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Jay Walking

Icknield Way: Icklingham to Knettishall Heath

After a long train journey followed by a cab from Bury St Edmund we arrived reasonably early at Icklingham where we set off from our previous walks end, heading East out of the village along the busy road. We stopped to look at the village church, All Saints which was unusual as it’s roof was thatched rather than tiled. We went inside for a quick look around, the church is a grade 1 listed building but is now not used for services anymore, parts of it are from the 11th century. We headed alongside the church, heading off towards the East along field boundaries and past some farm building until we headed headed North where we reach the Kings Forest, which was named to commemorate the Silver Jubilee of King George V and Queen Mary in 1935.

All Saints church Icklingham
Wide muddy tree lined path through the Kings Forest

The Kings Forest is pretty large and covers a huge amount of land, maybe 5 kilometres North to South and similar in width. We walked on wide paths admiring the trees, the sun was out and the winter leaves looked good in it. After a few kilometres we sat down for rest, sitting on some tree stumps and a bite to eat, before heading off again. As we walked we noted the changes in trees as we went, some silver birches, lots of pine trees and others we weren’t sure of. We left the forest, crossing a road and heading across a field, which had been deeply ploughed in a manner different to that which I’d seen before. Deep trenches had been created in the soil over a 40 centimetres in depth and around 30 wide, I suspect that these were for planting potatoes later in the year but I can’t be sure. It was very pleasant as the sun was out and though it was not really warm it was good to feeling the sun as it had recently been fairly cold.

Deeply ploughed field with a path across it below a cloudy but blue sky
A group of 4 or 5 sheep in a field

Leaving the field we headed off in the wrong direction but quickly realised our mistake, but before getting back no the correct course we sat down again for a 10 minute break. Back on the right path we headed off though more deeply ploughed fields heading in a South Easterly direction back to the North boundary of The Kings Forest, passing a group of deer in one of the fields. We were also passed by a group of 4 trail bikes who went roaring though the deep muddy ruts in the road, or at least the first 3 did, the last one just slowly followed after them. Just before we reached the forest we heard a loud noise in the sky, looking up we only saw a solitary bird but the source of the noise which was most likely jet fighters from nearby Lakenheath Airfield where a United States airbase was located. We followed the boundary of the forest for a few 100 metres before heading North and then East again though a series of fields before emerging on to a busy road which we followed for a bit for heading off North East though some woods. We had stopped for a break just before reaching the road and checking the map we thought we had about 2 hours to go till we reached the end of the route.

We headed on passing a few fields full of pigs and one of sheep but not much else, no one else was about, in fact apart from the trail bikes we’d hardly seen anyone all day. After a few kilometres we reached the small village of Euston, though we didn’t see much of it, as the route headed though the Southern edge of the village. We only had about 5 kilometres to go and after another quick break we headed off though a large estate, walking on wide tree lined paths. Sadly a lot of the trees were oaks in a sorry state, many of them dead, making me wonder if there was something wrong with the soil here. A lot of the other main type of tree found here seem to be suffering from some bush like infestation which covered the trunks of many of them. Other than that we saw quite a few deer roaming about the place and a large farm vehicle harvesting sugar beets and being followed by a large flock of birds which were scavenging in the new opened earth.

A large tree and a thatched cottage in the village of Euston
Sign post with 4 pointers at the end or start of the Ickneild Way Trail

We soon came to a road which we crossed, the end was very near and I phoned a taxi company in Thetford to arrange a ride to the station. It was quite difficult trying to explain where we wanted to be picked up, I’d presumed that a lot of the taxi companies would be use to taking people to the start of the Peddars Way, which starts at the end of the Ickneild Way but they weren’t. We headed on though heath and then some woodland and soon we came to the car park marking the end. I was glad to have finished, it was a good route and had taken a lot of time to do, I’d spent a total of 8 days walking on it but also a great deal of time travelling to and fro from it. It was an enjoyable walk though with varied landscapes and passing though many pleasant areas, villages and towns. The sign at the end said it was only 105 miles to Ivanhoe Beacon but I am sure that this is wrong, as I’d walked at least 188 km or 117 miles. On the LDWA website, it states that the route is 180 km or 112 miles, given that there are so many variation depending on whether you are walking or riding then it is easy to come up with a different distances depending on what exact route is taken.

We waited for a while until our taxi arrived, we were able to follow it using a link that the taxi company had sent us and we could see that it was coming to the correct location. It was dark and getting cold by the time it arrived but we were soon at Thetford railway station, the start of a long journey home via Cambridge.