This post focuses on a single station. The idea developed from a conversation with a work colleague in which trips to London were mentioned and he explained that with a family of four it was cheaper to drive to Epping, stay overnight at a hotel there and use London Underground from there than to travel by train.
THE NORTHEASTERN CORNER
Epping, first served by London Underground in 1940 (the whole stretch of the Central line beyond Stratford started life as Great Eastern Railway branch line, and Loughton, three stops south of Epping, still has its Victorian era GER building), is now the north-eastern limit of the system (more of this later, and also see the speculative section of the piece about the central line). There is cheap hotel accommodation close to the station, which means the for folk who would naturally approach the city from the northeast and drive it is a good place to choose as a base for a visit to the capital. Because of its interchanges with every other line on the system the central line is a good one to be based on, as Danny Dorling in “The 32 Stops”, the best of the penguin series celebrating the 150th anniversary of London Underground, points out. A few examples of major attractions and the necessary connections follow:
- The museums of South Kensington (either change at Mile End to the District or at Holborn to the Piccadilly according to choice, bonus tip: take a picnic with you and lunch in Hyde Park).
- Maritime Greenwich – change at Stratford to the Docklands Light Railway and choose one of two possibilities:
1)Alight at Island Gardens and take the foot tunnel to the Greenwich side of the Thames, returning to Greenwich having finished your explorations or…
2)Unimaginatively alight at Cutty Sark to start your explorations there.
- The British Museum – no changes needed as Tottenham Court Road is only a few hundred yards away.
- Wembley Stadium – change at Stratford to the Jubilee or at Liverpool Street to the Metropolitan
- The South Bank Centre – change at Tottenham Court Road to the Northern and go south to Embankment, strolling across the Thames from there (this is definitely quicker than travelling the extra stop to Waterloo).
At the moment Epping is at the outside edge of fare zone 6, although London mayoral candidate Sian Berry has an excellent idea that will change this – see the following:
- Sian’s own piece
- This Evening Standard article
- This piece about the debate on fares.
- The Fair Fares campaign
Having detailed Epping’s value as a base our next section looks at…
THINGS TO DO IN EPPING
I mentioned earlier that Epping was not always the end of the line. Until 1994 the line ran to Ongar, although the section between Epping and Ongar was run as a shuttle service, making it feel very isolated. It is this that is at the centre of Epping based activities. There is a walking route from Epping to Ongar as detailed in “Country Walks Around London”, walk 12. This walk is 5 miles in length, meaning that an energetic person could choose to do it both ways.
However, there is also an alternative way of doing the same route, namely making use of the Epping-Ongar Railway, the longest heritage railway in Essex. Thus, if you want to explore this area that used by served by London Underground (and the village of Chipping Ongar is certainly worth a visit) you have a raft of options according to your energy levels:
- Walk both ways
- Walk out, Epping and Ongar Railway back
- Epping and Ongar railway out, walk back
- Epping and Ongar railway both ways
MAPS AND DIAGRAMS
Here are some pictures to help put Epping in context…