Until recently, I knew very little about Rendlesham Forest and the UFO sightings which occurred there in 1980. This summer though, on our holiday to Suffolk, we were able to visit Rendlesham Forest for the first time. It gave us the chance to have a great family day out, and find out a little bit more about the funny goings on in the woods…
Nowadays Rendlesham Forest comes under the stewardship of the Forestry Commission. On arrival, there were a couple of wardens on hand to point us in the right direction to the facilities and we were able to pick up a leaflet detailing the UFO walk. There’s a camp site at the forest and many walking and cycling trails through the trees. On a dry, sunny August day, there were plenty of people about keen to enjoy the delights the forest had to offer.
For the Postcard family, it was the UFO trail which held the most appeal…
The wide path beckoned us through the trees with three young UFO hunters eager to solve the mystery of whether aliens did indeed visit this part of Suffolk in the long and distant past (well before they were born…)
Rendlesham Forest is a really beautiful spot, the trees are farmed and the whole area is really well maintained. There is also a good mix of trees to be enjoyed, different sections of the woodland are dedicated to different trees; pine, silver birch and other deciduous varieties.
As the trail wound deeper into the forest, a loud droning noise seemed to be echoing off the trunks of the trees around us. We just couldn’t figure out what was making the racket until we spotted glimpses of the nearby air base through the trees in the distance. A very large plane was obviously was manoeuvring in preparation for take-off.
We were soon greeted by a sign explaining the significance of the air base in the UFO sighting story.
We were at the East Gate, where the first lights were spotted in the sky on that December night back in 1980, and where the whole Rendlesham UFO story began.
The trail led us along the now disused road which follows the perimeter of the air base and on through the trees towards our next destination. In the meantime, the loud plane noises had ceased as it had taken off and all that could be heard was the wind blowing through the branches of the pine trees.
As we reached a cross roads, we were taken by surprise as the plane had circled and came back in to land. A crowd of passers-by had gathered to see what was going on. A local resident commented that it was the first time in months that he had seen any air traffic at the base and was pleased to see the RAF back in residence.
We crossed the road and continued the trail deeper into the forest. A small group of airmen had followed the lights into the forest thinking that an aircraft had crashed. We were following in their footsteps.
All along the route, the path is clearly marked with signs pointing you in the right direction. On the rear of these posts is a secret code specially put there for children. At the Forestry Commission office in the carpark at the start of the trail, special UFO kits are available to buy (for about £1.50 I think) which helped to keep the younger members of the party engaged on the walk.
The kits contain a code cracker and on completion of the walk, you can decipher a special message (left by aliens) using the translation table.
It was a great idea and really helped us divert attention from the tired little legs which had had enough part of the way around the walk! The boys really enjoyed seeking out the next secret symbol and we were able to crack the code once we’d got home. I cannot tell you what the answer is though, it’s classified as top secret 😉
As we wandered through the trees, seeing more signs and following the timeline of events which happened back in 1980 (from the leaflet) we could hear the plane circling overhead again. It took off and landed several times while we were walking through the forest, I have to admit that the droning of the engine did add to the spooky atmosphere in some parts of the forest.
It really is a stunningly beautiful place.
After a while we were directed to a clearing in the forest which was home to this:
It is a 3D representation of what one of the US Airforce man drew after his experience in the forest. The UFO is believed to have landed near this spot and looked like this model.
We were at the mid-point of the trail, our next stop was at the edge of the forest near some farmland where the mysterious lights were spotted.
The last ‘site’ we visited is where a UFO was reported to have landed. In the intervening 36 years the area has been replanted with trees several times but they all failed to thrive and now it is left as a clearing.
Once our UFO trail was complete, the ‘Out of this World’ play area was beckoning. It was a fab place for little people to run wild. With lots of branches left lying around, previous visitors had used the timber to create great dens.
There was also a great adventure play area too. Believe it or not, it was crowded with families – it took quite a while to get this photo without any children in it! I think they were all off balancing on a timber assault course at this moment!
Our trip to Rendlesham Forest was such a hit, we went back again for a second visit. The second time we took reinforcements – we brought Grandparents, an Aunt and an Uncle too. I’m pretty sure that they enjoyed it as much as we did.
If you should find yourself in this part of Suffolk, I would really recommend a visit. There is a small charge for parking and the leaflets detailing the walk were free. There’s a very large picnic area and space to barbecue. Plus, you’ll be able to say you completed the Rendlesham UFO Trail!
For more information on the Rendlesham UFO Trail, check out the Forestry Commission website.