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Martin Newnham, Epping Forest keeper
Andy Parsons

Things you only know if you’re an Epping Forest keeper

Danielle Goldstein

…according to Martin Newnham, 52.

Forest keepers are allowed to arrest you (but they’d rather not)

‘We carry warrant cards as constables for the City of London Corporation. My powers don’t extend beyond the boundary of Epping Forest, and they’re specifically for a number of bylaws. If we’ve got a repeat offender or something quite serious then we’d consider prosecution, but we don’t put handcuffs on people unless they do something deliberate.’

Annoying dancing is forbidden here

‘The bylaws prohibit things like peddling without a licence or gambling, but they also forbid the washing of any animal or vehicle, dancing in a way that may be a nuisance to the public and operating any radio or record/cassette player in such a manner to cause annoyance. The last amendment was done in 1980, so some bits of it are really dated.’

The cows in the forest are well trained

‘We have our own heritage breed that helps maintain the forest, but before they can graze they go to a little training camp to be risk-assessed and make sure they understand where they can and can’t go. Once they’ve passed with flying colours, they get to join the rest of the herd.’

Bear Grylls has a lot to answer for

‘We get a lot of people removing fungi from the forest, which I think is to do with the popularisation of bushcraft and foraging skills. Fungi plays an important part in the biodiversity of the forest, but the quantities that people are taking have reached a semi-industrial scale, and the forest is struggling to recover.’

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