If you go into the woods at Wendover, you’ll find no end of ways to experience nature. Located amongst some of the best of the Chilterns scenery, it’s 45 mins from London by train but otherwise a world away from the bustle of the city. A recent addition has been the Gruffalo and his friends, to mark the 15th anniversary of the book. A special themed trail takes fans of the book through a number of activities in the wood, however time is running out as the special trail closes at the end of September.
Despite being located at the highest point in the Chilterns, Wendover Woods is extremely well laid out for family visits with easy parking, accessible trails through the woods and an excellent cafe. Starting near the cafe, the 1.5 mile Gruffalo trail takes one of the accessible routes, taking around 30 – 40 minutes, depending on the time spent on the activities along the way.
Based around the characters on the Gruffalo book, the activities are based around animal habitats, the woodland, language and making use of imagination. Although rather too old for our toddler (as, strictly speaking, is the book, not that it stops her enjoying it), the route was reasonably easy-going with a pram and Tilly enjoyed finding each of the signs on the route, spotting characters amongst the trees and watching older children having fun.
The den building area is a wonderful highlight on the trail for stimulating creativity and building with natural materials. Reach the end of the walk and the reward is an imposing Gruffalo figure, carved from wood. Children have a range of reactions to this, from whoops of delight to initial trepidation but before long family photos are being taken as a fine souvenir of the walk. Also look out for the nearby bears carved into a log, which Tilly particularly loved.
Beyond the Gruffalo trail, there’s also an extensive woodland adventure playground catering for all ages. The Cafe in the Woods should also be a fixture on any visit with friendly, helpful staff and a delicious range of food. BBQ sites and picnic areas are also available if you prefer to bring your own lunch.
Wendover Woods is a real gem in the Chilterns countryside. It’s so well arranged for family visits that you can get on with enjoying it. Easy to park, loads for children to do, baby change, refreshments: check, check, check, check. We happily polished off several hours, no mean feat with an 18 month old, paying a second visit to the Gruffalo statue for good measure. The woods are a highlight at any time but the Gruffalo trail is a special addition that’s worth making the effort to see. The trail closes on 30 September. More details can be found on the Forestry Commission website.