5 Awesome Things to Do in London with a Toddler in Tow

If you find yourself with some time in London, perhaps like us between flights, and you’ve got a little traveller with you, if you’re anything like me you’ll be researching things to do in London with toddlers. Some of you might think London with toddlers is your idea of hell, but I’m going to share with you 5 awesome things to do in London with a toddler in tow to show that London CAN be enjoyed with little ones tagging along. These things can also be used to form an itinerary for a day out in London with young kids.Things To Do In London With A Toddler - 5 awesome things you can enjoy in London with your toddler

5 Awesome Things to Do in London with a Toddler in Tow

Breakfast at Le Pain Quotidien.

Start your day at this fabulous boutique café in London’s Southbank. I discovered Le Pain Quotidien when in London with my sisters last June and we had the most delicious brunch I’ve had in a long time. Baked eggs with chorizo was my dish of choice that day and it was really tasty. Fast forward two months and we were going to be enjoying a family day out in London, so I knew exactly where we were going to start our day.

BattleDad enjoyed baked eggs with salmon, I had a lovely chorizo and potato frittata and BattleKid tucked into scrambled eggs with crispy prosciutto. We also ordered a mixture of breads, which we unfortunately didn’t finish, there was just too much in it. To say BattleDad was impressed would be an understatement and the boy ate everything on his plate. It was the great way to start our day out in London and I can highly recommend it for your little ones as well.

THINGS TO DO IN LONDON WITH THE GIRLS
Amazing organic food at Le Pain Quotidien

Take a Ride on the London Eye

After fuelling up at Le Pain Quotidien, why not pop around the corner and take a ride on the London Eye. Again, I had done this with my sisters and thought the boys would enjoy it, so I booked us tickets online. As our tickets were Fast Track Anytime, we were able to arrive in our town time, and with our tickets printed before we arrived, we joined the Fast track queue, avoiding the other long queue. Despite it being the August Bank Holiday weekend, our queue moved relatively quickly and before long we were stepping into our pod to enjoy the views.

You might be thinking I’m mad to put this on my list of things for toddlers to do in London. But rest assured, BattleKid thoroughly enjoyed his time in our London Eye capsule, especially the interactive tablets which point out the various landmarks you can see from the Eye. And, as the rotation is only 30 minutes long, there wasn’t time for BattleKid to become bored before we were getting ready to disembark. So yes, the London Eye is something that you should include on your list of places to go with toddlers in London. My only recommendation is to book Fast Track tickets to prevent little people from getting too bored in the queues, which can be over an hour at times for the standard tickets queue.

London Eye With Kids
Enjoying the views from the London Eye

Visit the Fish at Sea Life, the London Aquarium

Conveniently located beside the London Eye, Sea Life is another ideal place to visit in London with toddlers. Again, for our visit to the London Aquarium, we got Fast Track Anytime tickets as we hadn’t been sure when we would visit (and finish) on the London Eye. This meant we could arrive at our leisure. We only had to collect a Ranger Pack for BattleKid from one of the ticket desks and in we went.

And I must say I was really impressed by Sea Life London. With it being located on the banks of the River Thames, I did wonder what it might be like inside, but I was pleasantly surprised by it. Spread over three floors with fish of all shapes and sizes, Sea Life had a vast array of fish and animals to keep any toddler occupied for hours. BattleKid loved seeing them all, especially Nemo of course, and he also enjoyed visiting the penguins. By far his favourite part was stamping on jellyfish lights in the newer exhibition. And my personal favourite was the largest of the tanks which spreads across all three floors and which contains Easter Islands Head statues. Very impressive I must say. We can highly recommend Sea Life if you’re wondering what to do with toddlers in London. You can never go wrong with a good aquarium.

family day in london - the wonderful Easter Island statues in one of the aquariums in SeaLife
The amazing Easter Island statue in the main tank of Sea Life London

Go on a Dragon Hunting Adventure in the Tower of London

BattleDad and I had visited the Tower of London a few times in the days before BattleKid came along, and we always enjoyed our visits. When our dragon hunting adventures started with BattleKid in Wales, I knew we had to take him dragon hunting at the Tower of London if we ever got the chance. And during our family day out in London last year, we did exactly that.

After seeing the fish in Sea Life, we walked across the Golden Jubilee Bridge to Embankment and hopped on a direct tube to Tower Hill. This was BattleKid’s first ride in the Underground. And once he clapped eyes on the Tower itself, he knew we were going to visit a castle to hunt a dragon. It’s such an impressive looking building from outside.

As you may or may not know, we always carry a little red dragon teddy bear with us, and we plant this for BattleKid to find. It makes visiting castles much more fun for him, and in turn we get the chance to wander around castles without someone saying, “can we go home”. However, if you don’t have a teddy bear on you, you can still hunt a dragon in the Tower of London without one. How? Just make your way to the top floor of the White Tower where you’ll find a huge dragon guarding some treasure.

There are lots of places to explore in the Tower of London and a few places to grab a cuppa and a slice of cake if little legs are getting a bit tired. You can always continue your dragon hunting after cake. Just remember to leave your visit to the White Tower until towards the end of your visit if you aren’t planting your own dragon for your toddlers to find.

family day in london - The Tower of London
Why not go on a dragon hunting adventure in the Tower of London

Visit Paddington Station and get your own Paddington Bear Teddy

The last stop on our family day out in London was Paddington station. We were heading back to our hotel at Heathrow airport and we took a Circle Line train from Tower Hill direct to Paddington Station. I had forgotten that there is a Paddington Bear shop there, naturally because this station is where Paddington Bear first arrived in London.

Unfortunately, a certain someone had fallen asleep in the tube on the way, so I had to venture into the shop myself. There are gifts of all sorts from bears and t-shirts, to keyrings and books, there’s something for everyone. I picked up a lovely Paddington Bear teddy for BattleKid who travelled all the way to Portland and Yellowstone with us. He now takes pride of place on BattleKid’s bedroom shelves. And coincidentally, we watched the Paddington movie during our two-week USA road trip which followed our day in London.

There are lots of places to take toddlers in London as I hope I’ve shown. You need not be worrying about visiting London with toddlers and whether you can find interesting and enjoyable things for them to see and do. London is filled with so many attractions, that you are bound to find a few to take your little ones to. Our list includes just some of the best things to do in London with toddlers. But don’t be limited by these. For more inspiration, why not check out these blog posts as well.

So, will you be visiting London with your toddlers in the future?

Cath x

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Visiting Sea Life London with Kids: How to Have an Awesome Visit

As some of you will know, we spent a day in London prior to our USA Road Trip. We acted like tourists and visited the London Eye, did a spot of dragon hunting in the Tower of London and we also went to Sea Life. It was a day dedicated to BattleKid as we knew he was facing some long days of flying and driving ahead. In this post I tell you all about our visit and give you some tips about visiting Sea Life, London with kids to ensure you have an awesome visit.

Visiting Sea Life London With Kids and How To Have an Awesome Visit

Sea Life was our second attraction of the day, after our trip on the London Eye. It is conveniently located right beside the London Eye, meaning you can easily combine the two. As with our tickets for the London Eye, I booked Flexi Anytime Priority tickets. Given that it was the end of the summer holidays, I thought it was best to book these tickets as it meant we could arrive at anytime on our chosen day and by-pass any queues. As it was there wasn’t a huge queue when we arrived, but this isn’t always guaranteed.

Sea Life was opened in 1997 as the London Aquarium and is located on the ground floor of County Hall in Southbank. It plays host to one million visitors a year. Within Sea Life there are around 500 species of fish and various marine areas including a Shark Walk, Ray Lagoon, Nemo’s Coral and Penguin Point. There are various feeding times during which staff give family-friendly talks. Sea Life is also heavily involved in conservation and has programmes including ray breeding, coral propagation and a big fish campaign.

When we arrived, we had to pick up a Ranger Pack for BattleKid which I had ordered when I booked our tickets online, and then we were in. I had been apprehensive about what visiting Sea Life with a toddler would be like, whether it would be any good. And we weren’t disappointed. Sea Life London is huge!

We started out by walking over the shark tank, and to be honest, it gave me the heebie jeebies. I’m not a huge fan of sharks but walking over them on glass was a bit disconcerting. Things like “the glass is going to crack and break” were running through my mind. BattleKid, however, found it fascinating. From the Shark Walk, we entered the Atlantic Coasts area, we saw sand eels and an octopus.

We soon found ourselves at the Ray Lagoon and saw rays and sharks of various sizes before moving onto Rockpools. In Rockpools we saw anemones, starfish and crabs too. In this area there are open tanks, allowing you to get your hands wet, although we stopped BattleKid from doing so.

Visiting Sea Life London With Kids and How To Have an Awesome Visit
Amazed at each and every tank of fish and sea creatures.

From Rockpools we passed under the Ocean tunnel, giving us another chance to see more shark and ray swimming over our heads. It was a cool tunnel and reminded me of the one in the Blue Planet Aquarium. We also saw some Green Sea Turtles in this area. They were so beautiful, so majestic. They were one of my personal highlights of our visit to the aquarium in London.

The tunnel led us to the Pacific Wreck area where I discovered the skeleton of a whale inside one tank (see our vlog video for a glimpse of this). And then came the main attraction for kids of all ages, Nemo’s Coral Reef. There was a tank huge of both white and orange, and white and black, clown fish (Nemo to you and I), and a certain little boy did not want to leave this tank I can tell you. It was hugely popular with kids and was the busiest place in the aquarium during our visit. Be prepared to spend quite a bit of time there!

Visiting Sea Life London With Kids and How To Have an Awesome Visit
Nemo was a hit, someone didn’t want to leave this tank!

We visited the Seahorse Kingdom and saw a few different varieties. BattleKid wasn’t that interested in them and we swiftly moved on to the creatures of the Rainforests of the World. Here we saw fish, including piranha with vicious looking teeth and catfish, as well as a crocodile. From the Rainforests area, you pass by the Thames Walk where you can learn about the creatures of this great river, as well as the efforts it takes to clean the river and its banks.

Then it was time to meet the penguins. You pass through an ice tunnel to reach their enclosure and it’s a bit chilly in there. The penguin enclosure is not the biggest I’ve seen but it more than caught the attention of BattleKid. He loves seeing the penguins swimming past him at the window. They are one of his favourite creatures thanks to the Oliver Jeffers book, Lost and Found.

By this stage someone was starting to get hungry, so we quickly passed through the Conservation Cover before entering a new area for Sea Life in London, Ocean Invaders. In this area there were tanks of jellyfish of various shapes and sizes, and jellyfish projected onto the floor, which BattleKid loved jumping on. It was a really impressive display and one BattleKid enjoyed a lot.

Visiting Sea Life London With Kids and How To Have an Awesome Visit
Seeing ALL the jellyfish at the Sea Life London Aquarium
Visiting Sea Life London With Kids and How To Have an Awesome Visit
Trying to keep up with the jellyfish on the ground.

While all the areas and tanks of Sea Life London Aquarium are impressive, none are more so than the main and biggest tank around which the London aquarium in centred. It forms most of the Pacific Ocean display and spans the three floors of the aquarium. You pass this tank on several occasions during your visit and it is by far my favourite part of the aquarium at Sea Life. It houses fish, ray, sharks and turtles and plays host to some Easter Island Head statues. It is the most impressive aquarium tank I’ve ever seen. Each time we came upon it during our visit I was awed by it.

Visiting Sea Life London With Kids and How To Have an Awesome Visit
My favourite part of our visit? The Easter Island Heads in the main tank.

After visiting the gift shop for a magnet for our fridge (we collect them everywhere we go), and buying a little treat for BattleKid, it was time to say goodbye to Sea Life Aquarium in London and move on to our next stop on our 36 hours in London.

Tips for visiting Sea Life in London with Kids

  • Sea Life London is open 7 days a week from 10am to 7pm, with last entry at 6pm.
  • It will take you a few hours to get around so plan your visit accordingly.
  • Sea Life London ticket prices are as follows*: Standard adult tickets cost £26 and children are £21 (ages 3 to 15), under 3’s are free. There are savings to be made online if you book in advance, and Sea Life tickets can be combined with certain other London attractions. We booked Anytime Priority tickets at a cost of £25 per adult and £17.55 per child. These allowed us to arrive at anytime on our chosen date and enter with no queuing.
  • Sea Life is also part of the Merlin Annual Pass, making it easy to visit regularly if you are pass holders. If we were still in the UK I’d seriously consider getting Merlin Passes.
  • A Sea Life Ranger Pack is available for £4 from the ticket office and includes an activity trail, magnifying glass, dress-up accessories, trading cards and a lanyard for tickets. This will make the visit a truly interesting one for kids a bit older than BattleKid (three and a half at the time of visiting).
  • There are toilets available on every floor, along with baby changing facilities.
  • Sea Life is fully wheelchair accessible with lifts going to all floors.
  • Note that there is no café or restaurant in the aquarium and you are not allowed to bring food in with you. There are plenty of cafes and restaurants nearby for refreshments though.
  • There is no parking at the Sea Life London Aquarium. For details on how to get to the London Aquarium, nearest parking to Sea Life and the nearest tube station to Sea Life London Aquarium, visit the information section of their website.
  • There is an area for official Sea Life photos, although I am afraid I cannot remember how much we paid for our 3 photos.

Visiting Sea Life London With Kids and How To Have an Awesome Visit

We thoroughly enjoyed our visit to Sea Life in London. Although it was the end of the summer holidays it wasn’t too busy. We kept bumping into the same group of mums with their buggies, but apart from that it wasn’t crowded. We also liked the fact the aquarium was right beside the London Eye, meaning we could easily combine the two. And there are additional attractions nearby for kids of various ages too.

Sea Life in London is definitely worth a visit with kids and wasn’t as busy as I expected at the end of the summer holidays. If you are planning to go during the peak of the summer holidays, I’d suggest getting there early or booking the Fast Track tickets. Be prepared to take your time and go at your children’s pace. And expect a lengthy stop when you come across Nemo. By keeping these points in mind you are bound to have smiling children, although they might be reluctant to leave.

If you are visiting London with kids and are looking for an interesting and enjoyable place to visit with them, then we highly recommend a visit to Sea Life. They won’t be disappointed.

Cath x

*Prices correct at the time of writing this post. We were not asked to write this review of Sea Life London

Visiting Sea Life London With Kids and How To Have an Awesome Visit. With hints and tips to make your visit an awesome one.

Visiting Sea Life London With Kids and How To Have an Awesome Visit. With hints and tips to make your visit an awesome one.

The London Eye with Kids: How to have a Successful Visit

A few years ago, BattleDad and I tried, and failed, to visit the London Eye. We arrived late to the Eye and saw the length of queues and decided to try again another day. Fast forward a few years and I was going to be in London with my sisters for a concert. We had two days to fill, so we settled on a few London attractions including the London Eye. I enjoyed my first ride in it but wondered whether you could enjoy a trip on the London Eye with kids.LONDON EYE WITH KIDS

A short few months later, the Battle Family were in London for 36 hours before flying to America, and we decided to visit the London Eye as a family. I wasn’t too sure what BattleKid would make of it, but as it is only a 30-minute revolution, it should have been short enough for even him. I prebooked our tickets online to save any hassles and printed out our Flexi Fast Track before we left for London.

The Flexi Fast Track tickets meant we could visit at any time during the day on our chosen date and we would join the fast track queue. So, after a yummy breakfast in a café around the corner from the London Eye, we made our way around and joined the fast track queue with our printouts in hand.LONDON EYE WITH KIDS

The London Eye, for anyone who doesn’t know, is a giant Ferris wheel on Southbank of the River Thames. It opened in 2000 as part of the millennium celebrations and stands 443ft (135m) tall, with a wheel diameter of 394ft (120m). It is the most popular paid attraction on the UK with over 3.75 million visitors a year. And that number is growing.

The Eye has 32 sealed, air-conditioned passenger capsules which can hold up to 25 people, although the two times I’ve been, there hasn’t been 25 people in the pod. It rotates at a speed of 26cm (10 inches) per second and one complete revolution takes 30 minutes.LONDON EYE WITH KIDS

Despite visiting the London Eye with BattleKid at the end of the summer holidays, the fast track queue moved quite quickly. The same could not be said for the standard tickets queue. We entered our capsule, or pod, and we were off.

BattleKid was fascinated by the fact we were being chased by another pod and that we were getting higher. But the thing that grabbed his attention the most was the information tablets in the capsule. He loved switching between the day and night mode, much to my annoyance as I tried to spot various landmarks.LONDON EYE WITH KIDS

LONDON EYE WITH KIDS

Although the revolution is only 30 minutes, I felt it was ample time for a toddler. And as we stepped off the capsule, BattleKid made noises about wanting to stay on. I don’t think he grasped the idea of one turn. All-in-all he enjoyed it as he was still talking about the big wheel for weeks to come.

Tips to ensure you have a successful trip to the London Eye with Kids

  • Plan when you want to go visit the London Eye and book your tickets in advance. This will not only save you time, but you can often save money too.
  • If you can afford to, book fast track tickets, especially if you plan to visit during school holidays. Both times I visited, the standard ticket queue was at least an hour long, possibly more. And no one wants to queue for that long with kids in the holidays.
  • Ensure you arrive well before your allotted time if you book Fast Track tickets. Flexi Fast Track tickets allow you to arrive at any time on your chosen date.
  • Ensure everyone in your party has visited the toilets before you queue as there are no toilets on or at the London Eye. The toilets are located in the Coco Cola London Eye ticket office, as well as a disabled toilet and baby changing facilities.
  • If you are bringing a buggy or stroller, it must be completed collapsible and kept folded throughout the duration of your visit. I’d suggest using a baby carrier or sling if visiting the London Eye with a baby.
  • No food and drink, apart from drinking water, is permitted inside the capsules.
  • There is one bench inside each capsule, and seating is on a first-come-first-served basis.
  • While the London Eye is wheelchair accessible, only two wheelchairs are permitted in each pod, and only eight are allowed on the Eye at any one time. It is highly advisable to prebook tickets in advance if your party includes a wheelchair user.
LONDON EYE WITH KIDS
Big Ben and Westminster from the London Eye

Other information to note before visiting the London Eye with Kids

  • The London Eye is open every day of the year except Christmas Day from 11am until 6pm.
  • Standard entry London Eye ticket prices are as follows: Adults £26, Child £21 (3-15 years of age), Under 3’s are free.
  • Fast Track London Eye tickets cost £36 per adult and £31 per child, allowing entry to the London Eye at a specific time slot.
  • Flexi Fast Track tickets for the London Eye cost £40 per adult and £30 per child and are only available for purchase online. These allow you entry at any time on a specific date.
  • Capsules are available for private hire for 3-25 guests and there is also a champagne experience available if you fancy something special.
  • You can also purchase combination tickets which allow entry to the London Eye and certain other atttractions in London including Sea Life, Madame Tussauds and Shrek’s Adventure, ideal if you’re making a day of it in London with the kids.
LONDON EYE WITH KIDS
Can you spot the iconic London Bus?

We visited the London Eye before heading into Sea Life and I was surprised that BattleKid enjoyed it as much as he did. He liked watching the boats going past on the river, and of course, the information tablets, and he didn’t complain once. Except when we were getting off, and he didn’t want to. So, yes, a visit to the London Eye is even suitable for toddlers. And, by taking into account some of the tips I’ve mentioned, you can have a successful visit to the London Eye with kids.

Cath x

*We were not asked to write this review. Prices are correct at the time of writing this post (February 2018).

LONDON EYE WITH KIDS

A Fun Day Out with Thomas the Tank Engine

If your little boy is anything like BattleKid, he is a huge Thomas the Tank Engine fan. Every afternoon after nursery before we left the UK, BattleKid would make a beeline for our cwtch room and ask for Thomas and his friends to be put on the TV. It was on so often I even knew the words to the theme tune. But imagine my delight when I discovered we could bring BattleKid on a fun day out with Thomas the Tank Engine.a fun day out with Thomas the tank engine - blog graphic

While researching family days out in the UK, I came across the Thomas the Tank Engine Days Out. I discovered that these days out were held across various locations in the UK and were a chance for fans to meet Thomas the Tank Engine and friends. Looking at which locations were near us in South Wales and on what dates Thomas and his friends would be there, I found a suitable date at the end of October at the Forest of Dean Railway. This was just over an hour drive from our house in South Wales, perfect for a family day out.

I booked our tickets many months in advance on the Day Out with Thomas website and they arrived promptly in the post. All that was left to do was wait until the day for our visit arrived.

A Day Out with Thomas is a family day in which your little fans can meet a real Thomas the Tank Engine and some of his friends, as well as the Fat Controller. There are many locations across the UK to choose from and I’m sure there is one near you. There’s even a chance to meet Thomas and friends in Denmark in 2018!

We left our house just after 9am on the Saturday of our visit with Thomas and friends, and headed for the Forest of Dean Railway. We arrived before our friends who were joining us for the day and parked up. There is a large car park just a short walk from the entrance to the Railway. Once our friends had arrived we got ourselves ready and headed in for our fun day with Thomas.a fun day out with Thomas the tank engine - photo collage from Forest of Dean Railway Thomas day out

A day with Thomas the train starts at the entrance to Norchard Station and we immediately had a certain little boy shouting “Thomas”, who happened to be pulling into the station just as we arrived. Norchard Station was decorated for Halloween as we visited towards the end of October. After we had handed in our tickets at the office, we were given little goodie bags for the boys which had some activities and sweets inside. There was even a Halloween spider in the bag for BattleKid, much to his delight.a fun day out with Thomas the tank engine - photo collage from Forest of Dean Railway Thomas day out

We decided to leave our ride on Thomas himself until the end of our day and we began by heading to the café for some breakfast rolls and a cuppa while we caught up with our friends who joined us for the day. Next up, we went to Platform 3 for the train to Parkend. As we waited for the large steam train to arrive, we spotted a naughty Diesel on the tracks. Once our train arrived, we found a seat and off we set, bound for Parkend.a fun day out with Thomas the tank engine - photo collage of Thomas and a Diesel engine

We were greeted by a marquee and a large bouncy castle. This is where the other fun activites were held. There was a Brio-type train set on a table for little ones to play with. Story-tellers were reading different Thomas the Tank Engine characters’ stories, and there was also a magician. We spent about an hour in the marquee and managed to avoid a rain cloud that had rolled in.

After this, we let the boys run off steam at the bouncy castle before getting the train back to Norchard for our date with Thomas himself. Thomas pulls Toad the brake van up and down the track and this is your opportunity to meet Thomas the Tank Engine and ride with him. BattleDad agreed to stay with S, who had their buggy with her, while BattleKid and I went on Thomas with W and L. You are pushed back along the tracks a certain way before Thomas pulls you back to Norchard Station, leaving a trail of steam behind him.a fun day out with Thomas the tank engine - photo collage from Forest of Dean Railway Thomas day out

With peep-peeps and a steam trail, BattleKid was thrilled to be on real life Thomas the train and was singing the theme tune the whole way. We left the Forest of Dean Railway just after lunch with a very happy boy who slept the whole way home. He talked about his visit with Thomas and friends for months afterwards. Here’s a little vlog from our fun Day Out with Thomas the Tank Engine.

Things to note if you are planning a fun day out with Thomas the Tank Engine

  • A Day Out with Thomas is held across various locations in the UK (and now in Denmark) on selected dates throughout the year. Check out the website for more details and the Day Out with Thomas schedule.
  • Day Out with Thomas tickets cost £16 per adult, £10 per child and under 2’s are free.*
  • For the Forest of Dean Railway, we had unlimited train rides throughout the day between Norchard and Parkend, and all fun activities were included in our ticket.
  • Norchard Station had baby-changing facilities, toilets, a gift shop with lots of Thomas the Tank Engine merchandise and a café.
  • There was ample parking at Norchard Station.
  • The station was also wheelchair accessible.
  • I would suggest you look into the facilities available at your location of choice as they may differ slightly from place to place.
  • The Forest of Dean Day Out with Thomas opened at 9.30am and closed at 4.30pm.

We had a great time during our fun Day Out with Thomas and I can highly recommend it, especially if you have little Thomas the Tank Engine fans in your house. With lots of activities and unlimited train rides included in your ticket, it’s great value-for-money and makes for a brilliant family day out.

If a Day Out with Thomas isn’t enough for your Thomas fans, why not spend an entire day with Thomas and friends at Thomasland at Drayton Manor. Here’s a great post with hints and tips from Learning Escapes.

And if you are looking for another train-themed day out in South Wales, I highly recommend a visit to the Brecon Mountain Railway!

Cath x

*Prices correct at the time of writing this post.

**We were not asked to write this review.

a fun day out with Thomas the tank engine - pinterest graphic a fun day out with Thomas the tank engine - twitter graphic

 

Hunting a Gruffalo at the Mountain View Ranch

When I worked in Cardiff I used to travel down the A470 from Tredegar and would take Caerphilly Mountain road towards Pentwyn. I passed a sign for the Mountain View Ranch every day since the sign went up and always wondered what it was. One weekend, while wondering what to do with BattleKid, I looked it up. And discovered the Caerphilly Mountain Ranch was somewhere to take kids, so off we went. One of our main reasons for visiting – hunting a Gruffalo at the Mountain View Ranch.hunting a gruffalo at the mountain view ranch

As I’ve said, the Mountain View Ranch in Caerphilly is on the mountain but is tucked away nicely, where it can’t be seen from the A470 or A469. With over 100 acres of fresh air fuelled fun for all the family, it is a treasure hidden on Caerphilly Mountain. From archery to high ropes, from a fairy forest, to the official Gruffalo Trail Wales, the Mountain View Ranch has something for everyone.

So, one Saturday morning we stuck on our wellies and water proof boots (it was drizzling), put warm waterproof coats on and off we went to see what the Mountain Ranch between Caerphilly and Cardiff had to offer.

Arriving at 10.15am, not long after they opened, we drove into the car park only to find a handful of other cars there. I think the rain might have put others off but we were undeterred. One of our main aims in visiting the Mountain View Ranch in Caerphilly was to check out the Gruffalo Trail. BattleKid is a HUGE Gruffalo fan, and we knew he’d enjoy a Gruffalo hunt. He’s a big fan of our dragon hunting adventures, so knew a Gruffalo one would go down a treat too.

We paid our entrance fees (see below for details) and we started our walk past an adventure play area. It looked great but BattleKid was on a mission. There was a Gruffalo to hunt! We went past a pen with goats in it and I had to stop, goats being my favourite of all the farm animals. At the goats, there was a great bridge with a troll living under it. Not far from here is the start of the Gruffalo Trail. The clues say follow the footprints. And that’s what we did.hunting a gruffalo at the mountain view ranch

The first character we met on the trail of the Gruffalo was Mouse. The story started being recited to us from a certain little boy! At first, he was unsure of Mouse but he soon got over his fears and went in to give him a rub. I’ll admit you probably aren’t meant to go into Mouse behind the ropes. But as we seemed to be the only people there, we cheated.

Carrying on from there, we stopped briefly to have some fun jumping in puddles. Since he was well equipped I did nothing to stop BattleKid and let him enjoy himself. As you can see from the picture, he had fun amidst the misty morning. Unbelievably there were people playing golf on the course next to us!

hunting a gruffalo at the mountain view ranch
Puddle fun on the Trail of a Gruffalo

More footprints led us onto the next character from the story, Fox. This is where BattleKid really had to battle with himself. He really didn’t want to go near Fox as, at the time, Fox was the character that scared him a little in the TV adaptation of The Gruffalo’s Child. It was the eyes I think.

hunting a gruffalo at the mountain view ranch
Saying hi to Fox

Owl proved a little more elusive for us. We weren’t expecting him to be in a treetop house, but that’s exactly where he was. In an effort to bring the story and Gruffalo Adventure Trail alive for BattleKid, we had brought his Owl teddy from home. BattleDad kindly hid him and we let BattleKid find him, at the bottom of the tree where Owl was perched. Clutching his owl, BattleKid hurried us along the trail and instead of finding the Gruffalo, we stumbled upon a different but familiar character. It was the dragon from Room on the Broom. He was standing beside a gorgeous red wooden dragon.

And, although we hadn’t planned it, we did an impromptu dragon hunt and found our own dragon hiding in the wings of the wooden one. It took some coaxing of BattleKid to get him to retrieve it. I think the fact that the wooden dragon was on the ground, and looked big, had something to do with his reluctance.

hunting a gruffalo at the mountain view ranch
A Welsh Red Dragon

We soon found signs for Snake after leaving the dragon, and this character BattleKid refused to go near. Footprints from here led us across a small bridge towards a wood. And guess who was in there. Not only Gruffalo himself, but also Gruffalo’s Child! And we found a Gruffalo teddy hidden among the purple prickles on Gruffalo’s back, strategically planted by BattleDad. BattleKid was thrilled with himself.

hunting a gruffalo at the mountain view ranch
We found a Gruffalo teddy hiding among the purple prickles of the Gruffalo
hunting a gruffalo at the mountain view ranch
Our child with the Gruffalo’s Child

I have to say, despite to grey gloom of the day, the Mountain View Ranch Gruffalo Trail, South Wales, was absolutely brilliant. It brought the story alive for BattleKid. A few character teddy bears also helped keep his interested, although truthfully we didn’t need them. The craftsmanship that went into creating the characters is excellent and they are instantly recognisable.

Satisfied we had found the Gruffalo, we doubled back to the dragon and passed some people on Segway’s on our way to Hobbiton. I told you there is something for everyone at the Mountain View Ranch in Caerphilly.

Hobbiton, or Hobbit Hill as they call it, looked so cute but BattleKid wasn’t having a bar of going in. So, a picture from afar was all I got. From there we walked past the three bear pods, making our way to a treehouse. However, BattleKid was too young to go into it so we moved on, heading for the Fairy Forest.

hunting a gruffalo at the mountain view ranch
Hobbiton

Fairy Forest is located up a slight hill, and we decided to leave our buggy at the bottom and walk up. With wet grass, we were struggling enough with it, without adding a hill into the equation. There was a tree house in the clearing that BattleDad helped BattleKid into. There was a tree with fairy doors in it and a swing. It was a lovely little place, set away in the woods from the main area of the Ranch.

BattleKid was chuffed to get into the treehouse. When he got down he made a beeline for the fairy doors and wanted to cross the rope to touch them. I think he thought he could, as we have a fairy door at home. It took all our efforts not to let him across the rope. Distracted with the swing, he soon forgot about it.

hunting a gruffalo at the mountain view ranch
An eager BattleKid was wondering why he couldn’t go and say hi to the fairies

Someone was starting to get a little tired at this stage and, as we had seen quite a lot of the Mountain View Ranch in Caerphilly, we decided to head back to the car. Even when leaving the Ranch, there were very few cars in the car park, but bear in mind it was a grey and drizzly day in November when we visited. I have seen pictures of the Ranch in the sunshine and it looks lovely. That said, with the right clothes, this fabulous family place can be enjoyed at any time of the year, in any weather. Although I might stop when there’s snow involved.

We thoroughly enjoyed our few hours, hunting a Gruffalo at the Mountain View Ranch. I had hoped we might get a chance to return to it before we left the UK, but alas we didn’t have time. If we ever return for a holiday, I’ll be making time to go back to the Gruffalo Trail, Wales.

Things to note if you plan on hunting a Gruffalo at the Mountain View Ranch

  • Open from 9.30am to 4pm on weekdays and 5pm on weekends, during the summer. During winter the ranch is open 10am to 4pm, at weekends and is closed during the week.
  • Adults cost £6 in peak times, £4 in off-peak times, children are £6/4, seniors are £3/2. Under 18 months go free. There are also family tickets available which will save you a little bit of money. Peak times are weekends, bank holidays and school holidays.*
  • Dogs are welcome but must be kept on a leash at all times, must not enter the sand areas and must be cleaned up after. (We chose not to bring BattleDog with us so we could enjoy our visit more).
  • There is a café on site which closes at 3.30pm during the week and 4pm at weekends.
  • Toilets and bins are located near the goats before you enter the Gruffalo walk. These are the last ones in the Ranch, so visit the toilet before going further and keep your rubbish with you until you return.
  • There is a Gruffalo Trail sticker to be collected at the office once you complete it (we didn’t bother) and there is also a wider Ranch Trail to complete on the map (printable from the website).
  • The Ranch has ample parking in the car park and it is free.
  • There is a snacks and gifts kiosk beside the Adventure Play Area.

I highly recommend the Mountain View Ranch in Caerphilly if you are looking for a great day out for the family. Older kids will love the High Ropes, Archery, Treehouses and Climbing Trees, while there is loads for younger kids as already discussed. You could even rent Segways. A 45-minute tour costs just £25 and includes your entrance fee into the Ranch. Just be aware there is a minimum age of 13 years for these.hunting a gruffalo at the mountain view ranch

The Mountain View Ranch on Caerphilly Mountain can be enjoyed in any weather, as we prove, so long as you go prepared. It really is a great family day out venue in South Wales. If you are wondering “is there a Gruffalo Trail near me?”, check out the Forestry Commission’s website for details. 

Cath x

*Times and prices were correct as the time of writing this post.

**We were not asked to write this review.

***This post contains Amazon affiliate links. This means that if you click the link and make a purchase, I will receive a very small commission, at no extra cost to you. hunting a gruffalo at the mountain view ranch

hunting a gruffalo at the mountain view ranch