Encouraging kids (and adults) to go out for a walk just for the sake of going for a walk can be quite difficult. This is why geocaching has become popular, it adds purpose to a walk, a sense of excitement in searching for the little cache box. One of the disadvantages is it puts the responsibility of organising a route on the individual or family. That is where the Peter Rabbit Woodland Trail at Langdon Hills Nature Reserve in Essex has absolutely hit the nail on the head.
To celebrate the 150th anniversary of the birth of Beatrix Potter, the author of the Peter Rabbit books, Essex Wildlife Trust has created a special woodland trail at their Langdon Nature Reserve near Basildon. We went to check it out at the weekend and I was suitably impressed.
The trail includes five solid wood sculptures of Potter characters placed along the paths through the nature reserve. Peter Rabbit, Jeremy Fisher, Mrs Tiggy-Winkle, Squirrel Nutkin and Tommy Brock can be found along an accessible all-weather path that also takes you through woodland, across meadow, around lakes and over hills. And they are really beautifully done; they look the part, fit in with the natural backdrop of the reserve, and are nice and so they can be seen from a far (and make a great photo opportunity).
I absolutely love how the wooden characters have been used alongside information boards and signage to teach children about nature. So not only is the trail a great way to get people outside in the first place, but it’s also helping to educate. It is so important that young people have opportunities to engage with nature (three reasons why getting outside is good for us).
We headed there on Saturday and the two young girls we had in tow (our God children) were very excited to find the characters and were perfectly happy to run and walk along searching for the next one. We didn’t use the map this time, but for older children it’s possible to use the guide to teach basic map reading skills and (or) get them to plot a route to get to all the characters on one walk. It certainly helped that we were blessed with warm sunshine and some muddy puddles (squelch!), but I would definitely say the Peter Rabbit hunt meant the walk was a goer and we weren’t just pestered to head to the play park from the very start.
The trail is now open and there will be an official opening event on Sunday 1 May. If you want to visit, and you should, you can find out more here: http://www.essexwt.org.uk/reserves/langdon
I honestly think the trail is genius; the perfect way to get adults and children outside with a purpose. Well done Essex Wildlife Trust!
Where else are there character trails like this in the UK? Comment below to tell me as I’d love to check some more out.