Are you ready to take a stroll through the deep dark woods to find the Gruffalo? We had a lovely day out on the Gruffalo spotter’s trail the other week at Sherwood Pines in Nottinghamshire. Going on a Gruffalo trail was one of the first things I included on our family bucket list. We love Julia Donaldson’s books in this house. I literally can recite The Gruffalo word for word and did so as we wandered through the woods.
Important information about the Gruffalo Trail
The trail itself is a free activity. There is the optional extra of buying a Gruffalo Spotters Activity Kit at £3 but you can complete the trail without this. If you can cycle to Sherwood Pines then you also won’t have to pay the £6 charge for all-day parking (other rates are available). As we live an hour away we couldn’t visit for free however I wasn’t especially bothered about paying the fee as I like to hope that it helps with the upkeep of the forest.
The Gruffalo Spotters trail is being run by the Forestry Commission and can be found at 26 different forests across the country. Launch and running dates vary from forest to forest so please follow this link for further information.
The trail only truly works with their Gruffalo spotters app. It is recommended that you download the app at home before arriving. I had no reception in the forest so I was glad I’d already downloaded it but they do have wifi available in the café if you need it. You don’t need wifi for the trail itself. Once you’ve found each special marker on the trail you simply point your phone at the corresponding sign and all the characters come to life on your phone.
Another popular book of Julia Donaldson’s ‘The Highway rat’ has also been turned into an Adventure trail.
The Gruffalo Spotters kit
I tried to take a photo of our bag’s contents but they didn’t remain intact for long so I have used the one from their website. There are 5 animal activity and facts cards, a Spotter’s Guide which you use at various points around the trail, stickers of each character to stick in the guide as you find them, a special magnifying glass, ruler and a pencil.
It actually took us a little while to realise how to use the guide in relation to the actual trail itself but once we sussed it out it was great fun and I was glad I bought the kit. It adds an extra dimension to the trail as your child can fill in, or have help filling in, what they see in a magnifying glass on the trail, in a spinner, and through binoculars. Then once the character has been found there is a place for the corresponding sticker to be stuck down. It makes the trail that little bit more fun and interactive.
We bought the kit at the onsite café.
Finding the start of the trail.
At the start of the trail itself, we found a large wooden Gruffalo which of course Jamie had to pose for a photo by.
Plus two more signs in case you still don’t know where to start.
The Gruffalo trail itself
You find each character in the order that you come across them in the book. First, you come across three clues which also correspond to activities in the book. The first clue is found in a magnifying glass.
The second set of clues can be found by spinning the spinner. You have to spot three different body parts.
Then the third clue is to be found by looking through a cutout sign shaped like binoculars. Through this, you can spy a final body part of the character you are looking for.
You are then rewarded with a sign telling you who you’ve found.
Not far from this sign you will then find the corresponding sign for what you are searching for on the app. You then hold your phone towards the sign as if you are taking a photo and the character will come to life with animation and sound on your phone.
I made sure Jamie watched each little video with me before I sent him off to pose for the photo. There was a lot of move left, move forward etc. by me. He loved doing it though. You can’t take the photo until the end of the video and you can take as many as your phone memory allows. They were all stored in a separate folder on my phone. You do not need internet for the app to work once it is downloaded.
Jamie’s best snaps with the characters
These photos are such a lovely keepsake for him and for us.
More about Sherwood Pines
Once we’d completed the trail we wanted to explore Sherwood Pines too. We had brought a picnic so much to Jamie’s delight we ate it sitting right next to the wooden Gruffalo while watching older children and adults make their way around Go Ape. It was such a cold day I wished we’d bought something hot from the café as the food looked very tempting.
There are loads of lovely carved trees to find, not to mention some lovely carved throne-like chairs.
There are quite a few natural play areas to find and explore. You will find something to suit children of all ages.
If you head to the far extremities of the Gruffalo Spotters trail you can follow signs to the WWII trenches that they have set up in the forest. There’s plenty to read about and for the children, they can see just what it was like for our brave heroes that had to live in trenches like these.
Exploring the trenches
I explained about the dug outs where they had to try and hide from gunfire or to aim with a gun for themselves. Can you see him?
We both left that day with a healthy glow to our cheeks and lungs filled with fresh air. I do love days out like these. Getting back to nature is what being a kid is all about.
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