We visited Beechenhurst Lodge in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire to see explore the Forestry Commission’s Stickman Trail. I had been eagerly awaiting the trail, which started on December 1st, anyway but then I was sent a very lovely pack with a parking pass (parking is only £3 anyway) and two activity packs for the boys to do the Stickman Trail (also £3 each). I was also sent a Gruffalo Advent calendar to help me count down the days until Christmas Day – which is when Julia Donaldson tale The Stick Man film is showing at 4;45pm on BBC1.
The Stickman Film
Starring Martin Freeman, Hugh Bonneville, Russell Tovey, Rob Brydon, Sally Hawkins and Jennifer Saunders. More info at www.stickmanofficial.com/film. Based on the much loved children’s picture book written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler, creators of The Gruffalo. STICK MAN tells the tale of a happy go lucky father’s epic journey to make it home in time for Christmas. From Magic Light Pictures, producers of the hugely successful The Gruffalo, The Gruffalo’s Child and Room on the Broom films.
The Stickman Trail Activity Packs
The Stickman Trail Activity Packs contained everything that the boys needed to really enjoy the trail. There are the activity sheets themselves – clearly labelled so you know when to look as you go around the trail – this included using observation skills to spot the characters, thinking about questions, tracing, counting, finding answers from the boards around The Stickman Trail, and most importantly interacting with The Stickman Trail, before finally being shown how to make a Stickman (with 2 sticks and 2 pipe cleaners provided in the bag). For number 8 of the Stickman Trail there were an additional two sheets for rubbings (using the red crayon provided).
The Stickman Trail at Beechenhurst Lodge, Gloucestershire
We happened to go on a special day as it was Xmas Factor – a schools carol singing competition with seasonal refreshments, a brass band and an art tent helping children turn their sticks into Stickmen and Stickwomen. There was even a visit from The Gruffalo himself!!
I have to admit that we only recently bought The Stickman and I haven’t read it yet. My 6 year old was delighted to explain how the trail related to the book as when we went around. I loved the way it was really interactive, gave plenty of explanations to the importance and uses of sticks, as well as creative ways to use and play with them. It was also true to the winter season. The only thing I would say is it would be nice of there was a Stickman carving like The Gruffalo – but I can only imagine how much extra work/money/energy that is – and the children didn’t seem to mind.
The Stickman Trail itself can be as long or short as you wish. We spent almost four hours at Beechenhurst and we have visited many times before and done lots of trails. Don’t be put off if you have small children, as it isn’t that long or far to walk, just that my boys love the freedom of climbing, being loud, playing in mud, discovering new things and generally being able to run about – so really like to spend a long time on each thing. That time also includes playing in the park, listening to the singing, stopping for refreshments (tea was only £1 a mug) and buying our first real Christmas tree in that time.
To find your local Stickman Trail visit forestry.gov.uk/stickman
Trails open December 2015/January 2016.
The Forestry Commission says about Why buy a Real Christmas Tree:
- Real trees only use about 10% of the materials and 20% of the energy of artificial trees.
- Their Christmas trees are independently assured by Grown in Britain.
- If you can’t make it to the forest then you can have one delivered forestry.gov.uk/shop
I was provided with parking and 2 activity packs to take part in The Stickman Trail, all words and opinions are my own – apart from where stated.