I’m a big lover of forests, and Thetford Forest has quickly become one of my favourites. A popular UK hiking trail, it’s great for walkers but also cyclists and thrills-seekers. I revisited the forest recently for the third time and it was just as magical as the first!
Thetford Forest is massive, so I always recommend new visitors start at High Lodge. There are four different walking/running trails to do depending on your difficulty, which can be seen on this useful map from Forestry England. Beginners can choose from the Pine or Nature trails, both 1.5km long and on flat ground. The Heritage trail is 4.2km, which is described as “multi-user” and explores the history of the area. And for those who want more of a challenge, there is also the Fir trail, where you can choose from 5km, 10km, or 12km. There are also three cycling trails, ranging from easy (5km) to difficult (15km). If you can’t get your own bikes there you can hire some at High Lodge instead.
As both myself and my partner are fairly good walkers we decided to tackle the 12km route on the Fir trail. High Lodge itself it busy however once you’re properly on the trail it becomes serene again quite quickly. I liked that there were so many routes as this reduced walking traffic – we came across a few people as we walked, but not enough that I felt like there were too many people around (and my threshold for other people is pretty low). It was quiet enough that we got to see a fair amount of nature – my favourites that we came across were a woodpecker and also an adder, which I’d never seen in the wild before!
Although the Fir trail is the longest route we didn’t find it particularly strenuous. It was a good walk but neither of us felt like it was too much, and the terrain wasn’t overly difficult to traverse. It was certainly good exercise though, and we felt it a bit the next day! Compared to other UK hiking trails I have experienced this one seemed more accessible and generally not as arduous.
Things To See & Do
The main feature of Thetford Forest is of course the trail walking, but there are loads of other things to take part in as well. There’s a Go Ape centre in High Lodge where you can take part in the Tree Top Challenge, the Tree Top Adventure, and the Forest Segway activities, and these can be enjoyed by the whole family. If you like more active things then you can also play adventure golf and take part in archery. I haven’t tried these out yet but I’ve heard good things!
The Heritage trail is also a really good activity for those interested in the history of the forest, with lots of things to see en route. The Heritage rail joins up with the Fir trail at points, so we were able to explore Thetford Warren Lodge. This gave us insight into the management of the grounds and was a pretty interesting building to learn about. The trail includes audio panels and a visual feature to discover what the forest would have looked like in the past.
There are loads of activities for kids to do, from themed trails to forest play. Multiple play areas are dotted around the forest (which I of course tested out, and they’re great). If you keep an eye out you may find a Gruffalo sculpture, and Gruffalo orienteering is also available for just £1.50 per child. For children who love nature, there are also accessible nature hides and the Superworm trail which teaches your little ones about the wide range of minibeasts within the forest.
It’s not just about the kids though, with loads of available adult activities too. You can take advantage of the relaxing environment by taking part in a yoga class, or perhaps some forest bathing and sound therapy for Wellness Wednesday. Nordic walking and guided trail runs are also available, plus duathlons for the super fit.
And if you’re looking for something a little more intense then you can book onto the Back to Wilderness course. Again, this isn’t something that I have done personally but it covers bushcraft and survival skills and looks great! It’s definitely something that I’d take part in at some point. There are also regular events so its worth checking the High Lodge website page to see what’s on.
Food & Drink
I’m usually one to take my own food and drink to rural locations, but I actually really like the café at High Lodge. They offer a whole variety of options, from cooked breakfasts and lunches to tasty snacks. Vegan and gluten-free options are available, and you can eat in or take away.
If, however, you want to bring your own food, then that’s easy to do as well. Picnic areas are available within the forest, which makes for a lovely eating space. You can also hire your own barbeque from £18 which you can book online. If you do this then remember to take your own charcoal and tools (and food, of course!).
What You Need To Know
A lot of people visit Thetford Forest so there is plenty of parking available. Parking can be pre-paid or bought on the day, though it is cash-only. It costs between £2 and £12.50 depending on length of time, and this money goes towards forest maintenance. You can also become a member if you plan to visit regularly and this reduces the cost.
Toilets are readily available at the start of the trails (including accessible toilets) and there is also an information point, baby changing facilities, and the ranger’s office. There are no toilets once you start walking so make sure to go beforehand!
High Lodge at Thetford Forest has quickly become one of my favourite UK hiking trails. It’s such a lovely place for a wander, and something for the whole family. Sometimes you need to just get away for a bit, and the forest is just perfect for that! I’m planning on returning again soon, and looking forward to taking advantage of everything the location has to offer.
Which walking route would you go for at Thetford Forest? Let me know in the comments, and don’t forget to like and pin! You can read some of my other posts about UK hiking trails here: