A postcard from Rendlesham Forest UFO Trail

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.

A postcard from Formby Point

Back in August, when we were in the north of England visiting my family, we took a day trip to the Lancashire coast and visited Formby Point National Trust site. It’s a place I’d visited many years ago as a child, but couldn’t remember very much about. It is also home to on of Middle Postcard’s favourite animals – squirrels!!

Formby Point is a really interesting site. It’s right on the coast and includes beautiful dunes and a long stretch of beach but also encompasses a large pine forest which has winding paths through it and plenty of spots for a quiet picnic and adventures for little people. It’s home to a colony of red squirrels and if you are very lucky, you may be able to see one or two bouncing about on the branches overhead.


Our trip began with a rendezvous with my brother and ‘Funcle’ to the Little Postcards. He lives not too far away in Lancashire and was keen to join us on our squirrel hunt. He’s a very keen and talented photographer so relished the opportunity to take some snaps while we were on our walk. We met up with him the carpark just behind the dunes and climbed over them to see the beach.


As we reached the summit, the wind hit us. It was so gusty, you could feel the sand stinging the back of your legs through your trousers!!! We took a quick look along the beach but I was so scared of getting the flying sand into my camera that I just took a couple of quick snaps on my phone before heading to the shelter of the pine forest.

 

There were a few brave souls out on the beach, some even in short sleeves and shorts (we all had our hoods up and were zipped right up as far as it would go to reduce the pain of the stinging sand!!! We hung about long enough to be able to just make out The BIG One and Blackpool Tower in the distance before running for cover.

It’s hard to believe that these photos were taken on the same day – just moments apart. Once under the cover of the trees, the sun broke through the clouds above and we walked along the bouncy pine needle strewn path through gentle dappled shade. It’s such a tranquil place, the only sound being the wind blowing through the branches above and the dulcet sounds of Little Postcards bickering in the background. 😉

Being a National Trust venue, there were plenty of volunteer guides on site to help with any questions and dish out maps of the area. With just one aim in mind for the day (apart from having fun and enjoying a picnic lunch) we set off on our quest to find some red squirrels – it can’t be that hard can it?

Formby isn’t just famous for it’s red furry residents, it is also home to the local delicacy of Formby Asparagus. It can be enjoyed during a very short season from early May until the 21st June – sadly we had missed it. For generations, local farmers levelled the local dunes to create perfect growing conditions for the crop. In it’s heyday more 200 acres were cultivated but these days just 10 acres of Formby Asparagus are grown here. This stunning tree carving was created to celebrate the local speciality.

After much wandering through the beautiful pine forest and green fields, our search for red squirels was proving fruitless. Little Postcards and the grown ups were becoming hungry and a picnic spot needed to be found.

At the entrance to a large grassy area – perfect for a picnic, we found this lovely sculpture carved from a tree trunk.


After the sandwiches had been scoffed and the flask of coffee drunk, the grown ups settled down for a doze in the sunshine while the Little Postcards wandered into the woods close by. It was so nice for them to have a bit of freedom to wander knowing that they couldn’t go far. We could hear them – but couldn’t see them. They enjoyed the independence that gave them and for Littlest, it was a great adventure to climb trees and have a woodland adventure with his big brothers.
While on their adventure, they were constantly on the look out for the squirrels – although the noise they were making as they wandered the meandering woodland paths probably sent the squirrels scarpering! A few very jazzy striped caterpillars were satisfactory discoveries though.


After an hour or so at our lovely picnic spot, we decided to head back to the cars so that we could get back home without hitting the rush hour traffic on the motorways back to Manchester. Our walk back through the pine forest was bound to yield a squirrel sighting wasn’t it?

As we got deeper into the forest, we spied a group of people eagerly pointing up into the tree canopy and craning to see movement with their binoculars. Squirrels were in the area! Well they were until just before we arrived. An elderly couple had been sitting on a bench patiently waiting to see some squirrels for quite some time.

Just as a couple of the illusive residents had put in an appearance, a family with young children had come along at just the right moment to see them too. All this had happened just seconds before we arrived, but sadly by then, Squirrel Nutkin and his mate were nowhere to be seen!

So did we achieve success in our quest to see some of the famous Formby Point red squirrels? We only saw this one…

…..he came home with us.

 

…..Oh and there was this one too on the side of an ice cream van!

Never mind – there’s always next time!

 

For more information about Formby Point, have a look at the National Trust Formby website.

 

Raindrops on roses & whiskers on kittens 

  
It wouldn’t be a traditional English summer without some rain, right? Well we’ve certainly had plenty in the last few days. I’m not complaining though, we were blessed with beautiful sunny, dry days at the start of our English summer holiday allowing picnics and trips out to the countryside, meanwhile back at home in Gibraltar it’s been sizzling hot. We have been so lucky to escape the heat for a few weeks. We took a train trip down South for a few days to catch up with old friends, and it was delightful. We met this gorgeous little kitten, who’s a recent addition to one of the families we visited.

  
This was him recovering after being chased around the house by five overexcited children! The rain didn’t dampen our trip at all though. We still got out for a short, wet, woodland walk.

   
Did I mention I love trees??!

 
One glorious side effect of rain is lush plants, so it’s not all bad!

  
The local wildlife enjoyed the wet weather too – much to the enjoyment of the youngest members of the party.

   
 
We had five train trips in total on our journey south a rare treat for one member of the family who loves trains but doesn’t get the chance to ride them often. I loved watching the English countryside whizzing by.

  
In amongst our days away I have managed to fit in a couple of trips to craft shops (hurrah!) and have some new supplies to take back to Gibraltar with me. I’m brimming with ideas, I just need to find the time to get busy!

  
I hope your summer plans aren’t being spoiled by the rain. Thanks for stopping by!