In January 2020, I became a columnist for Essex Life magazine, writing about doggy days out in and around the county. Here is my article about Epping…
What to see
Epping Forest is, without a doubt, the main attraction. This ancient woodland spans a massive 2,400 hectares and straddles the border between London and Essex. It has 52 free car parks to choose from so knowing where to find the best walks can feel rather daunting. Head to the Visitor Centre when you arrive to stock up on information or check out the routes recommended by the City of London Corporation, which manages the forest. Find them by clicking here.
The Epping Ongar Railway is another big draw. From Epping Tube station, vintage buses whisk you to the old steam line, which originally opened in 1865. It takes around 30 minutes to travel the length of the track, with a quick change at North Weald station. Dogs can ride both the trains and buses free of charge. Adult tickets cost £14 and are valid for unlimited travel on the day of purchase.
Dogs are also welcome to join the guided tours of Copped Hall, which not many people know about. The Georgian mansion is slowly being restored by volunteers and the three-hour tours – which take place on the third Sunday of every month – explore a large part of the house and gardens, as well as the stables and cellar. Refreshments are available to buy afterwards, too. Tickets cost £8 for adults.
Where to eat
Don’t miss a trip to the Original Tea Hut, which first opened its doors in the 1920s. It started out as a simple refreshment stall for the then-famous High Beech Speedway but today it is hugely popular with bikers who come here to feast on the famous doorstep sandwiches. There is only outdoor seating but there’s a big jar of treats on the counter for four-legged visitors.
If you’re anywhere near Epping High Street, be sure to pop in to Julie’s at Stonards, at the Stonards Hill Recreation Ground. This little café overlooks the park and sells Doggycinos (whipped cream with dog treats) for just £1. It also has its own Instagram account dedicated to visiting dogs – check it out @cafepuppers.
For hearty pub grub, head to The Horseshoes in Upshire, which is renowned for its super-sized portions. Work up an appetite by taking on the 1.25-mile walking trail that starts and finishes at the pub. The circular route passes through the newly-created Gifford Wood and the buffer lands of Oxleys and Potkiln Wood
While you’re in the area
Check out the River Lee Country Park in nearby Lee Valley. As well as lots of lovely walks, it has a 500m dog agility course where you can put your pooch through their paces.