Friends of Epping Forest now operate the Epping Forest Visitor Centre at High Beach
The Friends of Epping Forest in partnership with City of London re-opened the visitor
centre at High Beach on 5 April 2014. Opened by the Epping Forest & Commons Committee
Chairman, Alderman Gordon Haines, with assistance from Epping Forest MP Eleanor Laing
and many other distinguished quests, we were off to a flying start!
When the Forest’s new visitor centre at Chingford, The View, opened in summer 2012, we
knew that the one at High Beach was threatened with closure. The Friends were keen to
ensure the facility at High Beach continued to provide a service for visitors and were
delighted to be involved. We saw this opportunity as very important for Forest visitors,
as well as for the development of the Friends. Our involvement at High Beach begins a
new chapter in the Forest’s history and gives the Friends a place at the heart of the
So after a three month closure of the Centre, we got stuck in with the support of 20 new
Volunteer Information Assistants. Cleaning, sorting, dumping and getting familiar with
how everything worked were our first challenges. And we soon had an Operations Manual,
Volunteer Handbook, monthly newsletters, risk assessments and more!
And what have we achieved?
In two years, we have now had over 31,500 visitors and contributed over 7,000 of
volunteer time (that is more than 1,000 full time working days- equivalent to 5 full
time members of staff)!
We have extended the opening hours, taken out old tired or empty displays, got some
events going, refreshed and walked many of the local walks, put up signage in the
building, at the entrance of the access road and on the building – and are going strong.
We have also acquired some new equipment, opened up the access road with help from Epping
Forest Centenary Trust and the Conservators. Volunteers have learned more about the
Forest through meeting our visitors and training events. We know a lot more about what
visitors value about the Forest increasing our awareness and understanding of the value
of the Forest to our visitors and of the visitors themselves. Many of our visitors are in
the Forest for the first time or after many years.
We have also run more events at the centre, from Open Days, the Big Garden Birdwatch and
soon to take place our special Disabled Access week. See the Events page for details.
So why not come and see us – a great place to meet ‘friends’.
If you are keen to get involved, why not think about joining us as an Information
Assistant volunteer. See the Volunteer Opportunities page for details.
It’s very heart-warming to see how many people love the Forest and the peace and enjoyment
they gain coming to the Forest!
Epping Forest Visitor Centre at High Beach
The place to start your visit to Epping Forest.
The visitor centre is situated at a traditional beauty spot in the Forest, with many
forest trails, picnic areas, refreshments and the Easy Access Path.
At the centre you will find
• Volunteer Assistants on hand to help you make the most
of your visit
• Children’s activities, including brass rubbings, quizzes
• Maps, Forest exhibition and gift shop
• Close up viewing of birds at our feeding station
OPEN Thursdays to Sundays and Bank Holidays
Summer: 10am to 4pm
Winter: 10am to 3pm