In July 2017 I went on the Ancestor’s Trail – details at:

This is a walk in Epping Forest, Essex with various trails going backwards in time representing different strands of evolution. For instance, the human trail starts at today and retraces evolutionary history backwards through apes, amphibians, fish and eventually ending up at the start of life on Earth. This trail is 12 miles long and takes the whole day. There are other shorter trails such as the Plant Trail which goes backwards from the evolution of plants to the beginning of life. Each trail meets up with other trails as they find their common ancestor until all the trails come together and are united at the destination – the common ancestor of all living things.

Here are some of the walkers on the trail:

Along the way there were short talks with information about how things evolved. Here Chris is talking about trees: we learnt that trees are a ‘body form’ that has evolved many times from different life-forms.

We met this Barn Owl, held here by its keeper. We learnt that Barn Owls have a disc like face which acts a bit like an ear, helping to condense sound – the Barn Owl’s hearing is 8 times better than humans.

And later we met a kestral.

Finally, we ended up at Cheshunt YHA for tea and cake! We also had the chance to see “OneZoom” which is an amazing interactive website showing the tree of life with all of its evolutionary branches. Check it out at:


This was a wonderful day out walking with like-minded people through a beautiful forest and celebrating our common ancestry with all living beings. 5 stars!

Ian Mowll – July 2017