HRH The Prince of Wales opened the new adventure play on Dumfries House estate in Ayrshire as part of The Prince’s Foundation’s commitment to championing the benefits of nature-based play and learning.
The new adventure play area was designed to utilise the estate’s existing wooded landscape and will provide local children and visitors with the opportunity to have fun together while reaping the physical and mental benefits that come with engaging with nature.
The design features a large central play tower made from sustainably-sourced UK chestnut and inspired by the treehouse at Highgrove. The topography of the central tower complements the nearby 35-metre-high Sequoia Redwood trees while also offering an aerial view of the adjacent traditional maze, which opened in summer 2016 and is inspired by HRH’s memories of his childhood visits to Sandringham.
To encourage family members of all ages and abilities to play together, the play, designed by the CAP.Co team, also features two racing slides and a number of interactive educational elements, including a wooden finger maze that is a scaled-down replica of the maze at Dumfries House. YOu can see the design here in the CGI's.
Gordon Neil, executive director of The Prince’s Foundation, said: “The work of The Prince’s Foundation is inspired by HRH The Prince of Wales’s philosophy of harmony: that by understanding the balance, the order and the relationships between ourselves and the natural world we can create a more sustainable future.
“Encouraging young people to engage with, and learn from, nature is at the heart of everything we do as a charity. We are delighted to expand the range of nature-based activities available to estate visitors with the opening of our new Adventure Playground and are very much looking forward to seeing families enjoy it.”
Construction has been supported by a number of funders who support projects that meet environmental objectives including EB Scotland. There is increasing evidence that contact with nature provides a number of physical, mental and social benefits for children and the ongoing pandemic has seen a rise in the number of forest schools and nurseries opening in the UK. Thousands of school children in Scotland benefit from nature-based workshops run by The Prince’s Foundation at Dumfries House every year, where they spend a day out of the classroom doing educational outdoor activities such as cultivating and harvesting vegetables in the estate’s Kauffman Education Garden, learning about sustainable farming practises and rare breed animals at Valentin’s Education Farm.
After being closed to the public for over 200 years, Dumfries House was saved for the nation by HRH in 2007. Since then, the sprawling 2000-acre estate on which it sits has taken on a lifeforce of its own and is now one of the nerve centres for the important philanthropic work of The Prince’s Foundation, the charity of which HRH is President and whose headquarters are on the estate.
Nestled among expansive woodland, Dumfries House estate’s outbuildings provide a home for a vast array of education and training programmes that aim to transform lives, champion sustainability and preserve heritage craft skills that are at risk of being lost. Among the subject areas taught to pupils and students of all ages are traditional building crafts, hand-sewing and knitting, STEM subjects, food and farming skills, horticulture and hospitality.
All of the proceeds from the commercial operation at Dumfries House — including Dumfries House Lodge, Woodlands restaurant, The Coach House Café, and all tours and events — are ploughed straight back into The Prince’s Foundation to support its charitable work.