Family friendly essex review Epping Forest and High Beach for a great family day out in nature with walks and animals.

Epping Forest and High Beach Review

Epping Forest is a fantastic place to go for quality family time. Being able to explore the great outdoors while still having all the facilities on hand is hard to come by at times. However, Epping Forest is accessible and full of adventure.

Adventure awaits in Epping Forest.
Adventure awaits in Epping Forest.

Activities

Spending time in a forest is great for quality family time, and can do wonders for children’s imagination and curiosity. An added benefit would be for general health and well being. Luckily there is plenty of woodland to explore at Epping Forest.

Walks

Most of the paths around Epping Forest are well signposted. The majority of the walks around Epping Forest are circular, meaning that they end where you started. With all walking, we would still recommend that you get yourself a map from the Visitor Centre as google maps will no help, due to patchy phone service.

A map from the visitor centre shows you all the routes and how they are graded. Some walks are impossible with a buggy for example.

Bike Rides

Sometimes walking long paths can be a little too much for children. They could use their bikes or scooters and go alongside you. If you are planning on taking some bikes, then some of the paths and routes around the forest do not allow cycles. Some paths are be considered dangerous either by their terrain or being shared with horse riders.

Wild Life

So much more wildlife call Epping Forest their home. There is no actual petting zoo or holding area of the animals in the forest, so the chances of seeing wildlife are down to luck. We have seen multiple deer, rabbits and birdlife.

Eating while at Epping Forest

Eating during a walk is important, as walking can really burn the calories, you need to ensure that your body has enough fuel. Luckily Epping Forest in the High Beach area has a few options for you. We recommend taking your own lunch as having a picnic in a forest clearing is a much more enjoyable experience on a nice day.

Kings Oak Hotel

If you want a real treat and a sit down meal, then the Kings Oak is the choice for you. They serve a variety of meals, and offer a warm cosy atmosphere.

The Royal Oak, offers great food, at a reasonable price.
The Royal Oak, offers great food, at a reasonable price.

The average price of a mains at the Royal Oak is around £11. We suggest having the Sunday Roast, which is priced with a children’s option available. After a long walk, and having to build up an appetite there is no better way to finish than with a Roast Dinner.

Acorn Hut

The Acorn Hut is located in the car park of High Beach. It’s always busy as it’s the first place you will come across when arriving. Acorn Hut is mentioned on many walking and cycle guides, and is common stopping point.

The menu is very simple, and they don’t have the facilities to serve hot food. Although, they are able to serve both hot and cold drinks. There is a wide selection of snacks ranging from biscuits, cakes to sandwiches.

There is not much seating around the Acorn Hut, and very little shelter apart from the tree canopy. On a nice day this isn’t a problem as there is a large opening in the forest next to the hut and car park which becomes a great picnic location.

Original Tea Hut

This hut is located just down the road from the parking at High Beach. It’s on most of the walking paths so seems like a great place to stop while on a walk. It’s open long hours during the day, and is always very busy.

The Original Tea hut is very popular with bikers, who generally meet at weekends. With it being popular with bikers, you can also look at all the bikes, which are normally on show. The Original Tea hut serves hot food, at a good price, as well as a selection of cake.

Plenty of covered seating is avaliale with umbrellas at the Original Tea Hut. However no toilet facilities nearby, the closest toilet would be back at the High Beach parking area.

We usually stop at this place on the way back and sit in the car eating a double sausage and bacon sandwich if it’s cold or raining. It’s the best way to finish a walk in our opinion.

Location

Epping Forest is located to the west of Essex and straddles the boundary of London with quick links into central London if planning a additional trip into town.

The nearest train stations to the main area of Epping Forest is Theydon Bois on the central line. At Theydon Bois, there is a Tesco metro where you can pick up snacks and drinks before you have your walk to High Beach and Epping Forest visitor centre.

If you’re planning to drive to Epping Forest, the best place to park would be High Beach, with ample free parking available. Expect the car park to fill up fast if going at the weekend or the weather is nice.

High Beach is the most central car park for Epping Forest, plenty of other smaller car parks are located around the Forest, all of which are on a well-documented walking path.

Epping Forest Visitor Centre

When arriving at Epping Forest, the first place to stop should be the Epping Forest visitor centre. They have nice toilets on site, also they have a wealth of information. As well as the information on the walls, the staff are extremely helpful and very knowledgeable. Regular events held at Epping Forest you can find more information out about these here.

Events and educational items at the Epping Forest Visitor Centre.
Events and educational items at the Epping Forest Visitor Centre.

Scattered around the walls of the visitor centre is interesting information about Epping Forest. There are a series of items on show that can teach you about the history and animals of Epping Forest.

You can buy books and maps at the Epping Forest Visitor Centre.
You can buy books and maps at the Epping Forest Visitor Centre.

The visitor centre also has book and maps for sale. A must if you plan to walk all of Epping. Or you could create your own routes.

Interested in local history? You’ll be in for a treat with the selection of history books they have for sale.

The visitor centre has a selection of random toys, priced at the typical pocket money price. We are sure that you’ll have to end up buying something from the toy selection.

If you are planning to purchase something from the visitor centre, please note that they only take cash, as they do not have a card machine.

Facilities

With Epping Forest being well a forest, there isn’t much in facilities. All the facilities are located in the High Beach area.

Next to the parking at High Beach is a toilet block. This toilet block is not the greatest of facilities, being dirty and not very well equipped. The best place would probably be the Epping Forest visitor centre, they have a toilet which is accessible and also has a baby change.

Summary

Any one who knows us, will be able to tell you that we love going on family walks. So to us, having Epping Forest just down the road is fantastic. You can go so many times and never walk the same path, but still always be close to civilisation so can not really get lost.

Epping Forest Path, with an old tree next to it.
Walk along some nice paths in Epping Forest.

The more we go to Epping we will be documenting the walks we take in greater detail so you can also follow them. As an when we add new walks or visit other parks you’ll be able to find them here. Walking is a great way to spend time as a family and have some fun adventures.