Thetford Forest

Charles and Joy Boldero take a very enjoyable three mile walk in Thetford Forest full of reminders of the Desert Rats and found all the paths to be in good order.

Charles and Joy Boldero take a route in Thetford Forest full of reminders of the Desert Rats.

Luckily there was a car park, as we started this very enjoyable three mile walk at 6.15 a.m. We made an early start to avoid the heat! All the paths were in good order. Tammy was able to walk with us again. She had cut her pad on a flint stone a few weeks ago. We think that the first part of the route would be suitable for wheel chairs.

This interesting walk follows a route through where the Desert Rats were based in the second world war and where they carried out their training in 1944 before becaming involved in the invasion of Europe in June 1944.

We think that 'High Ash' is in the parish of Ickburgh. The parking is off the A1065 8 miles south of Swaffham where the Cromwell Tank stands. With the tank behind us we walked northwards along the wide concrete roadway. At the memorial seat and second information board we turned left along the woodland path. This path with the Red Rat signs winds right and left.


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Eventually arriving at the 'cookhouse board' we turned right, at the end turning left along the concrete path. (If you wish you can turn right here back to the start.) We then went right at No. 161, up hill, ignoring all paths off including one with a Red Rat sign.

We followed the other Red Rat signs until we reached an entrance on the left to a house with, 'Private keep out' notice. We turned right with the sign 'Tank Park,' again walking through the wood, ignoring all paths off. If in a wheel chair, you might be able to go this far, if so, turn right, just before the road, along another forest path, but you will have to follow the signs, as we did not use that route. We continued over the bank, across the verge and crossed the main road, turning left along the grass verge.

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After about 30 yards we turned right, going round the barrier and along another forest path passing the radio mast on the left. At the cross tracks we turned right and kept along this main track until the number 164. At these cross tracks we turned right and at the end we crossed the main road back to the start of the walk. Along this track there were many butterflies and bees feeding on the scabious flowers.

t PLACES OF INTEREST:

1. A crew of five men manned the Cromwell Tank, it was powered by a 600hp Rolls Royce Meteor engine. It could exceed its nominal speed of 32 mph up to 50 during combat. Its main armament was a 75mm gun supported by a pair of 7.92mm machine guns. The memorial was constructed in 1998 when in the October of that year this memorial site was opened.

2. The seat is in memory of Led Dinning, (1926-2005) the founder of the Desert Rats Tank memorial here. You will find around the first part of the route interesting information boards informing you of such things as where the crew was billeted and the cook house stood, hence this is an usual walk and commemorates the very brave men who became known as 'The Desert Rats'. They 'rested' here before many of them joined the numbers of men who went over on 'D' Day and the days that followed.

3. Along this path are 'notices', such as 'Tank Park', giving an idea of how the whole area was used by The Desert Rats.

4. Here we turned left at the cross tracks for 20 yards with the hope of taking a picture of the plaque representing Langford Lodge, unfortunately at present it is so overgrown with bracken it is impossible to get to it.

t MAP REFERENCES:

OS Landranger 144, Explorer 229:

813967, 811967, 811966, 806967, 807975, 815976, 818976, 819968, 813967

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