The Sport and Recreation Alliance has searched high and low for the 10 best free adventure playgrounds in the UK – and boy do we have some crackers!
After signing up to the Wild Network and showing you what activities are perfect for kids are parents to enjoy together we thought we’d get back to basics with adventure playgrounds.
From inner cities to national parks, adventure playgrounds are a vital part of any green space. We know that getting children to express themselves though play outdoors is fantastic for their development and what’s more – it’s a whole lot of fun.
So without further ado, in no particular order here are the Top 10 best free adventure playgrounds in the UK.
Indigos Go Wild Adventure Playground, Brixham Near Torbay.
If you want to see what it would be like if kids were in charge, look no further than the Indigos Go Wild Adventure Playground.
No, we’re not talking about some Lord of the Flies dystopia, we’re talking about a truly original community space.
Using a former dumping ground the local council, a neighbouring school and the local community have worked together to create a fun and natural adventure play space. Be warned though, you’re likely to get muddy!
There are supervised sessions twice a week, on Saturdays and Thursdays, and even more sessions during the school holiday periods.
Markeaton Park, Derbyshire
Markeaton Park is one of the most popular parks in the East Midlands, attracting more than one million visitors each year.
The Park’s 207 acres offers something for everyone to enjoy but it’s the play centre we are interested in. Not strictly an “adventure” playground, the Mundy Play Centre was kitted out with new equipment last summer – and that combined with the paddling pool with three fountains makes it a great place to while away a summer’s day.
The Big Swing Adventure Playground, Eccleshill near Bradford.
The Big Swing Adventure Playground, also known as Eccleshill Adventure Playground, is like what you hoped and dreamed every playground was going to be when you were little.
With a 50ft zipwire, a jumping tower, two sunken trampolines and the biggest swing in the north of England this playground means business. Open 5 days a week, this is the perfect playground for the next budding Evel Knievel.
Little Wormwood Scrubs adventure playground, Kensington and Chelsea, London.
Built as part of the Play Pathfinder in programme in 1999 Little Wormwood Scrubs adventure playground is a great little place for kids to blow off steam.
With some pretty nifty looking tepee-climbing wall things and plenty of wood bark underneath kids can pretend to be spiderman till their hearts content.
What’s more the playground has been designed with all children in mind and so has lots of accessible equipment for those in wheelchairs or disabilities.
Toffee Park Adventure Playground, Islington, London.
Right in the heart of inner city Islington, Toffee Park’s small but perfectly formed environment is the perfect place for kids to go wild after school.
This adventure playground was London Play’s Playground of the year in 2011 and is open access – meaning the children are free to come and go as they choose.
Not only that, how many other playgrounds get visited by Sean Coombs aka P-Diddy, aka Puff Daddy aka some other variant of essentially the same name?
Lockleaze Adventure Playground, Bristol.
Lockleaze playground evolved from waste ground at the end of Romney Avenue in the late 1960s when a local couple helped children build dens and swings. But it wasn’t until 1972, after council funding that the playground was officially opened (by no less than John Cleese) and given the nickname "The Vench".
An open access playground, Lockleaze offer a wide range of activities like ramps, football, swings, and good old fashioned activities like digging, or building dens.
This centre in Stockwell, London is home to three differing children’s activity centres – a nature garden, a karting project and an adventure playground.
Each of the centres has a team of play and youth workers to make sure the kids are enjoying themselves and the adventure playground has a top selection of fun things to do.
These include a zip line, sandpit, climbing rock, football pitch, bridge, tyre and rope swings, BMX track and a forest garden.
The Land, Wrexham, Wales.
This Stig of the Dump inspired playground was built using donated materials on a former waste land and in all honesty…you can tell. But that’s what makes it so great. It's one of the most unusual playgrounds we at the Alliance have ever seen.
The mishmash of kaleidoscopic colours warp the senses and bring out the primeval instincts in kids – who are often furiously building (and then destroying) dens. It’s so good, the US Alliance for Childhood came and studied it!
Beecraigs Country Park, West Lothian Scotland.
In a beautiful setting, the play area within the Beecraigs Country Park is a cracker. Activities include a couple of nature inspired – in a “we are going to call these totally unrelated activities naturey names way” – activities, the flying foxes and the spider net, an opportunity to explore wigwam huts, slides and swings and much more.
There are also a couple of great additional paid for activities including a climbing wall and a target archery range.
Heartlands, Camborne, Cornwall
Heartlands is the biggest free adventure playground in Cornwall, and sits in the middle of lush green parkland.
Aimed at children up to the age of 13 years old, Heartlands, is jam packed full of great activities for kids including subterranean tunnels, a shipwrecked boat and a funnel slide.
Photo copyright of Heartlands Adventure playground.