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Snaresbrook to Loughton (Epping Forest)

London Walk

County/Area - London & Essex

Author - Peter Smyly

Length - 8.0 miles / 13 km    Ascent - 400 feet / 121 metres

Time - 4 hours 20 minutes    Grade - easy/mod

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Ordnance Survey Explorer 174Sheet Map1:25kBUY
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Walk Route Description

Photo from the walk - Snaresbrook to Loughton (Epping Forest)
Click image to visit gallery of 9 images.

This is a walk that uses two different London underground stations with a linear route between the two, much of it through woodland. Snaresbrook and Loughton are two stops, four stations apart, on the north eastern end of the Central Line.

There are two points to mention at the outset. Firstly, after rainfall, much of the route covers paths which are liable to be wet and muddy so suitable footwear should be worn. Secondly, while a glance at a map of the area shows the route to be basically straightforward as it follows a meandering course in a roughly south-north direction following part of the Centenary Walk, the route is not always so simple to find or follow when you get there. There is a lack of distinctive landmarks when passing through woodland, paths sometimes go in different directions and there are usually no signs to indicate where they lead to. Therefore, navigation is down to whatever suits best - be it GPS or a map and compass along with your own good sense of judgement when presented with route choices. The fact that the route crosses a number of roads, in a route-finding sense, is a plus as they serve as landmarks.

The route is mostly on the level and any height gain or loss is scarcely noticeable for the most part. The terrain and the frequency of tree cover means scenic views are limited but there are some of note. One section of the walk in particular stands out, the one where the route reaches the timber-framed Queen Elizabeth's Hunting Lodge at Ranger's Road. It is worth a look inside to find out about the Tudor history of the area. The lodge is laid out on three floors with a fine view, especially from the third floor, across the trees of Epping Forest. A nearby café serves refreshments while, across the road, Warren Pond looked pretty with late afternoon sunshine gleaming on its partly frozen surface (January 2014). Connaught Water, the last and largest pond on this walk, ten acres in all, is passed by the route with its islands and bird life. It's tree-clad islands were seen across the large expanse of water with the trees having a slightly orange hue in the mellowing sun of the late afternoon. When seen on a map, the three main islands appear a bit like two eyes and a mouth on a face but when you approach the lake from the outflow end, the islands could be mistaken in appearance for the far shore.

From Snaresbrook station, turn right along Woodford Road, then left along busy Snaresbrook Road which passes Eagle Pond with its plentiful bird life on the left. Turn right at the next footpath and here begins the first muddy stretch between sparse woodland. Bear left to reach, and cross, the busy A104. Two further busy main roads crossed are the A503 and A406. The route follows through woodland with no obvious landmarks or views and two minor roads are crossed before The Highams Park and its boating lake. The lake is long and relatively narrow and is easily seen between gaps in the trees except that your attention is more likely to be on the ground since the path on the right of the lake presented the most notable section of squelchy wet mud of the entire route. Next cross the A1009 and A110 to reach Warren Pond. Follow Fairmead Road to the north east of Connaught Water, solid ground under your feet for a change. Leave this road at Fairmead Bottom for the most direct approach to Loughton, crossing the busy Epping New Road (A104) to reach - via the last woodland stretch of the walk - Nursery Road. This is the point where mud can be cleaned off boots at last. ?There is a choice of routes from here to reach the station at Loughton.

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