As construction work continues for the new addition to the site, Raby Castle, in Staindrop, County Durham, has revealed the name of its new adventure playground, which is being built amongst the towering trees within its Christmas Tree plantation.
The Plotters’ Forest, which is due to open at Easter this year, draws subtle inspiration from the castle’s history, including The Rising of the North in 1569, when Catholic rebels unsuccessfully plotted to overthrow Queen Elizabeth I, which is said to have been planned at Raby Castle.
“It seemed very fitting that the playground, which has been designed and built for real adventurers to unleash their inner playfulness and mischief, should be named after Raby’s plotters of the past,” said project director and head of leisure and tourism Claire Jones.
Young visitors will see special features throughout the site, which represent Raby Castle’s architectural history – including its entrance which has been built to honour the famous Neville Gateway, and Plotters’ Spire, a three-story tower with a top-floor slide and unusual pentagon shapes which have been used across the playground.
Raby Estate’s owners, Lord and Lady Barnard, said: “When our own children were growing up, we enjoyed many happy times with them at adventure playgrounds close to where we lived in Shropshire.
“Children always remember with great fondness, the playgrounds where they had fun and adventure when they were younger, and this is the vision we had for Raby.
“Whilst Raby Castle remains a cultural and educational attraction in the North East, we also want young families to enjoy fun and adventure at Raby and The Plotters’ Forest, at the heart of our new development, delivers just that.”
The Plotters’ Forest is part of a wider development, known as The Rising, that promises to attract new visitors to the area and create outstanding recreation for the local community. With its name also rooted in a chapter of Raby Castle’s history, the project will include the significant restoration and renovation of several historical buildings on the estate, the creation of a new café and events space, as well as a new visitor hub and landscaped areas.
The development will also include a new, purpose-built visitor information building, The Round House, which will act as a point of welcome and orientation.
Lord Barnard continued: “The Plotters’ Forest is the beginning of a transformation at Raby. Whilst the castle is extremely popular with locals and tourists, the new playground and the wider offering at Raby will cement our reputation as a key attraction in North East England.
“Tickets to the playground will also give access to picturesque grounds filled with wildlife and in time, the walled gardens. It will be the perfect place to spend the day.”
The new adventure playground is likely to open for Easter 2022, along with its takeaway food and refreshments kiosk.
The wooden boardwalk through the playground is accessible by wheelchair and pushchair, creating an inclusive space for all of Raby’s visitors.