Epping Forest is a real oasis of ancient woodland and parkland. It’s also huge, sprawling and broken up by bits of town, so you could explore it on several different visits and have a different experience every time.
We haven’t done any long, purposeful walks in the forest yet, though you can do those too. For the wandering, looking-for-sticks demographic there are lots of easy, obvious trails through the fields and trees on both sides of the road if you use the View area as your starting point.
You will soon be overwhelmed by the choice of muddy puddles, knarled ancient trees, rotten logs full of insects, woodland dens, drifts of leaves, streams, lakes with ducks and geese, and other toddler attractions.
There’s also a lovely cafe called Butler’s Retreat nearby with indoor and lots of outdoor seating for
combining toddler picnics with coffee and cake for the grown-ups.
What: patches of wild, ancient forest and grassland to explore.
Where: Epping/Chingford/Wanstead: just outside London
When: any time (check The View or cafe websites for their opening hours).
How much: free
Family access & facilities: we used a sling and now a toddler carrier backpack for forest walks, but there are always lots of families with prams using the main trails. Just be prepared for muddy wheels! Wear wellies. The View visitor centre is helpful for information, and has clean toilets and baby changing facilities.
How to get there: See the View website for TFL travel details etc. You can get to various bits of forest directly from tube stations and there are walks of all lengths (info from the View people) including some that take you from one station to another.