William’s Den is the new place to visit and I was dying to go. My kids had even been without me the week before! Henry (5 years) came back full of stories about outdoor play, imagination and dens.. as someone who suffers from “fear of missing out”, I was planning my trip!
It opened it’s doors last month and has received much positive feedback. Knowing it is outdoors and when we left it was drizzling, we packed our full waterproofs and decided to brave it whatever the weather.
The space and the views are the first thing that you notice, which says something considering the amount of different play areas and structures there are. It is evident that everything has been carefully thought through. As someone who enjoyed an outdoor childhood, I just love the concept and believe it is so important.
I was most impressed by how safe I felt it was, in a very secure environment with lovely atmosphere. There were lots of staff constantly walking about checking on children and if any of them did get lost they were finding their parents. The system to get in was brilliant, each child got a wristband and you put the parent/carers phone number on it so any problems and they would call you. I went with a friend. The children with us were 6, 5, 3.5 years and 2.5 years. We had to trust the big ones a little bit in order to help the younger ones but we both felt we could do this.
It is well set up for indoor and outdoor play. The ‘treehouse’ style indoor play area (The Den) with steps, bridges, ropes, fireman poles, a slide and even some fabulous musical chairs (literally musical.. you bang them with a rubber thing and they make the most wonderful sounds!) There was also a little ‘river’ water play bit and a little beach area too. The water was a massive hit with my kids. I was particularly impressed by how accessible the whole play area was. At other places, there is always one step that Eliza (2.5 years) can’t get up, here it was different, she could do all the inside. She was particularly keen on Hideout where it was really chilled with bean bags, cork building blocks and soft bricks to build with. The nature of the den also encourages children to work together and be kind to one another rather than at traditional soft plays which can often become a ‘free for all’. There were staff manning the den at all levels and did pick children up if the behaviour was not in the ethos of the den which I was very impressed with. They are also constantly sweeping up the sand or cleaning out the water pipes, it was spotless!
Outside we were also able to build proper dens with massive sticks and the basic structures in place… any adventurers dream. Henry loved this and worked well with some other children to make a great den. There was also the sand play area with climbing frames, tyre swings, more water play and slides etc. The mini mounds with bridges and tunnels between are great fun for all ages. The zip wires were also a massive hit, funnily enough especially with Eliza! You can see a map of the whole area here.
We had lunch at ‘The Kitchen Table’ and we were hugely impressed by the quality of it, You can see the menu here but we thought it was really good value for what we got. The kids pizzas were wood fired and delicious, two small pizzas easily fed both of mine and me! They also had a fantastic selection of ice-cream and sundaes which were yummy.
Outside and attached to The Kitchen Table there is a little enclosed outside space with pub benches (big and small) and a grassed style area. You can enter the Kitchen Table and this play area without entering the den so there is no charge if you just want to come here with little ones. There are some things for kids to play with including some stacking bricks and cool spinny seat things – fantastic for little ones and it amused ours whilst the food came.
We were there in the height of summer holidays, there is lots of space so people can really spread out so it doesn’t get over busy. The den can reach capacity to best to book in advance. Henry had a wonderful time and got involved. Eliza found some bits “too big” for her and some of the big kids a bit intimidating. I think for her, a trip in school term time would be perfect when she can take her time and get a bit more help from Mummy.
If you are looking for something totally different experience, we would highly recommend Williams Den. It has stunning views, is so accessible and a lovely drive from Ryedale. I live just outside Malton and it took 40 mins.
Here are my top tips to get the most from the day:
Take clothes for all weathers – the all weather suits and wellies meant that we could stay outside and play even with the showers. On a nice day I would have wanted to take swim suits and towels for the outdoor sand area and water play.
Take a Picnic – The food is fab but there are also loads of places for a lovely picnic as well whilst enjoying the views of East Yorkshire
Toilet trips are easy! The loos are awesome! They have double loos so both kids can “wee at the same time”.
Take snacks and drinks– with this much play, the kids need regular energy top ups and it’s fine to eat your own food in the outside areas.
Head to the Hideout – When you need a bit of chill out time inside head up to the Hideout – it is a more open inside area and has sand bags and play bricks to build more dens, also big cushions to relax on (or jump on if you’re a mini mumbler!)
William’s Den is open every day (except Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day)Sunday to Wednesday – 9:30am – 5:00pmThursday to Saturday – 9:30am – 7:00pm
Under 3 yrs = £33-17 years = £9.50Adult = £8Concessions = £6Carers = FreeAnnual Passes Available