PLAP Route 6 - King's Forest Ride, Suffolk
Distance: approximately 12 miles.
Map: Ordnance Survey Explorer Map Number 229 (Map 1:25000)
Important notes: this route is best ridden or driven with a horse in an anticlockwise direction in order not to turn directly across any traffic coming in the opposite direction.
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Riding and carriage driving in and around Thetford Forest in a safe, off-road rural environment means there is something for everyone, regardless of their physical ability. The location offers one particular advantage: routes within the forest can be tailored to fit individual needs and aspirations. Unfortunately, there are only two places where riders and drivers can meet with accompanying unmounted friends and helpers but these are shown on the map.
While there are many advantages of riding and carriage driving in beautiful and relatively isolated woodland (the majority of which is on sandy soil), there are two particular points to be aware of:
- Maintenance of surfaces on the route are not the responsibility of the Forestry Commission and do vary considerably along the way. They were all passable at the time of writing (July 2013), but small sections were deeply rutted in places. Further suggestions about the best locations to ride and drive a horse in the Forest can often be provided by local livery yards and stables.
- It is only possible to reduce the overall distance into shorter 2-3 mile circular rides/drives (as with many of the other routes suggested) if a Permit is purchased. The total distance can be reduced by approximately 50% if the B1160 is used but while it can be quiet, traffic considerations need to be taken into account.
1. Turn left out of the country park and after half a mile, turn right onto a byway known as the Weststow Road. This road can be slightly challenging in places as it rises and falls as the path splits and reforms.
2. When you reach the B1106 turn left and then right along the wide gravel farm track. You will pass farm buildings and a shallow ford until you arrive at a split at Barrow’s Corner.
3. Take the right hand fork through a narrow belt of trees and across a field. This section can be loose, sandy or muddy depending on the weather.
4. Head towards the edge of the forest and bend left to follow the edge of the wood.
5. Continue along the edge of the wood, following the obvious track to the thatched house of Wordwell Barn. After the house, just before the gateway, turn right onto the narrow track into the woods.
6. This byway continues south through an area known as Traveller’s Hill, continuing on almost level ground past the entrance to Balloon Barn Farm, before it starts to descend.
7. You will pass a small wood on your right called Lime Kiln Plantation. The descent is known locally as ‘The Hill of Health’ and leads to the cottages at Brockley Corner.
8. Turn right onto the B1106, keeping straight where the main road bends sharply right, and simply follow the signs back to West Stow Country Park.
Accommodation: Self-catering log cabins and mobile homes are available at BHS Approved Forest Lodge Holidays. Set in the heart of Thetford Forest, there are separate stables and turnout paddocks for holidaying horses, set apart from the livery yard.
Local amenities: Horse box parking is not permitted in The Country Park, so the Forestry Commission advises parking along the fringes of the forest. Suggested places to park are marked with a ‘P’ on the map.
Parking: Suggested parking at the southern end of the route is in a sheltered layby on the B6045. The distance from here to the park entrance is approximately 150 metres. No recommended parking is possible at the northern of the route but there are roadside verges which can be used at your own discretion. Droppings should be taken away or brushed aside from parking areas where it is safe to do so.
Insurance: The BHS recommends that before undertaking any part of this route, both horse and rider should be adequately insured against public liability. The British Horse Society can provide public liability and personal accident insurance cover as well as many benefits if you join as a member (terms and conditions and territorial limits apply). For more information or to join, visit our Membership section.
Feedback: These routes are kept to the standard that the local authority can afford. They were all accessible at the lime of launch and are on definitive public rights of way. If you experience any problems with the routes or wish to raise any concerns, please contact the local authority, your local BHS Access Officer or the Access Team at BHS HQ via email@example.com.