National Trust Dorset Attractions which are perfect for a Family Day Out Want to learn…
Gruffalo Trails Which You Can Visit for Free in the UK
Are you looking for some family-friendly outdoor adventure? Well Gruffalo Trails will be perfect for you! With the weather looking up, it’s time to find fun outdoor activities to keep families entertained. Rather than the repetitive trip to the local park or beach, go on nature walks.
Experts unanimously agree that outdoor activities boost physical and mental health. Just being in nature increases happiness and reduces stress.
Going on nature walks with your kids is a healthy and educational activity. If you’ve never been on nature walks, you should. It’s free and an excellent way to keep your kids entertained. One of the best outdoor activities that kids will learn more about trees and see the peaceful aspect of nature is on a Gruffalo trail.
In this post, we provide information on all the the Gruffalo trails in the UK.
What are Gruffalo Trails?
Gruffalo trails are a collection of charming routes in 15 forests and woods across the UK. If you’re familiar with Julia Donaldson Gruffalo books, then you know the Gruffalo story is set in a deep, dark forest.
The Forestry Commission introduced the Gruffalo trails. Today, they have become a huge hit with families across the UK. Most of the trails end with a Gruffalo sculpture, but others end with large pictures of the Gruffalo characters. Each large, carved wooden Gruffalo sculpture is in a different pose. For example, the one at Wyre Forest is fast asleep.
Kids can explore the handcrafted sculptures of Gruffalo characters along the woodland walks. Your little ones will meet Squirrel, Snake, Fox, Owl, Mouse, Gruffalo and the Gruffalo’s child. The charming routes will lead kids through the woods with interactive activities and adventure. They will learn about the forests and nature as they go.
A few of these sites feature a Gruffalo Orienteering Trail. Here, kids can discover new parts of the forest and even participate in a Gruffalo themed challenge. For example, using a simple map, kids can find twelve markers hidden in the woods. They will also answer a few questions along the way. This enables your kids to gain map reading and problem-solving skills.
The deep, dark woods offer plenty of photo opportunities to capture invaluable memories.
Are Gruffalo Trails Free?
Gruffalo Trails are free but if you are driving to a Gruffalo Trail location their will be a fee for parking (we cover these fees in our guide below).
Where can I find a Gruffalo Trail near me?
There are 15 forests in the UK where you can find Gruffalo sculptures.
1. Cannock Chase Forest
- Opening Hours: Opened every day from 7.30am except Christmas Day
- Location: Cannock Chase Forest, Birches Valley, Rugeley, WS15 2UQ
- Parking: £3 (up to 1 hour), £5 (up to 2 hours) and £8 (all day)
The Cannock Chase Forest offers a wide range of woodland walks that suit all ages and abilities. It has 4 walking trails, 4 cycling trails and a Go Ape, a children’s play area. The forest also has orienteering trails and a dog activity trail. As such, you’ll not be stuck for something to do in the forest.
You can visit in groups of up to 30 people. The Cannock Chase Forest Pay and Display machines accept card and coin payments. You can also use the RingGo app to pay for parking via the app or online. Remember, coronavirus safety restrictions remain in place.
To find the Gruffalo, follow the Ladyhill Trail.
2. Delamere Forest
- Opening Hours: Every day from 8.00am except Christmas Day
- Location: Delamere Forest, Linmere, Delamere, Northwich, CW8 2HZ
- Parking: £3 (up to 1 hour), £5 (up to 2 hours), £8 ( all day)
Venture into the Delamere Forest and bump into the Gruffalo. At the Delamere forest, there are three walking trails, 2 cycling trails, Go Ape, Segway, Nordic walking and orienteering. Accessible from its own train station, Delamere forest has easy-going trails for all abilities.
It also has a selection of forest cabins that opened in 2021. If you want to get a bird’s eye view of the forest, treat your kids on an outdoor adventure at Go Ape. To find the Gruffalo, follow the Linmere or Blakemere walking trails. There are several places to park at Delamere forest – Main visitor car park, Treetops car park and Whitefield car park.
3. Fineshade Wood
- Opening Hours: Open every day from 9.30am except Christmas Day
- Location: Fineshade Wood, Top Lodge, Fineshade, Near Corby, Northamptonshire, NN17 3BB
- Parking: £2 (up to 1 hour), £4 (up to 2 hours), £6 ( all day)
Located north of Corby, Fineshade Wood has a picturesque setting for you and your kids to explore. The forest has 3 walking trails, a family cycling trail, 1 horse riding trail, play areas, picnic area, cafe and many more. You and your family can leisurely wander through the trees or go on a bike ride.
You can top off your trip with an overstay at the Fineshade Wood caravan club. Before and after touching equipment, sanitise your hands. Wash your hands thoroughly as soon as you can. Do not eat or drink while using the equipment.
4. High Lodge
- Opening Hours: Open every day from 9.00am except Christmas Day
- Location: High Lodge, High Lodge, Thetford Forest, Brandon, IP27 0AF
- Parking: £2 (up to 1 hour), £5 ( up to 2 hours), £8 (up to 3 hours), £10 (up to 4 hours), £12.50 (all day)
Play, climb, run and cycle your way round High Lodge. Located in Thetford Forest, every corner of High Lodge has something new to discover. The location has 4 walking trails, 3 cycling trails, Go Ape, Forest Segway, play areas, picnic areas, café and more.
Other activities at the High Lodge include archery, axe throwing, cycling, mountain biking and forest yoga. To get clues to find the Gruffalo, head to the High Lodge visitor centre. Remember, social distancing rules are in place.
5. Sherwood Pines
- Opening Hours: Open every day from 8.00am except Christmas Day
- Location: Sherwood Pines, Kings Clipstone, Nottingham, NG21 9JL
- Parking: £3 (up to 1 hour), £5 (up to 2 hours), £8 (all day)
Explore one of the most popular forests in the Midlands – Sherwood Pines. The forest has 3 walking trails, 3 cycling trails, 2 running trails and disc golf. There is a bike park, skills loop, bushcraft activities, Go Ape, play areas and many more. If you’re feeling a bit peckish after adventuring in Sherwood Pines, drop in at the café for locally-sourced snacks.
You can also top off your trip with an overnight stay at Forest Holidays. They have a selection of cabins located at the heart of Sherwood Pine. Camping is also allowed. For clues to find the Gruffalo, check the visitor centre.
6. Wendover Woods
- Opening Hours: Open every day at 8.00am except Christmas Day
- Location: Wendover Woods, Upper Icknield Way, Aston Clinton, Aylesbury, HP22 5NQ
- Parking: £2.70 (up to 2 hours), £5 (up to 4 hours), £10 (over 4 hours)
Wendover Woods is home to picturesque views and stunning trails. It offers spectacular views of the Chiltern Hills. There are 4 walking trails, 3 running routes, a Juniper cycle trail, orienteering trails, Go Ape, Nordic walking, play area and others.
You also have the Wendover Woods café that offers hot and cold food and drinks. The café is in the British larch clad Visitor Hub. It provides fantastic views of the forest and hills.
7. Alice Holt Forest
- Opening Hours: Opening times are seasonal but from 8.00am
- Location: Alice Holt Forest, Bucks Horn Oak, Farnham, GU10 4LS
- Parking: £3 (up to 1 hour), £5 ( up to 2 hours), £7 (up to 3 hours), £9 (up to 4 hours), £12 (all day)
If you’re looking for an exciting outdoor adventure through the trees looking out for wildlife, Alice Holt Forest is a must-visit. The forest has play areas, trails, inclusive cycling, health and activity sessions. There is a Go Ape, but you need to pre-book.
All essential facilities are open, including the café but takeaway service only. Alice Holt Forest no longer permits BBQ in any part of the forest. Also, wear a mask in the visitor centre and café. To find the Gruffalo sculptures, follow the Willows Green Trail.2
8. Bedgebury Pinetum
Opening Hours: Open every day from 8.00am until 8.00pm except Christmas Day
Location: Bedgebury National Pinetum and Forest, Lady Oak Lane, Goudhurst, TN17 2SJ
Parking: £14 (Peak times all day), £10 (Off-peak times all day), £3.50 (Any day early bird 8am – 11am)
Explore the Bedgebury Pinetum, and you may spot the Gruffalo. Bedgebury Pinetum covers some 128 hectares. It has seven large Gruffalo sculptures hiding amongst the trees. They include the Fox, Snake, Mouse, Squirrel, Owl, Gruffalo and Gruffalo’s child.
Before you start your adventure, take a picture of the map at the visitor’s centre. You can also download the explorer’s guide that introduces the characters real-life animals and the place they live. The Gruffalo and other sculptures are not waymarked. They are hiding off along a 3.5 km walk with grassy, steep slopes.
9. Dalby Forest
Opening Hours: Open every day from 8.00am except Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Years Day
Location: Dalby Forest, Dalby Visitor Centre, Low Dalby, Thornton-Le-Dale, Pickering
Parking: £9 (Until 4pm), £5 (After 4pm), £5 (All day)
Find the Gruffalo and Gruffalo’s Child in Adderstone play area at Dalby Forest. The forest is also home to an abundance of important wildlife species. Designated as a Dark Sky Discovery Site, you can experience the magic of seeing the Milky Way. Dalby Forest has 13 walking trails, 6 cycling trails, 4 running trails, 2 play areas, Go Ape and a café.
To the south, you’ve glacial valleys that create a unique landscape. The north of the forest sits an upland plateau. Come rain or shine, Dalby Forest is a fantastic place to create lasting memories. BBQ is currently not allowed anywhere in the forest.
10. Hamsterley Forest
- Opening Hours: Everyday dawn to dusk
- Location: Hamsterley Forest, Bedburn, Hamsterley, DL13 3NL
- Parking: £2 (Up to 1 hour), £6 (All day ), £10 (Peak – Bank holiday weekends)
Discover picturesque woodlands at the Hamsterley Forest. The woodlands sprawl along the sides of a sheltered valley. From stargazing to wildlife watching, there are lots of activities that will keep everyone busy.
The forest has 4 cycling trails, 2 horse riding trails, play areas, a café, 4 walking trails, descend bike park and more. You also have Gruffalo sculptures and Gruffalo Spotters Trail. For clues to find the Gruffalo sculptures, head to the visitor centre.
11. Wyre Forest
- Opening Hours: Open every day from 8.00am to 9.00pm except Christmas Day
- Location: Wyre Forest, Callow Hill, Bewdley, DY14 9XQ
- Parking: £4 (Up to 2 hours), £5 (Up to 4 hours), £7 (All day)
Want to escape the hustle and bustle of your busy life? Wyre Forest has activities that suit all. You can walk, cycle, run and explore the forest on a horse. The forest has so much space allowing you to enjoy a peaceful time anywhere.
It also has three walking trails, one cycling trail, five running trails, horse trails, a play area, bike hire, café and much more. You can explore the arboretum to find the Whitty Pear or refuel at the café. Dogs are welcome too. For a safe and enjoyable visit, read Wyre Forest guidance on dogs in the forest.
12. Moors Valley Country Park and Forest
- Opening Hours: Gates open from 8am every day
- Location: Moors Valley Country Park and Forest, Horton Road, Ashley Heath, Nr Ringwood, BH24 2ET
- Parking: £4 (Up to 1 hour), £8 (Up to 2 hours), £11 (Up to 4 hours), £12 (Up to 5 hours), £15 (All day)
The Moors Valley Country Park and Forest sits on more than 800 acres. As a joint venture between Forestry England and Dorset Council, it has two walking trails, five cycling trails, kids play trail and play areas. There are picnic areas, a steam railway opened at weekends, a restaurant and a bike hire centre.
Moors Valley Country Park and Forest also has Gruffalo Sculptures and Gruffalo spotters trail. To find the Gruffalo sculptures, follow the trail to the wooden picnic area.
13. Westonbirt National Arboretum
- Opening Hours: Open every day except Christmas day from 9.00am
- Location: Westonbirt, The National Arboretum, Tetbury, GL8 8QS
- Parking: No parking charges at Westonbirt Arboretum
Venture into the deep dark forest at Westonbirt National Arboretum and find the Gruffalo and other characters. Home to more than 2,500 different tree species, the Westonbirt National Arboretum is the perfect place for you and your family to relax. You can take an adventure into the canopy on the STIHL TreeTop Walkway or spot the Gruffalo.
The STIHL TreeTop Walkway is a one-way system that offers stunning views of the magical tree garden. The Westonbirt National Arboretum has play areas, mobility scooter hire and much more. To visit the National Arboretum, visitors must pre-book tickets. Tickets usually go on sale 7 days in advance.
The following entry fees apply:
Spring / Summer / Autumn (March – September & November)
- Adult: £11
- Students: £7
- Child (5-18 years): £4 – Under 5’s go free
Peak Autumn (October 2021)
- Adult: £15
- Students: £10
- Child (5-18 years): £4 – Under 5’s go free
Winter (December – February)
- Adult: £8
- Students: £5
- Child (5-18 years): £3 – Under 5’s go free
Book your Westonbirt National Arboretum Tickets!
14. Whinlatter Forest
- Opening Hours: Open every day from 10.00am
- Location: Whinlatter Forest, Whinlatter Pass, Keswick, CA12 5TW
- Parking: £2.20 (Up to 1 hour), £0.50 (Each additional 20 minutes), £8 (All day)
Whinlatter is home to fantastic walks, stunning views, rare wildlife and much more. Located within the Lake District, Whinlatter Forest is a World Heritage Site. It offers spectacular views of Keswick, Derwentwater, and Bassenthwaite Lake.
At the Whinlatter Forest, you’ve nine walking trails, three cycling trails, two running trails, play areas, Go Ape, segway, café and much more. The trail to find the Gruffalo sculptures is 1.6 km long.
15. Kielder Castle (Currently closed until 2023)
- Opening Hours: Currently closed until 2023
- Location: Kielder Castle, Kielder, NE48 1ER
- Parking: Main Car Park – £1.50 (Up to 1 hour), £5 (All day)
Discover endless opportunities at Kielder Castle. There is plenty to do at the historic site. You can walk, cycle along the unique Lakeside Way or get lost in the Minotaur Maze.
For families, Kielder Castle has the Gruffalo spotters trail. It starts from the Kielder Castle. Before starting, buy your activity pack at the Anglers Arms or Sea Diner pub. We also recommend downloading the app before your visit due to the lack of mobile coverage.
Kielder Castle has England’s largest mountain bike trail networks. This includes the highest formal bike trail – Deadwater. Kielder Castle has a cycle centre where you can find bikes of all ages, including electric-assisted cycles.
You can also explore the forest from the comfort of your car. Just drive along the Kielder Forest Drive. It starts from the Kielder Castle. Note, this is an unsurfaced trail. It’s best suited for 4X4 vehicles. Kielder Castle visitor centre is currently closed for redevelopment. Completion of renovations will be in 2023 when it reopens.
If you’re stuck for fun things to do with kids, check out the Gruffalo Trail. As an interactive hunt based on the popular children’s book, the trail is situated in more than 15 forests around the UK. There are plenty of activities besides finding Gruffalo and other characters. You can cycle, walk, have a picnic and much more.
Remember, respect the forest, take litter home, follow social distancing rules and park responsibly. Check for travel restrictions and lockdowns before visiting the sites.