The Highway Rat Trail at Westonbirt
The trails based on the Julia Donaldson books have definitely been a big hit. After the success of the TV adaptation of The Highway Rat at Christmas, it was no real surprise that the latest Forestry Commission trail would be based on this story. With a dry and sunny weekend promised, we decided to go and check it out. As we have membership at Westonbirt Arboretum, and the trail was in the Old Arboretum where dogs are not allowed we decided to head there. It was a beautiful day – sunny, with clear blue skies. But it was so cold. However, no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothing!
We bought the girls an activity pack at £3 each. We have had these before for previous trails and the girls have enjoyed the extras that they can be doing along the way.
One of the first things that the activity pack suggested they do was to create a “journey stick”. They each found a sturdy stick about the same length of their arm. We tied the piece of string, provided in the pack, around one end of the stick, and as the girls walked around the trail, we tied “interesting” finds to the stick.
What I like about the suggested activities is there is something for all ages. Both girls could easily tick off characters they spotted from The Highway Rat as they walked around and they loved using the crayon provided to make rubbings of images onto their activity sheets. Freyja was also able to write down her answers to the questions from each board onto her sheet, and she enjoyed some of the suggested activities on these such as making a spider out of natural objects from the forest.
I was most amused at one point in the trail where the activity board asked you to look out for different birds in the forest. A robin decided to perch on the board, making this a very easy find!
Also in the activity pack was a mask that the girls could use to pretend that they were the Highway Rat. Emily enjoyed wearing hers, although it didn’t work very well with her hat.
After the trail, we had our packed lunch and the girls had a play in the play area, but not before admiring their completed journey sticks. At this time of the year, they mainly consisted of brown leaves and pine cones, but the girls did find some fallen flowers. I think we will definitely have a go at this again later on in the year when they might be able to make something a bit more colourful.
You may notice that there is a lack of one of my daughters in the last few photos. After we had to have words with Freyja about how the stick was used to collect interesting things on the journey and not for hitting her sister with, she had a bit of a sulk. Sometimes I am lucky to be able to get nice pictures of the two of them together, looking like they are having fun. However, a lot of the time it seems to be that only one of them will be in a decent mood. At least they alternate between this. And at least they are both not grumpy. Give me strength for when they are teenagers.