At some point this year I swear I will have caught up with writing up what we did last year! I feel like I’m going in circles like we did at Trentham Monkey Forest, but far less entertaining.
Every year we try to have one stay-cation where we stay with my parents on the Wirral and go for day trips from there. It gives us another 2 hour circular window of places to see which might otherwise be too far for a day trip from home. This meant that we could head over to Stoke-on-Trent and Trentham Monkey Forest, which we have been eyeing up for some time.
Trentham Monkey Forest
For years I have seen photos of my friends enjoying a trip to Trentham Monkey Forest. Grinning faces with monkeys sitting nearby or posing for the camera. You would think that would have been enough for me to jump in the car to head over. But no, I thought it was too far for a day trip. Surprisingly though, after our trip from the Wirral, I realised that it is under and hour and a half from Manchester. So really easy for a day trip – especially as there are other things to enjoy around Stoke too.
Trentham Monkey Forest is a conservation project which means that there is absolutely an entrance fee. For £9 per adult, I don’t think it is too dear though. You’re getting to support conservation work and have fun all at once, so it really is a good price in my book. You are also able to go in and out of the monkey enclosure as many times as you like on the day of your ticket purchase. Bonus!
The monkeys at Trentham Monkey Forest are actually Barbary macaques. If you have ever been to Gibralta, you will have met a few of their cheeky cousins who live over by the Costa Del Sol. Believe it or not, they are on the critically endangered list which is why programmes like this have to exist. It is a sad time, but it is good that there are places like this preserving the species. The project began in 1969 when they opened their first park in France and many years on, there are now, surprisingly, 140 monkeys living in Stoke-on-Trent!
Into the Monkey Forest
I was actually really surprised at the size of the enclosure and monkey forest. You enter through a double door (for security) and head down a tree-lined path. You could be in any of the lovely forests. It felt very much like Delamere and Macclesfield forest, but obviously with a nice surprise awaiting us.
Down at the bottom of the hill, you see the most unusual sight! Well unusual for the majority of us. Monkey’s just chilling out in the open, on the grass! Having been to many a zoo, this is not the kind of interaction you usually get with a macaque. But here you are sharing the same space with them in their forest. You aren’t allowed to touch the animals as they are still wild, but you do get to meander your way around them as they cross your path. It is a truly strange, but fun feeling having them so close!
Around in circles
…and up and down. All the walkways are paved so it is really easy under foot – apart from one hilly bit which could be a bit rough if you’re there with a buggy or someone in a wheelchair. That being said, plenty of people were fine. You can wander around the circular walking route at your own pace spotting the monkeys doing their thing.
One tip is to look up into the trees where you can usually catch a glimpse of some grooming or playing. We also spotted a few of the older monkeys hiding in the bushes, so it is worth breaking out from the crowds and looking for the less gregarious monkeys.
Talks and feeding time
On the way in there is a sign sharing when they will be feeding the animals. This is great because you also get to learn more about the way of life in the forest and their eating habits. You can also ask as many questions as you like as the staff are really knowledgeable and happy to share with you. We also discovered that it is a fantastic opportunity to watch the little ones playing.
Although we stayed and listened to a lot of the talk, we also used it as an opportunity to have a walk around with fewer people about. With the talks being so popular, we were able to get closer to some of the monkeys on the other side of the forest.
I think we spent a good few hours walking around the circular route in the forest. It was interesting to see the monkeys interacting with each other and the way they didn’t mind our visit to their home. I really enjoyed seeing them so close up.
The forest itself is a joy to walk around. Considering it is not far from Stoke (you can actually see Wedgewood from the hilly parts) you feel as though you are in another world. That’s the good thing about trees, they block out the sounds to create a new little world of its own.
The pathway leading you around the forest is actually only a three-quarters of a mile long. This gave us the opportunity to clock up some steps by going around a number of times, each one different from the last. Even though the pathway is wide and easy to use with many people on, there is still loads of space for the moneys to enjoy.
On our final round of the forest we got chatting to one of the members of the team there, who had noticed us doing the rounds. She mentioned that there was also a nature trail just outside the enclosure. Always up for another walk, we made our way over to take a look.
It was nice to head away from the crowds for a bit and to see the forest from a different angle. Boy does it look even bigger from the outside. And it gave us a taste for other things to do on our trip – plus things to check out next time we are down that way. Oh and if you’re here with a picnic, this is the perfect spot for your lunch! Off the beaten track with a view of the city, fields and the forest.
Unfortunately, our picnic was in the car and we had plans for visiting Wedgewood so made our way back to the car park.
I was surprised at how much I enjoyed Trentham Monkey Forest and could see why my friends had the cheesy grins in their Facebook photos. It is a great place for adults and children alike and brilliant for learning more about the preservation of the species for future generations. I will certainly be visiting again when I am back down that way. We would also like to do the gardens next time too. So that’s a couple of days out for the future in under 2 hours from Manchester! Win!
Have you been to Trentham Monkey Forest? What was your favourite bit?
Can you recommend anywhere else to visit around the Staffordshire area?
I’m always on the look out for new places to explore and experience!
Let me know in the comments below!