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Rating: High Production Quality!
Completion Time: 5 hours
Date Played: 16th May 2021
Party Size: 6
Location: St. Pauls, Southbank, Tower of London
Recommended For: Teambuilding Activities, Bachelor/ette Parties, big groups of friends who want to spend a whole day in London
What Foxtrail does, they do really (really) well, and I’m not kidding. It’s actually the first company I’ve seen to successfully integrate aspects of the environment into their outdoor walking trails. You’re not just looking for some abstract answer to a question, you’re looking for physical objects – lock boxes with items to collect inside, carefully concealed buttons that project laser pointers onto public art, giant treasure chests hidden in pubs, and even public art installations that send coded messages to you when you text a certain number. Oh, and did I mention there’s a boat in this game?! You literally have to get on a boat and travel to another part of London. My mind is blown.
It makes sense though, Foxtrail is a hugely popular company from Switzerland with a major presence running immersive outdoor trails in many parts of Central Europe. It was only a matter of time before they came to London and hit the ground running.
One of my good friends invited me and a team of 5 to play the Lancelot Trail on a Sunday afternoon – one of those UK days where you get all four seasons in one day. Well, except snow. But hail is pretty close for winter. Despite the bad weather, we had an absolute blast playing it and I wholeheartedly recommend Foxtrail to absolutely anyone in London – tourists and residents alike.
Just be sure to pack an umbrella just in case, and set aside at least half a day so you can stop and take in the environment. After all, this game isn’t timed, which is how we come to mark this as a 5 hour experience. Inbetween stopping at pubs 4 times, waiting in queues for food, and generally taking our time, we weren’t in a rush to finish Foxtrail.
Lancelot starts at the visitor information centre neat St. Pauls. To actually begin the trail, you need to go into the centre and collect some stuff. We sent the two most outgoing of our group and 5 minutes later they returned with armfuls of lime green lanyards, boat tickets, and some very exciting items which wouldn’t make sense until much later in the puzzle.
From here, you journey South along and eventually across the River Thames through to one of my favourite parts of London – past the Clink, the Hinde and into Borough Market. The day we did the trail a lot of the market stalls were sadly closed, so it wasn’t as vibey as we’d normally expect from the area. However – it meant queues were shorter! In this area we made two (yes, two!) pub stops for takeaway drinks and I paused for a box of doughnuts from Bread Ahead and a sandwich from one of the open stalls.
The next part of the trail took us towards The Shard and back along the river all the way along to the Tower of London. From this area, the ‘boat’ portion of the trail started and we were taken all the way back to where we started – St. Pauls! I actually love it when a trail starts and ends in the same location. It makes it a lot easier to plan your day.
According to my step counter I did about 15km. The whole route should take no longer than 3 hours. We took 5 hours.
Lancelot is unique in that is doesn’t require a mobile phone… Well, not really anyway, but it’ll help to have someone on your team who can text a number, and look up a video on YouTube. I say it doesn’t require a phone though because these parts of the game were so minimal, mostly what you need you have in your hands or you can pick it up from one of the secret lock boxes along the way!
Ahead of time, we printed out our pack of information which was a very respectable 2 sheets long (double sided). We were also given some additional material from the St. Pauls Visitor Centre. Early on in the game too, you’re able to unlock a box which will give you a map of London and some very helpful cipher translators.
Our impression of the experience as a whole was overwhelmingly positive. In short, we had a really good time – despite the rain. Every single step along the way was an unexpected delight. Even at the 4 hour mark I was like “ok nothing can surprise me now” and yet surprised I was. Even after such a long time starting to feel a little tired, the ‘grand finale’ perked us all up immediately.
Most walking puzzle hunts in London are like “get a text, follow a clue, text a reply”. Don’t get me wrong that’s still great fun… But Foxtrail was so different it blew me away. In particular, how much it actually relied on the environment was awesome. Climbing inside fountains to reach for hidden compartments with messages, huge pirate chests with concealed buttons to press in certain orders, spotting fox themed Easter Eggs on physical maps in the environment. Incredible!
If you’re looking for a super rich story, this is the only thing Foxtrail doesn’t do quite so well. The story is very simple – you’re following a fox. Why? I’m not sure. It didn’t really matter, so long as you knew to look out for lime green footprints here and there.
On the one hand this makes the experience slightly one dimensional, but on the other hand it does mean this game has universal appeal and infinitely translatable across groups. You could play with work colleagues, you could play with drunk people, you could play with small kids – it’s all the same, everyone understands what they have to do… On second thought, maybe don’t play with drunk people because it would be a waste not to experience the game with full focus!
Finally, the puzzles! They were actually quite challenging which again is quite rare for an outdoor walking tour. On more than one occasion we had to hang around a particular location trying to figure something out.
In particular, the game made us do a lot of searching at locations. It wasn’t always so easy to find what you’re looking for. Things were often hidden underneath things, or in peculiar places you wouldn’t think to look. In particular, something was written upside down and backwards in a place we couldn’t see – so we had to use our camera in selfie mode to find the message. In other locations, we’d have to climb up onto something and look in a certain direction making bridges, or roads line up. In another location, we found a secret coded message and needed to use the cipher – and in others this went a step further in that the key for the cipher was also in the environment as well.
Each puzzle was very well thought out and made wonderful sense within the environment, and that’s a stand out for me! I’m impressed!
About 15 minutes into this game I knew it was the easiest 5* mark I’d ever give… Then the game got even better from herein! I’m absolutely stoked that we played it and despite the fact it rained and it rained and it rained, we had such a laugh. Given a little more press and publicity now that Foxtrail is officially open, I’ve no doubt this company is on track to being the best outdoor experience in London and I cannot wait to see what they do next.
I’ll leave you with a video which condenses 5 hours of laughing and puzzle solving into just 60 seconds:
Foxtrail can be booked for £19.99 and includes a boat ticket from their UK website here.