Oh help! Oh no! It’s a Gruffalo trail. Panic over everyone, there’s no actual Gruffalo (but you don’t need to tell the kids that!).
Following the huge success of The Stick Man trail last year at High Lodge in Thetford, Jamie and I decided to take the kids back this October half term to visit, and complete, The Gruffalo Trail.
Magic Light Pictures and Forestry Commission England have joined forces to bring ‘The Gruffalo’ characters to life. How?, I hear you ask. By using an app, of course! ‘The Gruffalo Spotter’ is an augmented reality app designed for use at twenty six forests across the county.
High Lodge Thetford Forest Gruffalo Trail
After finding where the trail started in High Lodge the kids were distracted straight away by one of the incredible playgrounds you can find dotted around the forest. I was super keen to get started on the trail but the children had other ideas. After a good 40 minutes or so Jamie and I made the executive decision to move the children on as we were already creeping towards lunchtime.
At the first stop we found the mouse. You simply open up the app, get the footprints within the allocated circle and the animation begins. Once the animation has stopped, you can get the kids to pose and take the picture.
The only problem is that the boys immediately spotted the end of the trail through the woods because there was a huge, wooden Gruffalo statue and they wanted to go over to that so we went and said hello and the boys loved it. After having our pictures taken with The Gruffalo at the last stop, we headed over to get back on track and continue along the trail. At the second stop we met fox, followed by the owl, the snake and, finally, the Gruffalo himself.
There were plenty of arrows to point us in the right direction and there were viewfinders and little wheels the boys could turn to try and work out who they’d be meeting next. It was so simple, but the boys really enjoyed themselves. You can also get yourself an activity pack for £3 from the information point before you set off – Toby and Teddy are a bit young to actually be interested in the activities despite lots of encouragement to get involved so we didn’t do any of those.
The length of the trail itself isn’t too bad but I would absolutely recommend taking a pushchair if you’ve got some little legs with you. I can’t wait to take them again!
The Gruffalo Spotter App
The app, while it is incredibly interactive and fun for the kids it does have its pros and cons. Firstly, it’s FREE (yay!) but make sure you have it downloaded on your phone before you visit your chosen forest; the forest seldom has good network coverage so you’ll struggle to get it.
If you struggle to get your kids to stand still you’ll need to let them watch the animation come to life as it takes quite a while to get going and there’s no way you can just skip it so get them involved! The whole point is that the family come together and spot the characters before having your picture taken with them.
The app is so, so easy to use and the animations are actually really cool. The only thing I’d say is that once you’ve ‘accepted’ a photo, you couldn’t take another one with the same character which was a bit annoying. Luckily we’d downloaded it on two phones just in case one didn’t work! You can then upload your pictures to social media using the hashtag #GruffaloSpotters.
*The Gruffalo Spotters app is free from the App Store, Google Play and Amazon and requires downloading before your visit. For further details please visit forestry.gov.uk/gruffalo – we received some Gruffalo goodies in return for this post.