These trees have stories – Epping Forest


Epping Forest Walk – Loughton Camp to Epping via Ambresbury Banks

I head into the forest at 3.15pm in the rain – up from Loughton Station straight to Loughton Camp – a place of peace, retreat. Rain taps on the fallen leaves. The gloom and rain mean there’s not a soul around. The mighty trees look over me.


These trees have stories – great mythologies, lineages stretching back millenia. I wish I could hear their tales, if I stand still for long enough and listen to the breeze will I gain their trust?

Epping Forest

Epping Forest path

A large white horse stands on a bend on the the high path through Great Monk Wood like a mythical beast. I chat to the rider and compare notes on traveling through the forest in the last light. We part in opposite directions wishing each other well. I have a distance to go to reach Epping and it’s now just before sunset.





It’s dark when I cross the road and onto Ambresbury Banks. I stand to admire the deep entrenchment – in many ways more imposing than Loughton Camp.

Ambresbury Banks

Ambresbury Banks

It’s pitch black now – but I have a nice wide path to guide me and the forest to myself. Not even an animal stirs or a nocturnal dog walker. How easy would it be to duck into the overgrowth, throw a tarp over some low branches and bed down for the night?


A fallen tree by the path in Epping Thicks glows white like a ghostly face on the edge of the path. I feel it in the pit of my stomach – and stand still.  When I move on I see movement through the trees, horses running along the ridge at the top of the forest …. before I see that it’s my walking giving the static tree trunks motion against the lights of Epping Town in the distance, like a woodland zoetrope. How the light plays tricks on the mind in the dark. The running horses were ghosts of my own mind.

The forest is still.


Epping cricket pavillion on the edge of the forest




  1. Duncan   •  

    Sinclair described Loughton Camp as being like a Cathedral. It is a special place and hard not to get a bit spiritual when there.
    When the weather is brighter and the day longer I would heartily recommend a walk to LC in the late afternoon as the sun starts to set in the West. The light through the trees is simply beautiful and the idea of being where the Ancient Britons watched the same setting sun is quite magical.

    • JohnR   •     Author

      Thanks Duncan is that from Edge of the Orison? Love your description of the setting sun through the trees in summer – wonderful. Such a powerful spot

  2. David   •  

    The other day I learned that Amesbury in Wiltshire also used to be called Ambresbury,
    and that it means Ambrosius’s Camp in Old English

    Here’s Ambrosius

    The hill fort by Amesbury is now called Vespasian’s Camp… in a similar way to the King of the sirloin story, whose camp it is depends on which ancient warlord feels right to you.

  3. David   •  

    Or warlady, if you consider the link between Ambresbury (Essex) and Boudicca…

  4. Anon   •  

    Locally it has always been regarded as queen bodecia’s london Pierre de terre

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