With the opening of the newly dually A11, also comes the opening of a new underpass next to the Elveden memorial and some associated changes to the Public Rights of Way network.
The orders for the changes were approved some time ago, but the new routes to the north of the A11 didn’t officially come into use until they were certified by Suffolk County Council on Friday 12th December. The key changes are as follows:
- Icklingham BY 7 has been stopped up between the junction with Icklingham BY 6 at the north-west corner of Berners Heath and the A11 at the Memorial. A new Public Bridleway (Icklingham BR ?) runs along most of the old route, but ends at the underpass, rather than joining the A11.
- New Public Bridleways (Elveden BR 7 and BR 8) have been created passing through the underpass at the Memorial.
- A new Public Bridleway (Eriswell BR 11) has been created following the eastern and northern edges of Weather Heath, and then continuing west to join Shakers Road (Eriswell BR 8).
- The section of Shakers Road (Eriswell BR 8 and Icklingham BR 13) between the new Bridleway and its old junction with the A11 has been stopped up, and so is no longer a public right of way.
You can view the Creation Order for Eriswell BR 11 and Elveden BR 7, which includes descriptions of those new routes, and a map is shown below. (The other changes were made by a DfT Side Roads Order as part of the main A11 works.) You can also see the detail of all the new routes on OpenStreetMap.
Public Bridleways provide a right of way for the public on foot, horseback and by bicycle. They must be maintained in a suitable state for pedestrian and equestrian users, though not necessarily for cycle use. Nevertheless, these changes now provide a useful new route for cyclists without having to cycle along or cross the A11.
- The new Rights of Way provide a continuous route from Thetford Forest along Shakers Road, through the underpass, and then either south to Icklingham or north-east to Thetford.
- The surface of new route should be ok for use on an off-road bike, though it may be hard going in places.
- The fenced in section round Weather Heath is nice and wide — 4.5m according to the description in the Definitive Statement.
- There’s no cycle or pedestrian link parallel to A11 between Memorial and Elveden village. There’s a service road for the Elveden Estate that could be used, but it’s a private road not open for public use.
- The signing by the Highways Agency around the new underpass is rather over-the-top and spoils the natural environment. Large green road-sign style signs have been used, rather than more fitting roundels or finger-posts, and far more signs than would be necessary have been used.
- The surface of new Bridleways is not ideal for cycling; bumps and vegetation growth may be tiring around Weather Heath. It also may get overgrown, and it’s not clear how committed the council will be to keeping it well-maintained.
- The barbed wire on fences either side of Eriswell BR 11 around Weather Heath, could be dangerous. Fortunately the wire is mostly on the outside of the posts, but there is one section a few hundred meters long where it is the other way round (a pre-existing fence along the heath boundary).
- It would appear that the changes to the Rights of Way may have inadvertently cut off any lawful access to Horn Heath. The only access point I’m aware of is a kissing gate from the stopped up part of Icklingham BY 7. Users now need to trespass on the private estate road to access this from Icklingham BR ?.
- No cycle parking has been provided for those wishing to arrive at the memorial by bike and then explore the access land on foot. Though presumably one could lock bikes to the fence posts.
- There’s no easy access to Weather Heath at its north-west NW corner, which is now passed by Eriswell BR 11. There is a field gate there, but it was padlocked shut when I visited a couple of weeks ago.
- On the section of Eriswell BR 11 west of Weather Heath, there are some overhanging branches, which will probably obstruct horse riders.