Our top natural play areas

Splashing through streams, crashing along muddy trails and peering through the branches of a woodland den – there’s nothing quite like playing outdoors. We’ve picked some of our favourite natural playgrounds for children to explore at the places we look after. They're perfect for a wild time with the family, and great for having a go at some of the '50 things to do before you’re 11¾'.

Children on the steps of the tree house

Anglesey Abbey, Cambridgeshire 

Discover the natural play area at Anglesey Abbey at the end of a woodland path. There's a treehouse, spots for birdwatching and plenty of opportunities to run around and get closer to nature.

Children playing on a rope swing at Belton House, Lincolnshire

Belton House, Lincolnshire 

Children of all ages are promised hours of fun at the Belton outdoor playground. With over 30 pieces of equipment, including tree houses, towers, rope swings climbing nets and zip wires, let their imagination run wild.

Brownsea's natural play area

Brownsea Island, Dorset 

The natural play area at Brownsea is the perfect setting to let loose your inner squirrel as you learn to leap, balance and play just like our famous reds.

Child playing on a log

Calke Abbey, Derby 

Come out and play at Calke Explore. Find everything from walks to a natural woodland play area to keep the whole family busy on your next day out. It's time to go wild whatever the weather.

Young girls in a wood den

Downhill Demesne and Hezlett House, County Londonderry 

Become a nature detective and discover the play trail at Bishop's Gate. Have a go at climbing the causeway stones, tackling the spider’s web and test your balance on the walking seesaw.

Children in the play area at Dyffryn House and Gardens, Wales

Dyffryn Gardens, Vale of Glamorgan  

Covering half an acre of wild play area, The Log Stack at Dyffryn Gardens has plenty of space for your little ones to burn off some energy and get muddy. You and your family can balance on enormous trees, jump from log to log along the stepping stones and have a picnic on hand-carved stumps. The play area was built by the garden team using trees felled as part of the arboretum revival plan.

Child walking on natural obstacle course with a little help from mum

Erddig, Wrexham  

Wolf's Den at Erddig is a natural play area, spanning nearly two acres of wild play space with den building, rope swings, balancing beams and a host of other natural play equipment built entirely from resources found on the 1,200-acre estate. Let your little explorers run wild as they wobble over balance beams, let loose on rope swings or have a go at building a den.

A mother and son playing on the see-saw

Fountains Abbey, North Yorkshire 

Made from sustainable timber and hand-spliced ropes, this woodland playscape almost seems to blend into the trees around it. Little ones can hop, skip and jump from one end to the other, playing with chimes, a speak tube, skittles and a ball roll along the way. There are things to wobble along and climb over, from scramble nets to a rope bridge and a huge zip wire for the most daring adventurers of all.

Visitors playing in a play area in spring

Sizergh, Cumbria 

Head out into Sizergh's woodland trail for hours of family fun. Follow the clues to reach the end, taking on the climbing wall, balance beams and stepping stones along the way. This natural play area was made by our talented ranger team and is roughly a mile long.

Child building a den

Tyntesfield, Somerset 

Look out for the enchanted tree house in the woods at Tyntesfield, near Bristol. You'll also find a rope swing to play on and plenty of places to play hide and seek. Keep your eyes peeled for the giant guano bird and other sculptures. You will also find brass rubbings on the trail, so take some paper and pencils in your survival kit.