November 12, 2021

Breaking Ground at Raby Castle

Raby Castle, County Durham

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Work started this week on the new adventure play within the Christmas tree plantation at Raby Castle in County Durham. The formal breaking ground ceremony was lead by Lord and Lady Barnard and special guests eight-year-old Ryan Chidzey from Gainford CE Primary and Preschool and eight-year-old Charlotte Hawke from the Federation of Abbey Schools in Darlington, who are the joint winners of a competition to find young local heroes to break the ground and open the site to construction workers.

Speaking at the event, Lord Barnard said: “Today marks the start of the construction phase of this ambitious project, which will deliver wonderful spaces for families to enjoy and to further establish Raby Castle as a must-see visitor destination.

“I am thrilled to be joined today by our deserving local heroes Ryan and Charlotte, both of whom are inspirational young people, and who will be invited to keep a close eye on the building work as it progresses. They will be invited back to test our new children’s adventure playground, before it opens to the public next spring.

“We have spent the last four years planning the development, which promises to put Raby Castle on the map for visitors to the area, as well as providing a beautiful place for the local community to enjoy, all year round.”

Being sited on a steeply sloping location has presented some interesting challenges, but the inclusive playground is completely bespoke and features a fully accessible boardwalk through Raby’s Christmas Tree Plantation, opening up a previously inaccessible part of the grounds, as well as three-storey play towers, high-level walkways, tunnels and climbing walls, along with a number of ground-level play trails and slides.

Chris Moore with Lee on site planning out the play at Raby Castle

The new attraction also has a purpose-built area for toddlers, with mini turrets and lookout decks – conveniently located next to the brand-new split-level café area.

Construction of the playground has also been carefully designed to cause minimal disruption to the natural surroundings of the Christmas Tree plantation, in order to preserve habitats and ensure no trees are damaged.

CAP.Co’s site manager, Chris Moore, pictured below with Kirsty Scott, attended the event and said: “Designed in collaboration with the wider team at Raby, the adventure play area has been in development for more than two years. This carefully considered, bespoke new addition to the Raby Castle offering has been inspired by architectural elements within the castle such as The Neville Gateway, but also the many stories associated with the estate, particularly the great story of the Rising of The North.

Raby Castle - Ground Breaking Event_-22

“Nestled in a stunning woodland within the grounds of Raby Castle, this new adventure play area will be an exciting mix of challenge, discovery and intrigue for all its visitors, both the young and the young at heart.

“The design also ensures that visitors can sample the stunning views of the castle and grounds from the upper seating deck, while adventurers of all ages wind their way through the wonderful world of woodland play at Raby.”

The new adventure playground’s build schedule is expected to last five months, with doors opening for Easter 2022. The first stage for the CAP.Co team is to carry all of the materials up the hill into the site.

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