The Gruffalo Trail – Thorndon Park Essex


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


  1. October 21, 2013 / 10:00 AM

    Isn’t this just wonderful! The children must have loved it. A nice, easy trail and affordable too.

    • October 24, 2013 / 3:19 PM

      A brilliant day out Trish and the children loved it. I think we’ll be going back at some point

  2. October 21, 2013 / 10:05 AM

    Loving all these autumnal walks! The Gruffalo looks like a perfect walk for little ones. It’s a fab idea to get everyone outside.

    • October 24, 2013 / 3:20 PM

      and of course the best bit is the hot chocolate and cake when you get back inside :)

  3. Adele- playfullearners
    October 21, 2013 / 10:36 AM

    We love this park and hopefully we will be going next week. It look’s like you all had a great time xx

    • October 24, 2013 / 3:21 PM

      We had a brilliant time and it’s been a long wait for us to get over and visit, I’m so glad we did and we’ll definitely be going back

  4. October 21, 2013 / 12:13 PM

    OMG wow how fantastic is that! It would be quite a drive for us to visit. I was only talking last night about making our own Gruffalo trail as we have the story every night! Thank you for sharing. Shall pin.

    • October 24, 2013 / 3:22 PM

      Thanks for the pin, it’s one of our favourite stories too so you can imagine how happy they were to see the Gruffalo in ‘real life’ There are other Gruffalo trails in the country – it might be worth a search online?

  5. October 21, 2013 / 1:09 PM

    ahh my toddler would love this, and what a fab idea! Like Susanna said, it’s all getting very autumnal isn’t it?!

    • October 24, 2013 / 3:23 PM

      Yes but I love kicking leaves in the autumn. There are other Gruffalo trails around the country I’ve heard, there may be one closer to you

  6. October 21, 2013 / 3:04 PM

    How cool is this? What a fantastic idea to get little ones excited about going for a walk. Amy loves exploring the forest, but her slightly older cousin finds it really boring. A Gruffalo Trail would quickly change her mind x

    • October 24, 2013 / 3:24 PM

      You should have seen the children! There was no complaining for once as they all skipped off happily into the woods

  7. October 21, 2013 / 5:59 PM

    I recognise that last picture as your SS. What a super trail and as you say perfect for the little ones, they looked like they had a great time following the trail and finding all the animals. Thanks for linking up and sharing your Gruffalo adventure with Country Kids.

    • October 24, 2013 / 3:25 PM

      Yes, it was my SS, I couldn’t resist using it twice :)

      The kids loved it and I bet we’ll be back there sometime soon

  8. October 21, 2013 / 8:46 PM

    How funny I should read this when just today I told hubby I want to go there! xx

    • October 24, 2013 / 3:25 PM

      What a coincidence! It’s not too far for you to go either, have fun

  9. October 22, 2013 / 12:09 AM

    I love this so much! My four year old would be in her element! :)

    • October 24, 2013 / 3:26 PM

      Take her Mrs Darling, don’t wait a moment more she’ll thank you forever

    • October 24, 2013 / 3:27 PM

      Your boys will thank you forever if you do make it so do try

    • October 24, 2013 / 3:28 PM

      It is great and the kids love it, a really genius idea Thorndon Park had

  10. October 23, 2013 / 10:19 PM

    This looks amazing! I’ve never heard of it before – just looked it up and its only about an hour away so will have to visit it!

    Emma xx (@beachpebble)

    • October 24, 2013 / 3:29 PM

      Yay! You must go because it really is a special place to visit and one that sticks in the children’s minds long after the event – have fun

  11. October 25, 2013 / 5:22 AM

    Looks amazing and such fun to bring the book to life

    • October 28, 2013 / 10:54 AM

      It is such fun and the excitement you see in the children makes it all very worth while

  12. October 26, 2013 / 8:33 AM

    What a fabulous place and a brilliant way to bring the story alive. I like the fact that the only cost here is the car park and the map.

    • October 28, 2013 / 10:56 AM

      It’s almost too good to be true isn’t it? The children loved it and I think the story will stay in their minds a lot longer because of it. We read the tale once again when we returned home and they listened with renewed interest to a story they’ve been hearing for years

  13. October 27, 2013 / 6:47 PM

    I’ve only just seen this! I grew up just down the road from. I hope I’m not too late to take Ronnie. Brentwood is much much more than just the only way is Essex!

    • October 28, 2013 / 10:59 AM

      Essex has so many hidden treasures to discover and yes Ronnie would love this place. You must take him because I promise he will have fun and so will you watching him

  14. October 27, 2013 / 10:45 PM

    This is on my list of must visit when we return to UK!

    • October 28, 2013 / 10:59 AM

      Good thinking and you won’t regret it so I really hope you do get the chance to go

  15. April 18, 2014 / 11:55 AM

    I really hope this one is still going when we come to Essex next week, after a very disappointing experience at the unfinished trail in Sherwood Pines.

    • April 18, 2014 / 7:37 PM

      It is open, friends of ours went there this week, you’ll love it so make sure you have time to visit :)

  16. G Pardoe
    October 30, 2014 / 10:56 PM

    A super place for both children and adults to visit.
    Just wish people would be more considerate to others
    by keeping their dogs on a lead.

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