Visit The Plotters' Forest, Raby Castle an adventure playground in Durham
What I loved about it:
I loved the sense of being transported to a faraway place surrounded by trees and nature. The delightful shrieks from the children running wild in the new adventure playground in Durham, made for an exciting and memorable day. Set within Raby Castle and deer park there is so much to explore and make this a jam-packed day of fun, adventure and discovery.
Value for money (out of 10):
Plotter’s Forest adventure playground at Raby Castle, Durham
Hidden deep within the Christmas tree plantation in the grounds of Raby Castle is The Plotters’ Forest, a beautiful adventure playground in Durham, beckoning all who enter to be Raby Rebels. Blending beautifully into the environment, it is built with many sustainable materials and some of the tress which were moved during the build have been used in its construction. With environmentally pleasing colours and textures, there is as much a sense of calm as there is adventure. The smell of the Christmas trees and the natural wood structures all add to those sense of being completely surrounded by nature and the environment and a feeling of being transported to somewhere magical.
We arrived at opening time and were guided round to the Adventure Playground by the fabulous staff who were friendly and knowledgeable about the Plotter’s Forest. As we approached the entrance the first thing that hit us was the huge trees and the sense of entering an exciting adventure. The walkways are higher than ground level and my 7-year-old niece said she felt like she was in the sky. The views from the higher levels across the whole of the estate were stunning and a great place to deer spot!
We adventured through the trees to the first obstacle – the rebel run! A narrow set of winding beams with rope rails for support meant everyone had to concentrate to keep their balance to reach the finish point. There are stairways to climb and net tunnels to travel across way up high giving a sense of independence and allowing children to take safe risks and develop their curiosity all of which build up resilience and mental wellbeing.
The most popular attraction for us was the turret at the centre of the adventure playground. As you climb up the net you reach the top of the turret and the only way down is the huge slide. The squeals and laughter all the way down the slide delighted the adults who were waiting at the bottom for their children to arrive. There were many calls of “again, again” from the children as they jumped off the slide and ran back for another try.
On the way through the forest, we saw a gorgeous mini adventure playground especially for visitors under one, such a brilliant idea to give tiny visitors a taste of what’s to come and help to build up their sense of adventure and curiosity while they are still small.
We were told prior to our visit that the Plotters’ Forest Café wasn’t quite completed but it looks like it is going to be a fantastic place to stop and refuel during your experience here. There is a fabulous balcony which I can’t wait to go and try as it is almost in the tree tops with views across the whole forest.
I loved that the adventure playground offered a perfect mix of challenging yet achievable goals for all abilities and ages. My niece has sensory challenges as well as ASD and ADHD and she said it was the best day of her life. She felt free and calm amongst the forest. I would definitely recommend The Plotters’ Forest to children who have similar needs, it is a wonderful environment for exploration and to be surrounded by nature.
To complete our visit, we took a walk around the deer park and castle. I love that you are guaranteed to spot the deer on every visit and if you are really lucky you may have a close encounter as the deer trot by. The castle provides another element to your day with an intriguing history and culture.
The Raby Estate is currently undergoing further developments, The Rising, due to be completed summer 2023. This will be a new project incorporating the history and heritage of the Raby Estate and will include a redeveloped walled garden, beautiful retail space set within the coach house and stable and a high-quality Vinery café. The café is set to serve up seasonal dishes with seating both inside and outside overlooking the gardens.
We can’t wait to go back to The Plotters’ Forest and experience this amazing adventure playground again. I’m looking forward to trying out the Plotters’ Café and eating amongst the trees. I’d definitely recommend visiting if you are local to Durham and the North East. If you are visiting the area from further afield this is one place to add to your “must visit” list.