The Gruffalo Trail: Haldon Forest Park
One cloudy morning, wanting some fresh air and exercise, we decided to venture up to the deep dark woods of Haldon Forest Park in search of the Gruffalo!
Travelling up the M5, then A38 past Exeter we turned off to Haldon Forest Park and found our spot in the Forestry Commission run car park, pulled on our coats, purchased a ticket for the car (£5 for 4 hours) and set off to find Julia Donaldson’s & Axel Scheffle’s famous spined monster.
The Gruffalo Spotters Trails are available at various Forestry Commission parks over the UK. They consist of an interactive walk which begins by downloading the Gruffalo Spotters App at home - we can’t recommend that enough, as phone signals are patchy enough in the forest without having to rely on some serious 4G power. You can still do the trail without the app though, which is what we ended up doing as you simply then follow clues throughout the forest, tracking down signs of the characters from The Gruffalo.
At each spot where you find one of the characters, there’s a round maker which you point your camera at and the app brings the characters to life as well as large clues and info boards. There’s plenty of other interactive things to do along the way too.
Aside from the stunning views across Exeter, the track, which is suitable for cyclists too, has various spots where you can hide out in woodland dens, make your own dens, photo spots and a large wooden xylophone. The kids were so engrossed with getting stuck into all the little extras along the way that we had to keep reminding them to search for the Gruffalo clues!
There’s a whole Julia Donaldson thing going on at Haldon Forest Park right now judging by the large Stick Man we spotted at the beginning of the trail! All in all it took us around 2 hours walking around, stopping for clues, joining in with the extra interactive activities, picnicking and having a spot of fun in the park. Although on a warmer, less windy day, I’m sure you’d get a good 3-4 hours at least.
We found out afterwards that you can purchase activity packs from the cafe as well to enhance your Gruffalo spotting fun. But if you’re looking for a day out on a shoe string they’re not essential. It’s just as much fun going home and re reading the book to remind you of the day though!
For more about the Gruffalo app read our review here.