With the opening of the brand new Gruffalo trail at the Dean Heritage Centre, the local tourist attraction and heritage centre has seen record numbers of visitors seeking the mouse and his cleverly conjured monster. Following the grand opening, over 5,000 people have visited the Centre in just two weeks, which is a record number for the centre, located off the beaten track in Soudley.
The trail recreates scenes from the storybook, including the mouse’s confrontations with the fox, the owl and the snake who want to eat him for their dinner and the scary monster he creates to outwit them! The Gruffalo has received worldwide acclaim, selling 3.5 million copies in 31 different countries and a short film of the book featuring famous names from the British acting industry, was nominated for an Oscar last year.
The wooden sculptures have been painstakingly carved by resident chainsaw artists Clayton Ryder and Gil Parnham, using locally sourced redwood from the Forest of Dean.
A variety of schools and day care centres have greeted the Gruffalo, including children from Broadwell & Coalway Playgroup who were thrilled by the woodland trail. On Thursday 26th April, the Centre held a free day for Heart of the Forest Community Special School, the only school in the Forest of Dean serving children and young people with severe, profound and multiple learning difficulties and complex needs. The children enjoyed a self-led tour of the Gruffalo trail and staff commented on how marvellous the trail is for youngsters describing it as ‘astounding’ with ‘sensational carvings’.
The Gruffalo woodland trail will remain at the DHC throughout 2012 with an educational program also on offer for schools. The Gruffalo package can be adapted to suit the needs of the school and can be combined with team building and bush craft exercises to provide a comprehensive day of fun and learning.
Harri Le Claire, PR and Event Manager said: ‘The DHC is a great family day out as we have something for every age range. We have the fantastic Gruffalo trail, animals, an adventure playground, 5 galleries, a gift shop, a café, chainsaw carvers, interactive trails and much much more. A visit to the DHC is a celebration of all things great about the Forest of Dean and it’s fantastic that the Gruffalo trail is allowing more people to appreciate its rich history and heritage.’
The trail is open for the rest of 2012 and families will be able to enjoy special interactive trails around the centre, purchase tasty Gruffalo inspired treats in the cafe and take home their own Gruffalo from the gift shop.