Like many of the historic places around East London, Barn Hoppett is spelt in a variety of ways on different maps. However this is the one that appears on the wooden signpost pointing us to this woodland.
The path that runs all the way through Epping Forest from one end to the other is clear and easy to follow here – through the woodland and across nearby Whitehall Plain where Muntjac Deer can be spotted.
Warren Pond appears to be a natural lake but it is almost certainly the result of primary industrial activity which prevailed all around Epping Forest – gravel digging. Nearly all the ponds of Epping Forest – of which there are thought to be over one hundred – are the result of human activity.
It’s possible to hide away at the water’s edge because there are so many bushes and plants growing around it and so could be the perfect place to observe wildlife. But the creatures who live on the water can also conceal themselves amongst the reeds and marginal plants that fill the shallow borders.
The trees on the banks may have been growing long before the pond was formed and their roots spread down and cling to the steep banks all around. They are so old that these veterans were growing here during the reign of King Henry VIII and these same magnificent oaks have provided shelter for wildlife and people for many centuries.
The trees of Barn Hoppett are full of character. Many local people have a favourite: perhaps the tree with its low, solid branches that looks like it has been designed to be climbed up and sat on, or the tree that appears to be two co-joined oaks sharing the same trunk at their base which is completely hollow with an entrance at the front and at the back.
Even the trees that are no longer alive are worth taking a long, lingering look at to see what monsters they resemble.
Walk from Chingford Plains or from Bluehouse Grove across Whitehall Plain or from Chingford Station