The best adventure playgrounds in the UK

A girl and two boys playing at an adventure playground
Spoilt for choice: there are a host of adventure playgrounds in the UK Credit: Getty

Make your kids’ day and create fantastic memories that you will want to capture with a trip to one of these amazing play areas located around the country.

Bowood House

Where? Derry Hill, Calne, Wiltshire
What’s there? For starters. there’s a pirate ship to explore, along with a scramble net, shelter skelter, ariel walkways, flume tubes and several steep slides — including the space dive, known locally as the ‘death slide’ because of its 19ft vertical drop. For less dare-devil youngsters there are ball pools, see-saws, swings and a sandpit. Capture them in their element with the Sony Xperia X, which has Predictive Hybrid Autofocus to track movement and keep your little ones in focus — no matter how much they’re scooting about.
How much? Entrance comes as part of admission to Bowood House and Gardens. A family day ticket costs £36.
www.bowood.org

Set sail: the pirate ship is a popular attraction at Bowood Credit: Mark Lord

Heartlands

Where? Pool, nr Redruth, Cornwall
What’s there? The biggest free adventure playground in Cornwall has the usual swings, sea-saws and carousels, as well as tunnels to crawl through, a shipwreck to climb, funnel slides — and a huge wooden climbing structure called The Giant’s Trap. There’s also a mini-beach, with diggers for your little ones to cart the sound around. This UNESCO World Heritage Site — built on what used to be an old mine — also houses the Diaspora Botanical Gardens, which tell the history of the Cornish people through plants.
How much? Free
www.heartlandscornwall.com

Harewood House

Where? Harewood, Leeds, Yorkshire
What’s there? The adventure playground here is set over 3 acres and split into two areas — one for toddlers and another for older kids, which has aerial walkways, zip wires, climbing nets, a giant spiral tube slide and a 15m tower to conquer. Children will also love the daily penguin feeding in the Bird Garden, and this year Harewood has also opened a brand new Farm Experience area, where you can meet alpacas and giant rabbits. Where children and animals are involved, the most picture-perfect moments are often the hardest to catch, but the Sony Xperia X goes from standby to capture in less than 0.6 seconds, making it easy to snap even the most spontaneous of photo opportunities.
How much? Entrance to the gardens, grounds and ‘Below Stairs’ in the main house costs £35 for a family ticket when booked in advance.
www.harewood.org

Running wild: Harewood's playground covers 3 acres Credit: Harewood House Trust

The Land

Where? Plas Madoc, Wrexham, Wales
What’s there? You won’t find any flashy equipment in this playground. In fact, you might easily mistake the collection of palettes, tyres, ladders and wheelbarrows for a junkyard. It’s actually an innovative play area built on a former wasteland using donated materials which encourages children to create — and destroy — things as they please, making their very own world. Its “wild play” concept, which encourages children to take risks, has won plaudits and been the subject of a US documentary film.
How much? Free
www.avow.org

Chatsworth

Where? Bakewell, Derbyshire
What’s there? Chatsworth House wows visitors with its grand architecture and artworks by the likes of Rembrandt and Lucian Freud, which will demand every one of the Xperia X’s rear camera’s 23 megapixels to capture the details. Despite the historic charm of the stately pile, younger visitors will likely be more impressed by the estate’s huge adventure playground. In addition to the towers, spiral slides, scramble nets, ropeways and sand and water play areas, a new climbing forest was added in 2012, perfect for wannabe Tarzans. There’s also a working farmyard where children can handle animals and watch cows being milked and chicks hatching, and a trailer and tractor ride that takes you around the estate.
How much? For the farmyard and playground only, entry is £22 for a family of two adults and three children. If you want to visit the house and gardens too, a family ticket is £69.90
www.chatsworth.org

Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Playground

Where? Kensington Gardens, London
What’s there? A giant wooden ship is the star attraction at this delightful Peter Pan themed park, where children can climb the ropes, walk the plank and fight for control of the mast. There’s also a sandpit with hidden treasure boxes, a musical garden, giant tyre swing, tipis, a water play area, tunnels and a treetop run. The playground is gated and secure, with adults only allowed in if they are with a child.
How much? Free
www.royalparks.org.uk

Opening times and age restrictions vary for each playground. Check websites for details.

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