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St Peter's in the Forest to Highams Park

Arriving at St Peter's in the Forest Church you find yourself in a country churchyard. The church was founded here as a 'chapel of ease' - so called because it would be closer for the people living around here than St Mary's Church in Walthamstow Village.


Perhaps those Victorians, the first people to worship here, are now at rest under the ivy clad tress in the graveyard.


St Peter's in the Forest Churchyard


To this day this is a much loved and cared for sanctuary, with wooden discs hanging from some trees inviting us to discover more about them.


One of the wooden discs


Hawthorne is also an important hedge plant - supporting over three hundred insect species. In turn a variety of birds depend upon the insects. And there is a wide variety of nature to discover along a path that starts just outside the church yard and leads to Highams Park.


The start of the path


A way marker - a white topped wooden post - can be seen between the trees and another one further along as the path leads out onto grassland.


Path across the grass


Then we are led into woodland where the path continues to be firm, flat and wide. Perhaps the walk will be a leisurely stroll,


Walthamstow Forest


In winter some of the path is almost inaccessible as it becomes waterlogged and muddy. But for an autumn visit the conditions are inviting.


The path continues through woodland


The ferns are losing their softness now, becoming brittle and brown. Summer is over.


Ferns in Autumn


And yet a bit further on we seem to have travelled back to earlier in the year with fresh, bright Spring like green leaves all around.


Green leaves in Autumn


Soon the path becomes difficult to walk along. There are humps and bumps and too many trip hazards with tree roots moving serpentine like across our way, half hidden in the baked clay path.


There is also a road bridge to cross and an underpass to go through - we are returned, briefly, to an urban environment and are relieved each time to return to the forest.


At last we come across a sign post.


A wooden sign post


And the path once again becomes wide and flat, taking us through an aisle with trees either side marking the final stage of the walk.


The aisle of trees


Here, at last, is Highams Park Lake. And on its edges are Michaelmass Daisies - a welcome supply of nourishment for bees in Autumn.


Michalemass daisies by the lake


And the cygnets are now fully grown, standing on the bank to preen and discard their juvenille brown feathers.


Cygnets on the bank of the lake


This visit to Epping Forest could conclude with a stroll around the lake - or a climb to the top of the hill from where there are views of the towering buildings of the centre of the city.


Or it could be a there-and-back walk. Many ramblers prefer a circular route but retracing footsteps can be just as interesting.


And somehow the return journey can feel much shorter and quicker, as though distance and time have somehow shrunk.


From Wood Street station or the W16 bus stop it is a five to ten minutes uphill walk to St Peter's in the Forest - buses 20 and 230 stop nearby; 56 and 257 stop at Whipps Cross.


Highams Park 275 to Woodford Station or Highams Park Station


@stpetersintheforest

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