Reviewed by Victoria Linney
Trentham Monkey forest was well signed so we found it easily. We also found it very easy to park. We went on a Friday and arrived on a slightly dingy morning. We were a party of 4, 2 adults and 2 toddlers. On arrival at the gate we didn’t wait long at all and then we were on our way into the Monkey forest. The staff we dealt with were very polite and helpful.
After you go through the main gate you can see the play area, Banana Café and Jungle Shop to the right. Off to the left there are signs to an adventure playground and straight ahead is the information centre and the entrance to the Monkey Forest itself.
I hadn’t actually realised that the monkeys roam free, I’m not sure what I was expecting to be honest but I was pleasantly surprised. As well as Trentham there are 3 other parks with the same concept, 2 are in France and another in Germany. The parks aim to provide living conditions for the monkeys that are similar to those they would experience in their natural habitats. Therefore these parks have been used as study centres to gain a better understanding of the Barbary Macaque species.
Trentham Monkey Forest opened in 2004 and covers an area of 60 acres. As a visitor to the park you are in fact a guest in the home of these monkeys! There are no barriers but a path for visitors to follow. Once you go through the double gates into the forest there is a looping path to follow (plenty of signs tell you the correct way to go). The path way is nice and wide and pretty smooth all though quite steep at times when you have a double buggy to push with 2 toddlers in it (who only seemed to want to be in the buggy when there were uphill bits). We saw monkeys in the trees within about 2 minutes of entering the park. We then made our way to the first feeding talk area where we were just in time to catch the talk. We got to see lots of monkeys at all age at this point as they were also getting fed. Our toddlers thought it was great that monkeys just came strolling past them! It was also great that the member of staff had a microphone so as we could hear what she was saying.
There are 2 colonies of monkeys in the park, the ones we got to see feeding and then also another at the top of the hill. There are guides dotted around the forest so it wouldn’t matter if you missed the talks as you would still have someone you could ask questions too. It was lovely to walk through the forest and you really felt like you were in a forest in the middle of nowhere. We got to see the monkeys playing and chasing each other running across the path in front of us as though they were oblivious to our presence, much to the delight of our toddlers. After a good walk around the forest it was time to test out the little play area, the slide was a definite hit! Then we tested out the baby change and toilets, both of which were clean and we were happy to use (apart from the hand dryers our toddlers are not fans!).
Next we hit the Café, it was easy to push our double buggy round the café and find somewhere to sit that we could also place the buggy out of the way. I noticed that high chairs were available however we didn’t use them on this occasion. It cost us £13.60 for a Jacket Potato with Tuna Mayo and cheese, 1 Fanta, 1 mineral water and one of the BBQ chicken and chips specials (however we requested this with a jacket potato instead and the staff were happy to oblige). The food was lovely and we didn’t have to queue up for long at all! They had a good range of food on offer from Paninis, sandwiches to sausage and chips, as well as children’s sandwich boxes or meals and also cakes and ice cream.
After lunch we hit the slides again and the sea-saw. I also got a chance to visit the jungle shop, they have a little photo spot where you can take you picture with cuddly monkeys, such a cute idea! The shop was full of things monkey related from mugs to cuddly toys. A monkey lover’s heaven! The shop had lovely layout, again easy to push the double buggy around without taking out the displays or other customers (so a big bonus there).
We left after the 2nd go on the playground as the toddlers were ready to sleep (one was asleep before we managed to drive out the grounds, safe to say they had enjoyed themselves). What a lovely way to spend a morning, it wasn’t the warmest of days but it didn’t matter as we saw lots of monkeys and had fun.
At Trentham there is also an aerial assault course (I did visit this many moons ago!), a garden centre and retail village and also Trentham Gardens so you could spend a very long day there.
We will certainly return in the future and I have already recommended my friends visit.
Entry to the Forest is £8 per adult and £6 for children 3-14 years, under 3’s are free. So it’s good value for money as you are bound to have fun. There is also an undercover picnic area as well as outdoor picnics areas if you want to take your own food.
Tickets cost from £5 to £8 with under 3′s free.
For more information visit www.trentham-monkey-forest.com.
Monkey Forest, Trentham Estate, Stone Road, Tittensor, Trentham, Staffordshire, ST4 8AY