TAKING really young children for a walk can require a lot of planning. If you have one of those posh and expensive all-terrain buggies you can go practically anywhere but there are great limitations for the ordinary pushchair.

Today's walk has been designed for the family with young children and is definitely pushchair accessible.

We start from Connaught Waters where all year round there are masses of waterfowl with a seemingly inexhaustible appetite for bread.

Moving on we are likely to encounter the English Longhorn cattle which have rapidly become a tourist attraction not only for their strangely shaped head gear but also for their quietly amenable charter.

The halfway target is the Owl pub where a play area, bouncy castle, pet rabbits and the famous owl are all available and where a special children's menu provides refreshment for the younger members of the party.

The walk home through the forest visits the old Grimestone's Oak before making a final visit to the lake.

If you enjoyed this walk, why not join the West Essex Family walk on 14 October? More information in the Factfile.

1. Start

Leave the car park at the back, on reaching the lake, go right to walk along its edge.

Keep forward at the end of the lake to join the Red Path coming in from the right (so called because at one time it was surfaced with old red brick rubble).

This straight path takes you to a road where you turn left over an earth barrier. Continue along the disused Fairmead Road which has yet to be reclaimed by the forest for about mile.

On the right you stand a good chance of seeing Long Horn cattle grazing on Fairmead Bottom (this is part of the Forest Conservators' controversial scheme to control the growth of scrub and break up ground for the benefit of insects). You will reach a small car park on the left.

2. 1 mile/1.6km

Walk through the car park and out of the back to the right of a barrier.

Keep straight ahead, along a fairly obvious grassy path with trees to the right, to reach a surfaced ride. Go left.

The ride swings right and left. Further on, just as the ride is about to swing left again, look for a post with a horse shoe on it and go right on another grassy track.

Keep ahead with a tall aerial slightly to the right of your direction. Eventually the track swings steadily left and then meets a road at a corner.

3. 1.5 miles/2.4km

Join the road to go left passing Lippitts Hill Lodge and the Coach House on the right.

Opposite Springfield Farm turn right in to the Owl Car park and continue uphill (this avoids walking up the road) to reach the pub.

4. 1.8 miles/2.9km

Leave the pub and retrace you steps down the hill to the corner where you joined the road.

5. 2.2 miles/3.5km

Go right on a ride, after a few metres go right and left at the following junctions.

Go left again after about twenty metres and, if all has gone well, you should now be heading south-east on a sandy track with woodland on the left and scrub and open ground on the right.

After about mile you arrive at a junction.

6. 2.6 miles/4.1km

Take the left fork, cross another ride, and continue roughly in your previous direction ignoring a ride to the right. You arrive at a T-junction.

7. 2.7 miles/ 4.4km

Turn right along Grimstone's Oak ride. Eventually you will come to Grimstone's Oak itself on the right, set in a partially fenced clearing. (The tree is at least 400 years old, it was renamed after a famous cricketer who had its surroundings cleared in the 1880's.) 8. 3.1 miles/5km

Keep forward to maintain your direction, ignoring a turning to the left.

At the next junction go left, along a long straight stretch. Go left at the next junction on a surfaced ride.

Any of the paths to the left will take you to Connaught Water but it is best to wait for 50 meters to take a wide grassy track which narrows as it crosses Cuckoo Brook and goes up a bank to reach the lake-side (this is the most difficult part of the whole route).

9. 3.6 miles/5.8km

At the water's edge go left to follow the lake around clockwise until you return to the car-park.


Starting Point/Parking: car park at Connaught Waters off Rangers' Road, the A1069

Distance: Four miles/6.4km

Time: Three to four hours

Terrain: mostly level, surfaced rides. Where the route does leave the drives it does so on even grassy tracks.

Suitability for Dogs: good (remember that dogs need to be kept under control in fields where there is livestock and at times when birds are nesting)

Stiles: none

Near: Chingford

Refreshments: The Owl pub, Lippetts Hill

Public Toilets: none

Public Transport: Connaught Water is less than half a mile from Chingford Station which has a regular service to Walthamstow and Liverpool Street

Map and Grid Reference: Explorer 174 405 952