British Summertime. You get 3 days of sunshine and we all go mad with shorts, flip flops and having to sun cream up reluctant children. That said, when the sun is cracking the flags there is nowhere I’d rather be than in the UK, off exploring and enjoying the great outdoors, so before the weather turned off we went to visit the monkeys at Monkey Forest in Trentham.
With 140 free roaming Barbary Macaques monkeys in 60 acres of beautiful forest land, with a walkway around the park of just shy of a mile, to say the Big One was excited was an understatement. He could not contain himself on the drive over, he couldn’t wait to speak to the monkeys. Luckily we are only down the road in Derby, so after a quick stop to buy sun cream, as the sun was cracking the flags, we set off down the A50 with a vague notion that the Baby would sleep in readiness to meet the 140 monkeys who I’m sure couldn’t wait to see us…..
Arriving in the car park we parked easily before heading in. As the Baby had only just woke up we stopped off for a quick coffee and play in the playarea before heading into Monkey Forest, the Big One bravely leading the way.
Three quarters of a mile set in beautiful forest scenery, the greens of the grass, the purples of the flowers and the beauty of the sky. We took it slow, with the Baby having decided he could now walk. So walk he did.
Taking our time to really appreciate the beauty of the surroundings it was completely surreal when, just minutes into our walk, we stumbled across the monkeys.
Just feet away from us, a small fence reminding us to not head over to the monkeys but not stopping the monkeys their freedom of walking around. Just stopping to watch in awe.
Pushing the pram through the well paved paths, saving the Baby from trying to climb over the fence, or crawl under the fence to get to the monkeys who he thought were cats.
At quarter past every hour the monkeys are fed and the staff will do a little talk about the monkeys at Monkey Forest, the fact that they have two “packs” each with an alpha male and female – and just how you become an alpha male or female – what the monkeys eat, how many babies there are, the difference between the teeny tiny babies that are being carried round and the spritely toddlers playing. Actively encouraging questions from those watching and asking questions of the children avidly watching. As we entered Monkey Forest the first talk was coming to a close, catching the end of the feeding for the first “pack” of monkeys we carried on.
As we walked around, we came to where the second pack roamed through Monkey Forest, just in time for the next feeding session. Watching as the staff started to throw the fruit around, the alpha female slowly ambling over, the Toddlers fighting each other, the running off with the spoils, watching the monkey right in front of us eat a plum. The wonder of the Big One as he watched this little monkey, just feet in front of him eating a plum, the awe in his voice as he said “I eat plums”
Watching as the monkeys darted around, stopping still as they came across the path in front of us, continuing the looped pathway round, down hills, through streams before the gorgeous green of the leaves sheltering us from the sun that was still cracking the flags.
After an hour of walking, carrying and pushing a pram around we had reached the end of the path, it was back to the playground to grab some lunch. Exiting Monkey Forest through a set of double doors to keep the Monkeys in the forest, the Big One promptly established himself as the King of the Playground while I left Mum watching over and headed to grab us some lunch from the cafe. A choice of sandwiches and hot food I grabbed a panini and mum a baguette, the Big One a childs meal that I had to force him to share with his brother. At this point I wished I had brought a picnic with me, with ample picnic areas around and a chance not to battle the whole idea of sharing a lunch it would have worked better for us but hindsight is a wonderful thing…..
Watching the Big One run around in the play area letting off steam, making friends with the other kids who were there, I managed to sneak a whole magnum before looking up at an ominous sky, the black clouds were sneaking in and we only just made it back to the car before the heavens opened.
An absolutely outstanding day out, relaxing, fascinating and something for everyone from the Baby to the pensioner (OK so my mum isn’t quite a pensioner yet but you get the jist…..)
Open from 10am in the summer and priced at £8 for adults, £6 for those over 3, we had a cracking time and would thoroughly recommend to anyone with little ones.
Disclosure; I received free entry into Monkey Forest for the purpose of review, all words, photos and opinions are my own. Oh and my mum is not a pensioner, she might kill me if she reads this…..