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Epping Forest

Ancient earthworks

Ancient earthworks

Newham, especially the north part around Woodgrange, combines the benefits of town and country. London, one of the great world cities, is to the west and to the north-east is fifteen miles of protected commonland and woodland. Epping Forest (including Wanstead Flats) was dedicated by Queen Victoria 'for the enjoyment of her people for ever' in the Epping Forest Act of 1878. It includes a large area of Special Scientific Interest and a Special Area of Conservation. It has earthworks dating back to the iron-age, ancient trees, teeming wildlife and over a hundred ponds. Until fairly recently (the last outbreak of 'mad-cow disease' in 1996) cattle could often be found grazing on Wanstead Flats and elsewhere in the forest. Cattle warning signs are still evident on many roads. It is a wonderful place for walking and some good local WALKS or outlined elsewhere on this website.

The 'other' Forest Gate Hotel

Epping's Forest Gate Inn

As well as cows, Wanstead Flats has hosted many sporting activities and is the regular venue for weekend football games, athletics, running and gentle strolls. It is a good place for exercise, relaxation and fresh air. There are plenty of places for refreshment including the kiosk near the Temple, coffeeshops in Forest Gate and Wanstead, and pubs. The Forest Gate Hotel in Forest Gate to the south has a twin Forest Gate Inn at the Epping end in the north.

'Beware Cattle' sign

'Beware Cattle' sign

The forest is the responsibility of the City of London Corporation, whose WEBSITE contains extensive information about the history and heritage of the forest, as well as details of its wildlife and plantlife, and a wide-ranging programme of activities. There are four visitor centres around the forest, the nearest of which is the TEMPLE on Wanstead Flats. There is one at HIGH BEECH and there are two, QUEEN ELIZABETH'S HUNTING LODGE and THE VIEW, close by each other in Chingford.

There are also some excellent local websites with rich information about the forest and what is happening there. Some are run by special interest groups and organisations and some by individuals with a love for the forest and an encyclopaedic knowledge of it. Some of these are detailed below.

Friends of Epping Forest

Formed over forty years ago to promote the forest in accordance with the 1878 Act (which required it to be a place where ’the natural aspect is preserved’), Friends of Epping Forest is a membership organisation with over 1600 household members. They are keen to attract new members and you can apply to join HERE.

Their main aims are support the preservation of the forest and to extend the appreciation and use of it. They do this mainly through the publications and organised activities. The publications include a regular newsletter, available to members, with an ARCHIVE of past issues freely viewable on their website. They also have on-line versions of two excellent BOOKS about the forest and its history, written by a former secretary. Activities include a GUIDED WALKS PROGRAMME and sponsoring VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES.

Wanstead Wildlife

This site was established by local Paul Ferris who built and maintains it to make available his extensive knowledge and collections of records, information and photographs about wildlife in the southern reaches of Epping Forest. His experience spans some five decades of study and activity in the area, and is widely acclaimed.

Here you can find a cornucopia of photographs of every imaginable aspect of wildlife. These have been carefully catalogued and arranged with explanations and locations and a detailed overall SUMMARY. Context is provided by a NEWS AND ARTICLES section and background REPORTS.

WREN GROUP

Wren Conservation Group is for people of all ages and walks of life with an interest in learning about and conserving wildlife in Wanstead Park and the surrounding area. It has been running for thiry-five years and is a membership organisation (details HERE). It publishes a regular NEWSLETTER (viewable on-line), and oversees and annual programm of events, outing and surveys. There is a dedicated children's section, WANSTEAD NATURE CLUB, for 7 to 13 year olds.

Some say that WREN stands for Wanstead, Redbridge and Newham (or similar) but this is disputed. Their website is silent on the matter.

Wanstead birding

Run by a small dedicated group of birders committed to the wildlife of Wanstead Park and Flats. Or, in their own words, 'Top-notch, multi-author blogging about birding in Wanstead. Sightings and general patch dedication.'

The site includes plenty of good photographs of the birds and wildlife generally and has detailed accounts of 'iconic' visitors such as skylarks, firecrests and kingfishers, and has recordings of some BIRD SOUNDS. It is also possible to download copies of annual BIRD REPORTS, with extensive discussions of sightings, and there are downloadable historical reports from nearly forty years ago.



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