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Days Out: Hunting For The Highway Rat at Alice Holt, Farnham

February 20, 2018

The Highway Rat has fast become one of Luke’s favourite books and I’m sure some of that is thanks to the BBC’s animated film production they aired over Christmas. He has had the book since he was little and, as with all Julia Donaldson/Axel Scheffler children’s books, it has been a massive hit and one of his most read bedtime stories. In fact, just before half term, Luke’s school held a day where children could dress up as their favourite villain from a book, and sure enough, my boy raced into school dressed as the naughty highway beast himself.

We decided on a very muddy Saturday that we should test out Luke’s new Spider-man wellies with a walk along the Alice Holt Habitat Trail. Alice Holt is a local area and is managed by the Forestry Commission, so there are always loads of interactive trails and sculptures along the way to keep children entertained. Luke and I have certainly visited the forest before, and both Mikey and myself have memories of walking the trial when we were younger.

Jumping in muddle puddles at the Forestry Commission's Alice Holt, Farnham. For more on our day out, head to


The Highway Rat At Alice Holt, Farnham

We should have checked online first, as it was only once we had arrived and started our walk, that we noticed a certain rat thief watching us. Had I had a quick peek on the website, I’d have known that, along with hunting for The Highway Rat and his friends through the forest, there was also an activity pack available to purchase for Β£3.

The Highway Ray trail at Alice Holt Forest, Farnham. For more on the Forestry Commission's trail, go here:

The Habitat Trail is an amazingly fun 0.6 mile play trail, that’s perfect for young children parents with pushchairs. It may not seem like a long walk, but along the way, there are some impressive wooden play sculptures that capture the imagination and keep the children occupied. To our delight, The Highway Rat was also there, with plenty educational information boards dotted around the walk. These told us about the fellow woodland creatures that feature in the children’s book and what sort of food they eat, as well as how they live in the wild. There were also character sign posts to spot as we made our way along the trail.

Alice Holt’s wooden play sculptures encourage children to get active and exercise those gross motor skills. This type of play is perfect for Luke as he struggles with his physical confidence. As the woods are so big and there are so many different trails, the sculptures are never packed or over crowded and when you do bump into another family, I’ve noticed that Luke suddenly gains confidence from somewhere and once he has seen another child complete the obstacle in front of him, he usually gives it a go himself.

Wooden Play Sculptures

First we came to a giant wooden owl. We went on a rainy day, so the sculptures were quite slippery, but Luke managed to climb up the owl’s tail and look down on me through the owl’s beady eye. From up there, you can either slide down the fireman’s pole, or climb back down the tail.

The giant wooden owl play sculpture on the Habitat Trail at Alice Holt, Farnham. For more on our day out, head to

Peeking down from the eye of a giant wooden owl sculpture at Alice Holt Forest, Farnham. For more, visit

Next we came to The Woodpecker Tree. This one was a bit tricky for Luke as it takes the form of a huge hollow tree with a series of ladders and platforms that lead to the top. Steps? No problem! Ladders…well we haven’t quite mastered them yet. But, in a gushy mummy moment, I have to admit that I was rather proud of him for climbing inside and giving it a good go! The trunk is definitely children sized, so I couldn’t really go in and help him up. If your child does manage to make it to the top, you can see through the pine forest and even see a life-sized wooden woodpecker. If you don’t manage to spot it, you can definitely hear the wild woodpeckers as you make your way through the forest.

Searching for The Highrat Rat and his woodland friends at Alice Holt forest, Farnham. For more on our family day out, please visit

In the deep, dark woods, you also come across a bat and a moth sculpture. This play sculpture has two climbing walls either side. We skipped this one as Luke had already seen another sign post featuring a Highway Rat character and had run ahead to see who was pictured.

Exploring the giant wooden tunnel sculpture at Alice Holt Forest, Farnham, Surrey. For more, see

Finally, we came to a giant network of wooden tunnels. These were SO much fun and we probably spent the most amount of time on our walk playing around this area. Once again, this set up proved to be challenging for Luke. There was a small amount of water inside the tunnels and the wood was quite slippery. The tunnels are all at different angles, so you’re required to climb up and bum shuffle down in order to work your way through them. With a few words of encouragement, Luke soon found his confidence and ended up zooming through the tunnels and playing with a few other children.

The fun doesn’t end there though. We carried on with our woodland stroll, running off to find The Highway Rat himself, jump in muddy puddles and even walk through some seriously squelchy mud (the kind that sucks your wellies under!).

Searching for The Highway Rat in Alice Holt Forest, Farnham. For more, see

The Play Wood

After some more puddle jumping, because you, of course, have to clean all that mud off your wellies again, we headed to the massive wooden playground, called ‘The Play Wood’. Luke and Mikey spent ages playing together here – mastering the giant pirate ship, driving the wooden train, spinning around and around on the spinning wheel and climbing into little wooden huts. The playground wheel spin and nest swing are fairly new additions to the Play Wood and aim to make the playground more accessible to children with disabilities.

Jumping in muddly puddles and searching for The Highway Rat in our Spider-man wellies at Alice Holt, Farnham. For more, head to

Accessibility At Alice Holt, Farnham

The Play Wood also happens to be next door to the cafe and the immaculately clean toilet facilities. If accessibility is something you need to focus on when planning a day out, you’ll be happy to hear that Alice Holt has a fully equipped changing room that features a height adjustable changing table, a hoist and a vanity unit. To gain access, you just need to grab the key from a member of staff. The toilets are right next to the visitor centre. There is also an Easy Access Trail that is pushchair and wheelchair friendly, so no one has to miss out on the fun of exploring nature. Along this trail, you’ll also spot wooden sculptures of the Gruffalo and his woodland friends, including that plucky little mouse!

In total, we were probably at Alice Holt for around 2 – 2.5 hours. Although the trail itself is short, Luke got lots of exercise and burned off a substantial amount of energy on the play sculptures. We also spent about 45 minutes in Play Wood after our walk and about 15 minutes in there before we even headed into the woods. The walk we chose was perfect for Luke and I’d recommend it for children of all ages. Alice Holt is a huge area of woodland and is a beautiful place to visit, no matter the time of year. The entire place is bursting with educational nuggets and the facilities and trails are all in pristine condition. We love visiting the forest and we will be heading back very soon!

After More Family Days Out and Adventures?

If you are looking for more family days out and places to explore in the Surrey and Hampshire area, I have a huge guide of attractions that are perfect for all the family to enjoy! Head to my post: 95 Things To Do With Kids In Surrey and Hampshire.

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Hunting for The Highway Rat at Alice Holt Forest, Farnham, Surrey. Read more about our family day out here:

Country KidsBringing up GeorgiaMum Muddling Through


  • MarIe

    February 20, 2018 at 1:57 pm

    Such a great book and looks like a fab day out! Thanks for the tip!

  • Kirsty

    February 20, 2018 at 2:09 pm

    I take my girls here loads. It is fantastic. It is also great for me and my friend to meet there as her step sons are older so they are catered for too.

  • Charli

    February 20, 2018 at 4:08 pm

    This is such a great idea for getting the kids out in the fresh air – there should really be more trails like this.
    C x

  • Anca

    February 20, 2018 at 5:09 pm

    I was curious about the name, The Highway Rat sounds a bit strange. I had no idea is a book for kids. Lovely walk, it does seem great way to spend an afternoon.
    Anca recently posted…How To: Get Your Website Noticed by Filip MatousMy Profile

  • Yeah Lifestyle

    February 20, 2018 at 5:12 pm

    Looks like he had such a fab day out with his new wellies. We have not read the book yet but we will look out for it in the shops.

  • Jenni

    February 20, 2018 at 8:14 pm

    This looks a great way to spend a few hours, we are big fans of getting muddy wellies

  • lauyra dove

    February 20, 2018 at 10:06 pm

    Oh this looks like so much fun! We love any kind of outdoor activity like this, I haven’t read the book yet though!

  • Sarah Bailey

    February 20, 2018 at 11:52 pm

    Now this is such an awesome idea for a day out! How much fun is to be hunting down the highway rat! LOVE IT!
    Sarah Bailey recently posted…Try Tuesday with Marks and SpencerMy Profile

  • Shiju Sugunan

    February 21, 2018 at 5:54 am

    The first picture with the splash cracked me up!
    Shiju Sugunan recently posted…Hiking at Valley SchoolMy Profile

  • Rhian Westbury

    February 21, 2018 at 6:57 am

    I love little walks like this especially when there’s stuff to fill out and look out for, makes it a bit more fun x

  • Beth @

    February 21, 2018 at 11:19 am

    Oooh, this looks like a fab activity for the kids. We love Julia Donaldson books too! πŸ˜€

  • Jemma Andrew-Adiamah

    February 21, 2018 at 12:18 pm

    This looks like a fun day out. My 3 year old would love it.

  • Angela Ricardo Bethea

    February 21, 2018 at 2:18 pm

    It looks like your son really enjoys his time there and I am pretty sure that my son would love this place too when he grows up.

  • Su Chanprasong

    February 21, 2018 at 5:16 pm

    This looks like a really cool trail I love the giant wooden owl. #CountryKids

  • Cath – BattleMum

    February 21, 2018 at 5:18 pm

    That sounds like a really good family day out. We’ve not come across the Highway Rat book so I must get hold of a copy for our son as he’s a huge Julia Donaldson fan. We’ve been on the Gruffalo Trail and thoroughly enjoyed joyed that so if we’re ever in the area we’ll definitely stop by this one!

  • Tracy

    February 21, 2018 at 6:24 pm

    I’ve never heard of the Highway Rat but my kids would have loved it when they were little. This place sounds amazing!

  • Whatlauraloves

    February 22, 2018 at 12:44 am

    I love going on woodland walks and exploring the countryside, so much better than sitting in the house! xxx

  • Charli Bruce

    February 22, 2018 at 7:21 am

    I absolutely love the photos of Luke, he seems to of had such a great day. It’s somewhere I know my kids would love x

  • Jenni

    February 22, 2018 at 8:30 am

    I’m so jealous of everyone posting about these trails. I wish we had them in Scotland!

  • Jonny (daisythebus)

    February 22, 2018 at 8:30 am

    Our kids love this book too. Is there a cave to explore at the end, like in the book? Or is that what the wooden tunnels are trying to recreate. #CountryKids
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  • Fiona Cambouropoulos

    February 22, 2018 at 9:27 am

    I love the look of the Highway Rat trail, it is a great way to bring the forest to life for little ones and make a woodland walk full of adventure. I think they have the distance spot on, after all it leaves plenty of time to explore and play with little minds full of ideas and imagination. Some lovely photos too, I bet those puddles required a good sturdy pair of wellies!

    Thank you for sharing with me on #CountryKids

  • Emily Leary

    February 22, 2018 at 10:32 am

    Muddy puddles to splash in (with appropriate footwear, of course), things to climb, and an adventure with The Highway Rat? Sounds perfect!

  • Annie B

    February 22, 2018 at 2:04 pm

    This is such a cute thing to do – also gets the whole family outdoors! My niece would love to do this – especially splashing about in the puddles!

  • Talya

    February 22, 2018 at 2:27 pm

    Ahhh my daughter absolutely LOVES the Highway Rat and this is not too far from where we are so I might organise for us to get down and do this and looks like such a fun thing to do. Thanks for linking up to #coolmumclub with this x

  • Lynne Harper

    February 22, 2018 at 4:55 pm

    My boys would absolutely love going here. Huge fans of exploring and muddy puddles lol I wish we had something like this close to us we would never be away from it at weekends

  • Nicole – Tales from Mamaville

    February 22, 2018 at 8:52 pm

    This place looks so much fun!!! Never heard of it – thanks for sharing.
    And I absolutely LOVE those Spiderman wellies – if I show them to my son, he will want them NOW!!!

  • Nayna Kanabar

    February 23, 2018 at 11:39 am

    The spider man wellies are so colourful and fun and they are perfect for the outdoors.Your train sounds really enjoyable.Its great to be able to gets kids out doors enjoying activities.

  • Sideara

    February 23, 2018 at 9:34 pm

    Basically I’m finding that I wear wellies quite often these days.

  • Danielle

    February 25, 2018 at 11:39 am

    What a fun day out! Anything where kids get to explore and and splash in puddles has to be fun!

  • Amy – The Rolling Baby

    February 25, 2018 at 6:39 pm

    I’ve not heard of this book, but this place looks great and like the perfect place to burn off lots of energy #fortheloveofBLOG

  • The London mum

    February 26, 2018 at 3:17 pm

    We love the Highway Rat tale in this household, so my son would love this!! Particularly if it’s as muddy as it was the day you went πŸ˜‰

  • Angela Milnes

    February 26, 2018 at 3:18 pm

    ooh this does look like a lot of fun! I’d love to visit here with my daughter. The play wood sound fab!

  • Kelly Edwards

    February 26, 2018 at 6:51 pm

    Looks like a fab place! Thanks for linking up to #fortheloveofBLOG

  • Angela Milnes

    February 26, 2018 at 10:56 pm

    Looks that you had an awesome time there and your son really enjoyed.

  • Sonia Constant

    February 27, 2018 at 7:19 pm

    Absolutely fabulous idea! I love the highway rat, something about that Scottish accent πŸ™‚ #Coolmumclub

  • Tadej

    March 22, 2018 at 8:44 am

    I see how children enjoy in the nature playing and learning new things. We should take them out more often.

  • Robert Chase

    September 30, 2018 at 6:17 am

    The book is awesome to read and the place is beautiful. My child enjoys this day out more. Thanks for sharing your great achievement.

  • Jo

    March 16, 2019 at 2:59 pm

    We’ve driven past here so many times but have never visited. We must rectify that.
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