March, and the weather is mild & dry, extending the drought and bringing in the hosepipe ban. The weather seemed very springlike, so we went out & up into the north London area to ‘almost’ the country to go walking. A bit brown & sparse, was Epping Forest, as spring doesn’t just ‘spring’ until later in spring it would seem. Of course, as I write this we’ve just had the wettest April on record and the trees at work just sprang out all the new green.
Epping Forest is right on the border of the London area, pretty much the countryside. We had to go to Walthemstow Central and catch a train on to Epping, and Walthemstow is right at the end of the Victoria line, so it could be said we escaped Londinius for a few hours! It boasts a Tudor Hunting Lodge built for Henry II and used by Elizabeth I.
It doesn’t have the elegant features of some other Tudor buildings of the same era, but it was just built so a sick, corpulent and aging King could see the hunting going on in the forest. There was a pretty good view from the top floor, with wide, shallow stairs for the Royal legs to pull their way up. It’s possible Henry never used this lodge, but Elizabeth did, and the building itself has some features of Elizabethan life that were charming, like the flower shape scratched into the wood near the fireplace to ward off evil spirits.
We headed off into the forest. Which wasn’t at all like how you’re probably imagining… It wasn’t leafy, dark green & Sherwood foresty. It was more like this:
We were following a map in a book Adelle has and it was a bit sketchy on actual directions, so there was a fair amount of guesswork in the path we choose. We didn’t find the pub that was mentioned, but we did see a charming little church and a glade with soft springy grass where we ate some lunch & drank cider.
The sun gone from the glade, we started on our way back, pretty confidently heading back to Epping Station. Except that when it came to an important fork… we took the wrong path. And ended up in some hills with a little pub (not the one we were trying to find) and some horse stables. Informed that we were going in completely the wrong direction by a jodphur clad woman, we turned back to the forest and legged it, trying to make it out before the light faded. We made it, but it was close. Another fine example of the long twilight hours in England! We finished off our walk with icecream. Good reward.