RODING VALLEY Central (Hainault) LONDON TUBE RAMBLES
a wander through Epping Forest.
Just over ten minutes walk from the station are two very pleasant adjoining stretches of woodland - Lord’s Bushes and Knighton Wood (both technically part of Epping Forest). The area is a Site of Special Scientific Interest partly because of its veteran trees, including the service tree which is usually associated with ancient woodland. When you get off the train, walk over the bridge to the main exit. Turn left from the Tube and at the end of Station Way cross Forest Edge to Farm Way. The entrance to the woods is just after Farm Close and is marked as a Bridle Way. This track is a continuation of Monkhams Lane, and is an Anglo-Saxon boundary between the manors of Chingford and Woodford. Once in the woods you can explore the smaller paths or keep to the wider track. You will notice that the main path has a tiny stream-bed meandering along it - a sign that the area gets very wet after rain. The good news, is that you will be able to recognize it should you get lost. The route I am suggesting is a straightforward walk along this track.
The presence of rhododendrons indicate that this is not a wild wood and near the far end, on the left, you will find a sheltered ornamental lake with trees that grow right down to the water’s edge. Knighton Wood was once part of a nineteenth century estate owned by one Edward North Buxton, a Verderer (forest administrator). Following his death in 1928 the land was returned to the forest and public use. The lake is formed from an artificial material known as Pulham Stone. Return to Monkhams Lane. Where the trees end you will see a small car park. Just before this on the right hand side of the track is the famous Pulpit Oak which has a girth of more than 4.5 meters and is thought to be over 400 years old. It takes its name from the way the tree has become hollow, forming a place from which you can do a St. Francis and preach to the birds! Monkhams Lane is user-friendly in most parts, but can be very muddy after rain.
Incidentally, Roding Valley station is the least used of the Tube network and although the buildings are modern compared to many along this stretch of the Central line, it has a countrified air - I saw a squirrel running around the ticket machine area. In keeping with this relaxed atmosphere there are fewer trains than at ordinary stations, so if you are returning to central London you may discover from the departure board that you have a long wait. As this could be up to 20 minutes, it is best to go to Woodford where there are more connections. (It is maddening to be able to see trains passing on the main route not far from where you are waiting.) Although the present Roding Valley station was built in 1949 it retains the original 1930's bridge with pretty lattice ironwork. Train buffs might be interested in the complicated history of this section of the line.
Roding Valley is just one walk from the many to be found at London Tube Rambles. There are architectural gems, beautiful country views, historic places and quirky buildings even in the most unpromising areas covered by the outer London Underground stations. Usually the discoveries are within a mile of the Tube - often only five minutes walk away. If you reached this as an individual page via a search engine, you might like to click on the above link and see the other destinations explored. You'll be amazed at what's out there!