gruffalo forestry commision

News Flash: Britain is being invaded by Gruffalos!

June 7th readers is the date to write in your diary or circle on your calendar as that is the day The Gruffalo, Julia Donaldson’s and Axel Scheffler’s adorable ogre turns 15.

gruffalo statues forestry commission

It is no big secret that we are HUGE fans of The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo’s Child too, in fact we told you all about our visit to The Gruffalo Trail in Thorndon Park Essex last October and many of you have since been to visit and loved it as much as we did.

shy gruffalo forestry commission

Well when the Forestry Commision found out The Gruffalo was going to be celebrating his 15th this year they put some very special plans into action which are to be revealed all over the UK on his special day, June 7th.

gruffalo forestry commission

They asked Neil Bruce, the sculptor of the beautiful wooden sculptures in Thorndon Park, to sculpt another 15 statues in his honour and we were invited this weekend to a secret location to see Neil at work and help him out a little bit.

gruffalo statue forestry commission neil bruce

What an honour and I love secrets too.


We headed off to the secret location (kept secret because sadly there are people out there who want to sabotage the surprise) and this is what we found waiting, 4 Gruffalos inside almost ready for departure, 3 outside almost completed plus one to work on. Mission Gruffalo UK.

Note the massive uncut trunks standing next to the finished Gruffalo to get an idea of the mammoth task at hand but Neil is taking it all in his stride. He told me he’s not a sculptor by nature but works as a Forester (Not sure if that’s the right term) in Thorndon Park.  He created the trail and due to the enormous interest has now taken on this next job.

sleeping gruffalo


he has made each Gruffalo different to the next and included one who is fast asleep. He invited the children over to see him and there were huge shouts of ‘Wake up Gruffalo!’ but he was a very deep sleeper, even when they climbed on top of him.

gruffalo painting neil bruce forestry commission


Then Neil surprised us all as he handed out paint brushes and proper paint to the kids asking them to help paint him. The little people couldn’t believe their good luck and there was a lot of dipping brushes into the huge pot of paint, I even had a couple of goes myself, well you would wouldn’t you?

gruffalo painting


Our day was complimented with a proper Gruffalo tea party and that’s another thing, if you visit the Forestry Commision website you will be able to download a whole Birthday Party Picnic pack so you can celebrate his birthday too, what are you waiting for?

gruffalo cupcakes

gruffalo cupcakes



A mouse took a stroll through the deep, dark wood…

thorndon park essex

Thorndon Country Park in Brentwood, Essex is a beautiful wide open area with lots of woodland and trails to follow. We visited to follow one very special route, The Gruffalo Trail.

maps for gruffalo trail thorndon park essex

Your map will cost you 50p from the local visitor centre and the children armed with a map each and pointed in the right direction soon get the hang of the first notions of orienteering.

The woods are deep and dark and the perfect setting for Julia Donaldson’s classic tale which has been a favourite of ours for years now. I was determined to take the girls there before we moved out of this fairy tale period and on to the next stage.

“A Gruffalo? What’s a gruffalo?’

mouse on gruffalo trail

The trail is numbered and of course the voices of other visitors ahead on the trail are great prompts to the children, our little group did a lot of bossing each other about, ‘Listen up.’ and ‘Hold on a minute.’ were frequently heard but they managed to run ahead and find the statues by themselves.

snake on gruffalo trail thorndon park essex

“Where are you going to, little brown mouse?
Come for a feast in my logpile house.”

The trail is quite short and even the smallest of the little people coped very well, even if he did trip over a root and land in the mud at one point. Top tip – don’t forget the wet wipes ;)

owl gruffalo trail thorndon park essex

The instantly recognisable characters, sculpted perfectly to Axel Scheffler’s original designs, are large and perfect for children to try and clamber on and have their photo taken, apart from the beautiful owl who is at the top of a tree looking down on you as you pass.

gruffalo purple prickles

“His eyes are orange, his tongue is black; He has purple prickles all over his back.”

gruffalos child thorndon park essex

You could make a day of it and after the short trail take a picnic onto the fields beyond with views as far as Canary Wharf. A perfect family day out in the midst of nature.

gruffalo Thorndon park Essex

“Well Gruffalo, ” said the mouse. “You see? Everyone is afraid of me!
But now my tummy’s beginning to rumble.
My favourite food is – gruffalo crumble!”


Park is open 9.30am  – 5pm
Pay and Display car park £2.20
Trail maps 50p
Tearoom and toilet facilities available.
Wellies a good idea as can get a bit muddy

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

gruffalo Thorndon park Essex