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Sara Rootham plays with her one-year-old daughter Alyssa at the playground at Brandon Country Park.

Sara Rootham plays with her one-year-old daughter Alyssa at the playground at Brandon Country Park. (Charlie Reed / S&S)

Sara Rootham plays with her one-year-old daughter Alyssa at the playground at Brandon Country Park.

Sara Rootham plays with her one-year-old daughter Alyssa at the playground at Brandon Country Park. (Charlie Reed / S&S)

The walled garden at Brandon Country Park inspires relaxation. It once grew herbs and vegetables when the site was a private estate.

The walled garden at Brandon Country Park inspires relaxation. It once grew herbs and vegetables when the site was a private estate. (Charlie Reed / S&S)

A visitor sits alone in the walled garden at Brandon Country Park. The park can easily be enjoyed alone or with friends and family.

A visitor sits alone in the walled garden at Brandon Country Park. The park can easily be enjoyed alone or with friends and family. (Charlie Reed / S&S)

A snake-shaped labyrinth in the grass is an interesting surprise within the walled garden at Brandon Country Park.

A snake-shaped labyrinth in the grass is an interesting surprise within the walled garden at Brandon Country Park. (Charlie Reed / S&S)

BRANDON — Nestled in the Thetford Forest, Brandon Country Park is a little piece of English paradise.

The lush woods hum with chirping birds and cool breezes. It’s a serene place that can be enjoyed by families and couples as well as lone explorers.

With a walled garden, playground, visitor center and cafe, the park is wheelchair accessible, pet friendly and free to enter. A Gothic-style mausoleum and man-made lake built by the site’s former owner, Edward Bliss, are worth checking out and just a few kilometers from the parking lot at the visitor center.

As one of two local starting points for off-road cycling in the expansive Thetford Forest, the park bustles with bikers. Four main trails cut through the patchwork of pines, heathland and broad-leaved trees with varying degrees of difficulty. Creating your own route is as easy as conjuring up your sense of adventure. The paths are well-marked, so getting lost is hard. Whether you’re on a leisurely ride or a challenging trek, the peaceful forest provides the perfect backdrop for relaxation and focus.

Martin and Susan Berry drive 60 miles round trip from Ipswich to the park every other week to enjoy the trails.

"It’s really the only thing like it around," Martin Berry said. "There’s a variety of trails and the cafe is a good place to cool down."

For Sara Rootham, who spent a recent afternoon in the park with her two girls, it’s the perfect place if "you fancy a day out."

"We wanted to walk in the woods and swing," said the Mattishall resident. "I couldn’t think of anything else that had both. We like the fresh air and the trees."

Make sure to stroll through the walled garden. Filled with fragrant herbs, a variety of flowers and shrubbery, and offering a water feature, the garden is obviously well looked after, but natural at the same time. It inspires peace of mind and is a great place to clear your head or enjoy the flora and fauna.

Pop into the nearby visitor center to pick up free pamphlets on the biking and hiking trails as well as events held throughout the summer. Static displays also explain the history of the area and its role as the one-time flint capital of England.

The cafe serves fresh sandwiches, soups, salads, jacket potatoes, ice cream, desserts and beverages, but many visitors take their own snacks and sprawl out on the picnic tables that dot the park.

There’s nothing fancy about the park. It’s simply a place to unwind. So bring your kids, a date, your dog or yourself and enjoy the tranquility.

Brandon Country Park

Location: Bury Road, Brandon IP27 OSU

Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday; 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. weekendsPrice: freeAmenities: biking and hiking trails, park, walled garden, visitor center, cafe Phone: 01842 810185


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