One of our post-lockdown local discoveries last summer was the Gruffalo Adventure Trail at Horsenden Hill in Ealing, West London. It’s one of the places around the country where you can follow along a Gruffalo trail through the woods to discover sculptures of the Gruffalo, Mouse, Fox, Snake and Owl.
Based on the best-selling children’s picture book by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler, the Gruffalo is the story of a cunning mouse’s walk through the deep dark wood where he encounters several dangerous creatures who all want to eat him, but he scares them off with details of the ‘imaginary’ Gruffalo.
Below is a map of the Gruffalo Adventure Trail. The car park shown in the lower right corner, next to the playground, is a free car park at the Horsenden Farm (UB6 7PQ). This was closed due to COVID at the time of our visit in June 2020 but now that restrictions are being lifted again soon, it’s worth checking as the first option for parking.
We parked at the opposite side of Horsenden Hill and walked about 15 minutes through the woodland until we found a path off Horsenden Hill North where we could join the Gruffalo Adventure Trail. Our first discovery just off the trail, tucked away in the woods, was the Owl sculpture.
The Owl, Mouse and Snake wooden sculptures were made from sweet chestnut, and there is an information board next to each sculpture with fascinating facts about each animal and their habitats.
The trail makes a fun and safe day out during the pandemic, being outdoors where it is easy to social distance. Horsenden Hill was not busy at all when we visited during the week. It was kept plenty of distance whenever we came across another family and took turns having a closer look at the sculptures and information board.
I would recommend bringing along a picnic or snacks and water for a break along the way. I find that easier in general while on days out and there weren’t any nearby cafes that I could see while we were exploring the area.
The highlight, of course, is coming across the 7ft redwood wooden sculpture of the Gruffalo. Overall, the trail took us about 20 minutes meandering through the woods, and it was a fun way to enjoy a walk while looking out for the characters.
Horsenden Hill is a beautiful outdoor space, with ancient woodland to explore, meadows to wander around and beautiful views towards the city from the top of the hill. After completing the Gruffalo Adventure Trail, we stopped at this amazing climbing tree.
We then took a different walking route to get to the car, passing through the meadows where the kids looked for insects in the tall grass, then over the hill with gorgeous panoramic views and through the ancient woodland.
Horsenden Hill is a beautiful place and a new discovery for us, having lived in West London for over six years. This was one of the positive experiences of lockdown, exploring what was in our local area and discovering many wonderful outdoor spaces.
If you live locally in West London, I would recommend visiting the Gruffalo Adventure Trail at Horsenden Hill. There are a number of similar trails around the country, including one at Alice Holt Forest in Farnham, Surrey. To find one close to where you live, visit the Forestry England Gruffalo webpage, which has a map of Gruffalo trails around England along with free activity print-outs and party packs to download.
Gruffalo Trail at Horsenden Hill
Address: off Horsenden Lane North, Perivale UB6 7QH
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