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Top natural play areas for kids

A child on wooden play equipment
The natural play area at Kingston Lacy, Dorset | © National Trust Images/Trevor Ray Hart

Splashing through streams, climbing up tree houses 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 at the places we look after. They're ideal spaces for trying out some of the '50 things to do before you’re 11¾'.

Anglesey Abbey, Cambridgeshire
Discover Anglesey Abbey's natural play area at the end of a woodland path. There's a tree house, swings, spots for birdwatching and plenty of opportunities to run around and get closer to nature.Come and play at Anglesey Abbey
The Argory, County Armagh
Explore the playground at The Argory, where the local team has created an interactive environment that feels like part of the landscape. You can even hire balance bikes for free from the Visitor Reception.Come and play at The Argory
Belton House, Lincolnshire
Spend hours of fun in our largest natural play area at Belton House. Climb and swing your way through more than 30 pieces of equipment, including tree houses, towers, rope swings, climbing nets and zip wires.Come and play at Belton House
Brownsea Island, Dorset
Learn to leap, balance and play – just like the resident red squirrels – on climbing frames, seesaws and obstacles in the playground on Brownsea Island.Come and play at Brownsea Island
Calke Abbey, Derbyshire
Go down to the woods to discover Calke Explore – a base for outdoor family adventures, including a natural play area. Explore inside the human-sized badger sett, balance on tree trunks and make your own den from fallen branches.Come and play at Calke Abbey
Chartwell, Kent
Head out into the wider estate for woodland adventures at Chartwell. Explore the tree house, see how high you can go on swings and seesaws and discover a Canadian camp, where troops once camped during the Second World War.Come and play at Chartwell
Visitors in the adventure play area at Gibside, Tyne & Wear
Visitors exploring an outdoor play area in Tyne & Wear | © National Trust Images/John Millar
Chirk Castle, Wrexham
Explore Chirk Castle's outdoor play area at Home Farm and keep the whole family entertained. It's also conveniently located next to the refreshment kiosk.Come and play at Chirk Castle
Dyffryn Gardens, Vale of Glamorgan
Covering half an acre of wild play area, The Log Stack at Dyffryn Gardens has plenty of space for games. Why not balance on enormous trees, jump along stepping stones and have a picnic on hand-carved stumps?Come and play at Dyffryn Gardens
Emmetts Garden, Kent
Explore the wild play area at Emmetts Garden, just past the Old Stables tea-room, complete with giant wind chimes and balance beams. Wind your way up the climbing frame, tell stories in the fairy ring and race each other on the ball run.Come and play at Emmetts Garden
Erddig, Wrexham
The Wolf's Den at Erddig, built entirely from resources found on the estate, boasts nearly two acres of wild play space. Take budding explorers to wobble over balance beams, let loose on rope swings or have a go at den building.Come and play at Erddig
Fountains Abbey, North Yorkshire
Hop, skip and jump as you play with chimes, a speaking tube, skittles and a ball roll in Fountain Abbey's play area. There are things to wobble on and climb over, from scramble nets to a rope bridge, and a long zip wire too.Come and play at Fountains Abbey
Kingston Lacy, Dorset
Have adventures in not one, but two play areas at Kingston Lacy. Head to the woodland trail for a playground that encourages children to connect with nature. Explore the Kitchen Garden play area next, where you can take a ride on a wooden cow, plant wooden veg in the mini greenhouse and relax on the buddy swing.Come and play at Kingston Lacy
Children in the play area at Tyntesfield, Somerset in winter
Children in the play area at Tyntesfield, Somerset | © National Trust Images/Trevor Ray Hart
Mottisfont, Hampshire
Mottisfont’s Wild Play area has a climbing apparatus, which is suitable for all ages. Three large wooden structures set in a less formal part of the garden have been specially designed to encourage climbing, balancing and exploring. Duck and dive through multiple entry and exit points to play together.Come and play at Mottisfont
Mount Stewart, County Down
Discover the natural play area at Mount Stewart, which is themed around the adventures in The Magic Inkpot by Edith, Lady Londonderry. Don't forget to check out the Squirrel Hide for a chance to spot some of Mount Stewart's red squirrels.Come and play at Mount Stewart
Penrhyn Castle, Gwynedd
Head to the Cwt Ogwen woodland play area at Penrhyn Castle to test your climbing skills. Find a playmate for the seesaw, balance carefully along beams and discover the nearby wooden hide, where you can enjoy views across the river Ogwen.Come and play at Penrhyn Castle
Polesden Lacey, Surrey
Explore the play area at Polesden Lacey, which has a giant bird's nest, burrows to clamber through and lots of swings to choose from. The Bird's Nest, which has a wheelchair-accessible ground level, is a place for sensory play.Come and play at Polesden Lacey
Sizergh, Cumbria
Head out into Sizergh's woodland trail for hours of family fun. Follow the clues to reach the end, taking on a climbing wall, balance beams and stepping stones along the way. This natural play area was made by the talented ranger team and is roughly a mile long.Come and play at Sizergh
Tyntesfield, Somerset
Look out for the enchanted tree house in the woods at Tyntesfield, where there's also a rope swing and plenty of places to play hide and seek. Keep your eyes peeled for the giant guano bird and other sculptures.Come and play at Tyntesfield
A man and child explore the ruins of Fountains Abbey. The man is holding the little girl as they look up at the stone walls of the abbey.

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