While in London this week I met a friend for a walk in Epping Forest. We walked from Chingford Plains to High Beach and it was thrilling to experience an unfamiliar aspect of the forest and notice many instances of sympathetic management and habitat creation. Since I left the area in 2018 greater numbers of English Long Horn cattle have been released and we saw small herds grazing and relaxing in the grass. This sight is part of a thousand year history of people having commoner rights to graze cattle in Epping Forest, a working landscape.
The forest where I grew up has a different feel: huge pollarded beech trees, deep leaf litter and wide tracks. This part felt more intimate and varied with winding, slow streams, boggy areas and clearings. It's been years since I walked in Epping Forest and my eyes felt fresh with the wonder of it, realising anew that this is a very particular place and surprisingly, that I'd forgotten something of its power and beauty. I would love to visit again with more time for exploration.