Treasure Trails have been around for a number of years now and my family are huge fans, having tried them in Whitby, Bury (East Lancashire Railway) and Clitheroe long before they were offered to us to review.
Aimed at the whole family from age 6 to 106, Treasure Trails involve following a self-guided tour around a local area on foot, or sometimes by car, cracking clues in a booklet and solving the mystery at the end.
Treasure trails have 3 formats to choose from: Murder Mystery, Treasure Hunt and Spy Trail. Each trail has a back story which is written inside the front page. This helps to set the scene and gives a purpose for your mission. We’ve thoroughly enjoyed Treasure Trails previously so there was absolutely no hesitation in agreeing to give the Bude Murder Mystery Trail and Cheddar Treasure Hunt trails a go this summer.
Bude Murder Mystery Trail
Bude was the fifth stop on our holiday tour of the South West that took us to towns and cities we’ve never been to before. As we didn’t know the Bude area at all we thought that a Treasure Trail around here on our first day would give us a flavour of what the town was like. We arrived and set up our caravan early in the afternoon so it was around 3pm before we started the trail. Our group is made up of my husband and I, our 3 children age 4, 6 and 8, and our dog, Molly.
Helpfully the trail in Bude starts at the Tourist Information Office where there is a public car park. You need to buy a ticket and we opted for 3 hours knowing that with 3 young children in tow we would never manage to get back in the time suggested (we were correct!).
The Murder Mystery Trail involves eliminating a number of suspects and weapons from a list in order to narrow it down to who committed the crime and with what weapon. Suspects and weapons are eliminated by following the directions around your chosen location and stopping off to look at a landmarks, signs, gravestones, house names or another detail, and matching it to items the list.
We enjoyed the fact the Bude trail took us around the sea front, the castle and the town truly giving us a whistle stop tour of the local tourist attractions. It also led us behind the rows of houses to a local church, a park and a war memorial amongst other things which we wouldn’t have seen otherwise. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know an area at all before you start as the booklet contains all the directions and landmarks you need to keep you on the right track.
We really enjoyed this Treasure Trail and found it was perfect for our 8 year old to take the lead on. He is a wanna-be super sleuth so what better way to indulge his passion! The 6 and 4 year old were happy enough to see all the different sights and were able to join in for much of the time. We rated this trail 10/10!
Cheddar Treasure Hunt Trail
Our sixth and final stop of our caravan tour of the South West was in the gorgeous village of Priddy near to Wells, Somerset. We were keen to find out more about major local tourist attraction Cheddar Gorge, so opted for this Treasure Hunt trail to do on the second day of our stay. We arrived after lunch on a lovely warm day ready and raring to go.
The treasure hunt has a different format to the murder mystery as in order to solve this problem place names must be eliminated from the treasure map until only one location remains – the location of where the treasure is hidden. After spending time exploring the pirating past of Cornwall the week previous we figured this would be right up our street!
The trail starts off from the National Trust office in Cheddar Gorge (you don’t need to be members as you only are only on the path outside). We parked nearby in a public pay and display car park which was a pretty busy given it was a lovely day and in peak season.
Crossing over the river away from the gorge and heading down a back street we ended up walking around the local park where the kids took the opportunity to have a play, a former school, a cemetery, a church, the village centre and a lovely pub (ok we stopped off at the pub for a refreshment rather than to solve a clue!). Finally, the trail brought us back round to where we started and we celebrated our success with a delicious ice cream!
We found this treasure trail harder to do than the Bude Murder Mystery one as it contained cryptic clues and anagrams. At one point we had a spell where weren’t finding the answers easily and we lost the attention of the children. However, we got it back when Mummy and Daddy finally stepped up and managed to figure them out. They were frustratingly obvious in the end! We are proud to say we didn’t resort to texting the helpline either in order to do so.
We rated this trail 8/10 but that is reflective of our circumstances of doing it with younger children and to be fair the recommended age is over 6. Again this trail took us around twice as long as the suggested time so we were out for 4 hours and it was a mile longer than the Bude trail. With that taken into consideration we would recommend it for groups with slightly older children, teenagers and adults.
Since returning home we’ve discussing our favourite things we did on our holiday and we all agreed that the Treasure Trails feature among them. We are keen to get some trails around our local area so we get to know it a bit better. The beauty of treasure trails is the clues make you look closely at things you would ordinarily pass by. When we did the Whitby treasure trail with my dad, who has lived in Whitby since he was 11, he saw things he didn’t know were there. This does add to the fun as there is no way to guess the answer before you start (unless you know every house name, date, headstone, etc in the area!).
Before you set off on your Treasure Trail I do have a few tips:
- Check the trail is suitable for your group, eg. wheelchair or pushchair accessible, and prepare for it to take longer if you are going with young children – we usually take around around twice as long as the suggested time but it is because we always have pit stops for a play, a snack and finding the loo
- Take change for car parking
- Make sure you’ve got a pen or pencil to note down answers
- Pack a backpack with some snacks and drinks in for refuelling
- Take a mobile in case you need to text for a clue and to submit your answer online at the end
- Prepare for changeable weather with waterproofs/fleeces as virtually impossible to motivate children to finish a trail if they get soaked and cold
We have previously bought Treasure Trails as birthday presents for people and have always had a positive response. We love that Treasure Trails get you out and about exploring new and familiar places and spending time working on a task as a family or friendship group. At £6.99 to buy a trail we think it’s a bargain for a day out. There are over 100 trails nationwide, so why not give one a try?
Ad/Review: We were sent the Bude and Cheddar Treasure Trails in exchange for this review, however all views and opinions are our own.