There can’t be many children who hear the words ‘let’s go for a walk!’ and immediately jump off the sofa and put their coats and wellies on. Tell them that you’re going to do the Shaun the Sheep Glow Trail, however, and they might even get their coats and unlock the car too. This new walking trail at Dalby Trail has been designed with children in mind, and if our experience of doing it with our children (9, 7 and 5) is anything to go by, they’ve got it absolutely right.
Getting to Dalby
Provided that the A64 is behaving, Dalby Forest is an easy drive from York at around 40 minutes. There’s a lot of parking, with overflow if it gets busy, but we had our pick of spaces as we arrived just as the Visitor Centre opened at 10am.
Dalby is high on our list of recommended places for families in and around York for many reasons, not least because it’s amazing value. You have the run of one of the country’s finest forests for free, just pay to park (£9 per car, payable at one of the pay stations). Hot and cold food and drink is available, but it’s prime picnic territory if you’d like to cut down on costs even more.
As soon as the adventure playground came into view, we knew that we wouldn’t be embarking on the trail for a while. It’s a great playground with plenty of equipment for children of all ages, from little houses to play in to slides, balance beams and more. Luckily the cafe is a stone’s throw away, giving weary parents the chance to recaffeinate before the next activity.
Within the visitor centre is the shop where you can buy the pack for your chosen walking trail. Although it would be possible to do the trail without the pack, it’s much more fun if you have one. Given that admission’s free, we were more than happy to buy the kids a trail pack each (£3.50) and they were very pleased to discover that they had a UV pen each, among other goodies like puzzles and sheep ears! To get the most out of the trail, you also need to download the free Glow Trail app. We downloaded it before we arrived to avoid any issues with dodgy mobile signals. Make sure your phone is fully charged, too!
Shaun the Sheep Glow Trail
The trail itself starts at the overflow car park, in the opposite direction of the popular Zog trail. Don’t worry, you’re still close to the adventure playground if they still have any energy afterwards. Aimed at children aged 6+, it’s a 3km route that takes you up through the trees and is unsuitable for buggies. Although outside the recommended age range, our youngest has just turned five and had no problems completing the route.
In fact, this was one of the easiest walks we’ve ever done with them, probably because they were so preoccupied with completing the various challenges on the app and finding the next clues. The app is based on the Farmageddon movie, but it doesn’t matter whether you’ve seen the film or not (we hadn’t) as the idea is very simple: Shaun the Sheep’s alien friend has crash-landed and you have to help her charge her communicator to phone home. The short challenges within the app are really fun too: how many trees can you touch in 30 seconds? How many sticks can you gather? Yep, you might well be going home with pockets full of forest. The fact that the app counts your steps was really motivating for the kids, too.
The trail is mostly well-signed, although we did see a couple of families follow an arrow the wrong way and take a much more challenging (and muddy) route than they needed to. If you manage to solve all eight puzzles (it’s not very difficult!), you’ll be rewarded with a bit of magic at the end of the trail as Shaun the Sheep appears. You can even take a photo with him, which is a touch that our kids really loved. The picture is a lovely memento of a fun, whinge-free family walk in the woods. Everyone agreed that they’d enjoyed themselves and we’re all keen to go back and do it again. Dalby’s Glow Trail is a smart use of technology that get kids outside and engaging with nature and each other while exploring the great Yorkshire countryside: baa-rilliant.
Approx. journey time from York – 40 minutes
Price – Admission is free and it’s £9 per car to park
Opening hours – 10am to 4pm daily
Address – Dalby Forest, Low Dalby, Thornton-Le-Dale, Pickering, YO18 7LT
Website – Visit the Dalby Forest website