18th November. Epping Forest and Forest Bathing

21 walkers turned out for this unusual walk. Well, it was amazing weather! Sunshine all day, not too cold, no wind. What more could we have asked for! No clouds for Mike to explain to us! Most of the leaves had now fallen, so the forest was carpeted with gold and reddish-brown, soft underfoot as we climbed between the beech trees up to Loughton Camp, an Iron Age hill fort, (~500 BC), possibly used by the Trinovantes in defence against the Catuvellauni tribe. In those days there would have been none of the circles of tall pollarded trees all round us now and it would have been a good lookout point or a fortification for the protection of cattle. Later a cave in the area was used by the infamous highwayman Dick Turpin as a hideout. In the present day it is an ideal place to stop and try some “forest bathing”, some of us standing with our feet firmly on the ground as if they were sending down roots, others sitting on a fallen tree, breathing deeply and relaxing our faces, shoulders and knees, looking up to the blue sky, following a lone leaf as it fluttered down from the top of one of the tallest trees, hearing a rustle in the trees which turned out to be a large flock of pigeons suddenly taking off, glimpsing a solitary squirrel, smelling the autumn leaves, tasting the air, feeling the bark of a tree. Very relaxing! Then we made our way to High Beach. Some of us visited the Epping Forest Visitor Centre. Others, not totally destressed, headed straight to the King’s Oak for a smart lunch and others tasted the delights of the King’s Oak cafe or availed themselves of a picnic table to eat in the sunshine. As the sun moved round, we headed down the other side of the forest, spending some more time in a different clearing for some more forest bathing, before making our way round amongst different trees and fascinating fungi, back towards Loughton station, passing a clearing full of motor bikes and bikers! Some people rushed to catch a tube train, others rounded off a very pleasant day with tea and delicious cakes at a French café. Thank you for all those who came along and joined in the spirit of things. I hope you all enjoyed the day out as much as I did!   Pam

Thanks to Pam and Mr &  Mrs Chowns for the photos.