A day out in Thetford Forest
Published date: November 2018
Thetford Forest is the UK’s largest man-made lowland forest with 18,730 hectares to explore on foot or on bike. Straddling the south of Norfolk and the north of Suffolk, this patchwork of heathland, pine trees and broad leaf trees makes the perfect destination on a dry day. High Lodge Visitor Centre, 4 miles from the Norfolk town of Thetford, offers excellent outdoor facilities, including Go Ape!, 4 walking trails, 3 cycling trails, forest Segway, picnic areas, bike hire, archery, play areas and BBQ hire. Dogs are welcome and there is a café serving hot and cold food and drink. There is a large, well signposted carpark and parking charges apply.
Thetford Forest was created by the Forestry Commission in 1922 as a commercial forest and Scots pines, Corsican pines and broadleaf trees were planted. These softwoods provide a wonderful mosaic of habitats and are home to a wide variety of creatures. There is a large population of red deer, roe deer and muntjac in Thetford Forest, all of which are attracted by the plentiful food supply. Some parts of the forest are particularly dense, and these areas attract thrushes, their favoured food source, the snail, and an abundance of grey squirrels.
Close to the visitor centre you can spot many woodland birds such as the nuthatch, treecreeper, goldfinches and crossbills; a chunky finch, with a large head and bill which is crossed over at the tips. This crossed bill is used to extract seeds from conifer cones; many of which can be found in Thetford Forest. Woodlarks, siskins, redpolls, bramblings, woodpeckers and many more birds can be found in Thetford Forest; it’s a bird watchers’ haven.
Woodland clearings in Thetford Forest make great places to spot reptiles, such as common lizards and adders. The adder is Norfolk’s only venomous snake and although normally shy and retiring, they have been known to bite if an attempt is made to pick them up. Their bite is rarely fatal, but immediate medical attention is essential.
Lynford Stag is a lovely picnic area in Thetford Forest and Lynford Arboretum is a popular place for quiet recreation and to see spring flowers and autumn fungi.
Music concerts are held in the forest at High Lodge and acts such as Pulp, Jools Holland, The Feeling, Blondie, Madness, Plan B, Will Young, Ed Sheeran, M People, Travis, Keane, Westlife, James Morrison and Van Morrison have taken to the stage here.