For us 2018 started with a New Year’s walk at Fineshade Wood. We had a really relaxing Christmas at home (and we are planning the same this year too!) and we always enjoy our family New Year’s walk to blow away the cobwebs and get us back into a more active life.

Edit: I have just read on the Forestry Commission website that the Highway Rat trail will be finishing to make way for a new Zogg themed trail at the end of December 2018.

The Highway Rat

I have enjoyed reading Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler books to all the children as they are growing up, and Max (4) received The Highway Rat for Christmas last year. If anyone is not familiar, it’s a story about a rat who robs people (? animals) on the highway and takes all their food, until he is outsmarted and the rat gets his comeuppance. It’s one of Max’s favourite books.

The Highway Rat Activity Pack and Trail

We started at the visitors centre where you can buy a Highway Rat activity pack for Β£3. Inside is a mask (which Oliver (9) tried on and broke straight away), an activity sheet, stickers, pencil, string for an activity, and a crayon for doing brass rubbings.

You can also download free Highway Rat activity sheets from the Forestry Commission website if you prefer do print them and bring your own. These are different from the ones inside the pack.

On our way out the visitors centre, we stopped by the play area which was empty when we were there. There were plenty of things for the kids to climb all over, including the nearby trees which the boys sometimes prefer. Isabel had a comfy hammock to sit and watch the boys play.

We crossed the carpark to get to the Highway Rat Trail. There were plaques for brass rubbings, and boards to find and tick off on the worksheet. While Max (4) was completing his sheet, Oliver was pretending to be a spy – hiding somewhere in the woods, watching us. George spent his time carrying around huge sticks, “bazookas” and “snipers”. The older children (9, 10, and 12) were too old for the trail, but it was perfect for Max’s age with a little bit of help from parents.

The trail is a mile long, which is perfect for little legs. We kept going and followed signs to the tree house. This is another play area for children, just off the trail and down a hill. This play area was better for the bigger children although Max (4) was able to join in too.

Then we walked back up the hill and finished the trail. I tried to get a photo of everyone at the end, but there was so much messing around. The one I got made me laugh and captured the moment well. Perfectly imperfect.

More Information

You can find out more information about the locations for the Highway Rat Trail at the Forestry Commission website. (there are currently 21 locations across England).  There are more things to do at Top Lodge Fineshade Wood, including Gruffalo Orienteering.

With another New Year around the corner, where is your favourite place to go for a refreshing family walk?

Clare xx

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