Sunday 30 August 2015 – Epping Forest.
I haven’t been out on the bike for a few weeks so I took the opportunity of the extra day off work with this being a long weekend to pop out for a couple of hours of pedalling up to and around Epping Forest. It was a solo ride today so I took the camera along as well, it always gives me an excuse to stop riding and have a rest, not that I really needed one as this was a slow ride.
After a few weeks of not too bad weather there has been a bit of rain over the past week and some of the tracks were really slippery, like someone had poured oil onto an ice rink – with added ruts to keep it interesting. Surprisingly I did not fall off like I usually do in the slippery stuff.
There are many things I love about riding in Epping Forest, and one of those things is getting to Epping Forest. In Auckland I had to drive 40 minutes to the forest, here I ride 40 minutes, and just about all of that time is off road. The small area of Walthamstow Forest is five minutes from home and there are a couple of really good trails in there. I am always finding something new, though this one didn’t seem to go too far.
I just cannot believe there is riding this good in NE London!
Across one of the numerous roads is the narrow stretch of Highams Park and its small boating lake, I don’t think I have ever seen any one in a boat on the lake though. There were lots of dog walkers and families out, so it was a slow and polite pedal around the lake.
I was keen to try something different on this ride, Epping is pretty big and riddled with trails, I am slowly getting familiar with the basic layout of the forest now, and while I still get ‘lost’ on every ride I haven’t resorted to using my phone to find myself for a long time. I was a bit annoyed that the battery died in my Garmin watch as I do like to see where I have been when I get home. I ended up riding up Warren Hill, a change from the single and double track I had been riding on.
I rode up the side of the forest looking for a way to get in to the trees to see if there was any single track in there, I ended up riding up the grass and ducking down to the right at the top and a wide section of track that was really starting to show a bit of early leaf fall. Autumn must be on the way, though it was pretty warm out this morning. I just love the trees in English forests. I was still taking it pretty slow, the track was slippery as heck and stupidly I didn’t have my riding glasses in my bag and there was a lot of loose dirt flying up and hitting my face, on occasion I was riding one handed with the other in front of my eyes. This does not make for high speed runs, even on the downhill sections.
Soon enough this part of the forest ended up at one of the main roads, I think I was crossing Epping New Rd. I haven’t had to life my bike over a fence for ages!
My mission for the day was to find Loughton Camp, the site of an Iron Age fort. There is, of course, nothing left now except the dirt mounds. As this site is from around 500BC, over 2500 years old there is still some speculation as to what it was used for, the most likely being that it was used to protect cattle from other tribes/villages. There are stories that Boadicea used the camp, and that many many years later the highway man, Dick Turpin had a hideout here. It has some interesting history !
The sign says no cycling as this is a listed historical site. A you can see the place is riddled with bike tracks, in fact I rode through it myself as I came from the opposite direction where there was no sign and I didn’t really realise where I was until it was too late. Sorry !!
I can see why people have been riding here, with all those banks and berms, it looks like there would be a bit of fun for those more inclined to jumping than I am. A shame, as a fan of preserving history, as well as a mountain biker, I like to see these place preserved, but accessible. There needs to be a better education plan – and some more signs. It is a lovely part of the forest though.
By complete accident I found my next stop, the tea hut at High Beach. Cup of coffee and a sausage roll. A perfect mid ride refuel and hugely popular with all types of riders – even those weird lycra clad road types.
The ride back towards home was as random as usual, I don’t think I rode on any tracks I have previously ridden on, such a warren of single track around here, just perfect for losing time and place in. I love it how tracks that are so clear just sort of die out in a clearing, and I have to ride around trying to find another track to get out, or make my own way through the trees, proper trail riding.
Soon enough I was back on the familiar trails that lead from the official Epping Forest back to home in Walthamstow. I usually ride on this River Ching (calling this a river requires one to take a massive leap in imagination). The bridge gets ricketier and ricketier each ride.
Over the North Circular and that was pretty much the end of the ride, just a blast down the road to home. I love it that this forest is that close to the city !!
El has been doing up the garden over summer, and there is now a nice new patio area – just where I used to clean the bike. I am not sure what to do now !!
The bike is still dirty….