New adventure playground for National Trust's Belton House

Belton House in Lincolnshire has opened a brand new expansive play area, giving young visitors the opportunity to let off some steam on a wide variety of equipment.

The adventure playground at Belton House. Image: Timberplay
The adventure playground at Belton House. Image: Timberplay

A classic English country house sitting in beautiful grounds, Belton House is a key National Trust site in Lincolnshire. In order to revitalise the existing play space, Belton House undertook a two-phase programme; to retain play features which were still valid while boostingthe play value of the site significantly with carefully selected equipment and playful landscaping elements.

The overall contract for Belton House was awarded to Blue Forest, and Timberplay equipment was used heavily throughout the designs.

Belton House is unique within the National Trust in that it boasts the largest adventure playground of any of their sites; a feature they were keen to preserve. Play manager Leonora Harbord explained: "The adventure playground is an integral part of the offer for around 40 per cent of Belton's visitors, so it was essential that we did not lose this significant visitor group; indeed we sought to increase it with the investment.

"The play area may well be the first interaction that many children have with the National Trust, and our aspiration is that from this foundation, the children will grow to enjoy more of the National Trust experience, engaging with the natural landscapes and estate land and making a connection with the significance of these places."

Toddlers can explore the play houses and train or picnic with the duck family, whereas older children and teenagers can let off some steam with high energy equipment such as the queen swing, giant revolving disc and climbing structure. The gravel play area has a wide appeal, with products provided to enable children to manipulate and transport the gravel via hoists, chutes, sand wheels and an excavator.

Waterplay includes a playground pump, channels, wedges and wheels. The design was also flexible enough to incorporate last minute adjustments, with the inclusion of a forest fountain, a variety of timber posts that spray water via different spray heads when children use the associated pump. The play space also contains musical play equipment, the sound cushions and stone xylophone.

Project manager for the National Trust Ali Keightley said: "It has been amazing to see the play area take off with our visitors. Although we picked the climbing structure and queen swing with teenagers in mind, they are actually used by a wide range of children. And as they are such large pieces they can accommodate large numbers of children at any one time.

"And of course the water play has been a big success, but what has surprised us that it has been just as popular with the children in the rain as in the sunshine, although maybe not quite so popular with the parents."

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