Wolf trail is a huge boost for Bury St Edmunds

Bury St Edmunds wolf trail. The Norman Tower.

Bury St Edmunds wolf trail. The Norman Tower. - Credit: Gregg Brown

Nearly 9,000 people so far have enjoyed hunting wolf-inspired pieces of art around Bury St Edmunds during a new attraction, which has boosted less well-known areas of the town.

The wolf trail around the town centre involves 26 pieces of wolf art, including 20 life-size wolf models, created by 18 local artists and opened to the public almost three weeks ago.

A joint venture between the Business Improvement District (BID) Ourburystedmunds, St Edmundsbury Borough, Bury Town and Suffolk County Councils, its success has surpassed the expectations of organisers, who have had to order thousands more trail leaflets.

The aim of the art trail was to entice more visitors to the town, showcase local artists and make people more aware of the town’s historic links to the legend of Saint Edmund and the wolf, and it seems to have ticked all of these boxes.

Mark Cordell, chief executive of Ourburystedmunds, said its success was “way beyond expectations”.

He added: “Even local people are finding places they didn’t know existed and the reason we chose to have something in St John’s Street, Risbygate Street, Whiting Street and Cornhill Walk was to benefit businesses in areas visitors may not traditionally be aware of.

“Half of the artworks are within the vicinity of Angel Hill, but the trail is more than that. It was about making people more aware of the independent shopping streets and the tourism offer the town has got.”

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A visitor from Leiston provided the following feedback for organisers about the trail: “We thoroughly enjoyed following it and saw parts of Bury St Edmunds we’ve never seen before. A lovely town with good independent shops and of course the magnificent Abbey Gardens. Thank you all.”

Melanie Lesser, chair of the Bury St Edmunds Tourism Group, said: “I think the biggest thing is people - visitors and residents alike - are visiting areas of the town that they haven’t seen. They didn’t realise there was the water garden, they didn’t know where all of the pieces of the abbey ruins where.”

She added: “It really has been fantastic.”

Mrs Lesser said “definite trail hunters” - who seek out such attractions around the country - had taken it on, adding people had not been expecting the pieces to all be so different.

Moyse’s Hall Museum and St Edmundsbury Cathedral have also seen a boost to their visitor numbers thanks to the trail, with the museum seeing almost double the number of visitors compared to the previous July.

Mr Cordell said a number of people had made a day of the attraction, enjoying the food and drink offer in town, which is boosting local firms.

Jo Rayner, cabinet member for leisure and culture at St Edmundsbury Borough Council, said: “It’s fair to say the wolf trail has been an absolute success - everyone is talking about it! Credit must go to Mark Cordell at Ourburystedmunds, and all involved in making it happen, what a fantastic achievement.

“Using wolves to embrace the heritage of Bury St Edmunds was inspired, and the health benefits associated with being outside is just fantastic - my son noted 12,000 steps when he did the trail!

“The strong sense of community it has built both online and physically is a wonderful dimension - its lovely to hear people discussing their favourite wolf; I’ve got mine, I wonder what is yours?”

Souvenir postcards and posters of the wolf trail will soon be available at the tourist information centres.

The attraction is running until November 20 - St Edmund’s Day.

The trail leaflet is available from the tourist information points at the cathedral, the Apex and Moyse’s Hall Museum. It can also be found at www.ourburystedmunds.co.uk/wolftrail