What do you do when you’ve got a group of children whose
ages and interests vary widely and you want to give them all a good day out?
When the sun is shining, you want to be outdoors and when you want to spend
time together doing something that entertains adults as much as younger ones?
I was pondering all these questions ahead of a family get
together when I was lucky enough to be invited to an event for bloggers held at
The Bear Trail, and so gratefully took the family with me for a look around.
Easy to find on the main road from Exeter to Cullompton,
there is a large free car park. It got really busy while we were there, and
booking is now recommended to ensure you can go straight in. Everyone pays to
enter – £6.50 over 1m tall, £3.50 under 1m and babies are free. You are given a
wristband on paying so that you can return to your car as you wish and your
ticket lasts all day.
We were welcomed warmly and shown around. While I was
learning a bit more about the story behind – and the plans for the future – of
the trail, the children were so excited by what they saw that they voted with
their feet and got stuck in!
The trail was far bigger than I had envisioned, and took
little legs a long while to get round – but they went round, and round and
round! On the first try of the route, my children stayed fairly clean, having
obviously avoided the messiest bits. When I encouraged them to get really
dirty, they took me at my word and ran off to throw themselves in the ditches
and sit in the streams!!
I was really surprised by how much of the course the younger
ones were keen to tackle and how well they managed most of the challenges. It
was great for a group with a big age and ability range as they worked well to
get each other round.
Despite burning off loads of energy, and admitting to being
hungry, it took a lot of persuasion to encourage the children off the course to
get washed and changed for lunch. The trail is definitely something that could
occupy a while day. There is a blackboard and timer so you can time yourself
and/or race others, as well as obstacles that you can try to get over in
different ways – increasing the desire to go back time and again!
Adult supervision and participation is greatly encouraged
and the parents in our group that joined in had a fantastic time, There are
plans to offer more sessions aimed at adults such as personal training and
team-building and I can see this working really well.
For those that have younger children who don’t want to take
part in the trail, or older ones who don’t need close supervision, there is
ample space to sit on the grass or a picnic table, visit the cafe, or walk around
the trail on the level (clean!) path. The path is suitable for off road buggies
though a sling came in handy for me! There are alpacas to visit (and plans for
more animals in the future.)
Little ones have been really well provided for with a little
park outside and their own soft corner inside.
The cafe offers a good selection of freshly made food,
drinks and snacks. Pizzas are made to order in the outdoor pizza oven and taste
really good!! You are also welcome to bring your own food and eat at the picnic
table that are dotted around.
Cleaning and changing
took a bit more thought and organisation than I had anticipated, and the trail
has the potential to be really messy! I definitely wouldn’t advise wearing
anything that you’re not happy to stain or hose down. The outside shower was warm
and sluices the worst off but there are no facilities to get properly clean (no
shower gels etc are allowed) and it’s better to plan to go home to get yourself
and kit sorted.
Even taking the clear up operation into account, the day out
was a great success and the children have asked to go back already! The Bear
Trail was set up to encourage children and families to enjoy active, outside,
fun together and it more than did that for us.
With thanks to The Bear Trail for kindly hosting us, Katie
from Chalk & Ward PR for inviting us and to the Devon Parent Bloggers for