advertisement

Mostly because its soil is unsuitable for farming, for a millennium this remained a semi-virgin woodland—it’s the best place to get a feel for what Britain was like before humans denuded its land. It’s the largest open space in London, 6,000 acres, 12 miles long by 2 1/2 miles wide, and it contains a universe of diversity—650 plant species, 80 ponds where waterfowl splash, and even some 1,500 species of fungi. Getting lost in the woods is feasible, but not likely, since it stretches in a single direction. Henry VII built a timberframed hunting lodge in 1542 that was inherited by his daughter Elizabeth and, astoundingly, still stands: Queen Elizabeth’s Hunting Lodge (reach that via the Chingford rail station).