As we head into a new year we are often thinking about what’s new; but I am going to buck the trend and focus on the fact that Epping Forest is not new, it is a very, very old forest.

When we think of the history of the site we may immediately think back to the Epping Forest Act of 1878, when the City of London Corporation fought a ground breaking legal battle to save it.

But this of course wasn’t the beginning of the forest; its history goes back to before kings and queens of England used the woodland for royal hunting, to even before the time of the iron-age hillforts to be found at Loughton Camp and Ambresbury Banks…Epping Forest is an ancient, historic and special place.

A visit to the Visitor Centre at Chingford is a great place to learn all about the our story and the our history. It’s open 10am to 4pm, Tuesday to Sunday and is free to visit.

If, like many of us, you are looking to shed some of the excesses of the festivities, why not take a walk in the ancient woodland?

Epping Forest Guardian:

With 8,000 acres to explore, the route possibilities are almost endless but our ‘20 short walks in Epping Forest’ and the official map are available from the Epping Forest Visitor Centre to help you find your way. Or follow one of the nine way-marked trails – all on our website

If walking isn’t your thing there are loads of organised activities to take part in.

You may want to join a running club such as; they have a long history themselves, having been founded in 1911.

Cycling is permitted across most of the forest and bikes can be hired at

Golf has had a huge growth in popularity over the last two years and the three golf courses in the forest always welcome beginners.

Did you know that Wanstead Flats is home to 40 football pitches and around 3000 games are played each season? There are also three cricket pitches in the forest – howzat for the summer?

If all that’s just a bit too energetic for you, a warm blanket, flask of soup and a pair of binoculars provides an afternoon of nature watching that will still get you outside in the fresh air to enjoy some mental wellbeing.

So, at the start of this coming new year, whether you are new to the area, haven’t yet had the opportunity to fully get to know the forest, or are seasoned visitors, we invite you to discover and explore Epping Forest anew for 2022.

Graeme Doshi-Smith is the Chairman of the City of London Corporation Epping Forest and Commons Committee