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Explore St Helen's
(Average user rating: 2 unrated 2/5)


The Little Ouse Valley between Brandon and Thetford has been designated a Forest Nature Reserve by the Forestry Commission in recognition of its importance to wildlife.

Along the valley, wetland areas of alder carr and fen, poplars, damp grazing meadows and reedbeds support a rich variety of plants, insects and birds. St Helen's picnic site, next to the river, is a good base from which to explore.

Following the Orange Walk you will pass a number of informative panels, some of general interest and some with more historical and ecological interest. An impressive display of snowdrops can be seen at Santon Downham in the early spring in the woodland opposite the village shop. 

What do other visitors say?

Pleasant little find .

helen essex, 11/Sep/2016
2 Stars 2 Stars

The female toilets are over flowing and have been for weeks once it was out of the door. No soap or loo roll. On a hot day the rubbish containers outside are over flowing. A real shame as its a beautiful place this spoils it.

Anonymous, 30/Aug/2016

Thank you for letting us know. The toilets are currently undergoing repairs and we are investigating why the rubbish bins have not been emptied by our contractor. The Thetford Ranger was on site today removing the rubbish.

Forestry Commission Response

The footbridge over the river is very dilapidated,in a dangerous condition.

Gus Engledow, 10/Aug/2016

Thank you for informing us about the bridge. It belongs to Norfolk County Council and should be maintained by them. We have alerted them to it's condition and they will carry out repairs.

Forestry Commission Response
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Last updated: 10th August 2016

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What's Here?

  • Dogs on lead
  • Easy Access
  • Toliets
  • Horse riding
  • The Forestry Commission has a Open Access policy for horse riding. As a consequence there are very few way-marked trails in the forest. O.S.Explorer map 229 shows areas owned by the Forestry Commission and open to the public to ride. Deboxing areas can be found at the east end of the Harling Drove (FR23) and north of the railway line at Santon Downham. The areas north of the railway line are best suited to horse riding as this is away from the concentration of visitors using High Lodge and the cycling trails. Please observe all signs especially those relating to 'Forest Operation'.
  • Parking
  • Off of the A134
  • Picnic
  • You are welcome to picnic here but please do not BBQ.
  • Walking
  • The 5 mile Orange walk (short cut available) can also be accessed from Santon Downham. It has interpretation around the walk on some of the fascinating history and wildlife of the area. A map of the walk around St Helens and Santon Downham is available from Forest Office (office hours only), or you could dowload a copy before you visit.
More about what's here


OS Grid ref: TL820880
Postcode: IP27 0TJ

Get directions


Nicky Russell

0300 067 4546

Opening & Parking

Opening Times:
Dawn to Dusk
Off of the A134

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Useful sites

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England's Woods and Forests are cared for by Forest Enterprise England, an agency of the Forestry Commission.