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Friday, 23 January 2015

The Gruffalo's Child trail - Hamsterley Forest, Durham

I do not know of any family who doesn't love The Gruffalo. When we heard he was making an appearance in some deep dark woods (aka Hamsterley Forest in Durham) near us, we all couldn't wait to visit.


After parking our car we picked up our trail packs from the Forest cafe - lovely forest bags in which to collect pinecones, leaves, twigs and other forest treasures. A Gruffalo nature spotters sheet, activity leaflet and pencil are also included. These only cost £2 and are definitely worth it.



The trail is extremely well signposted (just look for The Gruffalo signs) and took us about 90 minutes to complete including a good play in the play area approximately half way along the trail. Start at the Forest Cafe.



Every so often you will come across a special 'Gruffalo activity sign'. These were lots of fun and even the grown ups joined in - we ended up barking like a fox, spinning around like a seed and hunting for slug slime - lots of fun and definitely kept us entertained.



You also have to keep your eyes peeled for characters from The Gruffalo and make a note of the letter they are holding to make a word at the end of the trail.


Hamsterley forest is gorgeous, dog friendly and accessible for buggies and prams - the whole family can come along and nobody needs to stay at home.



We were very excited when we spotted The Gruffalo himself - he is very realistic and does indeed have a poisonous wart at the end of his nose and purple prickles all over his back!




We stopped half way through the trail to play at the adventure play area - if you have very small children who aren't good walkers I would maybe suggest this is where your trail ends. There are picnic tables for grown ups and our children loved the play equipment.





While Harry and Heidi were playing, Jack and daddy plodged over the river onto an island and I took the opportunity to practice my close up photography skills taking pictures of some of the 'forest treasure' our children had found.





Then it was time to continue our walk along the trail - taking part in more Gruffalo activity boards and ticking off more finds on our spotters sheet.



I don't know why but I expected the trail to run in a circle and we would finish at the start - it didn't! Make sure you pick up a map from the visitor centre or, as we did, walk back the way you came to the start.

By this point, our eight year old did start whining that he was cold, hungry and thirsty - In hindsight I probably should have packed us some drinks and snacks. Not to worry though, we were soon back in the warmth of the cafe where we ordered picnic boxes for the children and cake and hot chocolates for the grown ups. Food was very reasonably priced and I loved how there was a separate room for those dining with dogs!


Hints and Tips

  • The Gruffalo's Child trail continues until 28th February 
  • Make sure you wear wellies and wrap up warm
  • The cafe is open 11am-4pm on weekends only
  • The toilet block is undergoing refurbishment (hopefully open by February half term) so the only toilets available are portable toilets in the car park
  • The information point where you can collect leaflets and maps is open daily 9am-5pm
  • Car parking is charged at £3 per car per day, entry to the forest and trail is FREE
  • Gruffalo activity bags are available to purchase for £2 from the cafe
We had a fantastic afternoon and loved the first part of the trail, the gruffalo sculpture and the adventure playground. I was not overly impressed with the trail after the adventure playground though, especially as you have to double back on yourself to get back to the car. If you have children who tire easy, maybe give this section a miss and end your trail at the playground. If they love walking though (and spotting cows) certainly give this section a go too. Either way, Hamsterley Forest is certainly worth a visit. 

Postcode:- DL13 3NL

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20 comments

  1. I adore Hamsterley, it's great for a cheap family day out, the food in the cafe is yummy and you can have an amazing family experience with loads of memories and all for next to nothing, even cheaper if you take a picnic but I'm only rarely that organised.

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    1. It's great - we'll definitely be returning (with a picnic and flask of coffee) in the Summer

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  2. We do like the Gruffalo trail, and so happy to see it nationwide. Ours at Delamere Forest, we had to double back too... not fun for little kids... We didn't go with the activity pack as read on another bog not to bother, so its interesting to say you did, when we return I will be trying it out. :-) #countrykids

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    1. It was just such a great way to explore the forest in the Winter time. Can't wait to see what the superworm trail holds in spring x

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  3. Wow you had me at FREE! Such a lovely place to visit and I think that the snow made everything more beautiful =) #countrykids

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    1. It was a lovely day out - can't wait to return in Summer with a picnic

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  4. We are huge Gruffalo fans in our house and we really must get to a trail, the kids would love it. Glad you had so much fun x

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    1. We did! I don't think you're ever too old for the gruffalo as the grown ups loved it just as much as the kids

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  5. These Gruffalo trails look great, I really must look out for one near us. It looks like a lovely family day out. Love all the pics

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    1. They are fab - even better that they're free (or minimal charge for an activity pack). Definitely worth checking out before they end in February

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  6. This place looks amazing and something I know my kids would love for sure. Just a shame we live in N.I! Great pictures!! x

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    1. Definitely amazing - everyone had a great day.

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  7. Lovely - I meant to go on one of the trails last summer and ran out of time. For some reason I thought they'd all finished so must check the ones near me.

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    1. The original Gruffalo trails were replaced with Gruffalo child ones. They continue until the end of Feb so you'll need to be speedy x

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  8. We visited our local Gruffalo Trail last year and loved it despite getting soaked, your post has inspired me to go back at half term with the children.

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    1. Yes - it is definitely a good half term activity (cheap too!). I hope you don't get soaked this time!

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  9. Lovely photos. I wish my little two were old enough to visit here x

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  10. How amazing does this look for young ones. I loved reading The Gruffalo to my son when he was little!
    #outandabout

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  11. I love Hamsterley, not seen the Gruffalo yet though. He looks fab

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  12. The Gruffalo trail sounds like great fun for both kids and adults alike. We are big fans of The Gruffalo. I wish it were closer too use, my guys would love it

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I always love reading your thoughts and comments - Sam x

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