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Little Vikings is an award-winning print and online guide to the best of York (and beyond) for kids, independently run by a York family. Read their review of Dalby Forest’s New Gruffalo party trail!

A family took a stroll through the deep dark wood. The family did a trail and the trail was good. Ring a bell? Then the chances are that you have fans of the prickle-backed terrible-tusked Gruffalo at home in which case the new Gruffalo Party Trail at Dalby Forest is for you. Marking the 25th anniversary of the iconic picture book the trail is now open and we’ve been along to check it out. Here’s what you need to know if you’re thinking about following in the claw steps of this most misunderstood of creatures.

Getting there - The new Gruffalo trail is located in the Dixon’s Hollow part of the forest beyond Adderstone Field around a 10-minute drive into the forest from the Visitor Centre. We stopped at the Visitor Centre first to buy a trail pack (£4) and pick up some refreshments from the cafe (we’ve learnt the hard way not to attempt any walk without snacks) before driving up to the bike trails car park and entrance to the trail.

The route - Designed specifically with families in mind the route of the new Gruffalo trail is flat and fairly smooth (for a forest - don’t expect tarmac or pavestones!) so tough buggies should manage okay. The path is flanked on both sides by incredible views into the deep dark forest that will fire up young imaginations (sshh was that a Gruffalo I just heard?) and is perfect stick-collecting territory. Thanks to clear signage it’s almost impossible to get lost (hooray). We completed the trail in just over 45 minutes but it completely depends on who you’re taking and how quickly they walk/how often they stop.

The activities - The premise of the new trail is simple and sweet: it’s the Gruffalo’s birthday and he’s having a party in the forest. Your job is to search for missing party items while also doing some activities and learning about what makes the forest special. Although it’s not necessary to buy the activity pack - you could certainly do the walk without it - we felt that it was worth the price for activities that kept them interested and motivated to keep walking. Our kids enjoyed doing the rubbings along the way and they loved the stickers too. There’s a party hat and even a woven patch which is a nice souvenir of a lovely day out. The boards along the way are nice and colourful with just enough information and images to engage young walkers.

Making a day of it - We can’t visit Dalby without making a pilgrimage to their amazing adventure playground out the back of the Visitor Centre. It’s one of the best in the area with plenty of equipment for children of all ages. During the summer, a paddle in the stream is a must. If you’re feeling really energetic there are more family-friendly walking trails to tackle and child-friendly cycling trails too. The cafe has been recently refurbished and has a good range of hot and cold food and drink and there’s obviously plenty of space for a picnic! Keep an eye out for special activities during the Dark Skies Festival.

What’s nearby - If you have a little longer to explore the area there’s lots for families to do in this area of the North York Moors. Climb aboard a vintage engine at Pickering’s North Yorkshire Moors Railway, step back in time at Eden Camp Modern History Museum, or even take a trip to the seaside (Whitby is a short drive away).

Cost - Entry to Dalby Forest is free; you’ll just need to pay to park. We go a few times a year so it’s been worth investing in an annual pass for free parking. The trail is free to do but an activity pack will set you back £4.

The verdict - Even on a soggy day, we really enjoyed the new Gruffalo Party Trail. It’s a fun way to explore the forest and the activities along the way mean kids barely notice that they’re getting some exercise. Happy birthday Gruffalo!

Dalby Forest Visitor Centre Low Dalby Thornton-Le-Dale Pickering YO18 7LT

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