Saturday 23 April 2016

Puzzlewood In The Forest Of Dean - A Toddler Explores

I was lucky to meet Helen at Traverse16, a bloggers conference, and she invited me and Bear to visit her magical woodland at Puzzlewood in the Forest of Dean. Puzzlewood* is a fantastic place for children of all ages, from toddlers to big kids!

You may not have heard of Puzzlewood in the Forest of Dean. It is a little piece of magic just outside Coleford, just 50 minutes from our home in Cardiff. When you see our pictures I am sure it will look familiar. It has been used as a set for films and TV. Merlin, Star Wars, Dr Who, Atlantis, Jack the Giant Slayer, Hidden Kingdoms are just a few.

What's there for a toddler? Animals, a toddler race track, indoor maze, willow maze, treasure hunt and the wood. It's not suitable for buggy's so be prepared to carry your little ones a bit.

We decided to follow in famous footsteps and make our own documentary. OK it's still pictures and a bit blurry in places but here is.

Puzzlewood In The Forest Of Dean - A Toddler Explores

We started our visit looking at the animals. Bear loved them and was able to mimic them all. A snort for Lucy the pig, an eeore at the donkeys, moo to the cows, baa at the sheep and twitchy nose at the rabbits.

Puzzlewood In The Forest Of Dean - A Toddler Explores collage of a  toddler pointing at rabbits, cows, horses, a pig and sheep
Puzzlewood In The Forest Of Dean - A Toddler Explores
Look Nanny! Lucy the pig, sheep, cows, rabbits and ponies

Puzzlewood In The Forest Of Dean - A Toddler Explores. A toddler scrunching up their nose
This is the sound a rabbit makes

We then went looking for the race track, it's inside so even if it's raining the race will go ahead. There is a figure of 8 track and lots of different foot powered cars to ride. We were the only ones there. The other visitors were a little bit bigger so Bear had the track to himself, which meant he could try every car...yes, every one.

A todddler and lots of toy bikes behind metal gates. A sign says Car Park
Bear can't wait to try the toddler race track

a toddler sat in a pedal car with roof
Brrmm! Brrmm!

toddler astride a pedal bike
Ready, steady.....

toddler sat on 4 wheeled pedal bike

We could hear children having fun in the maze next door but decided to go to the wood while Bear was still full of energy.

We were a little apprehensive at first, what if it wasn't suitable for him? What if there were big drops and lots of water and other hazards? We needn't have worried. After a little carry Bear was off exploring the delights of Puzzlewood.

toddler on path walking next to green painted wall
This way! Come on!

mud path with railing and man carrying toddler in distance
What is around the corner?

toddler walking on mud path between rocks covered in green plants. Beautiful.
A magical place to explore. What will Bear find?

toddler wlaking towards the camera through a cut out in a rock covered in green plants
Keep looking Bear

looking down hill logs stepping stones cut to look like dinosaur footprints
Dinosaur footprints!

toddler holding adults hand and walking on dinosaur footprints
Step. Step. Step.

view through carved rocks covered in green plants
The path winds its way up and down through the magical rocks and gorgeous woodland

toddler stood by hole in rock
Behind you! The cave is behind you.

Throughout the wood there are Roman coins to "collect". You need to download the free app from the app store first and have an iPhone. We just liked looking at them all. Bear wanted to collect them for real.

toddlet knelt down next to a log with a large picture of a Roman coin fixed to it
Ahh treasure, I'll have this.

And then he found a crocodile seat, not just any old seat but a bouncy one. Grandad bounced and Bear loved it.

toddler and adult sat on fallen branch that is carved to look like a crocodile
Why have you stopped? Keep bouncing Grandad

toddler sat on a bench made from sticks
Bear still exploring even when he's taking a minute to rest.

We found caves and secret doors and got "lost". Without a toddler you can't really get lost but we didn't want to walk too far and have to carry him all the way back. The route is also marked by little piles of stones.We enjoyed it so much we didn't realise we had been walking for an hour.

mud path leading to steps with a small pile of stones in the forground
Little piles of stones (bottom left) mark the route

After our walk around the wood we stopped for a picnic. There are lots of picnic tables, some are inside  which would be good on a rainy day. There is a cafe and shop too. But how could we resist a picnic when we had this little chap as a guest?

picnic bench, cat looking into cup.
Bear sharing his milk with a really friendly cat.

There's also a play area with a sandpit and lots of benches to rest your weary legs.

picture of sandpit in forground and view of woods in the near distance
The sandpit and playground is right next to one of the picnic areas.

Bear loved the willow maze, I didn't get a photo of him in it but he just laughed and ran around. It must be great in the summer when it's covered in leaves.

willow saplings bent and tied together to form an arch
Entrance to the willow maze next to the playground.

We had a fantastic time, we spent over an hour walking through the magical wood. We met people who had come from as far as Israel and London to see this lovely place. We could have stayed longer but Bears little legs were tired and because he had missed his morning nap he was struggling to keep his eyes open.

Grandad and I loved that there was lots and lots of seating around the play areas and picnic sites. There was also lots of mud so we were pleased that we had worn sturdy walking shoes, don't come in flimsy sandals! If it is very windy then the site has to close so please check before travelling.

Entrance is £6.50 adults £5.50 children, toddlers 2 and under are free. Check their website for opening times and family deals.

Just across the road is Perrygrove Railway and if you come on a Tuesday or the weekend you could easily visit both on the same day. We visited on a Thursday so will save the train for another time.

The only thing I would change? Just a little sunshine would have made a wonderful day perfect.

There is so much to do in the area. A great resource is the Wye and Dean Tourism website it has lots of suggestions for everything you need for a great stay in the Forest of Dean and Wye Valley.

Have you been to Puzzlewood? What was your favourite bit?

*we were given free entry for the purpose of a review. All opinions are honest and my own.

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  1. I'd love to visit the forest of dean - heard such good things about it!

    1. It's a lovely place to visit. Railways, cycle routes, hiking. We used to visit lots and now we are doing it all again with our Grandson.

  2. Puzzlewood looks a lovely place to visit and full of natural things to spot which I love. the crocodile seat is a great idea and I've just shown Farmer Nick the big sandpit as I'd love him to build one for here. those dinosaur prints are fun too, definitely worth a visit. Thank you for sharing with me on #CountryKids

    1. The crocodile seat was such fun. We didn't realise it bounced until Grandad sat on it! It's amazing what can be done with a fallen tree. Bear loved the dinosaur footprints, we walked over them, and back and over them and back Lol Very practical too as it kept us out of the mud.

  3. What a cutie! He looks like he had a great time xx

  4. What an amazing spot for kids to roam free and explore. I really loved the dinosaur steps and it was so cute how bear knew all the animal sounds too. I agree that sunshine always makes days better but it looked like you had a great time anyway! 🌸 TY for linking up to #FamilyFun 🎉

    1. We had a great time, it was just a little chilly for the perfect picnic.

  5. Looks like a fantastic day out,I've never heard of it and it's not that far from us.Will go and have a nosy X

  6. What a fab time you must have had! Looks absolutely amazing and you have taken such lovely pictures :) H x

  7. What a lovely place to go and spend time having fun outdoors. yiur little one looks like he is having lots of fun.

  8. Puzzlewood looks great. I love the cave and dinosaur footprints. I'm sure little man would have fun exploring it! :)

    1. He loved it, his face when he saw the steps. We just had to do them again...and again...

  9. I've never heard of this place. It looks great. We'll have to make a trip there. Your photos are beautiful x

  10. That little wooded-cave area looks like a fantastic place for kids to explore! Fabulous family day out 😊

    1. It's all so beautiful. I'd love to see it in the summer too.

  11. It looks like a lovely place to visit, especially if the sun came out for you on another visit!xx

    1. Absolutely, it was just peeking out from the clouds as we left!

  12. That looks so much fun, I love woodlands. A brill place to escape X #CountryKids

  13. Amazing place. Looks like a fairytale land! #countrykids

  14. What a fun day out, looks like you all had fun.


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