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Saturday, 1 January 2011

The Icknield Way - Herringswell to Knetishall Heath

A 25 mile walk along the Icknield Way between Herringswell and Knetishall Heath

I never realised just how remote some areas of Suffolk are until I walked this final section of the Icknield Way. Apart from a couple of isolated hamlets there is nothing but forest trails and fields for the full 25 miles through to Knettishall Heath. Starting the walk early in the coolness of the morning is a most wonderful experience, the solitude of such a time is something to really treasure and there is nothing like a good hike before breakfast!

Woods south of Herringswell to Dower House Campsite, Knetishall Heath Walk - Essential Information

Walk Statistics:

Start point
Woods south of HerringswellView in OS Map | View in Google Map
End Point
Dower House Campsite, Knetishall HeathView in OS Map | View in Google Map
Total Walk distance
25 miles
Walk difficulty
Hard on the feet due to the rock-hard tracks

Accommodation:

The Dower House Camp site View in OS Map | View in Google Map
Website
Description
The Dower House Campsite

Walk Data

Date of Walk
2009-06-23
Walk Time
05:00 to 15:30
Walkers
Griffmonster
Weather Conditions
Clear blue summer skies, very hot

Walk Notes

I started the day early, decamping from my wild camp in the woods at 5am in order to not be detected by any early passers by. This time of the day in summer is great for walking, the coolness and solitude is such a pleasure. By the time I had reached Icklingham it was clear the day was going to be a scorcher and as a sat on the dewy grass on the track up to Kings Forest to eat breakfast I was a little concerned with the lack of water, I had just over half a litre left and there was going to be nowhere to purchase more until Knetishall Heath. Luckily, I got talking to an american couple walking their dog who generously donated their bottle of tap water to me. This got me through to Euston, where I was running dry again. Once again, I got talking to a couple who asked directions into Euston Hall and they too gave me a bottle of water.

This was a lengthy and hard walk along sunbaked trails. I never appreciated just how remote some areas of Suffolk are until I walked this section. Apart from passing through Tuddenham and Icklingham in early morning, I encountered no real civilisation throguhout the day. Miles of woodland, fields and not much else.

The woods at Knetishall Heath were all cordoned off for forestry work which necissitated a rather labourious walk along the road in order to get to the Dower House campsite.

This walk completed a route from Avebury to Hunstanton along the Ridgeway, Icknield Way and Peddars Way. The Icknield Way is the only section that is not a desginated National Trail, but I would not hessitate in recommending this to other walkers. Over six days I had covered seven counties - Bucks, Beds, Herts, Cambs, Essex, Suffolk and ended up in Norfolk and completed 120 miles even though the waymarker at Knetishall Heath indicated that Ivinghoe Beacon was only 105 miles distant. I had encountered very few people along the trail and all of these were just local walkers.

Directions

Follow the waymarked tracks through to Tuddenham village - continue straight through the village and on to Icklingham. You will find that the bridge crossing The River Lark, just before the Icklingham has been demolished (which on first sight is very disheartening) - but there is another footbridge a few yards to the left. From Icklingham head into the Kings Forest and a straight track leads all the way through to the B1106. The track continues 100 yards up the road. Here there is a branch, to the left the track leads into Thetford, to the right it takes you across to Knetishall Heath where it meets up with the Peddars Way. This track cuts across the fields to the hamlet of Euston and then onto Knetishall Heath

The River Lark at Icklingham
The River Lark at Icklingham

Pubs

The Travellers Rest, Knetishall Heath View in OS Map | View in Google Map

Address
The Travellers Rest, Knetishall Heath

Plain and simple bar on the campsite offering pub food and keg beer.

On the left, sunbaked tracks, typical of the entire days walk. On the right, a mighty old tree at Euston.On the left, sunbaked tracks, typical of the entire days walk. On the right, a mighty old tree at Euston.
On the left On the left, sunbaked tracks, typical of the entire days walk. On the right, a mighty old tree at Euston.; On the right On the left, sunbaked tracks, typical of the entire days walk. On the right, a mighty old tree at Euston.

Features

IcklinghamView in OS Map | View in Google Map

Icklingham is a village in Suffolk, England.It takes its name from an Iron Age tribe, the Iceni, who lived in the area and has the remains of a Roman settlement to the South. It was also one of the largest Anglo-Saxon settlements in the area.

Euston HallView in OS Map | View in Google Map

Euston Hall is a country house, with park by William Kent and Capability Brown and is the family home of the Dukes of Grafton. Euston first appears in the Domesday Book in 1087 as a manor belonging to Bury St. Edmunds Abbey. The estate, in near ruin, was purchased in 1666 by Henry Bennet, Earl of Arlington and Secretary of State to King Charles II. He constructed a grand house in the French style, built around a central court with large pavilions on each corner. In 1672 Charles II arranged a marriage between nine-year-old Henry FitzRoy, his illegitimate son by Barbara Villiers, and Isabella Bennet, the Earl of Arlington's five-year-old heiress. FitzRoy was created 1st Duke of Grafton in 1675, and the young couple went through a second wedding ceremony in 1679 when Isabella had reached the age of twelve, then the minimum legal ago to marry with consent. The Duke and Duchess inherited Euston Hall in 1685. In about 1750 their son, the Second Duke, decided to re-model the house and employed Matthew Brettingham. The domes at Euston were replaced by the low pyramid roofs seen today, and part of the house was refaced. In 1902, a disastrous fire destroyed the south and west wings and the fine Verrio ceilings. The house was soon rebuilt on the same plan, but later the south wing, and most of the west wing, were pulled down by the Tenth Duke in 1952.

The old park was designed by the diarist John Evelyn, a noted landscape gardener and an expert on trees, with a canal, straight rides and avenues. His designs for Euston included the walk through the pleasure grounds which can still be enjoyed today. The whole park and river layout was designed by William Kent in 1738, and is considered one of his great works. His temple and entrance archway survive. Capability Brown worked at Euston intermittently from 1776 to 1784. Euston's watermill was built in the 1670s by Sir Samuel Morland for irrigation and grinding corn. In 1731, it was redesigned by William Kent to resemble a church, and in 1859 an iron waterwheel was added by Charles Burrell. The Temple (not open to the public) is an unusual octagonal folly designed by William Kent in 1746. It was his last work. It has a magnificent octagonal banqueting hall rising to a dome.

Images

Below are a selection of images taken from from the photo album for this walk. Feel free to browse through these or click on any image to view a larger version in the Gallery.

Click on an image below to view the Image Gallery

Maps

Below is the route depicted on the OpenStreetMap, Ordnance Survey Map and Google Map. Links to full page versions are found in the Essential Information

Summary of Document Changes

Last Updated: ... 2016-01-15

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