Oh help! Oh, no! It's a Gruffalo... at Haughmond!



Yesterday we went for a family walk around Haughmond Hill on the new Gruffalo Spotters Trail on the day it opened. We had been looking forward to the trail being available on Haughmond ever since we saw that the Forestry Commission announced that they were releasing a new app which allowed visitors to try and spot the Gruffalo at selected forests (link).
Last year they had a Stickman trail, perhaps it was because my son was too young (12-15 months), but we didn't enjoy it too much. But as my son has been obsessed by the Gruffalo for the past 3 months, I had high hopes that he would enjoy it and therefore so would we.
Walking the trail is free but there is a £1 parking charge which lets you stay all day (so long as the car park is open), however at the moment parking charges are suspended for the winter, so make sure you check the signposts when you park up.
To go alongside the trail and accompanying app (iPhone/Android), you can buy a Gruffalo Spotter Kit for £3 from the onsite café. The kit consists of:
  • An evidence collection bag
  • 5 animal activity and facts cards
  • A Spotter's Guide
  • Stickers of The Gruffalo characters
  • A special magnifying glass, ruler and a pencil.
The trail is laid out around the Corbett walk, which is the shortest (0.8 miles long) and quite flat so it's easy for little ones to walk it themselves.  I will say that with all the forestry work that is still being carried out, the route isn't as nice to walk as it once was and the surrounding area at the start of the trial in particular is cut up from the heavy vehicles and detracts from the natural aesthetics of the woods (I know that this work is vital to allow different species of plants and animals flourish, but it looks like a building site at the moment with all the deep tyre tracks and cut down trees).
As you walk around you encounter five sections, one dedicated to each of the animals in the Gruffalo story (Mouse, Fox, Owl, Snake & the Gruffalo).  Each section follows the same pattern, first you can use the magnifying glass to look at a close-up of an animal, then you using a spinner to look at three more parts of the animal and finally you reach an information board, before looking through some 'cut out binoculars' at another part of the animal that is about twenty metres away, and finally you reach an information board.  The information board has a separate sign which can be used in conjunction with the App to view an Augmented Reality, a prop appears on your phone (hiding the sign) and the animal for that section will interact with the prop.  After a short animation you can take a photo of the animal and include any one that wants to be in shot.  Our son loved being in a photo with the different animals and then coming to take a separate photo of just the animal. The one thing that could be improved is by suggesting a place to take the photos from as the Gruffalo is very large and at first we struggled to get both him and our son in the same photo.
Despite being wet from a heavy shower in the morning and little bit of rain falling as we walked round the trail, we thoroughly enjoyed walking the Guffalo trail at Haughmond - if anything the puddles from the rain gave our son another activity to do when walking to the next section. It was great to see our little boy engaged with the trail, as he was telling everyone he met about the animal we were looking for and running to the information boards so he could take his next picture. We are really looking forwards to heading back up there and doing the trail again!


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