Now spring has officially sprung, there are signs of new life all around Epping Forest.

Cheery yellows are popping up in the form of celandine, a member of the buttercup family which can often be found around the banks of the River Ching.

The more subtle, pale yellow of the primrose is also still to be found, and soon the pretty cowslip will make an annual appearance.

And with the arrival of spring comes a welcome relaxation of Covid-19 restrictions.

Under the Government’s Roadmap, people can now meet outside in groups up to six, or with one other household – but those from different households will still need to socially distance from each other.

We are joining the capital’s park providers - Lee Valley Regional Park, London’s boroughs, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and The Royal Parks - to encourage visitors to help keep the infection rate down.

Epping Forest committe chairman Graeme Doshi-Smith

Epping Forest committe chairman Graeme Doshi-Smith

We’re delighted that so many people can enjoy all Epping Forest has to offer and they are discovering or deepening their appreciation of nature.

When you visit, please continue to stay local and keep social distancing.

If you are cycling or jogging, don’t forget that you will need to plan your route ahead carefully to ensure you don’t encroach upon another person’s personal space.

As many of you will be aware, litter in the Forest was a huge problem for us in 2020.

Please help us to care for this precious and internationally scientifically important woodland by taking your litter home with you, and if you walk a dog, do clean up after it and remove waste to dispose of it responsibly at home. Because right now, this ancient woodland is coming alive.

The fresh, green leaves of the hawthorn and hornbeam are now unfurled with other trees following close behind with buds in readiness to turn the canopy of London’s Great Forest into a sea of greens once again.

Birds are also enjoying the arrival of spring, with the dawn chorus building up a crescendo as we head towards International Dawn Chorus Day on Sunday, May 2.

The skylarks are being watched with interest. Picture: Jonathan Lethbridge

The skylarks are being watched with interest. Picture: Jonathan Lethbridge

One bird we’re watching with interest at the moment is the skylark.

We have nesting skylarks in the north of Epping Forest, however the birds who call Wanstead Flats home are something of a rarity as they are nesting in a London postcode.

Skylarks are ground-nesting birds known for their incredible vertical flight and beautiful song and have recently declined dramatically, making them a Red List species. And they are particularly vulnerable to disturbance by people and dogs.

This year we took the decision to install temporary fencing around their small nesting site on Wanstead Flats to offer them some protection.

Our thanks go to those who walk in this area of Wanstead Flats for their understanding and co-operation.

Of course, us humans have perhaps never before been so relieved to welcome the spring as we have this year.

I’m sure the unique landscapes of Epping Forest will continue to provide sanctuary to those in the local community and increased numbers of visitors will benefit from this green space as lockdown is gently eased.

Discover more about Epping Forest at or on Twitter @CoLEppingForest, Facebook @Epping Forest City of London or Instagram @coleppingforest.

Graeme Doshi-Smith

Chairman, City of London Corporation’s Epping Forest and Commons Committee