Epping, more than just an enchanted forest

Steeped in history, character and green spaces, this corner of Essex has all the right ingredients for a short break – whether you’re looking to embrace the great outdoors, soak up some royal heritage, step back in time, or enjoy the café culture and retail therapy.

Epping Forest District’s location makes it an ideal visitor destination, and its London Underground connections make it perfect for day trips. Both Epping Forest and the River Lea provide direct green links from London meaning visitors can choose to arrive on foot or by bike. With so much on offer many visitors choose to stay longer and make a weekend of it, as well as finding it a great base from which to explore the capital.

Steeped in history, character and green spaces, Epping Forest district offers everything from the great outdoors and hands-on history to café culture and retail therapy. Its close proximity to London and underground connections and direct forest links make it an ideal and relaxing country base to explore the Capital.

Explore the Epping Forest District

Picture of the Epping Forest District Council tourism logo.
Visit the Epping Forest District website

Epping lends its name to a forest, a market town and surrounding district that never fails to surprise and delight visitors – and all just a walk, ride or tube journey away from the Capital.

The ancient market town of Waltham Abbey is the resting place of King Harold, home to the Royal Gunpowder Mills and neighbour to the Lee Valley White Water Centre.

For a great day in the countryside, head into Epping Forest and call in on Queen Elizabeth's Hunting Lodge or discover the delights of the Essex Way beginning outside Epping Station on the Central Line. Lee Valley Regional Park offers much for the leisure visitor and Lee Valley Park Farms and Ashlyns Farm at North Weald are popular family days out.

Greensted’s 11th century church is the oldest wooden church in the world whilst at Copped Hall, Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream was first performed. Combine your visit with lunch in the leafy market towns of Epping or Ongar, two destinations linked by the Epping Ongar Heritage Railway or alight at North Weald with museum and weekly outdoor market on this former Battle of Britain airfield, still active today. For the ultimate retail therapy head for Loughton and Buckhurst Hill where you’ll find fashion and designer goods that inspired the TOWIE look. Finish with fine dining in one of the district’s many acclaimed restaurants.

Epping lends its name to a forest, a market town and district where you’ll find the abbey where King Harold is buried, Queen Elizabeth's Hunting Lodge, a mansion where a Midsummer Night’s Dream was first performed, a Battle of Britain airfield still active today and the world’s oldest wooden church. Take a trip on a steam railway, discover the history of gunpowder and rockets or enjoy the open countryside along the Essex Way or the seclusion of an ancient forest. For the ultimate retail therapy you’ll find fashion and designer goods and to finish a great day out experience fine dining in one of the district’s many acclaimed restaurants.

Highlights of the area

Picture of the exterior of the white timber framed building in bright sunshine.
Epping Forest stretches from Manor Park in East London to just north of Epping. It’s a landscape of national and international conservation importance and a significant wildlife habitat. Its features also include the Grade II* listed Queen Elizabeth’s Hunting Lodge and the remains of two large Iron Age earthworks at Loughton Camp and Ambresbury Banks.
Picture of the side of the building showing also the boarded up windows.
Copped Hall was the burnt-out shell of a fine Georgian mansion. A campaign to restore it to its former glory is an on-going process. You can visit Copped Hall to follow their progress. The gardens are well worth a visit. Rock star Rod Stewart also lives in a property on the Copped Hall estate.
A vintage train blowing steam whilst standing on the platform.

Epping Ongar Railway is Essex’s longest heritage railway and the closest to London, running from Ongar to North Weald and into Epping Forest. Heritage bus services also operate running to the very front door of Epping’s Underground Station and through the picturesque high street.

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Part of the Epping Forest Gateway, Queen Elizabeth Hunting Lodge was built by Henry VIII in 1543 and later renovated by Elizabeth I. It’s a remarkable and rare survival of an intact timber-framed hunt still standing, surrounded by its medieval royal hunting forest.

Explore Epping Forest

Formerly home to highwaymen, like the infamous Dick Turpin, much of the forest is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). It’s also a charming location to get away from it all and enjoy a bit of nature, right on London’s doorstep, with plenty of trails for walking, cycling and horse riding.

Picture of a dragonfly sitting on a flower.

Epping Forest has over 20 miles of surfaced trails and around 6,000 acres of forest to explore on foot. Whether you want a quiet lakeside stroll or are looking to train for a marathon, the Forest is a perfect place for walking and running. Dowload walking trails here.