Mummy Diaries | The Gruffalo Trail at Salcey Forest

Little boy on The Gruffalo Trail at the fox checkpoint

‘A mouse took a stroll through the deep, dark wood. A fox saw the mouse and the mouse looked good.’

Alfie loves any book by Julia Donaldson, but by far, his favourite is The Gruffalo. So, when I saw through my lovely friend Anisa’s Instagram grid that there's a Gruffalo trail at Salcey Forest, we just had to go. I’d seen plenty of people embark on a search for the Gruffalo, but nothing locally, so it was a really nice surprise – and I knew that Alfie would love it.

Salcey Forest is about 20 miles from us and is situated north of MK on the way to Northampton. There's plenty of parking, including a massive overflow, which is priced at £4.00 for two hours or £6 all day. Of course, entry is free – although there’s a lovely little café and if you're looking to do The Gruffalo trail, you can buy a kids’ pack for £3.50. If researching online, don't confuse it with the Orienteering Challenge – that's £1.50 for a leaflet, map, and certificate.

There's no obligation to buy, as you can just do the walk, but the Gruffalo Trail pack is well worth paying for and includes: an activity book, a pencil, a crayon, some stickers, a woodland scene (for said stickers), a Gruffalo mask, and some Gruffalo hands. Those last two item slot together so your child can wear them. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll have seen Alfie modelling them beautifully before we got walking. He even did the pose and said “Mummy, I'm The Gruffalo. My tongue is black”. So funny.

The Gruffalo Trail route is clearly signposted throughout and there are five major checkpoints along the way – following the characters in the story. Starting with the mouse, then fox, owl, snake and, of course, The Gruffalo. Each board has a sign full of facts and a couple of activities. Using the crayon provided, you can also do a rubbing of said character in the booklet. The activity book contains other puzzles too, including wordsearches.

As well as the five checkpoints, there were smaller boards along the way with images of nature/objects from the book, including a toadstool, butterfly, and woodpecker. And if that wasn't enough, you can also download The Gruffalo Spotter 2 app, which brings the story to life. Through augmented reality, your little one can interact with each character as they encounter them. I highly recommend downloading the app before leaving home – as we tried to do it just before embarking on the trail and the signal in the forest isn't the best. After we both attempted it and didn’t get very far, we just admitted defeat and carried on without. The trail was still enjoyable, it’s just a nice to have – and adds to the immersive experience. Another reason to go back.

And talking of which, we rushed through the last bit, including the wooden play area – after Alfie fell over. Never mind a helping of Gruffalo crumble, it was a plain burger Happy Meal from Mc Donald’s instead to cheer him up.

Salcey Forest Gruffalo Trail in late summer

Two hours definitely isn't enough to explore and enjoy the trail at its full potential – so make sure you get an all-day parking ticket, and stock up on refreshments before you start.

Away from the Gruffalo Trail, there are plenty of other routes to explore:

  • Elephant Walk: 0.7 miles / 1.2 kilometres.
  • Church Path Walk: 1.5 miles / 2.5 kilometres.
  • Woodpecker Trail: 6 miles / 10 kilometres.

As I said, we will just have to go back. It’s definitely a place suited to a picnic, and there are plenty of benches and places to stop en route. Perhaps we’ll return in the spring? At the entrance, there was a large playing area – not quite suited to Alfie’s age yet – and a couple of ping pong tables too. So, plenty to do and see while you’re there!

Have you done a Gruffalo Trail? Which ones do you recommend?

Love, Lucy xx

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Love, Lucy xx

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