Escape to the forest: hideouts and highwaymen

The Adventure

This weekend is good for a leafy autumn walk.  Head out to Epping Forest, a perfect place for playing ambush games, just like the legendary highwayman Dick Turpin might have done in his day.  It is said that Turpin used to stash his loot and hide out at Loughton Camp, an Iron Age fort, deep in the woods. 

Explore the forest to find the Lost Pond and take the opportunity to do some fishing or build a twig house, whittle sticks and climb trees. Practising orienteering would be a valuable exercise here too as it’s easy to get lost the moment you leave the paths.  

Keep your eyes open as Epping is a site of special scientific interest and many rare plants and animal species can be found here. You might even see deer as about five hundred roam in the forest.

To get there, take the M11 for just a few junctions north of London.  For full details of a walk in Epping Forest, see Chapter 5 of Adventure Walks for Families.

What’s it like 
Well maintained gravel or sand paths and woodland tracks. Gentle incline. Can be muddy.

What will I need?
  • A picnic – there is no obvious place to buy food en route and nowhere once you are parked up at the forest. If you visit the information centre there is a tea hut across the road that sells the basics.  Back in Loughton there are the usual pizza joints.
  • A compass. It is easy to get disorientated in a forest even though you are only a mile away from the road at any point. 
  • A penknife for whittling sticks or making a fishing rod
  • Bread to feed the mandarin ducks at the Lost Pond
  • Dressing up sword and highwayman’s cloak

    Make a weekend of it
    Pack up your tent and stay the night.  There is an excellent campsite at Debden on the edge of the forest where you are allowed to have real fires.  Toast marshmallows and roast sweet chestnuts gathered in the woods.  Debden Campsite  Tel 0208 508 3008 

    This is a map of the walk we did in Epping Forest in Adventure Walks for Families in and Around London hand drawn by talented graphic artist Frances Bennett.  

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