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fforest fawr walk kids sculpture trail south wales toddler
South Wales Local - Walks and Days Out

The Fforest Fawr Sculpture Trail with Kids

When we heard that the sculpture trail in Fforest Fawr Caerphilly had some new additions, we were keen to take along the harshest critics we knew to give them the once over…the kids. We’d been to Fforest Fawr before and had really enjoyed a walk there, so it was time to go back and seek out the newbies to the clan.

 

fforest fawr walk kids sculpture trail south wales toddler

As with all our walks, we’ve tried to give you all the details you need to plan a visit with small kids. The walk itself is through the forest with Bluebells and wild garlic (seasonal). It ends with a pretty stunning view. The sculptures are the real draw of the place as they act as great motivators for the kids to move on to find the next character or animal. You can also create some imaginative stories as you’re walking about to make the outing even more special.

Where: Fforest Fawr, near Tongwynlais, South Wales

Length of Walk: 1.147 miles/1.84 km

Parking: On site car park – free parking.Post code CF83 1NG

Pram friendliness: I wouldn’t recommend you bring a pram. I would recommend you bring a carrier for any younger children for when their legs get a little tired. Ours did on the return journey,
Toilets: There are no toilets on site.  A portable potty is always handy!
Footwear: This path can get quite muddy in places so if it’s been rainy in the last few days. I’d put the kids in wellies if they get tempted to splash in puddles like ours do!
Cafe: There isn’t a cafe on the route of this walk but close by.  I’ve heard great things about the nearby Forest Tea Rooms which has peacocks roaming in the garden!
 
fforest fawr tongwnlais sculpture trail dragon story wizard kids toddler walk stroll forest south wales day out days hike family

The Route

The sculptures start in the car park, where you’ll find a great big dragon that the kids will almost certainly be drawn to. There are also some logs set about in a circle and my kids found them great to test their balancing skills on before setting off on our walk.

You’ll see a big signposted map at the start of a few trails which show you the potential routes to take. You’ll want to enter via the archway of stars  and follow the path through the forest.

The original sculptures at the start of the walk

The trail runs for a few hundred metres before you meet your first sculpture, an old Wizard carved out of wood rising, out of the ground. You have a few more sculptures of this kind inciting fairy tale stories.

The map at the start says that trail was built to encourage children to walk in the forest and develop a story around the idea of a giant creature living in the woods. Although it is never seen, sculptures will give children clues using their imagination to create their own story.

These were the product of local artists Cassy Healey and John Hobbs. The Forestry Commission asked them to come up with the sculptures. The original idea came from the staff and pupils of Ty Gwyn special school who used the forest as an extension of the classroom.

fforest fawr tongwnlais sculpture trail dragon story wizard kids toddler walk stroll forest south wales day out days hike family

These were the original sculptures and include a boar being hugged by people and a wizard large enough that the kids can hide in his cloak!

The New Sculptures

As you descend further into the forest, the new sculptures start to appear. Simon O’Rourke was the talented artist behind the carvings.  Each of the ten sculptures represent an animal that would have lived in the forest but are no longer found here. A single Redwood tree from Oswestry provides all the wood for the sculptures. Each of the sculptures features a poem about the animal it represents.

The first one you’ll see is the trees itself with the poem “In Fforest Fawr, deep and green, there’s so much to discover so much to be seen, all kinds of creatures, great and small, and wonderful trees, towering tall”

There is a nice little chart then that tells you about the timeline of the animals that you see on the sculpture trail ” On the path we see wonders in the forest today, but there are stories and treasures along the way! There were creatures living here in the past you’ll see, Let’s take a walk back through history!fforest fawr tongwnlais sculpture trail dragon story wizard kids toddler walk stroll forest south wales day out days hike family

On the right hand side, as you continue your walk, you’ll find a fire pit and a ready build den made of logs. The kids really enjoyed this and played house for quite a while, cooking dinner for us on a pretend fire and then settling down for a pretend sleep!

The kids voted the best sculpture as….

The sculpture that won the hearts of the kids was the giant red deer which the kids were desperate to ride.  You can do a lot of story telling around this one! “In the woodland we see a majestic sight, with smooth red fur and a tail so white, velvety antlers that reach for the skies, it’s a stunning red deer with big brown eyes!

fforest fawr tongwnlais sculpture trail dragon story wizard kids toddler walk stroll forest south wales day out days hike family

A lynx was the next one we stumbled across, we did have to break at this point for a little snack as the kids were getting a little tired – there is only one bench along the path and it can get quite muddy so we do recommend wellies if it’s been raining in the last few days. There are a number of tree trunks that make handy perches along the route if you get stuck however!

We are lucky to have seen one of the few remaining in real life, in Christchurch – see our C weekend for more details.

The path continues until you count off the ten animals built out of the new redwood. You’ll pass by a nice few patches of Bluebells if you’re there in the right season too!

fforest fawr tongwnlais sculpture trail dragon story wizard kids toddler walk stroll forest south wales day out days hike family The end of the walk

The end of the linear path results in treasure – well a treasure chest if you want to be more precise. The kids were trying with all their might to open it – little did they know there was a secret way to get to the cash!!

There is a gorgeous view across the valley from here and a bench where you can take in another snack and have a bit of a rest. As this is not a circular walk, you’ll have to retrace your steps to get back to the car park. At this point for our kids, they were getting quite tired, so we ended up putting them on our backs in carriers (we use Tulas) and letting them shout out the animals as they saw them again as we walked back past them all.

Hints and Tips

  • Bring a picnic mat as there are not many places to sit along the route. Either that or sit on a tree trunk.
  • There are lots of dog walkers here so bring your dog if you have one.
  • There are deep puddles along this route so if it’s been raining in the last few weeks it might be worth wellies at least for the kids if they will want to jump in the puddles.
  • Think ahead about some of the stories you could tell en route based on the characters you’ve seen from the photos
  • There are no toilets here so portable potties can come in handy.
  • As always, bring snacks and a carrier!

Summary

The kids love running from sculpture to sculpture and engage really well with them. Talking about what they see and telling stories about it. As the walk isn’t circular, you’ll come the same way back. The little ones can get a bit tired of walking but it’s definitely worth it – plus it’s all free!

Let us know if you go on the walk – we’d love to hear what you think! You can find us on twitter, instagram or facebook 

Have a look at our other South Wales walks if you fancy trying a different walk in the area – we’re building a library of great walks to choose from!

If you’re looking for a walk in a different part of the UK, why not pop over to tripswithatot.com where Naomi has got a great post about ten magical outdoor spaces for fairytale walks in Sheffield.

Alternatively, the miniMalpi talks about the lovely Whisby Nature Park in Lincolnshire which also has some amazing wooden sculptures.

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