Epic Epping: Exploring London’s ancient woodland by bike

Charlie Allenby takes a two-wheeled trip through the rich history of Epping Forest

<p>London’s ancient woodland is the perfect pandemic playground</p>

London’s ancient woodland is the perfect pandemic playground

Epping Forest has always been shrouded in mystery for me. Growing up in the commuter belt town of Chelmsford, the place was synonymous with stories of gangland murders and tales of paranormal activity which involved parked cars rolling up hills and defying the laws of gravity.  

Despite it being on my doorstep since moving to London, my preconceived ideas of Epping meant I’d never thought to go and explore on my bike – opting instead to complete mindless laps of Richmond and Regent’s Park or venture north into the lanes of Hertfordshire. That was until last March, when my world – and everyone else’s – got that bit smaller. And, after my first visit, I was hooked.

London’s very own patch of ancient woodland, Epping Forest is a near-6,000 acre patchwork of grass plains, wooded commons and ponds that stretches from Forest Gate in the East End to the Essex hinterlands. It’s had a varied history over the years – from Iron age settlements to royal hunting grounds – but today its vast network of traffic-free trails makes it a mecca for outdoor activities.  

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