What?: One of several UK Gruffalo trails, this collection of five 3D re-imaginings of Axel Scheffler’s classic illustrations is dotted around a small, circular site on Greenford’s picturesque Horsenden Hill. There’s a Owl and Mouse and Fox and Snake, each one hand-carved from sweet chestnut, plus a seven-foot redwood Gruffalo. Every character is accompanied by its own information/activity board that’s packed with animal facts and tasks to complete while on your walk, which you kind of need because the trail doesn’t take very long. Don’t get me wrong, it’s very lovely, and the two under-fives we were toting made us extremely grateful that the sculptures are close together, but we were still a bit disappointed that there were only five creatures to find. And yes, I know there are only five characters in the book, but that makes me think that maybe these trails should have been conceived as Julia Donaldson/Axel Scheffler trails rather than being dedicated to just one book. I mean, wouldn’t it be cool to find Zog or the Room on the Broom Witch or the Smartest Giant in Town hiding in the forest?
Anyway, as it is we’re stuck with these guys and not a huge amount else to do once you’ve found them all – aside from, if you’re lucky, finding the four brown cows that graze Horsenden Hill for two months every year (we were lucky). So, is it worth the trek? Usually I’d probably err on the side of not really, but this was one of our first post-lockdown activities and as such yes, it was worth every second of the two hours of car time it took to get there and back, including the bit where all the roads leading to the park were closed and we couldn’t find a car park, because we were doing something and it felt amazing. So yeah, a brilliant Coronatime activity, given that it’s outside and easy to stay really far away from everyone, even on a weekend; and great if you live nearby. Otherwise, and unless you have a huge Gruffalo fan in the family, there are probably more exciting ways to fill your time.
Where and When?: The trail is just off Horsenden Lane North (postcode UB6 7QH). We parked in the car park opposite the Ballot Box pub, which was about a 15-minute walk from the start of the trail (there’s a closer car park at Horsenden Farm which was closed when we visited). Perivale tube station is also a 10-minute walk. The trail is open from 8am-8pm every day.
Best Bits: Horsenden Hill seems lovely and we really felt like we were out in the country despite being in North Ealing. There was even a little farm and a really cool looking playground, although both were closed because COVID on the weekend we visited.
Worst Bits: Although there is a whole thing about this being a dogging site, which to be honest didn’t really affect us in broad daylight on a Sunday afternoon. I also read a bunch of reviews that said it’s a bit creepy there if you go on your own midweek, so maybe don’t do that.
Would We Come Back?: Maybe but realistically probably not. We’ve kind of done it now.
Mummy, Babu and Roro meet the Gruffalo at Horsenden Hill, Greenford.