Today we arrived at Hall Farm CS just north of Bury St Edmunds. Earlier in the year we joined the Camping and Caravan Club because we prefer to stay on farm sites and have found it difficult to find Caravan and Motorhome Club CLs in some parts of the country. It is an easy journey from Kessingland; I am really enjoying the feel of towing a twin axle for the first time. I was initially a bit apprehensive about the additional length of the van, but so far it has not been an issue and the smoothness of the tow is amazing.
The only hassle with the twin axle is getting the Alco locks onto the wheels. Over the years I had mastered the single axle lock, but now there is the additional time in jacking up the van. Today on our third pitch with the new van I am beginning to get the hang of it.
All set up it is time for a wander with the dogs to get a feel for the area. Hall Farm is located right on the edge of The King’s Forest. We walk north along the farm track towards the woods and are treated to the sight of a Barn Owl in an Oak tree. It glides away as we approach, but then settles on a perch on the edge of the woodland.
Entering the trees we soon reach a well made up forestry track and turn left. There is obviously on-going forestry work in this area with large stacks of felled tree trunks ready for onward transportation.
The route is easy going and it is good to be out after travelling and setting up. I like walking in well managed woodland because of the wide variety of trees and mixed scenery. We reach a clearing where the gorse has taken hold. It is in flower signifying we are in the kissing season!
We keep on this well made track for about a mile and a half. There are several tracks off to our left and right but we ignore these until we turn left at the junction with Weststow Road (Track).
This broad track is also the route of the Icknield and the St Edmund Way. The Icknield Way runs for 110 miles starting north of here close to Thetford and ending at the Ivanhoe Beacon at Tring. Over the years I have walked a number of sections of this path as it crosses the Chilterns.
After a mile the track emerges from the forest and we soon reach a minor road, we cross and continue on the footpath as it goes through Letch Moor.
The path is soon running alongside a lake and on reaching its southwesterly corner we turn left to enter West Stow Country Park. We follow the footpath with the lake to our left and the River Lark to our right.
We follow footpath markers and these lead us to the remains of West Stow Sewage Farm and Pump house. It is difficult to see that this was once a sewage farm covering over one hundred acres. The information board explains that the site was purchased in 1886 by Bury St Edmunds Borough Council to serve the city. The pump house was built in 1887 to pump the sewage around the site that processed 300,000 gallons of sewage a day. You might say that’s a lot of shite, but I am only relaying what I read on the information board!
It is tempting to spend time exploring here, but it is starting to get dark and a quick glance of the map shows we still have about an hours walking to do. Thankfully I always carry a torch in my rucksack.
Heading north we follow the footpath to a road, and then turn right following the path inside the tree line heading east for a quarter of a mile. We turn left to enter the woods, it is now becoming quite murky, but we can see the route clearly enough.
We are making for the car park near Forest Lodge; there are networks of options so it is difficult to describe the precise lefts and rights. From the car park we take the broad track heading north and then turn right to follow the tree line on the edge of the forest. It is properly dark now, but our eyes have grown accustomed to the failing light so we do not need the torch.
The great thing about walking in the woods at this time of the evening is that you get to share it with the wildlife that feel safer in the dark. There are deer grazing in the field to our right, but they appear oblivious to our presence.
I have in mind a route through the woods to reach Wordwell Covert, but soon realise that despite the torches this is not going to be an easy route to find let alone follow. Instead we opt for joining the footpath leading through fields to reach Hall Farm.
Our little explore has covered seven miles, further than intended but a good taster for the area. Time to study the map and plan a longer excursion for tomorrow.
To follow our walk you will need Ordnance Survey Outdoor Explorer Map Thetford Forest in the Becks
23rd March 2018
© Two Dogs and an Awning (2018)