Kids Go Wild for Nature Play

Posted on April 30, 2015 @ 3:43 PM in AdventureLocal Outdoors

Adventurous and fun loving mum Gail headed to the brand new Nature Play areas in Tollymore and Castlewellan Forest Park for a fun family day out with the kids.  Here’s how they got on…

Nature Play

Along with hundreds of other families we visited Tollymore and Castlewellan Forest Parks on Easter Sunday as part of a stay in nearby Newcastle, Co. Down.  The play structures in both forest parks certainly added an extra dimension for our little outdoor enthusiasts, Joshua (7) and Adam (5).  Not your typical play parks, made by natural materials they fit in well with the surroundings.

‘Big Deer’ a Big Hit at Tollymore Forest Park

We visited ‘Big Deer’ in Tollymore and the boys were amazed at the size of the structure. After walking through the archway into the park area you see a huge, wooden deer in front of a wooden fairy-tale castle with towers and bridges.  My boys, being the seasoned-tree climbers they are, made straight for the highest points finding different ways to climb up each time.  There are bridges, poles, ropes, stairs and climbing walls inside the towers, a slide and swing along with balancing logs - plenty to keep the kiddies occupied during a picnic at the deer-shaped picnic tables or, as we did, after a walk up the river to the Stepping Stones  .  There are beautiful carvings of animals and plants to decorate the wooden structure and stimulate young imaginations.  The play structure is set in a large, enclosed area making it safe and also providing plenty of space to run around.  Adam loved the fact that it was all made from wood and thought the big deer was ‘awesome’.  Joshua really liked the woodcarvings and the secret door which took him up the tower.

Tollymore Nature Play

Wonderment at ‘Animal Wood’ in Castlewellan

After a fun 30 minutes finding our way through the Maze at Castlewellan we found the play area, ‘Animal Wood’ tucked into the woodland above the Maze.  From this area there are stunning views towards the Mourne Mountains and also towards the sea at Newcastle.  These structures were based on animal homes and habitats and again the boys had a great time climbing over, under and through various tunnels, bridges, ladders, nets and even a large squirrel drey which was set several feet off the ground.  The boys were inquisitive about the names of the animal homes whilst playing on them so this was a great talking point.  There was also a fox den with tunnels to crawl through, a spider and web to climb on, and a badger with a set to climb through.  There is also a fort structure with stairs and a rope-bridge. Both boys had a super time and even had enough energy left to ride the green mountain bike trail around Castlewellan Lake and race each other on the pump track.

Castlewellan Play Park

Castlewellan Play Area

Both play structures are well worth a visit and add to the activities already available at both locations.  With phrases like ‘epic’, ‘so fun’ and ‘so cool’ being uttered there is no doubt the boys will want to return again soon.  

For anyone planning to visit, ‘Animal Wood’ in Castlewellan Forest Park is located beside the Peace Maze and the ‘Big Deer’ can be found beside the lower car park in Tollymore Forest Park. 

Gail Martin
Gail Martin  Primary School Teacher / Mum

Gail is a Primary School teacher and Mum to two active, young boys. She enjoys any activity involving the great outdoors, especially those where the boys can get involved. Gail is a keen runner and cyclist, both road and MTB and likes to push herself to take on new challenges.

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