Approximately 4.6 miles / 7.5 km (approx. 1.5 hours) to Snaresbrook Tube Station or 5.2 miles / 8.4 km (approx. 2 hours) to Wanstead Tube Station. If you want to continue past Wanstead and end at Manor Park Station, then the total circular route is approximately 8 miles / 13 km (approx. 3 hours)

Click on image to go to an interactive version of this map

This walk follows the route of Walk 1 as far as Lake House, before turning north towards Leyton Flats and Hollow Ponds. Following a detour to visit the “stone” which gives Leytonstone its name, the route crosses grassland to arrive at Hollow Ponds. After circling the lake, the walk passes Snaresbrook Crown Court ( a Victorian take on a Jacobean country house), Eagle pond with its abundant ducks and geese, and Wanstead High Street with pubs, cafes and two tube stations, should you wish to opt for a shorter walk. The return to Manor Park across the Park and the Flats, passes the neoclassical St Mary’s church, built in the shadow of Wanstead House, and also passes Wanstead Golf Club which incorporates its stable block.

You can follow the walk directly from your phone. Directions are in black, historical notes are in dark red. There are also links that lead to further information about points of interest.

If you don't want to follow the walk on your phone, you can download a printable PDF version of this walk guide


WAY POINT 1 - Manor Park Station

Turn left out of Manor Park Station and cross Whitta Road.  Proceed along Forest Drive, walking past a small block of flats and Victorian villas. Over the road to the right is Manor Park Flats, the most southerly point of Epping Forest.

Historical Note 
A large temporary mortuary was erected on Manor Park Flats in April 2020 as part of the London wide response to the Coronavirus pandemic. This was dismantled at the end of July 2020 and the area is currently planned to become a wild-flower habitat.

Link to more information about Manor Park Flats

Cross over Capel Road, and then immediately turn left onto Wanstead Flats. Proceed to the nearby information board at a junction of paths. 


Take the broad path to the left of the sign that is parallel with Capel Road. Walk straight ahead past the Golden Fleece pub on your left, aiming for a low concrete building which houses changing rooms for the football pitches.The housing to your left along Capel Road is late nineteenth century marking the eastern boundary of Victorian London to your right across the Flats is the Edwardian Aldersbrook Estate built in the first years of the twentieth century.

Historical Note 
In World War Two, prefabs (prefabricated houses) were built here on the Flats to re-house Londoners who had been bombed out of their houses.Allotments were also established as part of the government’s “Dig for Victory” policy.

Link to more information about the prefabs

On arriving at the right hand corner of the changing rooms, head half right in the direction of the two blocks of flats on the horizon. Just before you get to a large clump of trees,  turn right along the edge of  the football pitches.  After about 25 metres, turn sharply left onto the broad path heading towards a car park on Centre Road. As you near the car park, on the horizon to the left Canary Wharf becomes visible, and on the right you can see two small church spires on the Aldersbrook Estate.


Cross over Centre Road, and enter Wanstead Heath via the car park opposite (usually locked). This is the point at which this walk can be accessed from Forest Gate and Wanstead Park stations (which are south of this point, along Centre Road). 

Proceed to the information board to your right and take the narrow but well defined path to the immediate left of the board. Stay on this till it merges with a broader track coming in from the left. As the paths merge continue in the same direction, which takes you towards Lake House Road.

Historical Note 
This part of the flats has a history of hosting horse fairs, and later fun-fairs and circuses, which still happen at certain times of the year.

Link to more information about the area

Towards the end of World War Two there were also German and Italian Prisoner of War camps built here.

Link to more information about the POW camps


At Lake House Road, cross over where the road bends, so that you can see the traffic coming from both ways. Go onto the Harrow Road playing fields and immediately turn sharp right onto the path that runs along the right hand edge of the playing fields.  The two blocks of flats that were used as a way mark earlier are now on your left.  A little further on you can see the tower of St. John's Church, Leytonstone through the trees on the left ahead. As you come to the end of the playing field it is worth looking back.  You can see the Olympic Park on the horizon to the left of the blocks of flats and the office towers of the City of London to their right.

Historical Note 
Where you are walking was the edge of a lake system, part of Wanstead Park and built in the 18th century. A “Lake House” was built on an island in the “Great Lake”, intended as a summer banqueting venue for Wanstead House. The Lake House estate behind the trees on your right derives its name from this.

Link to a map which shows the lakes

Link to more information about the Lake House


Carry on along the path on the right of the playing fields. Although you have been in Epping Forest since the walk started, this is the first time that you have entered  woodland. You will soon come to a broad path which crosses yours, this is Evelyn Avenue an avenue of trees named after diarist John Evelyn who visited Wanstead House. Turn right onto this and proceed  past a green and yellow way marker (if you look back along the path standing by this marker,you should see the Shard framed in the trees behind you).  At a second green and yellow marker post, and with a white block of flats on your right, turn left. 

Carry straight on at a junction of paths passing another green and yellow sign on your right. Bear left with a fence and then a brick wall on your right.. 

Historical Note 
Behind the fence and wall is a Quaker Meeting House.  This area is marked as The Butts on old maps, and before becoming a Quaker Meeting House in 1870 was home to the Becontree Archery, in whose Assembly Rooms Charles Dickens gave readings. The current building dates from the 1960’s. The gravestone of Elizabeth Fry (the 19th century prison and social reformer) is in the meeting house graveyard.  It was moved here from the Barking Quaker Burial Grounds where she was originally buried in 1845.

At the end of the wall, keep straight ahead for a short while as the path swings to the left. Almost immediately take a path to the right to proceed along a glade running parallel to Bushwood on your left. The path meets Bush Rd, turn left and walk on the pavement towards the Green Man Roundabout.


Cross Bush Road via a pedestrian crossing just before the roundabout, and continue straight ahead downhill on a dual pedestrian and cycle path.  Go under two underpasses beneath the roadway. Emerging from the second underpass, continue uphill.

Halfway up this slope, turn right, and take the short upward sloping path marked with a blue cycle-path sign labelled ‘Woodford’. At the pavement at the top, turn left and walk about a hundred metres to the lights and pedestrian crossing.  Go across the crossing to the “High Stone” on the corner of Hollybush Hill and New Wanstead.

Historical Note 
The High Stone is the origin of the name Leytonstone, originally 'Leyton-atte-Stone'.  The stone has been in this location since the early 1700’s.  Originally it was a mile marker, and showed the distances to Epping, Ongar, Whitechapel and Hyde Park Corner from here.  The base is a remnant of the original stone (There is a legend that this is Roman, but there is no evidence of this).  The obelisk part above was replaced in the 1930’s when a vehicle crashed into the original and destroyed it. After Highwayman Matthew Snatt was convicted of a mail coach robbery near here and hanged, his body was hung in chains near the stone as a warning to others.

Link to further information about the High Stone

Return the way you came, over the crossing, and then left on the pavement. Turn right down the path you came up previously, then right along the pedestrian / cycle path as it swings left to cross the Central Line. Go straight ahead through gate 167 to enter Leyton Flats.

Historical Note 
Locally, the Leyton Flats area is commonly known as ‘Hollow Ponds’.  The ponds, which you will be walking around, are former gravel workings that were changed into a lake in 1905.

‘Hollow Ponds’ has been a recreational day trip destination for more than 100 years. There are Edwardian postcards showing people enjoying the area. very much as it looks today.

Link to further information about Leyton Flats


After approx. 50 metres beyond the gate ignore a path to your right, 30 metres on take the right fork towards a small gap in the trees, still in a straight line from the gate. Follow this path as it bends slightly right and then swings left. At the next fork, near a small lone oak tree, stay on the left path. 

As you proceed, Hollow Ponds car park becomes visible across the flats near the road, and the towers of Snaresbrook Crown Court  become visible to the right. There will be more details about the building, and a better view, a little later in the walk.

As your path begins to swing right keep straight ahead to a couple of artfully arranged collections of logs and tree trunks known as Ginger Timber near a junction of paths.

Beyond the logs turn left on the path which circumnavigates the pond, keeping the water on your right. 

After you pass the car park on your left, the path swings right, and you have the Whipps Cross Road on your left with the water still on your right. As you continue, you will pass a path on your right that leads to a small peninsula into the pond.

Soon afterwards, you pass a boat house (which hires out rowing boats) and the path swings right away from the road. Keep close to the shoreline as it is very easy to lose direction if you wander away from the water's edge. 

After about 15 minutes, the path crosses a culvert connecting the pond (which is still on your right) with a large area of bulrushes on your left. Carry on ahead on this path to the point where your circle around the pond began.

Proceed toward the  Ginger Timber logs that you passed earlier, then turn sharply left onto a broad path marked by a white topped post (going the opposite way on this path that you went previously). The path then swings slightly right before crossing another wide path. Go straight ahead into the trees, then soon after, cross another small path, then continue onwards as another path joins from the left. 

As you near the metal fence of Snaresbrook Crown Court, a small path joins from the right. Go up this path about 16 metres, and on the left are two boundary markers, one stone, one metal.

Historical Note
The Boundary Markers. The inscription is now virtually illegible, but reads: VISC'S. MAYNARD'S MANOR OF WALTHAMSTOW TONEY AND HIGH HALL (the wording is taken from a photograph which is held by the Vestry House Museum in Walthamstow). It relates to land held by Viscount Maynard in Walthamstow. The word Toney  apparently refers to Ralph de Tony (A Norman nobleman also known as Raoul II of Tosny), whose wife’s owned land that included Walthamstow.

From the boundary markers, continue up the small path that follows the line of the metal fencing. After about 45 metres, there is a small dip in the ground. Turn left towards the fence and where you can just glimpse a graffitied wall. Walk towards the fence, and after about 15 metres, you should see the Birch Well. 

Historical Note 
The Birch Well. This was once an important source of water for local inhabitants, providing good quality water. People from outside the parish could also use the well but had to buy it by bucket or barrel measures. Originally an open pit, with steps down, it is now sealed over.

Link to more information about The Birch Well

Return back to the main path, turn right and continue onwards over a couple of water courses to the Eagle Pond (formally Snares Pond). The Snares Brook (derived from a corruption of Sayers or Saye’s brook, a tributary of the River Roding) may have also flowed this way. 

Continue on to Snaresbrook Road with Eagle Pond on your right.

Turn right and walk along the pond towards the Eagle pub. There is an excellent view of Snaresbrook Crown Court on the right over the water. 

Historical Note
Snaresbrook Crown Court. The building dates from 1843. Designed and built by George Gilbert Scott (architect of St Pancras Station) and William Bonython Moffatt in the Jacobean gothic style. Originally named the Infant Orphanage Asylum (and other orphanage names later), in 1938 it became the Royal Wanstead School. In 1971 it was converted into a crown court at a cost of £1.6m and opened in 1974.

Link to more information about Snaresbrook Crown Court

On the other side of Snaresbrook Road, near the junction with Woodford Road, is a memorial garden with a great view of the garden and rear elevation of the late 18th century Snaresbrook House (Grade 2 Listed). A little further on is the early 19th century White Lodge, also a listed building. If you want to get closer, the crossing at the end of the road is probably the safest way to get across.


Back on the Eagle pond side of the road, head towards the Eagle pub. 

At the junction with Hollybush Hill / Woodford Road, have a look down the side of the low metal fence, on the right of the pavement.  You may see a trickle of water flowing down in the ditch there.  

This is the remains of the Snares Brook which flows out of the Eagle Pond.

Cross Hollybush Hill via the pedestrian crossing, and either turn left for the pub or right to the junction with Wanstead High St.

Historical Note
On the Snaresbrook station side of the junction of Wanstead High Street and Hollybush Hill, is a very good example of a Victorian drinking fountain.  This one was built in 1872 and is grade 2 listed.

Link to a brief history of Victorian drinking fountains

Turn left into Wanstead High Street passing Snaresbrook Station for the Central Line west to central London or east to Epping.

The walk can be terminated at Snaresbrook station. However, if you wish to continue, we will pass Wanstead station in about 15 minutes. If you wish to return to Manor Park, it will take just under an hour.

Walk along  Wanstead High Street, which contains a variety of shops, cafes, restaurants and bars. Halfway along the High Street, at the junction with Nightingale Lane and set slightly back, is the United Reformed Church. This began life as St Luke's Kings Cross, before it was dismantled to make way for St Pancras Station, and re-assembled here. Three pubs are strung out along the street; The Cuckfield is just before halfway, then the Bull, and finally The George, a Wetherspoons pub, at the top of the street. All of the pubs provide food. 

Just before you get to the Bull, which is almost at the end of the High Street, you may be able to see traces of old house frontages, well behind the shops which were later built in their gardens. The Bull was previously the Wanstead Conservative Association a bust of Winston Churchill , a local MP is in the forecourt.

Historical Note

On the above Ordnance Survey Map of 1896, you can see: 

The original early 18th century houses (A).  These houses are just to the left of the Bull (also originally 18th c., but with alterations), that were wholly or partially demolished in 1971, although you may be able to spot bits of them. Their long front gardens now have a row of shops built on them. 

You can also see the George pub (B) that existed before the current one.  See if you can find the ‘Cherry Pey’ plaque on the outside of the pub.  

You can find out more about the plaque here

The Elms (C) house and garden is shown on the opposite corner to the George.  This site now has Wanstead Tube station built on it. Wanstead Tube station, along with the newly constructed but not yet opened extension to the Central Line, was a Plessey factory in World War Two. It made aircraft parts underground, safe from enemy bombs.  

Link to more information about the Plessey factory here

Opposite the George pub, across Eastern Avenue, is Wanstead Station; west to central London and east to Hainault. 

The walk can be terminated at Wanstead station. However, if you wish to return to Manor Park, it will take about another 40 minutes. To do this continue from Way Point 9, below.


To continue to Manor Park, pass Wanstead Station on the left, and keeping The Green on your right proceed down St Mary’s Avenue, on the right is another Victorian drinking fountain. This one has troughs for animals to drink, as well as for humans.  It was built in 1897 to commemorate 60 years of Queen Victoria’s reign.

Continue down St. Mary’s Avenue to arrive opposite the Georgian neo-classical St Mary the Virgin Church in Overton Drive. Well worth a look inside at the box pews and the striking memorial to Josiah Child if the church is open.

Historical Note
A medieval church was replaced by the present building between 1787 and 1790. The plot was donated from his estate by James Tylney-Long.

When this new church was completed, its medieval predecessor was demolished. The large monument to Josiah Child was moved to this new church.

Link to more information about St Mary’s Church

Continue down Overton Drive past the church and then right just after the outer car park of Wanstead Golf Club which incorporates the original site of Wanstead House into Warren Drive. 

Historical Note
The Golf club buildings were originally a courtyard of out-buildings to Wanstead House.

Link to more information about Wanstead House


At the end of Warren Drive turn right into Warren Road which runs into Wanstead Park where the roadway turns into a green lane running downhill between the concrete fencing of Wanstead Golf Club on your right,  with the park on your left. At the foot of the lane turn left and follow the path alongside the Heronry Pond and past the Wanstead Park Tea Hut to emerge onto Northumberland Avenue.

Go left through the entrance (Gate 172) onto Northumberland Avenue and almost immediately turn right past a post with a yellow arrow to follow a path alongside the Heronry Pond on your right and with Northumberland Avenue on your left. Shortly after going up and down a steep incline there is another post with a yellow arrow followed almost immediately by a short path through the trees on the left to join the junction of Northumberland Avenue and Ingatestone Road. 

Proceed along Ingatestone Road with Aldersbrook Primary School on your left.

Historical Note 
The Aldersbrook Primary School was opened by the Essex Education Committee in 1911, a reminder that until the creation of the GLC in 1965 this area was not technically part of London.

Link to further information about the school

At the end of Ingatestone Road, turn right into Harpenden Road. 

Cross over Aldersbrook Road by the pedestrian crossing, and turn left past the Esso Petrol Station. At the bus stop opposite to Aldersbrook Bowls Club, follow the path on the grass verge to your right, pausing to notice a wooden hut just inside the maintenance depot for the football pitches.

Historical Note
The hut is the last remnant of the military presence on the Flats during WW2 which included an array of barrage balloons designed to disrupt German bombers, anti aircraft batteries, and camps for German and Italian Prisoners of War. The Flats were also used as an assembly point for US troops in the run up to D Day.

Link to further information about the area in WW2


Beyond the houses for the maintenance staff, the path emerges back onto the Flats with Canary Wharf on the horizon to the right. Head diagonally across the Flats towards trees at the corner of Alexandra Lake. As you approach the lake, the Golden Fleece pub becomes visible again. From the lake corner a variety of paths meander towards the pub which is your next way station. The Golden Fleece is a perfectly acceptable pub with an extensive food offering and a beer garden with a playground for children.


If you are not tempted, turn left in front of the pub and follow a straight path parallel with Capel Rd back to the information sign and then turn right, back to Manor Park station.




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Russell & Paul