Like most children their age, my two kids love the Gruffalo. I too love this story as I know it will always remind me of this most precious and magical time with them. We have read the story hundreds of times and watched the enchanting TV productions which really brought the characters to life. 2014 is the 15th anniversary of the publication and as such The Forestry Commission has a whole stack of events to celebrate this most auspicious of occasions. In July and August, the main man himself started a tour of the various forests and I just knew we had to have a date with him. The best date for us, coincided with his visit to Guisborough Forest so off we set. It was about an hours drive from Newcastle and upon arrival the car park was jam packed. We eventually got parked and went into the Visitors Centre to find out what to do. The ladies in the shop were extremely friendly and helpful. The trail map cost £1 and we got a little activity pack, sticker and a lovely little photo frame in which to put a souvenir of the day, a really nice touch I felt.
There were lots of activities in the area just outside the visitor centre, including free crafts, facepainting for a small charge and a bouncy castle.
The Gruffalo was appearing at various times throughout the day and he had quite a queue of fans waiting for him. We decided to complete the trail first and then meet him.
Guisborough Forest is beautiful and despite the huge amounts of people there, we found it to be very peaceful and we had a fabulous walk. The object of the trail was to find all the characters from the book and it culminated with The Gruffalo right at the end. The children each had a checklist to complete and they raced off with gusto!
Along the trail there were play areas, beautiful sculptures and also a trim trail which we all had a go on and it was great fun, if a little hard work.
I would say the whole thing took about an hour as we just had a nice gentle stroll and took our time. We found all the characters along the way and at the end...
The queue for the Gruffalo was still quite long so we decided to have our picnic. Found a lovely shady spot under a tree and enjoyed our lunch. There are many different places throughout the forest in which to picnic so you really are spoilt for choice.
Finally it was time! We joined the queue. I was so impressed with the way the staff dealt with the situation. The Gruffalo was only supposed to appear on the hour 11am, 1pm, 2pm and 4pm. Due to the demand, he was there literally most of the day, only disappearing for a few minutes every once in a while 'for a drink'. This meant that every child who wanted to got to meet him and have their photograph taken, it was wonderful watching them.
The Gruffalo was beautiful, big and cuddly, just as he should be and Eva jumped straight in for a big hug, Luca was a little uncertain but he did go for his photograph.
After we had met the Gruffalo, the children took part in the crafts, these were all free and we made a Gruffalo mask each and did some colouring in.
We had a really nice time at Guisborough Forest, it was a lovely day out and I highly recommend it.
Starting on 3rd October is the Gruffalo's Child Trail. It is at various forests again up and down the country. We shall be heading for Hamsterley Forest to check it out.