Historically, Red Lodge Heath is the remnant of a Medieval Warren where rabbits were raised for their valuable meat and fur. It was one of a number of such Warrens in the Breckland area. After this activity was no longer of practical interest, the land was left to mature naturally for many years.
In the 20th Century, the area immediately adjacent to Turnpike Road and Green Lane was utilised for commercial mineral extraction, which only ceased in the 1950s. This activity resulted in deep pits and hollows which allowed the water table to create ponds which can be seen on the heath today.
In modern times the site had been damaged by off-roading activities and fly-tipping. The invasive growth of gorse and scrub had also encroached on the grassland. However, despite this in 2005 English Nature designated the Heath to be a ‘Site of Special Scientific Interest’ because of its unique mix of habitats.
These include dry acid grassland, chalk grassland, lichen heath and wet woodland with ponds.
Some nationally important invertebrates, including the rare Five-banded Tailed Digger Wasp are also found on the heath.
The heath is also home to some rare and interesting plants, including Breckland Thyme, Viper’s Bugloss and Harebell.
The Vision For The Future
The installation of boundary fencing is now providing both attractive entrances, a more welcoming, safer feel and a freedom from motorbikes, fly tipping and other anti-social activities.
Having cut back much of the intrusive gorse and opened up overgrown historical paths, the heath environment now lends itself to thriving communities of rare plants and animals. The paths range from wide, flat and firm for less mobile people, to the narrow and more challenging for those who prefer them.
As well as a destination, the heath provides an attractive route from one side of the village to another, encouraging people to enjoy a walk rather than driving. Groups, old and young, will enrich their knowledge of the countryside at the same time as gaining the physical benefits.
This is to be viewed as a special place with open areas of short grass, dry sand and flower rich meadows. The local water table offers scenic ponds, blending with dark and cool woodlands which conceal more open woodland glades.
Red Lodge Heath is a place to capture the imagination, where all generations can learn about the rich world about them and its fascinating history. Exploring the true meaning of warrens.
To date this enriched environment has been brought about by a partnership between the Site Owners, Natural England, Forest Heath District Council and the eager volunteers of the Red Lodge Conservation Group.