Twelve Polyramblers braved the drizzle, coming from near and far to meet on the edge of Epping Forest. We were lucky with the weather. The drizzle dried up and we even had some sunshine later in the day. We kept gasping at the stunning autumn colours as we puffed up and down the promised undulations! I didn’t see any sloes and only a few bracket fungi and one cluster of possible false death caps (?) but we decided the other fungi must be covered with the thick carpet of copper-coloured leaves (beech, hornbeam, oak etc.). We did see two tree-loads of crab apple windfalls, and some of the group were lucky enough to spot a herd of deer in the forest.We set off at a good pace, having in mind that sunset was due at 16.17, but we took two minutes to mark Armistice Day at the 11th hour, remembering particularly the British and Commonwealth names inscribed on the Menin Gate which we saw on our visit to Ypres a few years ago. We crossed over the M25 (by a footbridge) and thought of Gerald. After a long walk along a forest ride, amongst massive old trees, came the parting of the ways: Sarah kindly took charge of guiding those who only wanted a shorter walk, back to Theydon Bois.
I should have told them to go forward with confidence! The yellow arrows marking the route have been brightened up but are not always close together. Sarah says: “Our smaller walk started off well, but we did lose sight of the arrows approaching Debden Green. Fortunately we were able to intercept a dog-walker who sent us off in the right direction for the deer sanctuary. Their antlers were amazing! Safely reached the Belgian patisserie to get a welcome hot cup of tea before returning home.” Meanwhile the rest of us carried on towards High Beech. Unfortunately I didn’t notice the path we should have turned off along, which I only realised when the forest path reached the edge of Debden! However we made our way back across the glorious carpet of leaves under the trees and with the help of compass and technology we reached our destination lunch stop at the King’s Oak in reasonable time.
After eating our sandwiches or pub lunch we made our way back through the golden forest to the Oak Trail without further adventures and up past the boundary of the deer sanctuary. We remarked that the deer looked unimpressed by our presence, hardly pausing in their grass-munching. So back to Theydon Bois by 4.15pm where part of the group continued back to the tube station in time for Strictly and others of us stopped off at the Belgique patisserie for tea and delicious cakes! Just the right way to end a walk!