We’re a big fan of getting outdoors in our house, whether it’s the park, zoo, trails or seasonal activities like fruit or pumpkin picking. Every little helps when it comes to fresh air and exercise, helping a little toddler burn off their energy.
I love when we discover new outdoor activities or places to go – I mean, Travis would gladly visit the same park every single day for the next 5 years but c’mon, we need a bit of stimulation and change of scenery every now and then. Even better, when we find something that’s fairly cheap or free that we can enjoy (mostly) whenever we feel like it.
Tyndrum Gruffalo Trail is one of these places. Where is Tyndrum I hear you ask? If you are familiar with the Scottish Highlands, you’ll probably know it as the place where the road forks, either continuing on the A82 through Glencoe, or off towards Oban on the West Coast. It’s also around the halfway point on the West Highland Way. For us, it’s under an hour from home, though it’s probably about 90 minutes or so from Glasgow.
The Tyndrum Community Gruffalo Trail is set in a small patch of woodland in the village of Tyndrum. There’s no parking nearby, as you enter off the main road (the A82) so it’s advised to stop at one of the car parks like The Green Welly Stop – it’s just a short walk along the road from there.
As its set on woodland – proper, barely-trekked woodland – I’d advise wellies at all times. We visited in July and the rain from a few days prior had meant the ground was still pretty boggy and slippy in some parts. On that basis, I wouldn’t recommend taking any pushchairs, and if you have smaller infants you may want to pop them in a carrier.
The trail is open to everyone and is free; Google advised opening times of 8am to 8pm but we couldn’t see anything that would have prevented anyone going earlier or later (except maybe daylight in the non-summer months).
What to expect
Expect to explore and get muddy. A splash/puddle suit, wellies and a change of shoes are probably best to save any mess in the car.
The beginning of the trail is clearly marked by a hut and an information sign which explains about the trail, its sponsors, who you can find along the way, and how to take part. It advises you to take a sheet and a map to make your way around, however we couldn’t find anything in or around the hut at the time we visited (though this may be due to Covid-19 restrictions and worrying about contamination etc).
If you’re familiar with the children’s story by Julia Donaldson (or its Scots version, like us), you’ll have a rough idea of the animals you can find – the wee broon moose starts the trail off. Then follow the animals in the story to find a tod (fox), hoolet (owl) and snake. The Gruffalo himself is also lurking in the deep, mirk widd – he’s hard to miss as a gargantuan 7ft wooden statue!
Don’t expect the trail to last long, and don’t expect too much in the way of accessibility. We visited in summer and there were no clear marked paths, though some areas were well worn by foot. It’s not a particularly long or difficult trail so if you’re comfortable with an infant or tired toddler in a carrier, it’s fine.
Unlikely Mum Verdict
We enjoyed this wee trail and found it much better than the so-called Gruffalo Trail in Bearsden (which is just three statues all beside each other, before you even get onto the trail path round Kilmardinny Loch!) but it is pretty short. In the absence of a map and a sheet, we still managed to find all the wood-carved animals in about 15 minutes. Maybe if there was a more creative way to do it, or if we had a map, it would have lasted longer. That said, Travis really enjoyed it and it wasn’t something he got bored or tired doing; in fact I think half the fun was in the not knowing where to look! It’s definitely a trail made with little legs in mind.
If you live pretty far from Tyndrum, I’d suggest stopping here to do the Gruffalo Trail as part of a comfort break on the way to somewhere else, or alternatively stop over here and make an experience of it. We stayed for lunch and played in the playpark, which made it a nice morning out. It also meant that our drive home was timed well enough that Travis wasn’t likely to fall asleep/danger nap on the way back, which was great. However there are loads of different places to stay in Tyndrum as it’s a halfway point on the West Highland Way. There are hotels, cabins, B&B’s, places to camp and even little hobbit houses you can stay in if you wanted to stop there longer.