We had a walk with a difference this time out. Following the success of the mascot trails last year when we went to the London 2012 events we discovered another along similar lines this year but in
Southampton. The Rhino Trail has been set out to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the opening of Marwell Zoo and similar to other mascot trails the exhibits will be sold off at the end of the season for charity. With 32 main mascots along the way, there was a lot less walking between rhinos than we had experienced on the Olympic Trails. Additionally there were a whole lot of smaller rhinos that had been decorated by schools and community groups as well as a few full sized ones outside the city at selected locations.
|St Michael's Church|
|Southampton City Walls|
|Marlands Shopping Centre|
From the shopping street to another shopping centre – it seems that
Southampton is remarkably well served by them. In this one (Marlands), we seemed to hit the mother lode, for not only were there two of the original rhinos but they had been joined by a number of the smaller ones painted by school children and community groups. To be honest they were as good and imaginative as some of those painted by professional artists. We spent a good deal of time in the main concourse of the centre and then in the Go! Rhinos HQ, which was in a shop at the back and where one of the rhinos from elsewhere had been brought back (Stylo Rhino from ). Southampton Airport
We still had more than one third of the rhinos to find after leaving the shopping centre but the remaining ones were concentrated around the civic heart of the city, being in and around the Civic Centre and the adjacent parks. It was a short task looking for them and we were fascinated by all the themes that had been depicted including nods to
Southampton based gifts to the world such as the Spitfire and the Ordnance Survey. Others such as Beauty and the Beast were just purely decorative. The parks were well manicured and full of lovely planting schemes and the rhinos looked most at home in these environments. Sadly not all were weathering well though and Cosmos in particular was looking a bit worn out from too much handling.
Any notion of us following the numbering system completely went out of the window through this section. Essentially we just devised a loop around taking the quickest route to see all of the remaining ones and ended up at RhinOSeros, the one celebrating the Ordnance Survey, which has its headquarters in
Southampton. From here it was a hop, skip and a jump back to the railway station to head home
With all the many distractions of shopping, lunch etc along the way this turned out to be a most enjoyable and surprising walk. The people behind the trail really had done their very best to show off the best of Southampton City Centre. We particularly enjoyed seeing the historic buildings at the south end of the city and the manicured and colourful gardens at the northern end. On the whole the trail was a great advert for the city and the rhinos kept the children entertained along the route. I think we would try and do another of these mascot trails if we come across one.