Forestry England manages several visitor sites in the ancient Forest of Dean, from family-friendly Beechenhurst to scenic Symonds Yat Rock. From zooming down the biking trails at the Forest of Dean Cycle Centre to packing a picnic for Cannop Ponds, there are adventures to be had by explorers of all ages.
With slippery slides, zooming zip wires and climbing frames galore, Gloucestershire’s playgrounds are brilliant fun for kids – and a great way for little ones to burn off some of their boundless energy.
From adventure play parks to toddler-friendly spaces, SoGlos has rounded up 12 of the best children’s playgrounds to discover in the county in this hot list.
Upgraded for 2022, the play area at Beechenhurst will keep youngsters busy testing out the new basket swing, clambering up the climbing frame or whizzing down the zip line – with all equipment expertly designed to reflect the mining heritage of the Forest of Dean.
The toddler zone means there’s something for children of all ages and, with a mini picnic area, families have all the ingredients for a great day out. Beechenhurst also has a café where you can warm up with hot chocolates or cool down with ice cream in the summer.
Following an extensive £550,000 redevelopment that was unveiled in 2016, Cheltenham’s Pittville Park offers an impressive playground that’s suitable for little and big kids alike.
Children can bounce on the trampolines, play in the sensory spaces, splash around in the water features and make melodies in the music area, while budding buccaneers can climb aboard the pirate ship. The park also benefits from wheelchair accessible swings and roundabouts, making the space suitable for all abilities.
Budding nature lovers will be intrigued by the huge array of wildlife to see at Slimbridge Wetland Centre, while children will also enjoy balancing on the wobbly bridge and climbing the tower in the Riverlife playground.
Meanwhile, the wonderful Welly Boot Land, complete with streams and fountains to splash about in, will delight children. Slimbridge also has plenty of benches where you can enjoy a family picnic during the summer months.
As one of the largest parks in the city, Gloucester Park is bursting with places to let the little ones run wild among the towering trees, while the children’s play area ensures small adventurers will be in their element.
There’s plenty for older kids too, who will enjoy practicing tricks at the skate park, shooting hoops on the basketball court or a game of table tennis. The park also benefits from accessible toilets and baby changing facilities.
Offering more than just furry friends, Cattle Country Farm Park in Berkeley has the perfect park for junior knights and practising princesses with castle turrets and a splash pool for summer days.
Cheeky monkeys can clamber along the climbing net, try their best to complete the challenging assault course and bounce to their heart’s content on the jumping pillows. The park also has indoor play barns that are ideal for rainy day visits.
Stratford Park is a 56-acre space located on the outskirts of Stroud that boasts a family-friendly play area aimed at four to 11-year olds, with equipment including activity frames, swings, slides and more.
Bustling with birds and surrounded by glorious trees, Gloucestershire families can also enjoy pitching up for a summer picnic or wrapping up for a winter’s walk in this glorious setting; or checking out the latest exhibitions at the on-site Museum in the Park.
As well as heritage train rides through the Forest of Dean, little visitors can blow off some steam on the outdoor play areas at Perrygrove Railway.
Crawl through the secret passages for a game of hide and seek at Twilight Village; spin down the fireman’s pole at Foxy Hollow; or head up to the forest canopy and wave at the trains below, exploring the treehouses and bouncy bridges at Treetop Adventure.
Bright and colourful, the playground at Cheltenham’s Hatherley Park is great for toddlers and younger children, offering a seesaw, springers and a fun train structure, where little ones can climb aboard or take the driver’s seat.
Parents can keep an eye on them while they sip coffee from the adjacent Butterfly Box, serving all sorts of hot drinks and refreshments. There’s equipment designed for older kids nearby too, as well as a basketball hoop and junior football pitch.
Ideal for outdoor playtime, Painswick Rococo Garden not only has its very own three-centre maze for kids to explore, but is home to a rustic play area, too.
Complete with a woodland swing, wobbly bridge, clamber nets and even an impressive wooden folly for climbing, youngsters will get plenty of chance to play, whilst accompanying adults can soak up the beautiful sights of the Cotswold attraction.
Get the kids out in nature by following the waymarked play trail at Woodchester Park, with activities every few hundred metres, including rope swings, stepping logs, balancing beams and a wooden hopscotch etched into the floor.
The short circular walk is around two miles long and brings you close to the imposing Woodchester Mansion, an unfinished Gothic house that’s fascinating to explore, if you’re looking to make a day of it.
While not strictly in Gloucestershire, young families can discover a wealth of opportunities for outdoor play just over the border at Eastnor Castle, where competitive children can race to find the centre of the Knight’s Maze and finish the junior obstacle course in record time.
Elsewhere, kids will love zooming down the mini zip wire, flying high on the rope swings and tree climbing in the woodland; with lots of fun to be had on the adventure playground, treetop walkway and super-slide, too.
Perfect for playtime while the grown-ups browse, Leaf and Ground is a farm shop, deli and garden centre in Dursley, which offers an incredible castle playground and plenty of space to run around.
Kids can climb the turrets, hop over wooden obstacles and play on the swings and slide, with wood chip flooring to keep them extra safe, before refuelling with one of Leaf and Ground’s famous sausage rolls from the Roundhouse hut.
By Annabel Lammas
Thursday 26 May 2022
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