We were on the way to our Woburn Safari Park holiday when I realised we would be passing Thetford Forest. It was somewhere we had planned on taking Adam during the holidays and as we were going straight past it felt like the perfect opportunity.
The reason for our trip to High Lodge at Thetford Forest was for Adam to experience The Gruffalo trail. To celebrate the Gruffalo’s 15th anniversary the Forestry Commission have organised several Gruffalo events. There is a self-led trail through the forest where you can complete activities along the way. Fifteen forests (Thetford being one of them) became home to a giant wooden Grufallo. Each Gruffalo has been carved in a different position.
The Gruffalo Trail pack was £2 and came with a Gruffalo character tick list, pencil, sticker and information booklet. The route was clearly marked around the forest and after showing Adam the first Gruffalo sign he was off – running into the distance.
Adam loved looking for the sign posts. There were several activity boards which got the children answering questions, making things or acting out parts of the story. The boards momentarily distracted Adam before he ran off in search of another sign post.
All of a sudden we heard Adam shout ahead of us “Owl owl owl!” He had discovered the Owl from the Gruffalo story – who he obviously had to hug and kiss.
We hadn’t expected there to be so many different sensory experiences throughout the forest. The Gruffalo trail followed part of the Sensory Sound Trail which had various instruments and structures. Adam’s favourite were the musical stepping stones – although he struggled to jump across the gap to each one.
The Pyramid Tower was huge and has a 13 metre tunnel slide. Although we were unable to get Adam up that high, he was happy with the smaller slide! Along the route there were several adventure play grounds. Across the forest there are five giant wooden play structures that have challenges for children of most abilities and ages.
It was Adam who spotted the large wooden Gruffalo first. After running non stop for 90 minutes he suddenly stopped, pointed and then said “shh” whilst putting his finger up to his lips. He then tip toed up the the Gruffalo! In true Adam style he gave the Gruffalo a big hug and a kiss. Adam seemed captivated by him and wouldn’t leave his side. The trail had certainly brought the story to life for Adam.
There were so many different trails and adventure play areas that we could have easily spent a full day at Thetford Forest. Entrance to High Lodge is included in the car park ticket. Parking is £2.10 per hour up to a maximum of £11.
No doubt we shall be back between October and February 2015 when the Foresty Commission will be organising a Gruffalo’s Child activity trail!
Check our other toddler friendly venues in ‘Adventures of Adam around Norfolk’.
Adam was 2 years and 3 months old.