Julia Donaldson’s “The Gruffalo” is a firm favourite in this household, as both parents and Charlie thoroughly enjoy reading the magical stories every-night.
In anticipation of our UK trip at the end of the summer, and of the Gruffalo’s 15th anniversary wood trails, I bought the The Gruffalo Nature Trail guide book – a wonderful companion to help children of toddler age and above identify several woods flora and fauna, and to encourage learning and experimenting.
We had initially intended to visit Sherwood Forest for our little Gruffalo hunt, but ended up going to Fine Shade Woods in Northamptonshire which ended up being a really great alternative. Despite being just under 20 minutes from Rob’s family, we had never been!
THE FINE SHADE WOODS
As you walk into Fine Shade Woods, you are greeted by the visitor centre, an environmentally-friendly space with a café, a bike rental shop and a huge and really well-equipped playground.
We couldn’t find the sign for the Gruffalo trail, so took a left on the carpark, and ended up walking through the most wonderful piece of woodland – tall, leafy trees, long tracks for running down, and eventually a pretty amazing (but for bigger kids) wooden playground – with a tree house and everything.
THE GRUFFALO TRAIL
When we finally found the Gruffalo trail, the toddler adventure really begun! Both C and his little cousin kept spotting the various characters and played along with the fun interactive boards on display. Taking the guide book along really brought the trail to life as we not only looked for the snake or mouse, but also for moss, butterflies and conkers!
Meeting the Gruffalo was quite the deal for our little boy who kept reciting and looking for :’knobbly knees, turned out toes and a poisonous wart at the end of his nose!’.
WILL WE BE BACK?
Definitely! We loved this piece of woodland, and cannot wait go be back at Christmas time to rent some bikes and go for a long cycle around the woods. The combination of the woods, bikes, fantastic playgrounds and a good café, of course, make for an ideal family day out.
Family-friendly bike rides, long autumn walks exploring the woodland and/or a relaxing afternoon for parents sipping on a good coffee and nibbling cake while the kids play in the playground.
HOW TO GET THERE: