A safe way for children to have a day out during this pandemic is to go on an outdoor trail, where is it easy to social distance. At the moment I personally don’t feel comfortable to visit any attractions or shops just yet, and I want to avoid queues and avoid other people! My children are getting bored of just going for walks, so by going somewhere different and including a map with a trail to follow, it makes it more of an adventure for them.
We found a Gruffalo Trail that is about a half-an-hour drive from Slough, but there are many others in the country. You can find them on the Forestry England website.
As it is a sculpture trail, you can tell you children not to touch them, but they will! So always bring hand sanitiser.
Horsenden Hill Gruffalo Trail
These are the details for the Horsenden Hill Gruffalo Train in West London.
Address: Gruffalo Trail, Horsenden Hill, Horsenden Lane North, Perivale, Middx UB6 7QL
Parking: Car Park at Horsenden Hill Farm. Or the nearest is on-street parking on Bilton Road or Jubilee Road, Perivale, Middx UB6 7HY. It is 5-10 minute walk from these roads.
Toilets: At Horsenden Hill Farm during Farm opening hours – please check on the day of your visit.
Food: Horsenden Hill Farm Shop is open.
Pushchair-friendly: No, there are steps up a hill.
Playground: Yes at Horsenden Hill Farm on the way to the trail.
Print one of these off to give to the kids. Having a map makes it more exciting. I have updated this one with the entrance we used, and the right direction to follow! When we visited in July 2020 Horsenden Hill Farm was closed, but I am told it is now open so you can enter that way now.
We parked on Jubilee Road and it was a pleasant 10 minute walk to the entrance, over the canal bridge. The children enjoyed seeing London buses and canal boats on the way.
As the farm entrance was closed on the day of our visit, we entered via Horsenden Hill East. This is what the entrance looks like. You will see 3 paths – take the one on your right and walk for about 5 minutes past the Owl and Gruffalo to get to the start point.
The Trail – the right way!
This is the correct way to do the trail. You shouldn’t get lost if you go this way!
1) Start at a sign like this by the farm entrance. Go up the path with the farm entrance behind you. From here it will go Mouse – Snake – Fox – Owl – Gruffalo.
2) Left at the top of the path and you will find Mouse.
3) Keep going left, through a gate and you will see Snake. Straight ahead of you, there will be a huge space of grass, perfect place to stop and have a picnic.
4) Keep going straight and on your left you will see this gate. Go through it.
5) Down the steps and you will see Fox.
6) Then keep going down and do a right turn as per this photo (this is actually the point of entering the park at the Horsenden Hill East entrance).
7) Straight down the path you will see Owl.
8) Then down a bit more and you will see the Gruffalo.
If you go this way, the trail would take I guess just half-an-hour, longer if you stop for a picnic. I depends how quick your children walk.
The Trail – the challenging way!
If you want to make the trail a bit more challenging, go backwards like we did! It took us two hours due to many wrong turns, rests and snack stops, going up hills and running back down them, taking photos, admiring city views, a bit of panicking and a lot of laughter. So this is our way!
1) At the start point where the closed farm entrance is, we turned right, and looked at the Gruffalo first, with his terrible teeth and purple prickles behind his back.
2) Carrying on to the right on the path, we then found owl. Each sculpture has a big board by it, with lots of interesting facts to read and something for the children to act out. For example, at Owl it said:
“Now stretch your arms out like giant wings. Try swooping, gliding and flapping in the wind”
They had so much fun acting out the different actions at each sculpture.
3) We kept walking and were at the Horsenden Hill East entrance with the three paths. We went along the path ahead of us for about 5 minutes, before realising it was too close to the road so it couldn’t be the right path! So we turned back and stopped for a mini cheddars break on the grass by the HH East entrance again.Then we went up the middle path, the sandy one, up some steps and found…
5) After Fox, we kept going up the steps, where this gate is at the top. It leads to a field of grass where cattle from Slough graze. It is absolutely beautiful here, we stopped to have a picnic.
6) This is where we made another wrong turn, but found some absolutely beautiful views and hills to run down, so even though its a wrong turn, it is a way to make the trail more of an adventure!
So, instead of turning right like we should have, we walked to to where the path forks into two and chose the path to the right. It went up some steps to more grassland higher up. We carried on along this path.
Went up some more steps.
To the top of the hill, where we had a rest on this bench, looking at the view.
7) Here I panicked, thinking we can’t get lost any further, who knows where we would end up?! So the kids ran down the hill, squealing with laughter like that was the best thing ever. We went back to our picnic spot, where the gate is and realised Snake was just to the right of this photo – oops! So at the gate, we should have turned right rather than go straight ahead.
8) It’s Snake. This is Lily’s “I’m scared of snakes” pose.
9) To the right of Snake is another gate. We went through the gate and found Mouse on our right. This is their ‘mouse’ pose. Woohoo – 2 hours later, we found all the sculptures!
There was a small path to the right just ahead of mouse, and that led us back to the Start by the farm entrance. Phew!
So that was the Gruffalo Trail at Horsenden Hill. I hope we’ve inspired you to try it.
What would you do – the right way or the challenging way?