Epping Forest is an area of ancient woodland covering around 6,000 acres (24 km2 or 9.3 mi2) from Manor Park in east London to just north of Epping in Essex. Two thirds of the forest is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest and a Special Area of Conservation; and the whole is of national and international conservation importance. It consists of woodland areas, grassland, heath, rivers, bogs; and over 109 lakes and ponds.
There are around 500 rare and endangered insect species in the forest; and over 1,600 fungi species, including some of the rarest recorded specimens across Europe.
The diverse range of habitats provides homes for many bird species, from tree creepers, woodpeckers and nuthatches in the woodlands to an abundance of wildfowl such as swans, great crested grebes, gadwall, goosander and wigeon on the many lakes and ponds.
Mammals include rabbits, foxes, badgers, muntjac and fallow deer. Ten of the 18 species of bat found in the UK have been recorded in Epping Forest. English longhorn cattle graze freely at Fairmead and Chingford, preserving a tradition of over 1,000 years.
The flora of the forest is equally diverse, with over 650 plant species recorded. These range from wildflowers to orchids, scrubs, ferns and mosses (including the nationally rare Forster’s knothole moss).
There are almost 100 km (~62 mi) of surfaced and unsurfaced trails for access to the woodlands, ponds, open country and the diverse range of flora and fauna for walkers, runners, cyclists and horse riders. Nordic walking and orienteering are available through local clubs.
There are football pitches; an 18-hole golf course; cricket pitches; and an athletics track.
Angling (with a valid rod licence; closed season 15 March to 15 June and no night fishing is allowed) is permitted in 24 of the lakes and ponds. Boat hire is available at Hollow Ponds between March and October.