Things to Do
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There’s something for everyone within and around the Epping Forest District. Whether you’re looking to fill an hour or so, or a long weekend, you’ll be surprised at what’s on offer and plan to come back again to fit in what you missed – or to get more of the same. Adventure, relaxation, adrenalin or culture and heritage, it's all here waiting to amaze you.
Lee Valley Farms near Waltham Forest, Ashlyns near North Weald and Redwings Ada Cole Horse Sanctuary all offer an amazing opportunity to get close up and personal with all sorts of animals. They have themed and seasonal activities and handy things like good parking and places to eat and drink. For those who like their wildlife roaming free and nature all around them there’s the ancient canopy and open buffer lands of Epping Forest or the rivers, lakes and canals and surrounding habitat of the Lee Valley Park. Both are world class and offer visitor centres, organised activities for children and long remembered experiences as the scenery constantly reinvents itself depending on the season. Epping Ongar Railway and the Royal Gunpowder Mills both offer family and children centred events and activities throughout the year and are particularly busy with young people during school holidays. All these opportunities and more are detailed on the relevant organisation website and whilst geared for the young are fascinating for all ages.
Heritage and Culture
History abounds across the Epping Forest District. The forest itself is an ancient land and contains the remains of two Iron Age forts as well as buildings that tell of Royal patronage during Tudor times and links to a more modern time when Victorian development challenged the very forest itself and local people rose up and ensured it was protected for us to enjoy today. Ongar and Waltham Abbey also have a very long and venerable heritage having been important towns of consequence from Saxon times. Visitors to both can see physical links back to life over a thousand years ago and imagine life in Waltham Abbey when King Harold visited his abbey or the regular market day in Ongar or services in Greensted Church, and how life changed after the Norman Invasion when the town was one of the spoils given to Count Eustace of Boulogne for his key role in the Battle of Hastings. Those passing through the district on the motorways may wonder about the two imposing buildings on the skyline, Hill Hall and Copped Hall. Both have stories to tell and can be explored. Although access to Hill Hall is limited, thanks to local volunteers Copped Hall is being restored and both the building and gardens are open to the public throughout the year. To find out more about the district and see its history brought alive, a visit to the Epping Forest District Museum in Waltham Abbey is a must and a good starting point when planning your itinerary or finishing point to find out more about the places you’ve seen and link them with the people and industry that has shaped the district.
Adventure and Adrenalin
Adventure can take many forms and if exploring and discovering is your thing try North Weald Airfield with its visual feast of heritage warbirds. Pick a sunny weekend and you’re likely to see fast jet fighters, historic aircraft from the Second World War, microlights, helicopters and a whole lot more. Take a helicopter flight and you’ll see it from another dimension. For an all-weather destination go underground at the Secret Nuclear Bunker – linked during its operational days to North Weald Airfield. Combine the airfield and bunker with a steam train journey on the Epping Ongar Railway.
Adrenalin junkies have a lot to choose from. Top of your list might be rafting at the Lee Valley White Water Centre, or Rope Runners just outside Ongar, or perhaps Paintballing at Mayhem near Abridge. For others, mountain biking or horse riding in Epping Forest might be your thing, or canoeing on the River Lee. Whatever your sport, there’s plenty to do and then a host of places to relax and unwind and enjoy reliving your day’s adventures over a drink or a meal – or even stay overnight and do it all again the next day.
So much more – and London on the doorstep
Something for everyone includes so much more. From shopping at the large open air market on North Weald Airfield to playing a round of golf at one of the many challenging courses across the district. You might fancy learning to bake amazing bread at Mayfield Bakery School or just enjoy a traditional cream tea in the Garden Room looking over the beautiful grounds of Mulberry House. Whatever you choose, you’ll find a lot of ideas and inspiration on this website and a friendly welcome right across the Epping Forest District. A when you’ve tired of the countryside (if that’s ever possible), London is a tube ride away!