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The Two Brewers and Hainault Forest

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The Two Brewers and Hainault Forest
Author: Pub Walker, Published: 03 Sep 2013 Walk rating : Rating:star0 The Two Brewers and Hainault Forest Pub Walkstar0 The Two Brewers and Hainault Forest Pub Walkstar0 The Two Brewers and Hainault Forest Pub Walkstar0 The Two Brewers and Hainault Forest Pub Walkstar0 The Two Brewers and Hainault Forest Pub Walk
Essex, Epping Forest
Walk Type: Woodland
The Two Brewers and Hainault Forest
Length: 3 miles,  Difficulty: boot The Two Brewers and Hainault Forest Pub Walk boot The Two Brewers and Hainault Forest Pub Walk
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A 3 mile circular pub walk from the Two Brewers in Chigwell Row, Essex. The Two Brewers is a lovely spacious pub with comfortable furniture and a well-stocked bar. The walking route explores the adjacent Hainault Forest Country Park, with chance to see beautiful ancient woodland, a pretty lake and even a city farm and zoo.

The walk is relatively flat with just a couple of gentle slopes. Most of the paths are well-made but the first section through the forest can get fairly muddy after periods of rain and in winter. There are no stiles and just a few kissing gates. Dogs are welcome in the country park. Approximate time 1 to 1.5 hours.

Chigwell Row is situated in the triangle formed by the M11, M25 and A12, just a few miles north of Romford on the A1112. The walk starts and finishes at the Two Brewers pub on Lambourne Road, east of the main A1112. The pub has its own car park alongside. Alternatively, if this car park is very busy, turn left out of the pub and there is another car park for the country park just a little further along on the right. Approximate post code IG7 6ET.

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Walk Sections

Start to Camelot Crossroads
Start to Camelot Crossroads

Start point: 51.622 lat, 0.1206 long
End point: 51.624 lat, 0.1362 long

Leave the pub car park and turn left along the pavement. Cross over Coopers Close and soon afterwards cross over the main road using the zebra crossing. Veer left into the small country park car park. A few paces in, turn left through the metal kissing gate and keep straight ahead on the grass path running close to the hedgeline on the left.

Cross the small wooden footbridge into the next field, and then cross this field diagonally right (at 2 o’clock) to reach the opposite corner where the field meets the forest edge. When you reach the far corner, swing left to join the grass path which leads you into the pretty mixed woodland. Follow the wide woodland footpath ahead for some distance (note: this path can get quite muddy).

Grand in size, stature and origins, Hainault Forest today is, in fact, just a tiny remnant of what was once the Forest of Essex. A former hunting forest, it was created in the 1600s under the reign of Charles I to provide venison for the King’ table, and it is one of the best surviving medieval forests of its kind. Hainault’s status as an ancient woodland is confirmed in spring by its dense carpets of bluebells which make a stunning display in patches of the forest. Ownership of the whole country park is now split, this section being under the management of the Woodland Trust.

At the first three-way signpost, keep straight ahead on the main path, now a well-made stone surface. Soon you’ll reach another major crossroads of paths, with the Camelot car park signed to the left. Turn right here.

Camelot Crossroads to Fox Burrow Road
Camelot Crossroads to Fox Burrow Road

Start point: 51.624 lat, 0.1362 long
End point: 51.6167 lat, 0.1377 long

After less than 100 yards, you’ll emerge out of the trees into another multi-way junction of paths. Do NOT go ahead into the fenced area of heath, instead take the gravel path immediately to the left of this. Follow this bridleway with the fence now running on the right, ignoring the path off left into the golf course.

Follow the bridleway for some distance, heading steadily downhill. You are now in the section of forest managed by Redbridge Council as a country park. The name Hainault originates from the two words: ‘Higna’, meaning monastic community and ‘holt’, meaning woodland. The forest belonged to the Abbey of Barking until Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries.

Each side of this path are beautiful hedgerows packed with native plants such as hawthorn, elder and hazel. The path continues over the brow of a small woodland hill and a little distance further the path emerges alongside a vehicle bollard to reach a T-junction with Fox Burrow Road, with Foxburrows Farm to the left.

Fox Burrow Road to Lake
Fox Burrow Road to Lake

Start point: 51.6167 lat, 0.1377 long
End point: 51.614 lat, 0.1281 long

Turn right along Fox Burrow Road, the quiet tarmac access lane for the country park. Pass a row of terraced cottages, a picnic area and then the (largely disused) complex of old estate offices all on the left. After this, join the stone path running along the left edge of the road, and on the left you’ll pass the fenced enclosures of the farm and zoo.

There are plenty of animals to see here including horses, Shetland ponies, sheep, goats, ducks, geese, pigs, donkeys and even meerkats. The zoo is used in part to preserve a number of rare species, and is a popular local attraction.

Continue past the public toilets on the left and immediately ahead you’ll see the country park cafe. A few paces before this, cross over the access road to turn right down the stone path which runs to the right of the tarmac car park. Follow the wide stone path ahead and then swinging left and on the right you’ll reach the lake.

Lake to End
Lake to End

Start point: 51.614 lat, 0.1281 long
End point: 51.6221 lat, 0.1207 long

Stay on the main track as it gradually swings right around the perimeter of the lake. On the far bank, ignore the smaller paths forking off into the forest, simply stay on the main gravel path as it continues beyond the lake into dense woodland.

At the fork, keep left on the wide woodland path. Keep straight ahead at the first crossroads, and then turn left at the second crossroads, crossing a bridge over a small stream. Further along, pass through a squeeze gap alongside a vehicle barrier to reach another junction of paths with a three-way signpost. Go straight ahead, signed as the Retreat Path. Follow this section of path, which has a particular mystic feel, with its tall majestic beech trees.

The path emerges from the woodland and continues ahead with fenced private properties on the left. At the top corner you’ll reach a fork, keep right following the gravel path along the top edge of the woodland, with more properties to the left. Keep ahead to reach a junction of paths, where the fences on the left end. Turn left and follow this path up to the T-junction with the road, passing the car park on the right. Cross over the zebra crossing and turn left along the pavement. On the right you’ll come to the Two Brewers for some well deserved hospitality.

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Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2013 by the author pubwalker and may not be reproduced without permission.

The information in this guide has been provided in good faith and is intended only as a guide, not a statement of fact. You are advised to check the accuracy of the information provided and should not use this guide for navigational directions nor should you rely on the accuracy of the weather forecast. You are advised to take appropriate clothing, footwear, equipment and navigational materials with you according to the current and possible weather and nature of the terrain. Always follow the country code and follow any additional warnings or instructions that may be available. Some walks may be very strenuous and you are advised to seek medical advice if you have any doubts as to your capability to complete the walk.

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