Tuesday 28 March 2017

Gruffalo Spotting at Moors Valley Country Park, Dorset

You wouldn't think that going Gruffalo spotting was your typical Mother's Day treat but this is what we got up to! The sun was shining and Spring had most definitely sprung so we packed up a picnic and headed over to Moors Valley Country Park, a lovely big country park on the Dorset/Hampshire border.

I had recently heard about the new Gruffalo Spotter app and Moors Valley Country Park was one of the 26 parks in the Country that the app worked at. It's something completely different and something I've not tried out before but the augmented reality app brings the Gruffalo characters to life.

We arrived at the park nice and early and made our way to the Visitors Centre to pick up our Gruffalo Spotters kit. This was £3 and contains activity and fact cards, magnifying glass, ruler, pencil and an evidence bag to store all your bits and bobs you may pick up on your Gruffalo adventure! The app can still be used without the kit but it might be fun for slightly older kids to fill in as they make their way round the trail. In hindsight we probably wouldn't have bothered with the kit as Elliot was more interested in looking for the actual clues in the forest and not what was in the bag!

Moors Valley have wooden Gruffalo sculptures so of course we had to go and see these first - I wonder if they are true to size?!

The Gruffalo trail began and I immediately noticed that it took visitors along a different route to where we would normally go - we saw parts of the forest we'd never seen before! We followed the clues along the way until we eventually found the mouse. This is where we tested out the app - I pointed my phone at the Mouse footprint sign and all of a sudden we could see the Mouse on the screen! It's really clever and Elliot loved it. At the end you're able to take a photo - we tried to get Elliot to hold his hand up so it looked like he was petting the mouse...not sure it worked very well though hah!

We had a lovely stroll through the forest following the clues but we did take a bit of a detour at lunchtime. We headed up to the lookout point - it was a bit steep pushing the buggy up but worth it at the top for the views and the fact it was so quiet! We had our first picnic of the year - it was so warm and almost felt like Summer.

We rejoined the Gruffalo trail and found the remaining characters. Unfortunately my phone decided to die just as we got to the snake! It's a great app but totally drained my battery. We managed to watch the animation on someone else's phone but what a pity we couldn't get a picture of Elliot and the Gruffalo!

The trail takes you back to the start of the forest but we decided to go the other way and continue walking as it was such a nice day. We ended up at the railway station which was perfect as Elliot was starting to flag....but his tired legs were soon forgotten when we got an ice lolly!

The railway is always a winner with children and you can ride the little steam trains around the park. This weekend they were offering "driver for a fiver" and collecting for charity so my husband took Elliot to have a go at driving a train. I thought he looked the part!!

We ended our visit with a quick stop in the adventure playgrounds - you could spend hours in here, there are so many things to play on. There's a separate play area for little ones but Elliot loves the big slide in the bigger play section!

We always have a brilliant time at Moors Valley Country Park and this time was no exception. I loved the Gruffalo Spotter app and we can't wait to return in the Easter Holidays to do it again!

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