The Oak Trail, Epping Forest.
Six of us met at Theydon Bois for a walk along the Oak Trail. It had poured down with rain earlier so six was a good turnout.
Leaving Theydon Bois via Forest Drive we started climbing on greasy paths and fields, heading towards the M25. Slightly slippery underfoot but we made good time, some of us envying Val’s poles which were giving her good purchase in the conditions. Through the Great Gregories, across the M25 and down to Ivy Chimneys where the path could have been very difficult if kind residents had not laid planks of wood and paving slabs to aid our progress. Up again through Sheppard’s Meadows heading towards the Epping Road where we turned south alongside the main road to stop at Forest Gate pub. Once again I was disappointed by this pub. We had to buy coffee/tea from a stand in a corner of the car park and it took so long a couple of us gave up waiting, that decision being made easier when hearing colleagues complain about the cost.
We had roared along, covering 2.7 miles in an hour, much faster than recent EFOG walks where (dare I say it) the laggards include my wife. Heading south again we walked through Epping Thicks to Jacks Hill car park. Here, the parking machines had been vandalised and presumably all the cars there were parking for free. I am not condoning this type of action but I do understand the irritation felt about the hamfisted introduction of parking charges by the City of London (COL). Turning left off the Ditches Ride I was complimenting the COL on their waymarking of this route when the markers disappeared, just as we reached the stream. A difficult crossing with two of us getting wet feet and we were over and climbing up to the deer sanctuary. Today the deer were determined to remain hidden so we took a photo of us with a chain link fence behind and walked on. Reaching Coppice Row we turned down the hill and returned to Theydon Bois. The walk is advertised at five miles but we measured it at six.
We were congratulating ourselves on having had a dry walk when the first spots of rain were felt and we dashed to our cars to return home.
Brian U., 6th February 2022