I’ve been meaning to take N to a Go Ape course for a while now, but haven’t had the chance. I’ll do anything to stretch out a holiday, so on the way back from Lowestoft decided we’d stop via Thetford Forest Go Ape, and try some other activities at High Lodge, the central location at the forest.
I’d planned to do those in the morning, then go on to a National Trust property before going home. But the Go Ape took much longer than expected so we didn’t have time for both. Thetford Forest was a great stop off place, and possibly slightly cooler than some other attractions might have been.
High Lodge Thetford is the main centre of the Forestry Commission run site. There’s plenty of parking, although we arrived fairly early to get in before all the crowds. I’d only booked the Go Ape for N the night before online, so we were lucky there was still a couple of places on different slots. Always handy when you only need 1 space.
Thetford Forest Go Ape
As N’s only done smaller high rope courses before, I put him on the Go Ape Adventure+ course which is for over 6s, rather than the challenge course which is for over 10s. It was still pretty high as they did the normal adventure course first the headed up to the next height.
The slot had 6 in it, 1 adult, the rest children, and they were all fine going round. They did have a few bottlenecks due to 2 boys who had to talked around a few people in front of them. The estimated time for the course was an hour, but the 2 phases of the adventure+ course ended up taking them nearly 1 ½ hours.
N came off having loved it. He’s not really a risk taker, he likes to assess and make sure things are safe. I could see him taking care over parts of the course. But he didn’t wobble, just took the time he needed and kept his focus.
The second zipwire they didn’t have the instructors there to clip them on, so his group all had a bit of a forgetful blip and couldn’t work out how to do it. The dad ahead helped his 2 girls go, but then I could see N struggling, then the boy arrived on the platform behind him and he wasn’t sure either. Luckily there was an instructor standing around near me, so I asked her if she could go and shout up to them. All fixed, and off he went.
It had seemed so high up, but that didn’t seem to bother N. It kind of made me want to have a go, although I’d rather stay on the ground and watch.
We went for food in the cafe afterwards. It’s a lovely log cabin style with plenty of seating indoors and out. There’s some hot food options, sandwiches and snacks. We just had large sausage rolls which were really tasty.
I’d planned that we’d do adventure golf while we were at Thetford Forest, but instead we decided to try disc golf.
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Disc golf is a combination of golf and frisbee. You have a disc (smaller and softer than a normal hard frisbee) and you have to throw it into the chains in the ‘hole. I know my frisbee throws are a bit wild as I’m out of practice, but we came back to hand in both discs so it was a success.
There are 9 holes in the forest, with ropes and arrows leading the way to the next hole. The holes range from around 33 metres from the start to over 50 metres. Each hole is par 3, although we only manage to get 1 hole each at par.
Even N’s throws veered wildly off into the trees and ferns. We laughed a lot. It turns out it’s much harder to get a disc in a hole from under a metre away, than it is to putt a golf ball from that distance!
Needless to say N beat me by a long way, but at least by the end I was getting the disc on or very close to the freeway. Having trees to contend with is a challenge too.
The disc golf didn’t take a long time but it was nice to do something difference. I’m sure we’ll try it another time when we get the chance.
Other activities at Thetford
There’s so many other activities in the forest. I’d have liked to have done the archery, but you either book in advance for hour long sessions via the independent company, or just turn up between 1 and 2pm. We didn’t have time to do that. There’s obviously adventure golf, we spotted bungee trampolining, and also saw a group of American teens doing a segway session. I can’t wait for N to be old enough to do segway stuff. Here there wasn’t a minimum age set, just a weight of 7 stones. Most segway sessions ask for over 14s as well as the weight minimum.
There’s also plenty to do just for the cost of parking (which is pricy – I paid around £10 for up to 4 hours). Parking is all automatic via registration plate recognition. Before you leave you need to pay at the pay points near the main information lodge, although you can pay in advance for a full day.
As well as walking in the forest, there are walking nature trails, cycle trails of different lengths, and we spotted a couple of table tennis tables.
There are also barbecue stands for use, as well as picnic tables. We saw one big family group using one of the bbq points. They’re a great idea, keeping disposable bbqs off the ground, although do watch out for sparks and put them out properly with water before disposing of them given the dry weather this summer.
You can also do the Superworm trail which would be fun for toddlers…and don’t forget to have a photo taken with the Gruffalo.
I’d advise booking in advance for activities. Most are run by independent companies, and you can book up to the day before, although if there’s space you may be able to book when you arrive. The archery booking is done via email so I’d recommend booking that further in advance. The disc golf is the only paid for activity run by the Forestry Commission and you can just pay for that when you want to play.
Having visited Thetford it really made me wish we had a place like that near us. Our nearest forest is probably Salcey which is quite a drive away. But they don’t have any of the adventure activities they have at Thetford.
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