Lock up your picnics because there’s a Rat Thief on the loose around England over the next few weeks!
The Highway Rat will be riding into ten different woodlands between now and 28 July as part of a Forest Feast event for families being run by the Forestry Commission.
The tale about a ravenous rodent bandit stealing food from other animals, based on the traditional poem The Highwayman, is the latest Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler book to be transformed into a themed trail by the organisation.
The accessible walks can be found at 21 locations around England and are free to enjoy, but you can buy a £3 activity pack to enhance your child’s engagement with the story and surroundings.
We tried out the trail at Dalby Forest in North Yorkshire recently and found it a charming way to spend a couple of hours.
Families attending the Forest Feasts can download an activity pack from the Forestry Commission website beforehand, which contains drawing activities, forest games, a cupcake recipe and flags to colour in and bring.
They are also encourage to bring a picnic and some sites are offering four to 12 year olds the chance to have a free fencing lesson. These should be booked online in advance.
The Highway Rat will be appear at the Forest Feast events on these dates:
Saturday 23 June – Jeskyns Community Woodland, Gravesend
Thursday 5 July – Beechenhurst, Gloucestershire
Saturday 7 July – High Lodge, Thetford Forest, Suffolk
Monday 9 July – Fineshade Wood, Northamptonshire
Tuesday 10 July – Hicks Lodge, Leicestershire
Saturday 21 July – Dalby Forest, Yorkshire
Tuesday 24 July – Wyre Forest, Worcestershire
Thursday 26 July – Haughmond Hill, Shropshire
Saturday 28 July – Whinlatter Forest, Cumbria
If you can’t make it, The Highway Rat trails will still be available to enjoy throughout the rest of 2018. Head to forestry.gov.uk/highwayrat to find out more and get free activities to do at home.
Read our review of Dalby Forest here and here are more book-themed family days out you might enjoy…