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Explore Epping Forest. 
As you come out of the Tube turn round and look up at the splendid curved window. The present Grade II listed station was opened in 1940 in preparation for the changeover from British Railways to London Underground trains. Owing to the War this did not actually take place until 1948. Along Old Station Road you will soon see another good building, the low green-roofed Sainsbury’s. To get to Epping Forest turn right at the High Road. Cross over at the lights, walk right, then go into High Beech Road.  Cross at the island and almost immediately turn right into winding Smart's Lane which has pretty cottages and a couple of pubs (The Carpenters Arms and The Victoria Tavern). After about ten minutes you will reach the crossroads with Earl's Path and Forest Road.  Go over carefully (no crossing place) to a road simply marked 'Shaftesbury' ('Staples Road' on Google map). Just after a large gate is another entrance, signed The Forest Way.  This narrow path leads to steps down to Staples Road Pool.  From here you can follow the trail past Loughton Camp (an Iron Age hill fort) to the Epping Forest Visitor Centre which is about a mile away, take one of the longer trails (see below) - or simply potter about enjoying the peace of this ancient woodland.

With its beautiful lakes, clear running streams and old ponds, the forest is a wonderful place for a family day out, though buggies and wheelchairs are not really a practical proposition. A map of some kind is essential, as The City of London which manages the forest doesn’t believe in signposts. I suggest you use the Forest Way map at the link above. This comes in either OS or street form if you click on the +/-. Incidentally, 'Shaftesbury'  refers to Lord Shaftesbury who was president of the Ragged Schools Union for 39 years. This society helped children from deprived backgrounds in various ways, one being the organization of days out for 'ragged' kids from the East End of London.  Walk up to the bend in Staples Road to find an information board explaining how every year thousands of them came by train to enjoy a day of fresh air and good food at a 'retreat' nearby.

If on your way home you wish to get to shops, turn left down Forest Road which will lead you to the town centre where there is some endearingly quirky architecture. You might be pleased to discover that both the pubs you passed in Smart's Lane have additional entrances from Forest Road. 

Once back in Loughton note the turreted buildings either side of Station Road (straight ahead) and the tiled shelter over the adjacent drinking fountain. Turn left to find a safe crossing place over the High Road then walk to the right. At the corner of Station Road is a clever seating arrangement made from massive wooden beams. Cross the road with care and go back to the Tube via Old Station Road. There's a interesting shop front at No. 195 High Road and pretty windows at No. 173.

For a history of Loughton click here.
More rambles and history from the Loughton & District Historical Society here

Click on photos to enlarge
Loughton Tube station
A path in the forest
Staples Road Pond
The Victoria Tavern
Seating at the corner of Station Road.

Loughton is just one route 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 link above and see the other destinations explored. You'll be amazed at what's out there!

© DR