Epping Forest is an underrated gem, particularly on a stomp through the crisp autumn leaves, only 20 minutes walk from the end of the Central Line. It’s particularly well signposted, and has some impressively pointless boardwalks.
That signage didn’t stop me getting seriously off-piste as I approached the M11. No-one else about on a glorious day, not even dog-walkers. I then had a recollection of the case of a young chap subjected to grisly torture in a farm just off this stretch of motorway a few years back.
I then remembered that was in a BBC drama, probably featuring Ken Stott. Two p(o)ints to anyone can remember what I’m thinking about.
One of the walks of the year, with some proper hilly bits, but I’ve never been seen so pleased to see the Smog in all its glory. The best views of the London skyline are from Essex.
All of Epping’s Beer Guide places are close to the Forest, with the Theydon Oak a typically attractive weather-boarded dining pub. Essex rarely does spectacular, except in being spectacularly consistent. This one had chickens running about in the beer garden, which I’ve mixed feelings about.
The new Guide place clearly reflects some commitment to LocAles as well as a breadth of range (if they’re on).
I presume the unique dispense system sees beer poured into glasses perched on top of the pump, reducing carbonation.
The average Essex grey market dining pub is more likely than the Cambridge specimen to see ale drinkers at lunchtime (hurrah !). Unfortunately here rather dull and expensive Youngs (NBSS 2.5) wasn’t going to divert the undecided away from their Peroni.
The highlight of my visit was a young chap who dropped his menu sheet a couple of feet away. Rather than get off his chair to pick it up, as a human being would do, he moved his chair to a 45 degree angle and clung to the table for dear life trying to pick it up for 20 seconds. It amused his toddler, but rather proved to me that these are, indeed, the End of Times. Or perhaps it was performance art.
In contrast, Epping Town Centre was a disappointment, a very functional shopping street lacking much independent enterprise, even with the mysterious “Chaps”. Local cuisine saved the day though, with the street market providing a large sourdough and two samosas for two English pounds. Wow.
The only Guide entry I can recall in the centre is the Black Lion, which I think you could describe as a “traditional market pub”. That’s either the cheapest menu I’ve seen all year, or they’re selling samosas as a filling lunch at quite a mark-up.