Norfolk Walk: Swaffham Heath
PUBLISHED: 09:20 22 March 2013 | UPDATED: 09:20 22 March 2013
This walk is in an area of gently rolling forest and farmland with some remote dwellings. It is part of Breckland with its sandy, chalk and flint soil, ideal for the forest which stretches from Castle Acre in the north to beyond Thetford in the south.
Start: On a wide forest track (signed public path) on the left of the A1122 about three-quarters of a mile west of the Swaffham Raceway
Map: Explorer 236 G/R TF 768095
Distance: 6.5 miles (or 3.75miles)
Public Transport: Swaffham Heath is not on a convenient bus route
Timetables: 0871 2002233, www.travelineeastanglia.co.uk
This walk is in an area of gently rolling forest and farmland with some remote dwellings. It is part of Breckland with its sandy, chalk and flint soil, ideal for the forest which stretches from Castle Acre in the north to beyond Thetford in the south. The fields are enclosed by plantations of tall trees and shelter belts of interesting shaped old Scots pines, which help stop the light top soil blowing away. It is crossed by old drove roads.
Buzzards were seen calling and circling above the pines. Other wildlife which could be spotted in the area includes deer, hares, gold crests, golden pheasants, partridges, crossbills, nightjars and owls.
There are no opportunities for refreshment on the walk, but there are plenty of places in Swaffham which is not far away.
■ Walk along the wide track away from the road. Continue ahead past the forestry sign 105 and the cycleway sign and then a field on the right to reach Lodge Farm.
■ For the short walk: Turn left immediately after the house and then continue as indicated below.
■ For the full walk: Turn right just past the end of house onto an unsigned path, a grassy track, with a barbed wire fence on the right, following the power lines. Continue with plantations on either side. Just before reaching The Lodge at Beachamwell Warren, turn left on a bridleway, with a faded marker sign on the power pole. This is another wide track with a plantation on the left. Then bend right and left with the track and walk between fields, eventually passing a path and then another plantation on the right. Then, just before reaching the house on the right, bear left on a signed track.
■ Continue between the fields for nearly half a mile. Then keep ahead towards the high hedge when the track bends right. Then, with the tall hedge on the left and a wooden fence on the right, go past the gate to Warren Farm. Turn right in front of the barns, go out of the gateway and turn sharp left. Go through an avenue of medium-sized trees, then into a plantation again. Ignore tracks on the left and right and eventually return to Lodge Farm from the opposite direction than earlier. Turn right just before the house, going beside it.
■ For both walks: Go past the farm buildings, then out through a gate and on towards tall trees. Continue ahead at a crossing track with barriers on either side. At the end of the plantation go more or less ahead on a track between hedges. Ignore tracks on either side and continue with a hedge on the right and Scotch pines on the left. Continue ahead with Limekiln Cottage over to the left. Then cross a signed stile on the left into a loose thicket of hawthorn bushes. Go ahead round a fallen tree and then on a grassy path with brick arches on the right towards the cottage. Go through a gate near the house and then, at the name board for Limekiln Cottage, turn right along the track or drive. Bend left with the track with the A 47 main road over the field. Go past the chicken sheds to reach the road (A1122).
■ Turn left along the wide verge. Go past the Swaffham Raceway on the left and continue with trees on either side, with a track for motorbikes on the right. Then turn right into a signed track at the ‘Hit the Dirt’ notice. Go over the barrier and continue along the track past the buildings and car park for ‘Hit the Dirt’ (this is a public right of way). Then ignore rides on either side and eventually go through a gap in the bank ahead with wooden posts on either side. Turn left beside the bank. On reaching a crossing track turn left. Go through a gate to reach the road again. Cross the road back to the start.
JOIN THE RAMBLERS
The Ramblers is Britain’s walking charity which has been working to encourage more people to take up walking and to safeguard footpaths and the countryside for 75 years. Whether you’re an old hand or a complete beginner, the organisation can help you get the best out of walking through its network of local groups.
The Norwich Group has been established for more than 35 years and was the first group in the Norfolk Area of the Ramblers Association.
Non-members are welcome to join all walks in national festivals and some special events and programmes. Most regular walks are intended for Ramblers members, but you are welcome to attend two or three walks on a try-out basis.
■ For more information about the Ramblers’ Association call 01508 538654 or visit: www.ramblers.org.uk