After our disappointment at not seeing a Gruffalo at the end of the Gruffalo Trail in Salcey Forest earlier in the year, I really wanted to try another forest and see one. So when I saw that the Gruffalo’s Child trail was the next one starting this October, I put a date in the diary to take N.
Wendover Woods are just over an hour from us, but worth making the slightly longer journey (despite the mad satnav directions) going there over Salcey which is a bit closer. Wendover’s obviously very popular with cycling clubs, families, dog walkers and just people wanting a nice walk out. We arrived fairly early, but the main car park was already pretty busy, and the cafe was doing good trade.
Because the Salcey Forest Gruffalo trail pack was a rip off – £2 for a leaflet – we didn’t bother buying an activity pack, although they did look better value. If N was keener on actually doing the activities then I would have paid out the couple of pounds. They were also selling Gruffalo animal soft toys which I was surprised they didn’t do from early on at Salcey when we went before.
It wasn’t a long walk to the start of the trail and N was really excited to begin. He did make me laugh asking ‘are there people in there already?’. It was like he didn’t want us to be the only people in there.
N’s now more excited about finding things and looking out for items on trails. He’s still not that interested in talking through or doing the activities, although I did get him to draw with twigs in the mud, and we did talk through some of the nature and answers to the board questions. Like any child, he loves getting answers right, so I think he is becoming more confident about answering and thinking about questions being asked.
We loved the den building area along the trail. N was quite keen on finding new long sticks and adding them to the dens that were already built. He even got creative in telling me the tree stump was a train.
As well as the boards, we were also on the look out for the hanging animal banners which had letters on, to solve the anagram at the end. We forgot to note them down, so have no idea what word it was, but it was a great way to be able to get N to think about some of the letters he’s learnt at nursery or at home. I was surprise at how many he recognised given nursery only work on 1 letter a week, and most of the time he never speaks the sounds of letters when recognising them. It’s usually just a shout ‘that’s in my name’ or ‘m for mummy, that’s in your name mummy’.
After trying to grow like a tree, we headed on through the trail.
The trail’s about 1.5 miles long although it doesn’t feel that long with all the stops and starts of the activities. We reached the end and found the wonderful log carvings – a bear, owl and baby bear. N was intrigued by these, more so than he was interested in the Gruffalo carving, despite having looked forward to seeing it for ages.
Of course N decided that he didn’t want to go anywhere near the Gruffalo, let alone have his photo taken next to it. He did offer to hit it with the stick he’d been wandering round with but no way was he getting up that close. This was as close as he’d get for a photo!
N was quite happy with his stick though. He enjoyed trying to write and draw with it, he even wanted to bring it home with him.
Then it was back to the main area, which by that stage was packed for a bite of lunch (wow, the queue was huge at 12 on the dot), and over to the playground. This playground catered for more age groups than Salcey Forest. There, everything was high ropes/nets off the ground, while at Wendover Woods, there’s lots of obstacle courses, swings of varying types, plus small and large equipemtn.
While N loved the slide and swings, as per usual, we were excited to see the musical instruments set up. There were a couple of xylophones and these funny musical ‘stepping stones’. All you needed to play was yourself or some sticks.
N spent some time in that area, with lots of laughing and copying another young child playing as well. I loved the xylophone idea – it would be great to have in your own garden, although this one wasn’t really capable of playing specific correct tunes.
That didn’t seem to bother N. He was bashing away, and singing twinkle twinkle little star, so he was definitely hearing one thing or filling in the gaps to make the music he wanted to.
We had a lovely few hours there, and I’m sure we’ll be back for more events, or when N’s older, the Go Ape.
Have you been to any of the new trails?