The best laid plans…. and the Gruffalo…

A Barn Owl that was on display

This weekend had been planned out for a while. My husband had spotted a sign on his way home a few weeks a go for a Medieval Fair for the 6th Sept and we decided that it looked like fun and as it wasn’t everyday that we got to take the little ones to see a jousting display, we’d take advantage and head on over. About a week after that, my sister in law put a poster on my Facebook wall for a Gruffalo Walk on the 7th September and as my daughter is a massive Gruffalo fan, and it was local to us we booked that in too (both of these events are listed on my previous “what’s on” post).

Anyway, my son ended up staying at my Dads from Thursday until

Saturday and so we didn’t make the Medieval fair, but we were determined to make the Gruffalo Walk. We weren’t sure what to expect, so we were careful with our wording with Charlotte making sure we didn’t tell her she was going to meet a Gruffalo. We assumed that she would, in one form or another, but didn’t want to get her hopes up. We had never been to Cuerden Valley Park before either so we weren’t sure of the layout with regards to picnic tables etc but nevertheless we packed a picnic and headed off getting

This tree put on a stunning light show and I couldn't resist getting a photo
This tree put on a stunning light show and I couldn’t resist getting a photo of the kids under it

there for about twenty minutes after it started. It was packed, I mean super busy. They were already using an overflow car park and the volunteers were already admitting that they were completely overwhelmed although you would never have known it to look at them. We were directed to the orchard where the crafts and birds of prey were to pay for the days events and to start the walk. Of course after waiting in the queue for 15-20 minutes, the kids needed the loo (back at the visitor centre) so while they headed off with my Mum, me and Bob headed inside the orchard to see what was on offer. There was a tent for story time, arts and crafts and Cuerden Birds of Prey introducing the crowds to some of their magnificent and friendly birds. When Tom and Charlotte returned they had found “a nut, and the nut looked good” and were ready to start the walk. Tom spotted the first arrow and off we headed in search of the next. The trail wound down along the path and dotted along were mini activities such as “Can you pounce like a fox?“, “Can you find a tree top house where owl might live?” etc. It was great fun and the trail lasted for about an hour or so. It was ever so busy though meaning the trail was a bit crowded and did get a little bit backed up where the activities were placed. I think the organisers may have underestimated just how popular the Gruffalo was. As the trail started to come to an end, it became clear by the looks and reactions from parents that there was in fact no Gruffalo at the end of the walk so we started preparing the children by saying “I haven’t seen any caves, have you? Everyone knows the Gruffalo lives in a cave, maybe he is in his cave today” etc so when we got to the end, they weren’t disappointed. As the park had become so busy (it was getting on for half past 12 and people were still queuing to get in) we

Nainy and Charlotte On a miniature train
Nainy and Charlotte
On a miniature train

decided to have our picnic in the nearby Worden Park, a 10 minute drive away. Worden Park is fantastic, it has mini golf and ride on motorised trains as well as big open spaces and walled gardens. We enjoyed our picnic, and had an ice-cream in the Choco-Lotty before having a go at the mini golf and a ride n the train. The kids had an amazing day out, following a woodland trail, and playing, which is what getting out and having mini adventures is all about.

Fun had (according to the kids): 20/10

Tantrum level: 0/10

Worth it: Yes! With the last of the Summer sun, park days will probably become less regular and it’s often the smaller more low-key events like this that provide the most fun (although I am a believer in getting out in all weather)

Worth knowing: Events like these can be popular so make sure you get there early and it might be worth having a back up plan in mind just in case you do have difficulty in parking or getting in if numbers are an issue.

50 things achievement: Plenty could be achieved weather pending such as 6. Run around in the rain, 7. Fly a kite, 12. Make a trail with sticks, 25. Make a grass trumpet, 31. Hunt for bugs, 33. Catch a falling leaf

Cost: £3 per child (adults free) for the Gruffalo walk, £2 per player for mini-golf (under 4’s free), A donation is requested to ride the trains in the park (usually £1 per rider),plus extra for any ice-creams etc (optional), parking free


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