I live in Thetford, and like to cycle recreationally. Unfortunately it is quite hard to find enough different routes of suitable lengths to give variety to my cycling. The main problems are the lack of different ways into and out of Thetford on quiet roads and tracks, and the barriers created by the various main roads (A11, A1066, A134, A1088). Some suggestions for different loops are included below. Follow the links for a map of each route:
- Thetford Town Circular (10km; town roads and cycleways)
A 10km circular route around the town. Mostly on quiet roads and smooth off-road cycleways. There is one 200m section on the A1066, where you could walk along the pavement instead, and one rough section along Joe Blunt’s Lane.
- High Lodge Loop (25km; quiet roads and forest tracks)
From the centre of Thetford, follow Sustrans Route 30 on quiet roads north via Croxton to Santon Downham, then take forest tracks to the High Lodge Forest Centre. Return to Thetford via forest tracks alongside the Little Ouse river.
- Harling Road Loop (33km; mostly quiet roads)
From Thetford, take Sustrans Route 13 north to East Wrethem, then cut across via Illington to Harling Road Station. Continue via Roudham to Bridgham, and then return to Thetford along Sustrans Route 30. The route is completely on tarmacked roads. There is one slightly busy section of about 1.5km on the B1111 down to Harling Road.
- Barnham and Knettishall Loop (40km; quiet roads, one off-road section)
Leave Thetford on the new cycleway alongside the A11, and then take the C633 to Barnham. Continue east to Knettishall Heath, and then return following Sustrans Route 13. It’s awkward to get to the start of the A11 cycleway from the town centre, as there’s no cycle path along most of London Road. The route is all tarmacked apart from a 2km off-road section along Bridgham Lane. This can be avoided if you don’t mind 500m along the A1066 near Shadwell.
- Thetford Forest and the Elveden Memorial (40km; mostly off-road)
Head south from Thetford along the Angles Way, and then take Duke’s Ride west to the Elveden Memorial. Continue around Weather Heath and take Shaker’s Road to the High Lodge Forest Centre. Take forest tracks to return via St Helen’s, Santon Street the Little Ouse Path.
- West Stow and Coney Weston Loop (60km; quiet roads and off-road tracks)
Follow the Angles Way and then the Icknield Way south from Thetford to West Stow. Then cut across to Great Livermere and pick up Sustrans Route 13. Pass through Knettishall Heath, and return to Thetford via Bidgham and Kilverstone. There are significant amounts of off-road cycling in this route, and the condition of the tracks is variable.
A map and summary of these routes is also available on this single-page printable: Thetford Rides PDF file.
For those who like off-road cycling, and can either cycle or drive to the High Lodge area of Thetford Forest, there are four well-maintained routes of differing difficulties. For details see the Forestry Commission’s High Lodge Cycle Trails Map, and also their general information about High Lodge.
I have also compiled a map showing what I consider to be the cyclable routes around Thetford (both on-road and off-road) and noting places where improvements would provide the most benefit in terms of opening up more route possibilities. The map identifies two main problems:
- The lack of safe and convenient ways to access Thetford Forest from the town.
- A lack of shorter loops with good surfaces starting and finishing in Thetford.
So, here’s my map:
If you have any comments on this, or ideas for other locations where improvements could be made, please get in touch.