Day five of our Lake District adventure and we decided to go and hunt for Superworm and the Gruffalo at Whinlatter Forest. Less than an hour’s drive from Penrith, Whinlatter Forest is a haven of walking, cycling, and wildlife-spotting fun.
Whinlatter Forest is managed by the Forestry Commission. It is free to get in, though you have to pay for parking (up to £7.30 for all day per car). It is up a windy road towards the Whinlatter Pass but is quite easy to find. It’s obvious when you get there that you are in the right place. There is a visitor centre with toilets, a gift shop, an information desk, and a very nice cafe. There is also a picnic area.
We wanted to do a walk, and we had brought some carrier bags to do some collecting. The lady at the desk recommended one of the family-friendly walks – one for Superworm, and one for the Gruffalo. The Superworm one had a pack available with a book of the story, and an activities leaflet. It wasn’t very impressive but was only £3, and now we know the story of Superworm.
We headed off to the fairy kingdom to pick up the signs for the walk.
We started off doing the Superworm trail, but it was not really very exciting for the children. You found some signs and then had to read what was on them and do an activity. They didn’t really engage with it at all, preferring to have a trail sheet to write down clues, or to find something interesting to look at, like the sheep trail at Keswick Climbing Wall a couple of days before.
We abandoned the Superworm trail when it split from the Gruffalo trail, and decided to hunt for the Gruffalo instead. We followed the signs, upwards and onwards, finding characters from the very familiar story. We also kept an eye out for forest wildlife, although the best we could do with rustling carrier bags and excited, noisy children was a few birds and a cluster of mushrooms.
After around half an hour of walking, we found him! He does indeed have terrible tusks, and terrible claws, and terrible teeth in his terrible jaws. Ditto purple prickles, and the wart thing. He was very cool, and the girls were very excited to see him.
After we found the Gruffalo, we returned to the visitor centre for a quick drink and then went off to explore the Wild Play trail. This is a 600m long trail connecting nine themed play areas. We have to say this was very good. The girls had to be dragged from this, and we probably spent a couple of hours on this without doing it all.
There was a water play area, a sand play area, slides, climbing frames, massive swings, a climbing wall, and much more.
We spent all afternoon at Whinlatter Forest. There was much more to do, such as cycling and walking, and also Go Ape! which we absolutely love. It was a good reminder to go back again very soon.
You can find out more information on the website of the Forestry Commission
If you’re into nature, why not download our nature spotters sheet on our free resources page?
You can see our trip to Whinlatter Forest on our Lake District film