To celebrate World Book day, we loaded up the car with our wellies and headed to Anglers Country Park to sample the delights of their Room on the Broom Adventure Trail.
Where shall we start?
The park had a log
And a very muddy bog,
And a long gravel path
Which made us all laugh.
I did have the fleeting notion of writing the whole thing in the style of the book but as I had to ask my four year old for help with the few rhymes I did manage, I think I’ll leave it there!
We have done the popular Forestry Commission Gruffalo and Stickman Trails in the past, mixing the pleasure of books and mud is always a hit with me, so I had high hopes for this one. If I am honest, Room on the Broom is my most beloved Juila Donaldson tale, mostly because it was the Dude’s first favourite story and the first book I had to read on repeat for hours. And hours. And hour. And a few more hours. But he has since expanded his reading taste and it is now me begging him to include it in our bedtime reading pile.
We arrived at Anglers Country Park at 10.00am, unfortunately before the visitor’s centre had opened, so we were unable to pick up the accompanying pack. The pack is £2 or you can download the activity sheets from the website HERE , although we didn’t bother. I have finally learnt that sheets of paper and a damp walk don’t make for a good pairing. I would imagine that if your sproglet is one of those reading and writing types then the pack would be a useful addition, but we aren’t quite at that stage yet so I saved the ink and went with just enjoying the walk.
The circular trail is a pushchair friendly, 2 miles around the lake and very easy to follow. Throughout it there is a good spacing of wooden carvings, stone footprints and rubbing posts to keep your little people entertained. The carvings are impressive and, unlike the Gruffalo trail, all the characters make a wooden appearance.
One word of warning though, it can get very muddy. Obviously for us that is a massive plus point, but unless you have a magic wand, a pair of wellies and a change of clothes would be useful. We now have a fully fledged puddle loving four year old but, unfortunately I wasn’t as organised and he spent the rest of the day on the soggy side. I must remember to dig out my wand for our next adventure!
Unsurprisingly, the park is clearly a popular place. Despite it being a dull, grey morning there were plenty of families joining us on the trail and it is obviously the place to walk dogs – a bonus when your toddler has just discovered dogs, clapping and cheering at every one she sees. Bikes can also be used, and it would be the perfect spot for those taking their first solo pedals. By the visitor centre you will also find toilet facilities, a cafe and a play park. The park looks impressive but it is quite challenging, with nothing for the younger ones – luckily there were enough dogs nearby to keep our one amused!
What was the best thing about the day? Seeing the Dude really engaging with the story and the environment. It wasn’t just walking around looking at some wooden carvings, however impressive they and the scenery were. It was him finding sticks-wands and mixing up spells in a cauldron puddle, or chasing after us casting spells to turn us into frogs. Those simple moments that can sometimes seem so hard to find were found here in abundance.
The story is amazing. That isn’t in question, but does the adventure trail live up to it? It is a tall order, especially when you add in all my sentimental baggage, but for me it definitely did. And for the Dude? He declared that I was the best mummy in the world for taking us there – I think that might count as a yes!