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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 at the annual Open Day for the site. Friends of Thetford Forest volunteers have information about the project and you can sign up to receive details and register your interest.

The construction of the trail has started and will take approximately six months, followed by the building of two shelters and then the interpretation of the heritage.

Since construction of the heritage trail started in October, Contractor Hugh Pearl Limited has made excellent progress and completed approximately a quarter of the trail. It is a complicated operation as it has to be co-ordinated with the Forestry Commission’s operational work at High Lodge and be planned to ensure the least disruption for forest users and sensitive habitats. 

Glyn Bradbury, Forestry Commission Recreation Manager said “We are really delighted with the progress made so far. The trail is looking excellent and bedding in well. Once complete, this truly will be a fantastic facility for everyone to enjoy.”

At the same time as the trail surface is being laid, workshops have been held to train volunteers in heritage research skills which will benefit the project. There was a visit to the Norfolk Record Office on 9 October to learn how to access and use historic documents. On 18 October, the Norfolk and Suffolk Historic Environment Service taught volunteers how to use their extensive records, including the heritage explorer websites which contain information about all known archaeological sites in the two counties. The latest workshop was on 14 November when using and interpreting aerial photographs and LIDAR Images was expertly explained by the Air Photo Interpreters from the Norfolk Historic Environment Service.

Free to participants thanks to the Heritage Lottery Fund’ s grant, these workshops have been highly-praised by those attending:

'The Record Office is a resource that Norfolk should be very proud of. I consider us very lucky to have access to these records which are clearly of huge historical / cultural interest'.

 'A fascinating, useful and enjoyable training session learning about the heritage explorer websites'.

'A comprehensive, accessible, informative and engrossing day teaching us how to ‘read’ aerial photographs for what they can tell us about the landscape.’ 

The important archaeological investigation of the possible site of Downham Warren Lodge takes place in February but before that, there are explorations of earthworks (13 January), warrening (20 January) and burial mounds (26 January) to come in the first month of 2018.  

If you are interested in this project or to book a place for any of the workshops listed above,  please email or telephone  0300 067 4400 or write to Project Manager, High Lodge Heritage Project, Forest District Office, Santon Downham, Brandon, Suffolk IP27 0TJ.


 Heritage Lottery Funded logo



Last updated: 13th February 2018

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OS Grid ref: TL807864
Postcode: IP27 0AF

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High Lodge Thetford Forest

0300 067 4400
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England's Woods and Forests are cared for by Forest Enterprise England, an agency of the Forestry Commission.