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Epping Forest London - Biking & Birthday celebrations

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Epping forest is the largest Public open space located in the north east of London. It consists of historic parkland, ancient trees, flower-rich meadows,
attractive ponds and lakes, horseriders have over 50kms of surfaced and unsurfaced rides to enjoy. There are large ponds and lakes for anglers. It has 60 football pitches for hire on Wanstead Flats and an 18 hole public golf course at Chingford. Refreshment facilities, ranging from tea stalls and ice cream outlets to local pubs and cafés, are available throughout the Forest. One of the main attractions is Queen Elizabeth’s Hunting Lodge. This three-storied hunt standing was built for Henry VIII and is open to the public every afternoon from Wednesday to Sunday. Selective mowing and grazing by cattle is used to maintain the quality of the grassy plains where wild flowers, Skylarks and various butterflies can be found.

You may also catch a glimpse of the shy darkcoloured Fallow Deer, if you are lucky. Ponds are managed to provide clean water areas for large numbers of wildfowl, aquatic plants and dragonflies.

Epping Forest contact

Emergency 24hr call out =======> 020 8532 1010
Epping Forest Information Centre =======> 020 8508 0028
Queen Elizabeth’s Hunting Lodge =======> 020 8529 6681
Chingford Golf Course =======> 020 8529 5708
Wanstead Flats Playing Fields =======> 020 8532 1010
(football pitch hire)

Epping Forest Field Centre =======> 020 8508 7714
Superintendent’s =======> Office 020 8532 1010

Website www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/openspaces/eppingforest
e-mail [email protected]

Bike hire at Debden campsite

Contact - Sarah @ 07944699563

Price per bike - £18

Bike sizes need to provided in advance



Birthday and Biking @ Epping Forest, London

It was my birthday and this time Shruti had something different in her mind for me. Since I am not very fond of parties and I like more of the nature, she decided to go biking. Afte searching a quite a lot on Google she found Epping forest as the nearest and best place for biking. We went to Epping a day after my birthday. So, I had already cut 2 birthday cakes. One at midnight and the other in the evening on my birthday.
Our friends who turned up were, Sail, Parnika and Nani. Our Polish friends, Adam and Anetka couldn't come as Anetka was suffering from some kind of strange stomach problem. Fruity ( Gaurav Mehan ) and Sam couldn't come. So now there were 7 of us including Ravi and Prachi. Sail and Parnika were going to join us at Debden station.
We left home at around 8ish. We took a Picadilly line train to Holborn and changed there to take a central line to Debden. We beeped our oyster cards to cross the gates to realise that the toilets were on the platform. The tfl official was nice. He let us go to back to the platform via the luggage gates. We did our Business and came out to see a train approaching the platform and saw Salil and Parnika walk out of it, once it stopped. Shruti had already booked 2 cabs to Debden campsite. It took a while for the cabs to arrive. However the drivers were very nice :). I always feel treated very well as I go outside London, lol. It's quite possible that the fast city life has stressed out a people a bit which might have led the people to forget the basic etiquettes and to smile more. The cab drivers charged us 3.80 each. It was funny when a cab driver told us that usually people return home from the Debden campsite on Sundays and we are going there on a Sunday. We didn't get into details but the reason was that Ravi had to work on that Saturday. However, it didn't make a difference as it was a 1 day trip.
At Debden campsite we went to the bike hire centre. The guy there was very friendly. There were bikes of all sizes and were very well maintained. It contained a tool box and things to sort out a tube puncture. Adjusting the height of the seats was also very easy. The guy in charge over there charged us 18 pounds per person and told us to return before 5 Pm as I think it was their closing time. He also handed over a map to us and told us that the tracks in the forest were pretty good however there could be some up and down hills and that, the ones who were not very comfortable riding a bike or the ones who lacked stamina, might have to walk a bit. If I had to give a very rough idea of how we went to the forest it would be as follows: Considering facing to the door of the cycle renting place, we took the uphill road immediately on the left then after a few seconds, we reached another road, we took a left again and after a few seconds, we reached the main road where we took a left again and kept riding and walking until we came across a roundabout. We could see a park on the right. We took a left again and after some time reached a road where we again took a left which was an uphill road. All lefts ! We rode and walked until we saw a car parking on our right in the forest. That was the way to the forest (cross the road and go via the car park.). While we were on the main road and because the vehicles were moving very fast, we were mostly taking the narrow pavements and mostly walking on them with our cycles. While we were going uphill after the last left turn as mentioned above, I thought of asking the way to the forest to a middle aged man, I saw gardening. It was him who told me about the way to the forest via the car park. However we took a path via a narrow opening on the right just 200 meters before the car park. After he told me the way we had a brief chat about something not related to the Forest. He told that he had been to India thrice and had visited the Tajmahal thrice ! I was embarrassed and ashamed to tell him that though I was an Indian, I hadn't visited the Tajmahal even once ! He said that he had been to Calcutta and some other places in India and really liked visiting India. Then he started talking about cricket and asked me whom do I support. I said I supported India and after India I supported England. Though it would not be a very exciting match between these two countries, I still wanted a finals between India and England. But at that point in time we both knew that England was almost out of the world cup. By the way just for your information, I am writing this line on 5th April and am very proud to mention that We are the current world champions of the world! India defeated Srilanka in the finals on 2nd April and defeated Pakistan in the semis and Australia in the quarter finals. I was pretty happy when the match between India and England was a draw.
So coming back to the trip, we entered the forest from the narrow way which was around 200 metres before the car parking way. After entering the way and walking a bit we started cycling. The way was covered with dry leaves, quite a lot. The forest was not very dense. There was a bit of bog on the way but it was not sodden. We managed to go past it pretty easily with and without the help of the thick sticks lying on the bog. Some of us were pretty tired and hungry. So we stopped at a place where we saw a big log on the ground. We had our breakfast there. Salil and Parnika had got pita breads with pepper hummus and egg mayo spread. The combination was very good. We saved the rest of the food for lunch. After moving from that place and entering a bit more into the forest we noticed that there were proper roads in the forest. They were obviously not like the proper roads made for vehicles but were pretty good for biking. So we started biking randomly on those roads but were always together. It was a pretty good jungle and it is pretty huge as well. We covered the part of it which was adjacent to the main road on the north of it. On our way we saw people, mostly walking and bit on the cycles. There were people with friends, families, pets etc. There are places in the Forest where biking is not allowed. One needs to be very careful as the fine for riding a bike in  no riding zone is £200 ! Near the highway in the north we saw a park but didn't enter it as we were not sure if we were allowed to do so.
After quite a bit of riding, we thought of taking a lunch break. This time we thought of actually diverting from the paths in the forest and entering the Real forest inside. On the way, we found a  place which we thought would be a good place to park our bikes. Though we had chains and locks for each bike, we did not take the risk of parking them and going ahead for a walk, though the people around seemed pretty decent and safe. So we took our cycles and walked a bit inside the forest to a place which had some empty space. We laid down our bikes and kept the number of our bikes in our mind to avoid any confusion later. Shruti had got a set of blankets which we laid on a bed sheet. While we were arranging the blankets, Ravi told me if I wanted to go for a walk with him. For a moment I was a bit surprised as Ravi usually does not like to walk much. But since I like to walk a lot especially in such a place I almost instantly sad "okay". We both went a bit more into the forest. We found a canal with a bit of water flowing into it and a some brittle logs placed across the canal as bridges. We took some pics there. After sometime, he called shruti and asked her something and then told me that he wanted to return to the place. I found some things to be a bit weird but I don't know why I didn't think much about it. May be I was too mesmerized by the surroundings. At the moment when I just reached the place I heard every one shout "Happy Birthday". They had tied a big "Happy birthday" banner across two trees. There was a birthday cake which looked like a football and was lit with candles, glittering papers around it and loads of things to eat like yum yum, nachos, biscuits, pita bread with hummus and egg and mayo spread and pav bhaji prepared by Prachi. Oh boy, it was a great surprise. I mean I didn't imagine Shruti and the others would do this on the next day of my birthday as well and in a forest.  We had a bit of fun with the funny spray which releases some kind of white sticky stuff. I don't know what is it called. After having a good lunch some of us had a quick nap and others including me went for a stroll. After taking a few snaps we biked our way out via the car parking. It was a very good experience. It was something different from the daily routine.

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