Family Event Review: The Highway Rat Trail, Wendover Woods
The Highway Rat Trail, Wendover Woods
Things We Like
- Good length trail for young children
- Variety of activities to entertain kids
- Great way to explore nature
- Paid for activity pack is a nice addition
Things We Dislike
- Very muddy trail when we visited
- Not as interactive as last year's Gruffalo Spotters trail
- Suited more for younger than older kids
What’s It All About?
The Highway Rat trail is a half-mile, family-friendly walk in Wendover Woods inspired by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s children’s book. Consisting of a number of panels with facts, activities, rubbings and favourite characters, the trail is a great way to explore nature. Stand and deliver!
What Do We Think?
The Highway Rat trail is The Forestry Commission’s latest kid-friendly activity walk inspired by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s children books. Following in the path of Superworm, Stick Man and The Gruffalo trails of previous years, The Highway Rat tells the tale of a greedy rodent who terrorises the local animals by stealing their food – well, until he gets his just deserts…
The trail is open at 20+ venues across the UK – we recently visited the trail at our nearby Wendover Woods in Buckinghamshire. Opened in December 2017 and available until the end of 2018, the trail is about 0.5 miles long and is situated over by the BBQ area.
For those familiar with Wendover, it takes in parts of the Firecrest Trail before crossing the Family Cycle Trail and finishing on the grassy picnic / BBQ area – in fact, this is around where The Gruffalo Spotters trail ended last year.
The first thing to mention is that this year’s trail is simpler and not as ‘fancy’ as The Gruffalo one last year – this perhaps means that its appeal is for younger kids. Gone is the augmented reality experience achieved via an app on your phone. In its place, you instead have eight large panels along the trail which include facts and activities.
As you go along, you’ll also spot additional individual character panels from the book, have the chance to do four food stash rubbings and then stick your head through a ‘Wanted’ board for a photo at the end.
Prior to starting the trail, we decided to buy The Highway Rat activity pack – and I’m very pleased we did. This cost £3 from the shop at Cafe In The Woods and provided us with what we needed for the trail as well as additional activities.
The activity pack consists of a pencil, crayon, string, bandit mask, stickers and various activities. Not only did the activity pack give us additional things to do on The Highway Rat trail, but also provided us with the kit to do things like the brass rubbings as we didn’t think to bring crayons and paper along with us.
To give you an example of the trail, ‘Number 2 Hop To It’ explained that rabbits have strong legs for jumping. It then asked if you can hop and then challenged you to see who could jump the furthest. It then explained that four-leaved clovers were lucky and asked if you could find one nearby. Finally, there was a food stash rubbing in the shape of a cake. The activity pack allowed you to do the rubbing on the paper, plus also had a connect the dots to make a four-leaved clover.
When we went in mid-January, the first part of The Highway Rat trail was very muddy – almost swamp-like in parts. Luckily, we’d prepared with wellies and waterproofs, however, it would have been impossible with a buggy / pushchair – although a paved road does run parallel. We did notice a sign saying it was being resurfaced on 21st January, so hopefully that’ll improve accessibility.
Mud aside, we enjoyed doing The Highway Rat trail. It was a good length for a walking pre-schooler and the boards provided both information, activities and talking points with recognisable characters. The fact that another board was always just around the corner ensured that my daughter’s enthusiasm didn’t wane, whilst the activity pack provided additional things for us to do. It was a nice way to spend an hour or so out in nature and I’d fully expect us to return later in 2018.
What Does It Look Like?
What Do I Need To Know?
Type: Outdoor Trail.
Dates: December 2017 to late 2018.
Location: Wendover Woods, Aston Clinton, Tring, HP23 6LD.
Price: Free to do the trail. £3 for Highway Rat activity pack. £1.70 for up to 2 hours parking.
Duration: 1 to 2 hours.
Age Range: Babies and Toddlers (0-3), Young Children (4-8), Older Children (9-12).
Pre-Visit Tips: (1) Bring a crayon and pencil for the rubbings, or alternatively buy the activity pack, (2) 2 hours parking at £1.70 will be adequate, (3) wear wellies and waterproofs.