There’s a Gruffalo trail at Horsenden Hill where you can bring Julia Donaldson’s and Axel Sheffler’s story to life with these beautifully crafted sculptures carved by artist Daniel Cordell. If you are unfamiliar with this childhood favourite, it is all about a mouse taking a stroll through the woods and outsmarting his predators (Mouse, Fox, Snake and Owl) with the promise that a scary Gruffalo is his mate.
This book has been a staple in our daily evening reading diet and our second visit to a trail (we have also been to Aylesbury) so the toddler was excited. First up we parked the car and then away we went through the fields towards the trail. Although it was a weekend, it was very quiet on the hill. Bees buzzing, birds singing and a few children playing next to the car-park playground.
The trail isn’t easy to find via google maps with the postcode but fortunately after asking a few locals we were on our way into the deep dark woods. As we were greeted with a signpost for the trail, we took out our activity book and got ready to discover the sculptures.
The toddler ran ahead excitedly looking up, down and all around. There are four small Sweet Chestnut sculptures of Mouse, Fox, Snake and Owl and alongside each of them there are signs that encourage young Londoners to learn more about wildlife like their habitats, their features and their food.
The 7ft Gruffalo sculpture is made of Redwood and definitely steals the show. This young Londoner was delighted to discover him and gave him a big hug.
The trail itself is pretty quick to complete – we did it in about 35 minutes including a pit stop for a sandwich and a climb on the trees. But there is a farm close by and the Grand Union canal is a stone’s throw away.
As the trail is very much on rough terrain I would recommend not coming along with a pram or buggy. There are steps and gates which would make it difficult to maneuver around. There are no toilets that we could spot around and although there are a few shops where you can buy food, we opted to bring our own snacks and picnic (this toddler’s need for a snack comes on urgently and desperately so we are always prepared).
We really enjoyed our stroll through the woodland and plan on discovering more Gruffalo trails as they (and the rest of the UK) opens up post-lockdown. Should you be interested in finding more trails visit Forestry England.