Zog Trail at Westonbirt Arboretum
Over the past few years we have really enjoyed the Forestry Commission family walking trails based on the books by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler. We were so excited to find out that the current trail is based on Zog. Zog is probably my favourite book by Julia Donaldson. The title character is a dragon who really wants to do well at school and features a princess who wants to be a doctor.
Once again, Westonbirt Arboretum is hosting in the trail. As we are members we were able to visit for free, but we chose to buy the girls a £3 activity pack each. This included a booklet with activities, “golden star” stickers, a pencil, a special lens which is needed to reveal hidden pictures along the trail and a Zog mask.
The Zog trail at Westonbirt Arboretum is in the Old Arboretum, which is great for us as this is the part where dogs are not allowed and so the girls are more than happy go there. The trail itself is less than half a mile long, and pretty flat so it makes an easy walk.
Just like other trails that we had visited in the past, there were various stations along the route. The larger boards had pictures from the story and linked this to various aspects of nature, providing information to read and activities to do. For examples, Zog learns to fly and the activities at this station asked children to flap their wings like they were flying and to think of different types of animals that can fly. The information was written at a level that Freyja was able to read herself, which was brilliant.
On the trail, between the larger boards were smaller ones. Some of these were pictures of Zog’s classmates which you ticked off in the activity book once you had spotted them. Others had a hidden picture on which needed you to use the lens from the activity pack in order to see which animal was there.
One thing I have found with these trails in the past, is that the activities cause queues and impatient children. On the interactive Gruffalo Spotters Trail, whilst it was fantastic to have the animated characters, you could be waiting for some time as each family had a go at the activity and took photos. Last year’s Highway Rat Trail had pictures revealed from rubbing a crayon on paper over textured pictures. But again, it took time to do and could cause a bottleneck on the trail. This was not the case for the Zog trail at all, and the girls didn’t need to wait to pretend they were breathing fire like a dragon, or hugging a tree to say thank you for producing oxygen.
In addition to all of this, there was still plenty to do in the Activity Book – a lot of which could be done once you were back home. There were also “golden star” stickers to be awarded after each of the activities on the main board. It suggested not to actually stick these on as you went around, and it was easy to see why as a few stickers littered the path as we continued on the trail. I wish these were something that could have been collected as you were leaving the arboretum on completion of the trail in order to avoid this happening.
The Zog trail was fairly short, so we decided to extend our walk with a wander over to see The Gruffalo and his friends deeper into the Old Arboretum before letting the girls play on the Exploratree and then heading home.