What is the Gruffalo Spotters Trail?
The Gruffalo Spotters Trail is a walk around the woods or a forest which takes children and adults on a fun search for the characters from the Gruffalo book. It’s really clever and utilises augmented reality technology – think Pokémon Go. There’s 27 of them across the country. The closest one to us is at Salcey Forest in Northamptonshire. There’s also one at Wendover Woods in Buckinghamshire. You can find your nearest one on the Forestry Commission website. It’s a brilliant cheap day out which gets the kids out and being active. Watch our video below to see what it’s like and then scroll down for lots of tips and information.
What is the Gruffalo Spotters Trail at Salcey Forest like?
The trail is about a mile long and contains clues to find pictures of the Gruffalo characters. To get the most out of your visit, make sure you download the ‘Gruffalo Spotters’ app on your phone before you go. That means that whenever you see one of the special augmented reality signs you can use your phone to make either the snake, mouse, owl, fox or Gruffalo magically appear – and your children can stand next to them and you can take a picture.
Any tips for enjoying the Gruffalo Spotters Trail?
Download the app before you go – you’ll probably struggle to get a phone signal. If you do happen to forget there is wi-fi there – we saw a sign on the side of a building with the code (I think it was on the back of the café).
When you come to take pictures bend down so you’re at the level of the sign – we found that unless you lined your phone up exactly the characters didn’t always appear.
Get your children or family members in place behind the sign before you start to take the photo. You only have so long to take the picture before the character disappears. It’s worth someone else in your group also downloading the app on their phone in case you want to do it again. And also try and get a passer-by to get a photo of your whole family. Our best ones were of us all together.
When we went you could buy a Gruffalo Spotters trail pack for £3 – it contains stickers, an activity sheet, a magnifying glass and a pencil. My eldest son (approaching 4 years old) did really like it. We got it from the tree ninja hut (not the café) although that may have changed since we went. I think they have been popular though so don’t make any promises to the kids before you go just in case they don’t have them.
The trail is about a mile long – fine for children aged 3 years upwards who are used to walking. My youngest son – aged 20 months when we visited – did struggle to do the whole walk so it was worth taking the buggy around.
What did we think of the Gruffalo Spotters Trail?
We’re big fans of the Gruffalo and so any kind of adventure that involves the characters and being active gets a big thumbs up from us. There are lots of clues along the way and each one is more or less visible from the last one so there is an incentive for children to keep moving. The end of the trail incorporates a selection of wooden houses which my boys loved climbing in and out of. What I would say though is that they did find posing for pictures a little tedious. Because they’re only young and I kept asking them to stand next to boring signs they couldn’t really grasp why that was fun and so kept wandering off particularly during the last couple. Using the app is probably more fun for adults or older children who can see what they’re taking pictures of. That said I think we managed to get one good one of us as a group which the boys now love looking at.
What else is at Salcey Forest?
The main draw of Salcey Forest is the tree top trail. It’s a good sized wooden platform that takes you on a very gradual climb up through to the top of the trees. You can take a buggy or a wheelchair up there right until you get to the top platform which is only accessible by stairs. It offers incredible views once you’re up there. The wooden platforms are a bit wobbly but it’s perfectly fine. The walk down is fun. There’s also a good sized climbing frame. At approaching 4 years old, my eldest son could now enjoy it with a little help. There isn’t much for toddlers though.
Cost, parking advice, what to wear and what to eat at Salcey Forest?
There’s no entry fee as such for Salcey Forest but it does cost £4 to park for the day or £1.50 an hour – do take cash with you. We’ve never had a problem parking but on a hot day at the weekend expect it to be busy so it’s worth getting there in the morning rather than lunchtime. If you go when we’ve had heavy rain definitely wear wellies – the area where the little houses are gets really boggy. There’s a lovely big café for light lunches, cake, drinks and ice-creams. We generally take a picnic – there are benches but they could probably do with a few more as you’re not meant to sit in the café area and eat your own food.
Where is Salcey Forest and when is the Gruffalo Spotters Trail on until?
Salcey Forest is in Northamptonshire and isn’t too far from the M1 – the best postcode is NN7 2HX. If you’re in the North of Milton Keynes then you can head up the A508. Or if you’re to the South then best to join the M1 and come off at Junction 15. The Gruffalo Spotters Trail is on until the end of October 2017.
I'm Laura, mum of two boys - aged six and four. I started this website at the end of Sept 2015 whilst on maternity leave. I now work four days a week and do this blog late at night once the little boys are sleeping. It's won several awards over the last four years and I continue to run it for free and mostly focus on free, cheap, and good value days out. Do drop me an email firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to contact me. Don't forget to follow all of our latest adventures on facebook, instagram and twitter and have a look at all of the videos of the places we visit on the Milton Keynes Kids YouTube Channel - subscribe to it for notifications every time I add a new place. And remember... you may been reading this post months after we visited, do check with the destination you're visiting for up to date opening times and prices. If you find this blog useful then please do comment on my posts and leave me a Facebook review - it makes doing this all the more worthwhile.