Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Kings Forest West Stow Suffolk


Five miles North of Bury St Edmunds in  Suffolk is the village of West Stow which is known further afield for its Anglo Saxon Village. If you want to experience what it might have been like to be an Anglo Saxon then make a visit to West Stow. There are generally events on most of the year details at the friends of West Stow site.The village has been created on the site where a major archaeological dig in the 1960's revealed a well preserved Anglo-Saxon site saved beneath the sands of the Breckland.

As this was closed for Christmas I parked further up the road at the picnic site known as Ramparts Field. This as the signboard indicates is a reminder of how much of the brecklands once were but after the 2nd world war much was put to forestry.

Ramparts Field survived as it was an  ancient gravel working site and is now used as a  good starting point for walks around the gorse and sandy lanes nearby.

 For my run on an overcast morning I wore layers to keep out the damp cold temperature it being just above freezing at 1 C. A sweat shirt and a techical t shirt over the top along with tracksters , gloves and hat kept me warm enough.

A short distance along the road from Ramparts Field towards the Anglo Saxon Vilage you can pick up the ancient Icknield Way which is said to be the oldest pathway in Great Britain predating the Roman invasion of 43AD.

What immeadiately strikes you when running this pathway is just how sandy the soil is around here with large numbers of flints everywhere. The name Breck derives from broken land and hints at how this area was never considered a great one for agriculture.

This morning there was a heavy frost and the ground even though being sandy was hard. The pathway I followed has been heavily used by forestry vechicles and hence is heavily rutted in places. At times I was running within the ridge formed by the car wheels and going up and down so although running I could imagine how bumpy a drive along here would be.

There are over 200 varieties of trees in the area known as Thetford Forest. My run took me on an out and back 4 miles to the King George the 5th monumnet in the King's Forest. Most of the trees that I could see that predominate are pines, oaks and conifers but there were also birch to be seen.

This certainly wouldn't be every ones cup of tea this run as it lonely and isolated. I say one mountain biker apart from that I was alone in the forest with the odd squirrel and a million rabbits for company.

In one section a local farmer has obviously filled one of the larger ruts in the pathway with broken bricks this provided a different challenge to run across.

At the end of the King's Forest the path meets the B1106 in a clearing, is a stone monument, with the following inscription: "This tone commemorates the silver jubilee of King George the Fifth. The Forestry Commissioners began in 1936 to afforest the King's Forest and to plant with Beeches Queen Mary's Avenue, which follows the course of the Icknield Way. P.L. Robinson, Chairman, W.L. Taylor, Assistant Commissioner."

I ran fairly slowly today but I was happy with my stamina on this run not feeling the urge to stop until around 6 miles. But by this point I was feeling a little cold and picked up the pace to complete my run back at the car. It was at this point that I realised that I had forgotten to use my jelly beans that I took with me to give me a little boost!

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