happy birthday mr gruffalo

the gruffalo is a big hit in this house, actually that’s an understatement as it’s a huge hit, very much in equal measures from young to old older. what did catch me by surprise is that this year it’s the gruffalo’s 15th anniversary and the gruffalo’s child 10th anniversary, and to celebrate these landmarks the forestry commission are inviting families across the england into a deep dark wood near their home to celebrate.

FC Gruffalo-welcome to our forests (portrait)

from april through to the end of september, families can join mouse on his great adventure and explore the award-winning tale by julia donaldson and axel scheffler, through activity trails in 28 forests across england. from october the trails are then taken over by the gruffalo’s child which will stay in the forests right through the winter and until february 2015. children will be lead on an adventure through the trees by the characters from the stories, learning about woods and forests as they go.

on saturday 7th june families and friends are also invited into their local forests to celebrate with a big birthday forest picnic. a party pack will be availble to down load from the forestry comisions websites full of forest-inspired picnic ideas, activities, bunting and invitations.

an exciting addition to the above, from june, 15 giant wooden sculptures of the gruffalo will be hidden in 15 forests across england, in celebration of 15 years. families can then track these beautiful sculptures down.

the sculptures are the creation of neil brice, a park ranger at thorndon park where the first gruffalo trail was created. neil had developed quite a skill with his chain sew whilst working in the park and it dawned on him that maybe the trees that had fallen would make great sculptures. with no artistic training, neil began to carve the fallen trees and the results were simply stunning. you can read about the trail at thorndon park here.

a gruffalo sculptures stands a whopping 7ft tall and each and every one is different. the gruffalos for the 15th birthday celebrations are being individually carved in a secret woodland location out of three-ton pieces of timber, which have each been carefully selected from the below forestry commission sites and once carved and painted will be returned to hide for us to find. 

– alice holt, surrey
– bedgebury national pinetum & forest, kent
– cannock chase, staffordshire
– dalby forest, yorkshire
– delamere forest, cheshire
– haldon forest park, exeter
– hamsterley forest, durham
– high lodge, thetford forest, suffolk
– moors valley country park, dorset
– sherwood pines, nottingham
– top lodge, fineshade woods, northamptonshire
– wendover woods, buckinghamshire
– westonbirt, gloucestershire
– whinlatter forest, cumbria
– wyre forest, shropshire

so what does this have to do with the HPMcQs you may well ask?

well we were invited to the top-secret location to meet with clayton ryderand, the sculpture of these wonderful creations and magic light pictures, the production company behind the award-winning animated gruffalo films. we saw the sculptures in various stages of production, from being carved right through to a painted finished piece. an exclusive preview before the big public reveal. squeeeeeaaaaaaaal, too exciting! of course i took far too many photos and when the children were invited to paint the sleeping gruffalo, i could not resist but to grab a paint brush myself and join in the fun!

inside the secret shed

the secret shedinside the shed

at work


carving & painting

sleeping on the job

ready to paint

painting in progress

neil was impressed with ronnie’s painting skills and offered him a job, and ronnie very shyly accepted

a new recruit

and then we made cakes!



    • May 19, 2014 / 14:35

      go go GO! actually wait until june as they won’t be there yet!

  1. May 12, 2014 / 18:02

    What fabulous pictures!

    I can’t wait to see which one is coming to my nearest wood at Wendover.

    • May 19, 2014 / 14:37

      what a fab day, i could not resist when the paint brushes came out!

  2. May 12, 2014 / 18:24

    What a great experience and such a lovely project. Great way to mark the anniversary.

    • May 19, 2014 / 14:42

      i was so thrilled when we got the invitation, so a great day

  3. May 12, 2014 / 18:50

    I think this is such a fantastic idea. I can see kids and adults loving the hunt for these wonderful creations. My nearest one seems to be Thetford Forest.

    • May 19, 2014 / 14:42

      well roll on june and then you can go and hunt him down!

  4. May 12, 2014 / 19:00

    I am so excited about this and really pleased to see that there will be a trail not too far from us. What an amazing day?!

  5. May 12, 2014 / 20:13

    Ooooh one in Nottingham, how exciting, thanks for sharing the locations! Gorgeous pics!!!! Such a special day out 🙂

    • May 19, 2014 / 14:43

      get those alexanders into those woods and find the gruffalo!

  6. May 12, 2014 / 20:40

    What a brilliant day it was eh? So lovely to see you again

    • May 19, 2014 / 14:44

      so lovely to share the experience with such a lovely group of bloggers

  7. May 12, 2014 / 20:51

    I am SO pleased to see Moors Valley on that list as I really want to go and see one of these in real life, they look awesome!!

  8. May 12, 2014 / 21:05

    This is such a brilliant thing! I love it so much and I know my kids would too (big and small!)

    • May 19, 2014 / 14:45

      these carving are kind of ageless, if the garden was bigger oh and a forest i love one of our own!

  9. May 13, 2014 / 02:31

    They are just about the most gorgeous sculptures I’ve ever seen – how exciting for you and Ronnie to be involved at the top secret stage! I wonder if I can sneak one of them over to Tassie – it’d look awfully good in our garden…

  10. May 13, 2014 / 02:42

    How amazing and thank you for the list of where they will be – pleased to say there’s one near us 🙂

  11. May 13, 2014 / 17:42

    Happy birthday Mr Gruffalo! Seeing your cupcake picture Kara just asked – mummy can you please please make me some like that?

    • May 19, 2014 / 14:47

      they were easy peasy to do, you would do them easy peasy x

    • May 19, 2014 / 14:48

      you must it’s great fun and now it’s warming up it’s a great pic nic opportunity too

  12. May 13, 2014 / 22:21

    What brilliant sculptures, I wish we had one coming to our local Forestry Commision woods at Cardinham, and I will have to pin them on my wish list for Coombe Mill too. Wonderful to go and see them being made and really get involved too. Thank you for sharing on Country Kids

  13. Maria B
    May 13, 2014 / 22:30

    Can’t wait to go when we go back to the UK this summer!

  14. May 14, 2014 / 18:53

    Amazing! You are so lucky to witness an artist in his environment! Those sculptures are so spot on cool! I want to be there too! #countrykids

    • May 19, 2014 / 14:51

      not only did ronnie, but i spied a paint brush and went in for it too!

  15. August 13, 2014 / 21:07

    Such lovely pictures! And what a great day out for the kids! I must say though that that cupcake is quite frightening!

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