Epping to Chipping Ongar walk

The Essex Way broadly following the former Epping to Ongar tube line. Muddy in winter.


This is a list of previous times this walk has been done by the club (since Jan 2010). For more recent events (since April 2015), full details are shown.

Date Post # Weather
Sat, 25-Jun-22 Epping to Ongar - rural Essex by Underground 15 windy and mostly cloudy
Sun, 11-Nov-18 Sunday Walk - Epping to Chipping Ongar or Circular or on to Ingatestone 6 blue skies jacket not required temperature
Sat, 28-Oct-17 Saturday Walk – Epping to Ongar: beyond the Central Line 10
Sat, 25-Jun-22
Epping to Ongar - rural Essex by Underground
Length: 12.5km (7.8 miles) - but I am sure we can find a way to extend it a bit...
Meet at Epping station (far eastern end of the Central Line) in time for an 11.30 start.
Possible trains:
10.27 Tottenham Court Road - 10.36 Liverpool Street - Epping 11.12.
10.37 Tottenham Court Road - 10.46 Liverpool Street - Epping 11.22
10.42 Tottenham Court Road - 10.51 Liverpool Street - Epping 11.26
For walk directions click here, for GPX click here, for a map of the route click here
For those who have access to the Underground during this miserable rail strike, I propose this outing to the very rural and picturesque eastern end of the Central Line. The route starts in Epping and shadows the route of the former Ongar branch of the Central Line, now a heritage railway (it is running today and its steam trains may possibly be heard or seen hooting away).
It is not a long walk, and I scratched my head as to ways to extend it, for example starting at Theydon Bois station (the only Underground station to serve a village?). But in the end I thought it might be nicer to improvise an extension, if required, at the Ongar end of the walk, where there is plenty of pretty countryside. The walk itself includes an extra 1km loop to a church and castle, and maybe we could expand on that, perhaps by doing a loop out to High Ongar. Alternatively, on the way back you could stop off at Epping and walk to Theydon Bois through Epping Forest.
There is a pub en route - the Green Man in the gloriously-named Toot Hill. I can't divine from its website whether it is one of those book-in-advance restaurant places or a place happy to have walk-up business. But if not, it is not that much further to Ongar, which has various food options: see below.
Incidentally, I am not sure if it is on the walk, but if conditions are clear there is a fabulous distant view of the City of London from Toot Hill - or there used to be in the 1980s when this was my favourite cycling territory.
Ongar seems to have a range of cafes. Several shut very early, but one or two seem to stay open to 5pm or later - according to Google anyway. There are also several pubs, the walk author recommending the Kings Head - which serves food all afternoon. T=swc.276
You get back to Epping on the 420 bus, which leaves on the hour (ie at 00 minutes past) until 7pm from outside the Kings Head (according to the walk author) or the Two Brewers (according to the bus timetable), calling at Ongar station 5 minutes later.
  • 20-Jun-22

    As Walker states the best bet to extend the walk is to improvise a loop around High Ongar but if you are feeling particularly adventurous -and rail strike permitting- you could add 8 miles by walking on to Ingatestone which I have done in the past (as has Thomas on a long walk from Loughton to Ingatestone) but although 2 trains an hour are still showing as running from Ingatestone to Liverpool Street on Saturday this is probably a bit too risky.

    If you want to walk longer you could start at Loughton and follow a map-led direct wide track through the forest to Epping which is about 5 miles and have lunch at a pub you pass on the outskirts of Epping (Stargazer has done this as a mid week evening walk I think). You pass Epping tube station where you can end the walk if you wish.

    The Green Man pub has a nice outside seating area so you should not need to book. Imho this is the best of the three "Central Line" walks - dont forget to visit the 1,000 year old church near the end. Enjoy your day.

    PeteB- walk author

  • 20-Jun-22

    the route to Ingatestone is shown on the route map/has a gpx...

  • 23-Jun-22

    I came across this:


    I haven't checked the details as I'm thinking of doing Amersham.

  • 24-Jun-22

    I am up for the extension to Ingastone, if doable.

    I will compromise on the late start.


  • 25-Jun-22

    15 on this walk, including one West Londoner who gets a special citation for travelling the entire length of the Central Line from Ealing Broadway (taking 1hr 20 mins). There were also two walkers on their first SWC outing since the start of the pandemic. Very nice to see them again.

    This was the first time I had done this walk and I found it very pleasing. A nice mix of fields and fine woods. Considering its proximity to the M11 in its early stages I was surprised to hear no motorway noise. (Perhaps we were lucky with the wind direction, it being windy and mostly cloudy .)

    The Green Man in Toot Hill proved a very acceptable lunch stop for eight (or nine?) of us. They had a two courses for £13.99 deal and service was very quick and friendly. So nice to find a pub without fussy rules or menus. We lingered somewhat there and some also stopped mid afternoon to see the amazing Saxon church - the oldest wooden building in Europe apparently.

    Some front-runners, I hear, got an unexpected 3.20pm bus from Ongar. This group included one who had thought of walking to Ingatestone but decided the trains would finish too early due to the strike. The rest of us got to Ongar at 3.45pm. Many went straight for the 4pm bus, but four of us had a look at the charmingly-restored Ongar station and watched a DMU pull out (a diesel multiple unit, for the uninitiated). We then did the suggested extra loop backwards, though failed to notice the Norman castle remains, and had a quick drink at the King’s Head. At the bus stop we met with a fifth walker who had explored the village a bit, and we all then caught the 5pm bus.

Sun, 11-Nov-18
Sunday Walk - Epping to Chipping Ongar or Circular or on to Ingatestone
Length: 12.5 km (7.8 mi) or 24.6 km (15.3 mi) or 26.6 km (16.5 mi)
Ascent/Descent: negligible or negligible or 214/237m;
Net Walking Time: 2 ½ or 5 or 5 ½ hours
Toughness: 1/10 or 3/10 or 4/10
Arrive at Epping Station (Zone 6, Central Line) at 10.30 (journey time from Liverpool Street is 34 mins).
Return buses (line 420) from Ongar/Banson’s Lane to Epping Station are on 15.31 and 16.31 (departs from Ongar station a minute later, 23 mins journey time).
Return trains from Ingatestone to Liverpool Street are on xx.05 (30 mins journey time, Anytime Singles are £13,50 at full price).
The route follows the well signposted Essex Way to Chipping Ongar, broadly following the former Epping to Ongar tube line which closed in 1994. [The Epping Ongar Railway now operates a limited service, but unfortunately not in November…] About 40% of the route to Ongar is through woodland, which should make for some good autumn colour.
In Ongar you can have lunch, check out the station of the heritage railway and/or Ongar Castle (a good example of a late 11th or early 12th century Motte and Bailey), take a bus back (see above for timings), walk back the way you came (map-led), or walk on to Ingatestone, largely along the St. Peter’s Way (map-led).
The Green Man & Courtyard in Toot Hill (7.5 km/4.7 mi, food all day);
King's Head in Ongar (12.3 km/7.6 mi, food all day);
The Leather Bottle and The Prince Albert in Blackmore (19.4 km/12.0 mi, open all day);
The Viper in Millgreen Common (23.7 km/14.7 mi);
The Bell or The Star Inn in Ingatestone.
For summary, map, height profile, photos, walk directions and gpx/kml files click here. T=swc.276.a
  • Karen

    6 blue skies jacket not required temperature

    6 congregated at Epping and set off under blue skies. There was great autumn colour in the woods and along the field boundaries, especially vivid against the blue above. The morning was mostly through woodland with the first of the winter mud putting in an appearance (not very much, but an indication of things to come). We paused to admire St Andrews Church in Greensted and not long after arrived in Ongar. 2 decided to finish there and jumped on a bus while the remaining 4 lunched at the Cock Tavern. A simple menu with a couple of roasts and 3 other dishes all very reasonably priced. It was fine - nice clean premises, friendly staff and locals - but I'll probaly check out the King's Head the next time I'm in town.

    Interestingly, given the day that was in it, the morning section followed the Essex Way where the way makers are decorated with Essex's county flower, the poppy.

    We didn't linger too long at the pub as we knew we had quite a way to go to Ignatestone and wanted to make it before darkness. The afternoon had quite a few field crossings, some through arable fields recently ploughed and planted and the going was a little tough. But the skies remained blue all afternoon and there were some great views across the open fields, some already with green shoots (of what, we may never know) and again, the field boundaries resplendent in golds and russets. We made it in Ingnatestone just as darkness was descending. One ran off to the station and 3 of us enjoyed a drink or two at The Bell before catching the 18:05 back to London.

    A lovely walk on a beautiful day.

  • 12-Nov-18

    If the green shoots looked like grass, they were winter wheat. If they looked cabbagey, oilseed rape.

    Winter wheat is sown in early autumn and sprouts up to about 10cm and then stays that way till March or so, when it starts to shoot up. Being sown in autumn gives it a slight head start and produces an earlier crop. Traditionally sowing was done in February and this allowed birds to feed on fallen grain in the fallow fields over the winter. The introduction of winter wheat was thus harmful to wildlife.

    Interestingly last year I noticed some farmers seemed to be returning to late winter sowing: why I do not know

  • 12-Nov-18

    By that, we had both: the winter wheat and the oilseed rape (lots of the latter, may make a fine walk in a dry April, should we have one).

    The poppy theme continued in the afternoon: we weren't on the Essex Way anymore, but nevertheless had a surprise in Blackmore where the church was 'dressed' in a poppy curtain on the entrance-side outside wall, with plenty more displays, photos etc. inside, and the churchyard had several 'poppy trails', lined with poppies on stilts, leading to graves of people who had died in the war. (the displays will be up until 21 Nov).

Sat, 28-Oct-17
Saturday Walk – Epping to Ongar: beyond the Central Line
Extra Walk 276 – Epping to Chipping Ongar
Length: 12.5 km (7.8 miles). Toughness: 2/10

Take a Central Line tube to arrive at Epping (TfL Zone 6) by 11:20 (every 5-10 minutes; a 45-minute journey from Oxford Circus). Meet outside the station.

The walk ends outside the Travelcard / Oyster area and you'll need to take a 420 bus back to Epping. These run half-hourly until 19:30, setting off from Ongar High Street at xx:00 & xx:30.

One of our Sunday regulars has been plotting a series of Central Line routes through Epping Forest and this one breaks a little further out into the Essex countryside. Although it's been on the site for a year its author has been disinclined to rely on the Sunday bus service, so this is its inaugural SWC outing. The route broadly follows the Epping-Ongar section of the Central Line which closed in 1994, but as it's coming up to Halloween you might catch the distant tootings of a Ghost Train creeping along the eastern part of the old line.

The lunchtime village sounds like a good place to hear these trains: Toot Hill. It's about 60% of the way through the walk, so you should get to the Green Man just after 1pm. There are pub and café options for tea at the end of the walk in Chipping Ongar High Street, and an interesting-looking 1 km extension which you could take before heading for the bus stop.

You'll need to print the directions from the Epping to Chipping Ongar Walk page. T=swc.276
  • 29-Oct-17

    10 set off for a very pleasant walk in the Essex countryside. Much more rural than I expected with large recently ploughed fields, hedgerow with beautiful berry bushes dotted in it and lovely vistas of the changing colours of Autumn. Purportedly, the oldest wooden church in the world was a delight to behold although how much of it was original Saxon was a debatable point. One thing that did strike me was how much darker it was inside the church compared to its stone equivalent. Half the group stayed in Ongar for tea and cakes.

  • 29-Oct-17

    I fully agree with BrightSpark's opinion of this very pleasant rural outing, but as a connoisseur of mud'n'motorway walks I have to say this one didn't quite live up to expectations. There was the brief thrill of crossing the M11 but the traffic noise disappeared all too soon and apart from that the walk was exceptionally quiet, just the occasional toots of a steam train (though too far away to be seen). And the only really muddy stretches weren't on narrow fenced paths with no escape routes, but in open woodland where they could no doubt be avoided with a bit of initiative. This might not be such a bad winter walk after all.

    Like many pubs these days the Green Man has a large formal restaurant and only a small bar area, but they happily accommodated eight of us in the restaurant for lunch. I don't expect they get many groups of walkers but they were exceptionally welcoming. The walk author also managed to find us a very good small coffee shop for tea, much needed refreshment before a journey home which (in my case) took almost as long as the walk itself.