It’s easy to underestimate the county of TOWIE as a haven for natural beauty, but this guide to the best walks in Essex proves once and for all that the county is worth a good stroll. You don’t need to spend much time outdoors here to understand why the area’s countryside has inspired artists, musicians, and writers alike for centuries. From 6,000-acre woods to haunted villages, famed painting sites to abandoned oil refineries, these walking routes in Essex have got something for everyone.
The Oak Trail, Epping Forest
Time: 3.5 hours
Sitting comfortably between London’s concrete jungle and Essex is Epping Forest, a nearly 6,000-acre wood (take that, Milne) bustling with enough wildlife and greenery to inspire some of England’s greatest artists. Famed for its connection to William Morris, the home of a mysterious lead guitarist in Paul McCartney’s lyrics, and the backdrop for Damon Albarn’s memories of a heatwave; it’s been a place of some cultural significance over the years.
Weaving its way around Epping Forest is its own Oak Trail, which takes walkers through a variety of some of the most scenic spots the woodland has to offer. From its scenic deer sanctuary to its great wood pastures and striking veteran beech pollards, the Oak Trail has a number of notable landmarks.
Starting at Theydon Bois tube station (which sits towards the end of the Central Line, leading out from central London), you’ll pass the remains of an Iron Age hill fort at the Ambresbury Banks, a herd of incredible black fallow deer at the 140-acre Deer Sanctuary, and majestic wildlife in the Buffer Lands. Keep an eye out for skylarks, hares, fallow and muntjac deer while you’re on the trail.