UPDATE – Thus trail is no longer available. It’s been replaced by the Gruffalo Spotters 2 Trail. Move over Julia Donaldson, there’s a new Forestry England woodland trail in town, and it glows! The Shaun the Sheep Glow Trail was launched at Wendover Woods, Buckinghamshire a couple of days ago and I couldn’t wait to get down there to review it. There is also the same trail at Salcey Forest in Northamptonshire if that’s closer to you. It’s based on the new Farmageddon movie and characters. I don’t talk about the facilities at Wendover woods in this review – if you want to find out those click here. Don’t forget there is also the (now not quite so) new and awesome play trail. There are loads of photos on the website of the play trail.
You can buy packs from the information kiosk next to the parking machines or from GoApe when it’s open. They cost £3.50 per pack. I don’t think you really need to buy one pack per person, but of course you can. Inside the Shaun the Sheep glow trail packs you’ll find; an activities sheet, Timmy the sheep hat, clue sheet, pencil, stickers and (most importantly) the UV light pen. It is called the Shaun the Sheep glow trail for a reason!! I didn’t realise until I got home but this actually has UV ink in it. It’s supposed to be for kids to complete the activity sheet at home but I imagine the boys will be using it for secret messages. Either way, it’s pretty cool!
There is an app for the trail and I do recommend that you download it before you go. Firstly, because the signal is crap at the woods. Secondly, because it does add to the experience. You can do the trail without the app. Indeed you can do the trail with just the app and not the pack but it’s nice to do them together. If you decided to just use the app then you can just about see what the images are on each sign but it isn’t as much fun. Plus, the money goes to Forestry England.
What the Shaun The Sheep Glow TRail Involves
There are 8 stops along the way of the trail. Given its length this means that the stops are actually fairly far apart. There are marker posts along the way as well. Each clue sign has a UV image on it. If you’re using the app then you recreate the image in the puzzles section.
Don’t forget to do one of the challenges as well to build up your energy. These are silly little things like running on the spot, hopping and being a robot. In no way did my friend and I feel like complete prats doing as many robot moves as we could in 20 seconds. The kids thought it was hilarious though. Thankfully no-one else was doing the trail at the same time!!! I can just imagine groups of parents stood around these posts dancing and looking like idiots when it’s busy though. You then have to enter how many you did of each challenge and build up your energy.
If you’re doing the paper version of the trail you have to match the UV image to the one on the sheet, which gives you a letter. These letters build up to an anagram by the end of the trail. It also tells you what the challenge is for that clue. I quite like that it’s not just looking for clues/questions like the previous ones have been. Getting the kids to do a little activity at each stop breaks it up a bit and is quite funny.
For people who know Wendover Woods well you start off at the end of the play trail but, before you get to the fort, you turn left and go down a path. This links up with the Firecrest trail (I think that’s what it’s called) but going backwards. The end point is by the giant Gruffalo sculpture, whereas this would normally be the beginning of the trail for us.
It took us a good 90 minutes to get around, but we did have very little legs with us and they walked for most of the way. If you didn’t have toddlers then it would be, obviously, a lot quicker. We also had to stop regularly to look at sticks, rocks and to feed small children copious amounts of snacks. Apparently hiking through the woods is hard work!!! Don’t worry, we rewarded ourselves with some cake from the new cafe at the end.
At the final stop there is an AR animation that you can do where you can take a selfie with Shaun the Sheep and Lu-La. Obviously you’d normally have a child in this photo so Shaun isn’t just laughing at Lu-La’s bum, but smallest child wasn’t very interested in being in the photo. If you go on to the website afterwards you can also download a certificate. You don’t actually need to even be in the woods for the app to work though. You just do the puzzles and then the AR kicks in. I was checking it at home afterwards and I ended up with Shaun the Sheep on my laptop and a spaceship hanging over my dining room table. As you do!
How accessible is the Shaun the Sheep Glow Trail?
The trail is apparently 2km long and is targeted at ages 5-12. We went with two 2 year olds and a 5 year old. In terms of accessibility we went on the third day the trail had been running. There had been lots of rain a few days before but we hadn’t really had huge amounts of rain for ages before that. At the moment the trail is not particularly muddy. I get the feeling that will change as we get into winter, particularly in the first 1/3rd of the trail.
After a bit of a flat walk you’re doing fairly steeply down-hill on an uneven, relatively narrow grass/stone path for a while. From there you’re walking pretty gently uphill on a decent path for the rest of the way, but it does get a bit steep at times. We got through quite easily with our pushchairs but if that first bit gets muddy then you might struggle. You would not be able to get a wheelchair down the route.
Visit Forestry England’s website for all of the Shaun the Sheep Glow Trail locations.
Entry to Wendover Woods is free, a Shaun the Sheep Glow Trail packs are £3.50 each.
Parking / How to get there
Address – Wendover Woods, Upper Icknield Way, Aston Clinton, Aylesbury, HP22 5NQ
There is plenty of parking on-site. £2.20 for up to 2 hours or £4.30 for up to 4 hours. £8 for all day.
There are toilets in the visitor centre including disabled and baby change facilities.
Cafe on-site. Picnics are also allowed. The cafe is quite expensive though. There is plenty of outdoor seating for people with dogs as well.
Our Shaun the Sheep Glow Trail at Wendover Woods Review
4/5 – It’s one of the longer trails that they’ve done and it’s quite hard going at times for some of the smallest ones. Their suggestion of 5-12 years seems about right. It’s a nice little trail and the UV pen is going to be very popular in our house! I do worry how muddy that first bit is going to get. If anyone goes down there later in the year can you please let me know what it’s like? Thank you.