This weekend we took advantage of the warmer weather and did The Gruffalo Trail at Thetford Forest. Matt’s friend from University, Stuart, was visiting so we wanted to have a day out. It was nice to enjoy the outdoors and explore the forest. We’ve been before but never taken Miss Belle, which is bonkers given how close it is. We’d heard there was The Gruffalo trail there and seeing as Miss Belle is the biggest ever fan, we thought it’d be right up her street. As we set off in the car I told her we were going to the woods to look for The Gruffalo. She was so excited and wouldn’t stop talking all the way there.
The (scary) Gruffalo
There’s no entrance fee at Thetford Forest, you just pay for the parking, and then for the trail map, which was only £1.50. The map is described as an introduction to orienteering, but I swiftly passed it to Stuart to lead the way. There are 12 points along the trail and two statues, one of The Gruffalo, and one of The Gruffalo’s child. There are also some wooden carvings of the owl and squirrel. We didn’t see the mouse, snake or fox!
Right at the start of the trail you come to The Gruffalo. I spotted him so crouched down and pointed to show Miss Belle. She was curious. As we got close she pretty much shouted “noooo, noooo, noooo!” This was partly our fault because we’d not long passed the play area and she had wanted to go on the swings. We told her we’d do it later, much to her protests. As we got nearer The Gruffalo, there were lots of parents taking photos of their little ones next to it. I got my iPhone out ready. But no, not my child. She wasn’t having any of it! She squirmed out of Daddy’s arms and cried and refused to have her photo taken! Given she’d not shut up about The Sodding Gruffalo all the way there, I was mildly disappointed!
Never mind, I should be used to this by now. On with the trail we went. She started to get more into it then. We looked at all the clues and asked her what she could see. Throughout the woods there were areas where you could play with musical instruments that had been made, so we stopped at a few of those too.
The (Gruffalo’s) Child was feeling brave(er)
The trail is good for toddlers because it’s not very long, and within an hour we were nearly finished. The Gruffalo’s Child statue is towards the end, and she was lying down asleep. Daddy spotted her and picked Miss Belle up. He told her The Gruffalo’s Child was sleeping and they had to be quiet, and she was transfixed! She wandered up to The Gruffalo’s Child in total awe of her (because it’s oh so different to The Gruffalo, obviously!)
We had to have a good look at the purple prickles all over her back…
Afterwards we grabbed a picnic bench and had our picnic. Then we headed to the play area and Miss Belle had a go on the swings, slides and ran in and out of the wooden houses. There’s also a mini assault course which Daddy took her on. She walked along some beams and stepped over big stepping stones. She really enjoyed it. It was like her Tumble Tots classes!
We were back home by 2.30pm and Miss Belle had a 2 hour nap – clearly worn out from the fun (and slight trauma) of meeting The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo’s Child. This week they are launching a new Gruffalo Spotters trail where you download an app. I believe it’s a bit like Pokemon Go in that you use your app with their markers and animated characters come on the screen. Sounds a bit techy but I’m sure it’ll be fun and one to try.
Have you ever done The Gruffalo Trail and did you get the reaction you expected?!
If you’re looking for a (mostly) fun family day out then I would recommend The Gruffalo Trail at Thetford Forest. The surroundings are beautiful!
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