When traveling to foreign countries, it can be deeply reassuring to find places that aren't designed to be seen by foreigners. Although these places aren't like home, they're a genuine home to somebody, bringing comfort from the stress of foreign travel and a firm satisfaction of the hunger that motivates foreign travel, and cannot be met by museums and bus tours.
You've flown across the Atlantic to see London, but you're done with royalty and the Tower tour, and you're in no mood for shopping and hit shows that you could as easily have found in the States. You're ready for a walk in Epping.
Get into the Underground and take the Central Line (the red one). Head eastward. The outer suburb of Epping is at the end of the line, a 40-minute ride from the center of London.
Epping's main street is nothing special. The architecture there, as throughout Epping, isn't grand, but it is typically English, in a mass-produced sort of way. You'll find only those shops that meet the needs of the locals, the kind of universal stuff you could find in a suburb anywhere. There is a bicycle shop, Spokes, but it's only for people who need a repair or want to buy - no rentals.
Walk out of town instead. Upon leaving the station, turn right instead of left. Keep walking. Keep walking. The sidewalk will end. Keep walking.
The road is narrow, so walk on the right side to see oncoming traffic. You'll have to step off the road completely whenever a vehicle comes your way. Stay on the road for a lovely walk through a fields and hedgerows, over rolling hills.
If the traffic is a bit much for you, there's a spot you'll find after a few minutes walking on the road where you can turn off onto a public footpath maintained by a local group. The path goes for perhaps half a mile outside of Epping, between a couple of fields where a few handsome old oak trees persist, and between ivy-covered fences. The path will take you back to Station Road, within three minutes of the train station. If you're lucky, you'll meet someone out walking a dog out on the path, and have a nice chat.
Epping certainly isn't an exciting place to visit, but it will offer you a vision of England you'll never find in London. Particularly for those business travelers who haven't been given the time to make a complete trip outside of the city, a walk outside of Epping can offer a quick escape into unironic quiet.
Write your own articles at our Irregular Diaries