The Western Hills Of The Forest
I spend a great deal of my time on the Western slopes of the forest because the views from these high grounds before the land drops steeply into the Lea Valley are so breathtaking. At some points the horizon stretches on forever and you really can see for miles. At certain points on these West facing vantage points it is possible on a clear day to see as far as the Chiltern Hills, and you don’t need to travel all the way out to the Uplands to see them as a number of these vantage points are relatively local to the forest.
This walk takes in the very best of these vantage points and the route includes a few small detours which branch off from the main walk. All of the best points along the way offer their own unique views and it’s difficult to choose a favourite one. The route i use tends to be a quiet one and very often when i do this walk i have the beautiful western hills all to myself. There are some steep climbs involved, but the reward as always are the stunning views you get when you reach the vantage points. These really are some of the best hills for star gazing at night, and for being alone in the daytime to enjoy stunning views.
l start this walk from Chingford Plain but once you are familiar with the route it can be done in reverse. Starting at Bury Road carpark on the West of Chingford Plain i head North on the track which runs just inside the edge of the woods, keeping Bury Road to my left. Continuing until i reach Hornbeam Lane, here i cross over Bury Road and take the side road directly opposite the entrance to Hornbeam Lane which is called Woodman Lane.
Walking west down Woodman Lane i keep to the left. Going past Farm End on my right i carry on down Woodman Lane which at this point becomes a rough road. Soon i reach a small paddock called the White Laydie stables. From here i can see the large hill forming Yates Meadow in front of me. I walk along the edge of the enclosure between the paddock & the last houses on the right and go through a gate to the right just past the door of the stables.
This grassy pathway here leads to a gap in the hedge which opens straight onto Yates Meadow. From here i keep to the right walking uphill alongside the hedgerow and when i reach the top of the meadow i take the first of the diversions by turning left & heading for the North West corner of the meadow. From here i get the first of the spectacular views across the southern Lea Valley where i can see all of North London & the City. This is very much a City view and a fantastic vantage point for taking pictures. The meadow in summer is beautiful & is alive with wildlife visiting the wildflowers. This is one of those places you feel drawn to keep coming back to.
Turning around i walk back the way i came and head back to the North East corner of the meadow. When i reach this point i turn left to continue the walk North along a dirt track which leads to Gilwell Park. Very quickly i reach a tarmacked road and on the left just past the first site entrance i continue past a small wheather boarded cottage then find two large wooden gates to my left with logs used as a framework. Walking around behind these gates i head West along a track towards the 2nd of my diversions which goes through the middle of the scout centre & out onto a hillside called The Quick.
From here there are Lovely views west looking across the King George reservoirs and beyond. Some of the most spectacular sunsets are to be had on this hillside. Bearing right i go through a wooded area which leads to a gate onto a hillside above Pick Farm on Sewardstone Road. This is another good opportunity for photos, in particular of the lonely Oak Tree standing on the hillside to my left. The vantage point here is slightly lower on the hillside but no less beautiful.
After taking pictures of the views from here once again i go back the way i came along the track until i reach the wooden gates at the entrance to the path & back onto the tarmacked road. I now head east along Gilwell Lane which is the vehicle entrance to Gilwell Park and walk toward Bury Road. Just before reaching Bury Road to my left i head north on a path leading through the roadside trees running parallel with Bury Road, at the end of which is the bend where Bury Road meets Dawes Hill. I cross over here to a private road where i take my 3rd diversion to the left following a footpath entering the south east corner of Netherhouse Farm.
At first this track runs alongside Dawes Hill then bears right through a gap in a hedge, coming out at the foot of Barn Hill. I walk straight ahead toward the wooded area at the top of the hill & to my left find further broad views over North London and the reservoirs. This was the first part of the forest i explored when i lived in Enfield as i could see these hills from my window and wanted to find a way to walk here, which was my first foray into walking on public footpaths. I spent many happy and peaceful hours sitting here alone & will always have a fondness for this hillside.
Going back the way i came once again i head back to the private road on the bend of Dawes Hill & Bury Road, where i turn left along the road. To my right is a small row of detached houses, after the last house i find a gate at the end of a bridle path called Green Lane. I go through this gate and take the first track to my right which is a small and steep path leading up to the rear of West Essex golf course. Halfway up this hill is the 4th diversion on my route. To my left as i walk uphill is a paddock. This is Fern Hill Wood where cattle are enclosed in the summer. I go through a small gate in the fence then head uphill for the North East corner of this paddock.
There are a couple of ‘Desire’ tracks in this field but the easiest route is to walk around the perimeter alongside the fence to the top of the hill then left along the bottom of the golf course & then continue along the edge of a neighbouring horse paddock until the path opens up onto a grassy hillside. The views from here are beautiful. The angle of this hillside is different to the others as the views over North London are obscured by Barn Hill immediately west, leaving behind the most stunning views across West Essex and Waltham Abbey.
From here in the distance i can see Galley Hill on the Epping Uplands where i usually do my longer walks. It is here i come to enjoy these views when the paths on the Uplands become impassable in winter and i am missing my fix. I sit here to remind myself that soon it will be spring and i will be able to walk once again on the beautiful hills in the distance. Walking back the way i came again i reach the gate where i entered this paddock and turn left going up to the rear of the golf course. From here i cross the golf course East using a public bridleway which then bears left and then right along the edge of the golf course where to my left i can see views over North London again before the path eventually reaches the corner of the golf course and goes out onto Lippitts Hill, where i turn right & then left down a footpath called Arthers Lane at the entrance to Days Farm.
As i enter this path to my right are some converted barns which i walk north past the rear of and then the path becomes a little wider & grassy with the odd telegraph pole, this path is lined with field maple either side. Further down this path I eventually reach a fork. Straight on is a long straight pathway like an endless tunnel, this is Pepper Alley & i don’t go down here. I take the fork to the left instead leading to a grassy plateau which is called Aldergrove. From here i keep right on the edge of the field following the fence line of a large property then going back downhill through a small wooded area, keeping the tall fence to my right. I reach a style which takes me into a paddock. In this field are two of the friendliest horses i have ever met.
I walk through the paddock keeping right and out the other side onto Mott Street. Here i turn right then immediately left down a gravel driveway. To my right i pass a large mansion house, after which i turn right following the path up a long grassy hill called Thompson’s Lane bridle path where to my left vast and wide views over North London open up to me once again. As i continue north i start to see expansive views over West Essex and South Hertfordshire. Local views really do not get a lot better than these. From here i can see the entire length of the Uplands from just beyond Waltham Abbey all the way back to Epping Green. I am able to make out Kennel Wood Hill, Galley Hill Woods and Harolds Park Farm at the end of Epping Long Green.
These views are breathtaking & i always make a point of walking through here as often as i can, especially when i have not been able to walk along the Uplands in winter. This is where my walk ends & it ends on a high point quite literally, looking down across the Lea Valley and beyond. The views from these hills have always been very special to me, many people head for the bustle of the main forest but for me the tranquility and isolation of the western slopes will always be my first port of call. I have spent many happy hours absorbed in these views and will never tire of them, hopefully this walk will introduce a few more people to some of the best views these hills have to offer