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 are perfect for family wild time, and great for ticking off some of the 50 things to do before you’re 11 ¾.

Autumn Children Hoe Fen

Anglesey Abbey, Cambridgeshire 

Head into the woods in the grounds of Anglesey Abbey and you'll soon spot the Lime Tree Lookout. This giant two-storey treehouse offers great views through the trees. Find the story telling circle and tell your friends a tale. You can also relax in a hammock, build a den or create a piece of wild art.

Children on the see-saw planks at the Woodland Play Area

Bath Skyline  

See if you can stay standing on the wobble beams at this woodland play area in Claverton Down. The Guardian of the Woodland carved into one of the trees will keep a look out while you play. You can also build dens, play on seesaws and rope swings.

A child creates wild art using leaves at Croft Castle in Herefordshire

Croft Castle, Herefordshire 

Set off into the countryside and see if you can find this natural play area. Older children can play on the rope swings and rope bridges or build themselves a den. You can relax in the natural picnic area as the children explore. There are stepping stones and a trail for little ones as well.

Children playing in the garden at Erddig

Erddig, Wales 

Are you brave enough to head into the Wolf’s Den? Try the rope swing, build a den and test your balance. This natural playground is named after the Norman earl Hugh d’Avranches. He spent most of his life fighting in Wales and is known as ‘the Wolf’. This well-loved spot is located in the shadow of one of the nation’s favourite stately homes.

Visitors walking in the woodland at Gibside

Gibside, Tyne & Wear 

This woodland playscape was created from materials found on the Gibside estate. You can climb trees, crawl through tunnels, balance on log bridges and scramble up the wooden climbing wall. Gibside is also home to an adventure playground, inspired by the lost Strawberry Castle. You can take the low ropes challenge, build a den or see what you spot from the wildlife hide. Follow the Family Scramble trail if you'd like to take in both play areas.

Children building dens at Hatchlands Park

Hatchlands Park, Surrey 

As you reach Wix Wood follow the willow tunnel to the balance beams. You can leap from log to log on the way back before finding the pile of wood for den building. Sit quietly for a moment and you might spot some of the many birds and bugs who call the woods home.

Children climbing a tree at Mottisfont

Mottisfont, Hampshire 

Enjoy exploring and testing your limits in Mottisfont's wild play areas. There are great places to splash around as well as trees to climb and hide behind. Ask at reception for the seasonal activity trails to enjoy in the school holidays.

Children exploring the garden at Sizergh

Sizergh, Cumbria 

Starting from the car park, you’ll need to follow the clues to find this wild play area. It will take you on a mile-and-a-half trail through the woods. You’ll be glad you made the effort when you're abseiling, balancing on logs and swinging from the trees.

Four girls play on a tyre swing at Springhill, County Londonderry

Springhill, Co. Londonderry 

Springhill’s natural play area is tucked away in a woodland clearing. It combines natural materials like tree trunks and willow structures with more conventional timber play structures. Explore the natural climbing frames, rope swings and dens. Keep a look out for mystical creatures and thrones.

Woodland play area at Tyntesfield

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.