Bill Baldry explores woodland, heathland and river habitats at Suffolk Wildlife Trust’s largest reserve, Knettishall Heath
- Credit: Archant
You can walk a long way from Knettishall Heath on long distance paths – the Peddars Way goes to North Norfolk for 46 miles, the Icknield Way runs south for 105 miles to Buckinghamshire and the 92-mile long Angles Way from Great Yarmouth to Thetford runs east-west through the area. We will settle for five miles mainly through the varying habitat of the heath.
From the main car park return to the road by the entrance and turn left. Cross the brick and cobble bridge over the Little Ouse River to enter Norfolk. Continue along the road until a footpath sign indicating the Angles Way takes you to the right. Follow this firm, flat track, with occasional yellow topped posts, until you reach an imposing Cedar tree where you bear right around the front of Riddlesworth Hall School. At the next yellow topped post bear left into a wooded section and follow this winding path through to the next lane where you turn right.
Pass Butler’s Cottage with its tall laurel hedge then immediately after the Old School House go right through a metal gate and cross a meadow to the next metal gate. Follow the edge of the meadow, with a wood on your left, round to another gate. This gate was tied up with string and there were cattle in the meadow when walked. Cross the bridge back into Suffolk, go left and follow the field edge to the road. Turn right, pass Hall Farm and then go left up the lane, signpost to Coney Weston 2, following the rising lane as it curves right.
Before it curves back left, look for and go through a gap in the narrow band of trees at the edge of the wood on your right to find the path marked as the Woodland Trail on the reserve map. Go left, soon pass a bench and where the path splits go right towards a wooden gate. Follow this path straight ahead, now with wood on your left and open bracken covered heath on your right, until you reach another lane. Cross over and continue ahead with tall mixed woodland on both sides.
Maintain direction up the rising path (unless you wish to visit Hut Hill off to the right near the top) until you reach a gate with red and green rabbit indicators. Through the gate follow the path with heathland on your right, ignore the red rabbit pointer to the right and continue ahead. This section of path is obviously used by horse riders and is cut up. At the very wet corner the green rabbit pointer indicates right but you need to go almost straight ahead and follow the wider path through the woods.
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Pass a kissing gate on the left and continue ahead. The path bends right by a chestnut tree (where ‘K’ carved his initials several years ago) and you stay with the main path until it splits then you go left to emerge once more into heathland with the return of the green rabbit. The open heathland habitat is maintained by a free-roaming herd of Exmoor ponies.
Continue ahead to exit the heath and turn right onto the Icknield Way. Go through the car park, cross straight over the road and follow the Peddars Way on a good path. Where the green rabbit goes right maintain direction ahead and follow this path for some way. After a small clearing, and before the bridge over the river, go right and follow the riverside path back to the car park.
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