In 2018 Forestry England were awarded £610,000 by the Heritage Lottery Fund for a project to make a new trail into the forest to link and interpret its landscape history, wildlife and forest management.
This 4.2km all-ability trail will make the forest and its heritage more accessible for everyone as it will have a smooth surface suitable for families, less experienced cyclists and those with access limitations. Benches and shelters will give 'rest places' and meet the needs of those with restricted health and mobility.
During this mulri-year project (2017-2019), there were opportunities for everyone to explore and research the history of the landscape, take part in archaeological surveys and investigations and learn new heritage skills. There was training to carry out wildlife surveys; to help produce activities for schools and families and to contribute to interpretation.
Examples of sessions that ran during 2018 include:
The 'Trailing the Hidden Heritage of High Lodge' project is nearing its end with the offical opening on the 19th July 2019.
There is much to celebrate. The 4.2km trail, with shortcuts at 1km and 3km, will provide access for everyone into the Forest from High Lodge Centre, as it has a surface suitable for pushchiars, wheelchairs and mobility scooters and benches and perches at 100m intervals. Interpretation along the route focuses on the heritage beneath the trees, the wildlife and how the timer is produced.
The involvement of volunteers has been the most outstanding aspect of the project. Some were already members of FoTF or have become members and others were completely 'new' to High Lodge and the Thetford Forest.
They have attended forty-eight workshops, day schools or events and carried out research into the historic landscape and the wildlife of High Lodge. This information they have amassed has contributed to the interpretation, dedicated website, and to the learning materials, with a group of especically dedicated volunteers writing the learning activities for both primary and secondary schools.
Overall, the volunteers have given an astonishing 4,326 hours to the project, which amounts to £30,900 of their time (calculated at £50.00 for a 7-hour day).
FotF can't thank them enough for their enthusiam, commitment and dedication. They have made the project very special to FoTF.
Forestry England staff have been involved too, with ten recording the tracks for the audio-listening posts along the trail and up to eight others giving generously of their knowledge and experience