Thetford Forest Facts:
It was created after the First World War to provide a timber reserve as the country had lost so many slow-growing trees due to the war's. It is the largest lowland pine forest in Britain, covering over 47,000 acres, straddling the Norfolk and Suffolk border. It is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest and is managed by the Forestry Commission..
We were a little nervous when we arrived and I went into a silent panic when they decided to weigh my son. You have to be at least 7 stone to be heavy enough to control a Segway (I am not good with small print and just assumed he would be heavy enough although I haven't weighed him for years). Fortunately a borrowed coat and a bottle of water in his pocket topped him just over 7 stone by a pound. What a relief! His weight may have been the reason why he was the only one to fly off and have a close encounter with a tree? Both he and the tree where fine and it added to his excitement and the recounting of his escapades.
I got off to a shaky start. Clumsy and Segway are not a great combination. I also had to make a huge effort not to laugh at myself because it is and activity that has to be taken seriously due to the potential dangers. I did get the hang of it but was happy to lurk at the back and therefore be less of a liability. We all had a fun hour whizzing along the special forest tracks and are keen to revisit to have another attempt at pushing the speed limits.
Hatfield Forest History Facts:
Hatfield was declared a Royal Hunting Forest by Henry I in about 1100 when he introduced fallow deer from Sicily. The Royal hunting rights were surrendered in 1446. It then had a succession of owners and was acquired by the Houblon family in 1729. A lake of about 3.24 hectares with a beautiful shell house alongside it was created in the central area of the Forest in the mid 1700's. In 1757, Lancelot Capability Brown proposed a scheme for improvements, although only part of the plan was implemented. The National Trust acquired the Forest in 1924, as a result of a bequest made by the conservationist, Edward North Buxton.
A slow shaky start
Our Favourite Family Place- Hatfield Forest
Nervously waiting to get started
Mastering the Segway at Thetford Forest
Thetford Forest Fir Trail
Off to explore another forest...
Once back safely with two feet firmly on the ground we decided to hike off and follow the 3 mile fir trail. My son’s legs ached quite soon into the walk but I reminded him that he needed to build them up as he was suffering from ‘Gamer's Atrophy’ and the cure was regular exercise, preferably outdoors. We explored Thetford Forest for the best part of the day and only really managed to see a very small part of it. Our aim is to return and test our head for heights on the Go Ape high ropes, possibly followed by a cycle ride (if our muscles hold out long enough!)
The great thing is that we have another forestto explore and is has a multitude of teenage friendly activities to encourage us out to commune with nature.
This week I am celebrating nature’s outdoor playground, ‘The Forest’
I am eternally grateful that I live on the doorstep of Hatfield Forest. It is a very important place and one that has been central to the parenting of my four children. Quite frankly, it has been a godsend. When the children were small we were frequent visitors with almost weekly expeditions. After all, where else can you take four small children to while away the hours without the need to keep the noise down, sit quietly or feel too contained. We had picnics, built dens in the woods, climbed trees, cycled, flew kites, walked dogs and enjoyed pond dipping and bug parties. It also has to be said we frequently kept the cafe short of ice-creams. We often met up with other families in the holidays to play rounders, football and cricket and have giant feasts. However, the time I felt most grateful for to Hatfield Forest was when all of my children went down with chicken pox, one after the other, and we were in "quarantine" for weeks. I took them for walks and play in the remote parts of the forest, without bumping into a soul. We got fresh air, reduced our cabin fever and most importantly saved my sanity.
I must admit that we do not go as regularly now the children are older and have their own busier lives. I still occasionally venture there for a dog walk with my brother and have rambled through on several of Phoebe's walks, my walking guru. I never tire of the changing seasons at Hatfield Forest and always welcome an opportunity to potter over and stop at the lakeside cafe. It is difficult to resist the chips and easy to persuade myself that I have earned them after my stroll from the car park.
During the recent half-term holiday my youngest and I ventured off to enjoy the delights of another forest 'Thetford'. We travelled a little further afield with my brother and his family to try our hand at steering a Segway. I imagined a Segway would be enticing enough to tease my son away from his computer games and I was right. My brother kindly arranged a fun packed day for us at Thetford Forest followed by a cinema stop at Bury St Edmunds on the way home.
Hatfield Forest and Lake