On 17th September, there were around 2,000 visitors at Queenswood Country Park for the unveiling of the new Gruffalo Trail.
The larger than life characters were revealed to the crowds, who could then follow the trail through the woods to see each sculpture and complete nature-inspired activities along the way. Each Gruffalo character – Fox, Mouse, Owl, Snake and the Gruffalo himself – were carved and painted by chainsaw sculptor Steve Elsby who created the original Queenswood Sculpture Trail.
Alongside the trail was a whole day packed full of family fun. A festival atmosphere was created by Beat Bang Bong who led music workshops all day, the main marquee was buzzing with mask making and the creation of a large scale art piece coordinated by Priormade, and children got into character with some fantastic face painting.
Out in the woods, WildPlay were helping with building dens, making stick men, creating Gruffalo paw prints and generally getting messy while, for those wanting a quiet space, there was story telling in a beautiful tent with Carol Grahame.
The Gruffalo himself was there to welcome visitors while many people enjoyed meeting the donkeys and owls from Herefordshire Wildlife Rescue too. There were practical craft demonstrations and a chance to get hands on and build a nest box to take home.
Refreshments were provided by Queenswood Café, who created a pop-up Gruffalo Café whose menu included owl ice cream and scrambled snake, while Orchard Origins pressed fresh apple juice on site.
Queenswood’s Engagement Officer, Hayley Herridge, who organised the event commented: “I was thrilled that so many people came and joined in. It’s wonderful to see so many children getting outside and playing in the woods – exactly what this trail is meant to encourage.”
Site Manager, Tim Kaye, added, “this event has been such a fantastic team effort. So many people have volunteered their time today, and in the run up to the event, to make it such a success. Huge thanks go to all those who have got involved and helped with jobs such as litter picking, car parking and directing visitors.”
It is planned that the trail will stay in place for several years and more Gruffalo-themed events are planned for the future. The trail is less than 1.5 km long, so is manageable for little legs, and is also suitable for pushchairs and buggies. The trail and accompanying activities can be completed free of charge or an additional activity pack is available from the Gift Shop for a small charge.
The Trail was funded by Tesco’s Bags of Help scheme. Shoppers voted earlier this year in Tesco stores in Hereford for Herefordshire Wildlife Trust to be awarded £12,000 to create the trail.
As well as the Gruffalo Trail, there will be a full programme of activities at the woodland over autumn half-term, as well as having the beautiful autumn colours of the Arboretum to visit – at their best from mid-October to mid-November.