Thetford Forest is a large forest a few miles from Thetford in the south of Norfolk. It is a brilliant place to cycle1 off-road as it is run by the Forestry Commission, and so it has many tracks through it. The forest contains four cycle routes, suitable for everyone from beginners to die-hard experts. These are the green, blue, red and black routes.
The green trail is relatively easy, with a few gently sloping hills. All you really need for this trail is the ability to cycle and a reasonable level of fitness.
The blue trail is a bit more variable, and some actual work is required as the trail has several hills and a lot of sandy sections. However, the trail is still on open tracks, and experienced cyclists should have no problems.
The red trail is for the committed cyclist, and not for tourists, but is still not as difficult to attempt as the black trail. The red trail has been closed for some time now, but does show promise of eventually reopening.
The black trail is for the extreme cyclists out there. Based on a one-way-only system, the trail is very confined and has many hills, bumps and sometimes bruises. High endurance levels and a lot of skill are required for this trail.
Cyclists may ride their own bikes on the trails, but these are all along bumpy ground which includes grass, sand, muddy sections2 and tracks consisting of small stones. However, the terrain is interesting and fun to cycle along, and should not put anyone off.
Getting to the trails
To get to the trails, take the A113 to Thetford, then take the B1107 towards Brandon when you get to Thetford. Keep going until you see a Forestry Commission sign for High Lodge Forest Centre, then take the forest toll road indicated. There is a car park by the Forest Centre.
High Lodge Forest Centre
The High Lodge Forest Centre contains a restaurant, a gift shop, toilets, and a cycle hire centre. Nearby there are several adventure play areas, many trails providing walkers and horseriders with a picturesque route through the forest, and a 'high ropes course'4.
The cycle hire centre has plenty of off-road bicycles and cycle helmets of all sizes for hire, but will sell out quickly on very busy days such as Bank Holidays and school holidays. The adult bikes all have front suspension and gears (usually about twenty on rapid-fire5), but for safety reasons none of the bikes have mud flaps - so be prepared to get a mud stripe up your back if it rains!
For more information on cycling in Thetford Forest, see Bike Art.