Route details, maps, pubs, features, local history and folklore for a wide variety of walks focusing primarily on Norfolk and Suffolk

Monday, 17 January 2011

The Peddars Way - Thetford to Knetishall Heath

The trek to the start of the Peddars Way. Thetford is the closest town to the start to the Peddars Way and there is no public transport between Thetford Railway Station and the starting point at Knetishall Heath. Looking at the OS Map, there is no direct route other than to walk along the main A1066 Thetford to Diss road. This is a busy road with no pathway and there is a good 4 miles walking before turning off down village lanes through Rushford where a little peace and serenity is regained to set the tone for the Peddars Way.
Date of Walk: 2008-05-30
Start point: Thetford Train Station 52.29533 0.52082
End Point: Dower House Campsite, Knetishall Heath 52.42873 0.89414
Start Time: 13:00
End time: 16:00
Distance: 10 miles
Walkers: Griffmonster
Weather conditions: Clear blue summer skies, warm
Path taken: Follow the A1066 out of Thetford until you come to a right hand turn to Rushford. Passing through Rushford, keep bearing round to the left on the country lanes. This will lead onto a straight section of road within a mainly wooded area where the starting point of the Peddars Way is located. It is clearly signposted on the left, together with a small car park and the waymarker for the Icknield Way on the right. The trail leads through the trees, across the Little Ouse River, which forms the boundary between Norfolk and Suffolk and back up to the A1066. Continue over the main road and into the forest on West Harling Heath. There are numerous tracks on the right that lead through the forest to reach the Dower House campsite.
Walk difficulty: Tiresome road walking to start with, then easy
Forest on West Harling Heath
  • The Travellers Rest, Knetishall Heath: 52.428987 0.895112 Plain and simple bar on the campsite offering pub food and keg beer.
Walk Features:
  • Kentishall Heath: 52.39079 0.85500 Knettishall Heath Country Park is 350 acres of heathland, grassland and mixed woodland on the Breckland Heath. The Little Ouse river runs along the northern edge of the Heath and a number of walk trails are set out throughout the park. The Riverside Walk is an ideal route for a hot day, it also passes the grassland area grazed by Exmoor ponies and Hebridean sheep. Hut Hill, a bronze age burial mound over 4000 years old, can be discovered as part of the Heathland Trail whilst the Woodland Walk includes oak, Scots pine and birch and many more fine trees. Wildlife watching can be rewarding, deer live in the wooded areas and Common Lizards bask on open, sunny spots on the heath. The park is also the junction of three long distance trails, the Peddars Way, Icknield Way and Angles Way fan out into the wider countryside for the more serious walkers.
Boots n cider
Notes: Knetishall Heath is less than 40 miles from where I live in Leiston but to get there is quite an undertaking using public transport. Trains can get you through to Thetford but this involves changes at Lowestoft and Norwich and takes half a day to complete. Knowing this, I had allowed an additional day to that of my Northamptonshire friends who were due to join me the next day and were being given a lift first thing in the morning. My journey would therefore begin at Thetford and allow me to walk the initial mile or so along the Peddars Way up to West Harling Heath where there is a campsite nestling within the woodland. This would give me an easy day before the rigours of tackling the Peddars Way itself. According to various sites on the web, there used to be a bus to the start of the Peddars Way. Unfortunately this service no longer appears to operate which means this terrible section along the A1066 is unavoidable if one wants to get directly to the start of the National Trail. I usually time my walks, and over time have realised on level ground, with a fully loaded pack on my back, I usually average about 2mph including stops and 3mph on shorter sections with no stops. This has now become a rule of thumb for planning walks. The initial section down to the turn off to Rushford I managed to do well in excess of 4mph such was my want to get away from this busy road. That amazed me! Knettishall Heath is the host for the start (or end depending on direction walking) to the Peddars Way, the Icknield Way and the Angles Way. The Peddars Way marker is on the opposite side of the road to the Icknield Way marker and it is worth pausing to reflect that this ancient path runs from Hunstanton, down to Ivinghoe Beacon, as indicated on the Icknield Way marker (105 miles) and then on the Ridgeway through to Avebury and eventually the Wessex Ridgeway down to Dorset.
Misty morning at the Dower House
Adjoining Walks:
Related Walks:
  • The Icknield Way - Overview of the Trail
  • The Peddars Way - Overview of the Trail
  • The Angles Way - Overview of the Trail
Equipment: 65l rucksack with full camping gear.
OS Map:
  • OS Explorer Map Sheet 229 Thetford Forest in The Brecks
Transport: Train Saxmundham to Lowestoft/Lowestoft to Norwich/Norwich to Thetford

View Peddars Way thetford to knetishall heath in a larger map

Last Updated: 2014-01-02Z


  1. Very informative. I've been planning a trip in late May, but now I'm rethinking it (none of the many sites I've visited mentioned the difficulty in getting to the start of the walk).

    My wife and I have limited time and I'm wondering if we'd be better off doing just the Norfolk Coast portion of this trail.

    Also, I read one comment on another blog that wasn't terribly enthusiastic about the Peddar's Way part of the trail. What's your take?

    Thanks again for the great information here.

  2. Hello Fred - if I was to do this walk again I would get the Norwich bus to East Harling then walk through the West Harling Heath woods to the start. I must admit that the Peddars Way was a long straight route which was very hard on the feet and had little of interest. The North Norfolk Coast Path, in my opinion, provides a much more interesting journey with plenty of villages and scenery along the way. It is well connected by public transport with the excellent Coasthopper running its entire length and a train service to Norwich from Cromer and Sheringham. There's also plenty of camp sites along the route. I have now walked this 3 times (blog on this coming soon) - including this instance when I walked the Peddars Way - and no doubt I will return to walk it again as it is such an easy and pleasant experience. Hope this helps to determine your walk. GRiFF


Walk Summaries

Latest walk summaries are basic information sheets for walks that have yet to be fully documented. These provide links to maps, public transport and walks stats, although detailed notes and features are not included.

Latest Walk Summaries

Featured Walk

In Search of Sizewell Chapel

A 10 mile walk following the southern side of the parish boundary of Leiston in Suffolk This walk follows the route of a 17th century peramb...

What is GPX

All you need to know about GPX, electronic mapping and how to use modern apps and mobile devices as navigation devices

Popular Walks