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Woodland wonders shared by Norfolk and Suffolk

PUBLISHED: 11:16 05 May 2018

Tall pines at the rear, small ones in the foreground and birch trees saplings as the sandwich in between them.

Tall pines at the rear, small ones in the foreground and birch trees saplings as the sandwich in between them.

Archant

In his latest Wild in Anglia foray Nigel Pickover celebrates the joys of our Suffolk and Norfolk woodland.

A green woodpecker spotted in the King's Forest on the Norfolk-Suffolk border.A green woodpecker spotted in the King's Forest on the Norfolk-Suffolk border.

I love my times in the forest. At dawn when the cobwebs are at their sparkliest and the deer are keeping a grasp on their confidence of night, or at dusk when a barn owl might flit by like a giant white moth.

I find a very special peace there, unique to woodland places.

A nightjar, once called a goatsucker.A nightjar, once called a goatsucker.

In the mountains I gasp at the wonder of wild peaks and plunging valleys, emotions rekindled by a trip last week to the captivating Cairngorms.

By our rivers, here in East Anglia and across the country, I soak up a water-borne calm I find nowhere else.

Some of the birds that can be seen in and around King’s Forest: a stone curlew guarding its eggs.Some of the birds that can be seen in and around King’s Forest: a stone curlew guarding its eggs.

But in our woodland one can fall into Mother’s Nature’s warm embrace.

Last autumn I visited the area around King’s Forest car park - when November sunshine, allied to a late fall of leaves, gave a golden hue to both woodland floor and canopy.

The forest last autumn. The trails can be accessed all year round.The forest last autumn. The trails can be accessed all year round.

I vowed to return when that gold, then the browns of winter, had been replaced by the light, crisp, green of spring.

And what a delight it proved to be when I went for a walk there last weekend.

King’s Forest straddles the B1006, and sits in 5765 acres between Elveden, Thetford and Bury St Edmunds.

It’s part of the much-loved, man-made, Thetford Forest, managed by the Forestry Commission and lovingly watched over by the Friends of Thetford Forest.

This time of year sees another special phase in the forest calendar, although with the temperature scraping just 5C many who might have been there had stayed indoors.

This meant the paths, tracks and bridleways were largely deserted.

But the scent of spring was dispersing on a northerly wind and the birds were in full song, a woodlark prominent amongst them.

This area is important for protection of the woodlark and the mysterious nightjar, once called the goatsucker.

Another rarity, the yellow-eyed stone curlew, a bird subject of a number of initiatives to bolster its numbers, is found nearby in the nesting season.

A green woodpecker, not a rarity but a delight nonetheless, flew from a clump of deciduous trees. Lovely.

Birdwatchers, walkers, and horse riders love the King’s Forest, named to celebrate the Silver Jubilee of King George V and Queen Mary.

In Thetford, the majestic King’s House is another royal link to the area - the grand home of yesteryear being used as a base for the forest hunting trips of kings and queens.

Today there are broadleaf belts amongst the majority of pine trees - thousands of birch saplings were a delightful sight as I walked by.

The forest is ‘actively’ managed by the Forestry Commission - so there are many areas where felling had taken place. So it’s not pretty at every vantage point.

But visitors can easily find their own wilderness away from man’s machines - and they will love it, hopefully spotting some of the many fallow deer who live and breed here.

The Forestry Commission thinks ultra long term - there’s a 70-year plan for King’s. I’m sure it will be as loved and appreciated at the end of the century as it was in the early part of it.

More info: Forestry Commission: www.forestry.gov.uk/thetfordforestpark Friends of Thetford Forest:

www.fotf.org.uk


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