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Trailing the Hidden Heritage of High Lodge

The Heritage Lottery Fund has generously awarded a grant to the Forestry Commission for a project to make a new trail into the forest which will link and interpret its landscape history, wildlife and forest management. 

Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, the project will make the forest and its heritage more accessible for everyone as it will include constructing a 4.2km all-ability trail with a smooth surface suitable for families, less experienced cyclists and those with access limitations. Benches and shelters will give ‘rest places’ and meet the needs of those with restricted health and mobility.

During the two-year project, there will be opportunities for everyone to explore and research the history of the landscape, take part in archaeological surveys and investigations and learn new heritage skills. There will be training to carry out wildlife surveys; to help produce activities for schools and families and to contribute to interpretation.

The Project was launched at High Lodge on Thursday 27 July 2017 at the annual Open Day for the site. Construction of the heritage trail started in October 2017 with Contractor Hugh Pearl Limited making excellent progress along the 4.2 km route. Shortcuts have been installed at 1km and 3 kms and the surface completion target of the end of March of this year has been met.

However, there is still a great deal of work to be done before the official opening in 2019. During 2018, two shelters will be built along the route, providing a refuge from bad weather as well as housing interpretation about timber production and the wildlife in the Forest. Benches and rest perches will be installed at regular intervals and early in 2019 audio listening posts will be placed at the sites of the important heritage features along the trail.

In the meantime, visitors can enjoy walking the route with the understanding that the infrastrucutre is not complete; the signage is not in place and the all ability access will be available in 2019. Please note that walking the route is at your own risk as the official opening will not be until April/May 2019.

Early in 2019, the final dust layer will be applied to the surface, making it suitable for use by wheelchairs and mobility scooters. The official opening of the trail will take place in the Spring of 2019 and will be a double celebration, providing access into the forest for everyone and marking the centenary of the Forestry Commission.

Volunteers have already given over eight hundred and fifty hours to the project and have received training to undertake archival and archaeological research, discovering more. ‘With their enthusiasm and dedication and their willingness to give their time, we’ve been able to discover new information about the historic landscape beneath the trees’,  acknowledges Project Manager Anne Mason.  

Throughout 2018, there are activities which are free to participants, ranging from carrying out wildlife surveys around High Lodge to exploring old trackways in the Forest and discovering the history of High Lodge Field. Families can learn how to track animals, live off the land and make warrening nets.

To discover more about the project and how to take part in the activities, please ask at the Information Point at High Lodge or email highlodgefeedback@forestry.gsi.gov.uk or telephone  0300 067 4400 or write to Project Manager, High Lodge Heritage Project, Forest District Office, Santon Downham, Brandon, Suffolk IP27 0TJ.

 

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Last updated: 10th July 2018

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Location

OS Grid ref: TL807864
Postcode: IP27 0AF

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Contact

High Lodge Thetford Forest

0300 067 4400
highlodgefeedback@­forestry.gsi.gov.uk
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England's Woods and Forests are cared for by Forest Enterprise England, an agency of the Forestry Commission.