest is open daily and there is no admission fee.