The Highway Rat is the latest Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler book to be brought to life on our screens. Did you watch the animated version which was shown on Christmas Day? We made sure we had opened all our presents and finished our Christmas dinner so we could sit down and watch it together. It’s the latest activity trail which you can follow for free, thanks to the Forestry Commission England.
Free Highway Rat activity trails in England
We were looking for something to do between Christmas and New Year so headed off to the Highway Rat trail. Our nearest one was at Haldon Forest near Exeter. The walks include 10 Highway Rat-themed panels, each with fun facts and activities to try. You can look out for characters from the story, complete four rubbings, and take your picture with the life-sized Highway Rat ‘Wanted’ poster!
Find your nearest Highway Rat Activity Trail
Our nearest Forestry Commission trail was at Haldon Forest near Exeter. Highway Rat trails are taking place all over England at Kielder Water and Forest Park, Whinlatter, Grizedale, Hamsterley Forest, Guisborough Forest, Gisburn Forest & Stocks, Hicks Lodge, Fineshade Wood, High Lodge Thetford Forest, Wyre, Beechenhurst, Westonbirt (The National Arboretum), Wendover Woods, Thames Chase Forest Centre & Broadfields, Jeskyns, Bedgebury National Pinetum & Forest, Alice Holt Forest, Moors Valley Country Park, Haldon Forest Park and Cardinham.
We hadn’t been to Haldon Forest before but there was plenty of parking (not free). We parked up and headed over to the Ranger’s Hut to buy a Highway Rat activity pack (tis cost £3). The Highway Rat trail was free to take part but when we’ve taken part in previous trails (for the Gruffalo, Gruffalo’s Child, Superworm and Stick Man) we’ve found the activity packs really do add something extra to the trail.
The Highway Rat activity pack
Inside our activity pack we had a Highway Rat mask, activity sheet, stickers, puzzles, a crayon, a pencil and a piece of string. These kept the children entertained as we walked the trail which was about 2 miles and took us an hour. The walk was in a really lovely part of the forest and we were passed by lots of families on bikes and scooters.
Along the way we collected sticks and forest treasures, looked for the Highway Rat characters and read the activity boards. There were lots of opportunities to build dens in the woods, as well as look out for wood sculptures along the way. We all had a lovely time as the weather was perfect – bright blue skies and winter sunshine – great for burning off some of those Christmas chocs we’ve been indulging in. My only little criticism would be that there was a huge gap between the first few boards, I would have them more evenly spaced out to keep the children enthused.
The Highway Rat activity trail at Haldon Forest is open now. No booking is required. Find out more on the Forestry Commission website.
You may also be interested in our Highway Rat story stones craft for kids.