Thetford is an ideal base for walkers, and cyclists will also find plenty of trails, whether you prefer challenging mountain-bike paths or a more laid-back ride through the countryside. We’ve collected information about popular walks and trails here, together with links to books, maps and websites.
Casual walkers can follow self-guided tours around the town. The Dad’s Army trail reveals the filming locations for the outdoor scenes of the legendary TV sitcom. Or perhaps you would rather trace the town’s religious remains, from the Priory – once one of the largest in England – to the lesser-known ruins of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. For those who prefer the natural world, a stroll along the river to the Nunnery Lakes Reserve (which belongs to the British Trust for Ornithology) is a must and might reward you with a glimpse of a kingfisher.
Fans of the trails will love Thetford Forest. You can begin your walk at the big High Lodge car park, or alternatively the nearby village of Santon Downham is a popular place to start. The Little Ouse Trail runs from Thetford to Brandon. It’s 10 miles, mostly along the Little Ouse River, but don’t worry about having to double back 10 miles – a regular train link will return you to your starting point.
One of the volunteer rangers for Sustrans, the national cycle network, is based right here in Thetford. His website is packed full of information and provides really helpful tips on how to navigate into the forest avoiding some of the very busy main roads.
Just across the border into Suffolk, Brandon Country Park offers a beautiful 30 acres of parkland, including walks, running and cycle trails suitable for both families and serious walkers/cyclists. The park was created in the 19th century by industrialist Edward Bliss, and you’ll see his mausoleum still there today. There’s also a walled garden, an arboretum, a children’s play area and a tea room.
Several long-distance trails start from Thetford – Knettishall Heath lies just east of the town, and marks the point at which the Iceni Way, Peddars Way and Angles Way meet. Knettishall Heath also has short walking and dog-friendly trails (1-2.5 miles). The Iceni Way weaves through Thetford and Brandon, eventually taking you to King’s Lynn and Hunstanton, while Peddars Way offers a straighter route to the same north Norfolk coast. (Cyclists’ note: some stretches of Peddars Way aren’t suitable for bikes, alternative routes are signposted.) Alternatively, Angles Way, the walk from Thetford to Great Yarmouth, covers 90 miles along the Little Ouse and Waveney rivers.
Ordnance Survey Explorer 229, Thetford Forest in the Brecks
236, King’s Lynn, Downham Market and Swaffham
250, Norfolk Coast West
228, March and Ely
230, Diss and Harleston
231, Southwold and Bungay
OL40, The Broads
Walking the Peddars Way and Norfolk Coast Path, Phoebe Smith, Cicerone
The Peddars Way and Norfolk Coast Path, Bruce Robinson, National Trail Guides, Aurum
Norfolk Coast Path and Peddars Way, Alexander Stuart, Trailblazer Walking Guide
The Iceni Way, The Ramblers Association Norfolk Area (ISBN 9781901184648)