A new adventure playground for Burghley
14th June 2023
The Rudd-Jones family went to explore the ‘Hide & Secrets’ Adventure Play at Burghley and had a whale of a time at this impressive new attraction – even going back the next day!
A re-discovered woodland never before open to the public has been transformed into a thrilling new adventure play attraction with top secret appeal at one of England’s greatest Elizabethan houses. We were lucky enough to try it out on the opening day towards the end of April, and the air was full of excitement and anticipation. We went with Ned (10) and Frank (13) to try it out and see what they thought about it.
Accessed through its own entrance – the formerly hidden stone arch, Queen Elizabeth Gate – Hide & Secrets combines play, exploration, and discovery, featuring six fun-packed family play zones and a spectacular Hidden Towers structure. We were struck as soon as we entered by just how well the space has been constructed – wood is used everywhere, there has already been much tree and flower planting that will come to fruition over the coming months, and each play area has been constructed to the highest standards, with many beautiful motifs dotted around to enliven and enrich it.
Play zones: the walk to the Hidden Towers
Leading to the Hidden Towers are a series of imaginatively landscaped play zones: the Butterfly Banks, a nature haven made up of sky-high bug towers and wildflower plantings; Mole Hills & Holes, featuring giant mole hills and a network of secret tunnels below; the Whispering Woods, including the tactile Sensory Wall; Woodland Play, with a huge wooden Magpie’s Nest and supersized balancing logs; Den Building, offering the chance to collect sticks and branches to build a den or hideout; and Woodhenge, a wooden storytelling circle for sharing a tale or two. These zones are teeming with younger children exploring, learning and adventuring. We saw many of them clutching the Spymaster’s Guide booklet to add to the intrigue and fun and imploring their parents to help them fill it out. These zones offer much more than a traditional playground, all the time combining pleasure and excitement with learning.
Around the Hidden Towers and rope walkway
As we reached the top of the play zones, we could see a separate toddler and pre-schooler area to the left with low-level adventuring featuring a mini slide, rope bridge and balancing trail. The 4- to 8-year-old brigade were having a very merry time here.
For older youngsters, very much Ned’s zone, the Hidden Towers is a multi-level play structure with two slides – one with a dramatically daring drop – plus lookout nests, climbing walls and a thrilling treetop rope bridge. Ned had raced up here ahead of us and had already gone down the big slide twice by the time we had arrived. For him this was the hit of the show. For us onlookers, we admired just how beautifully the Hidden Towers have been constructed, in the style of Burghley’s minarets. The whole attraction has been designed with accessibility in mind, with wide pathways, a sensory wall, accessible platforms in the lower levels of the towers and accessible lookout points.Hide & Secrets also has its own refreshment spot, The Muddy Mole, serving hot dogs and snacks to takeaway, as well as hot and cold drinks. There are outdoor picnic benches amongst the woodlands. For our finale we walked across a rope walkway connected to a tree in the Sculpture Garden, and this is something for all ages to enjoy.
After enjoying Hide & Secrets, we carried on to the Sculpture Garden, walked along the side of the lake, really enjoyed some time in the Garden of Surprises, bought a few plants from the garden shop and then went to the cafe. It is this all-round offering that is going to make Burghley House such a stand-out place to visit over the summer. We were hooked and immediately bought an Access all Areas annual family pass for £146 (House, Garden of Surprises, Sculpture Park, Adventure Play), for two adults and three children, knowing that there was something of interest to every member of the family and that we would be coming back many times over the summer.
Photo: courtesy of Burghley House
FIND OUT MORE & BOOK NOW
Adventure play tickets, when booked online in advance, cost £9 adult, £7.50 children (3–15 years, free for under 3s) and £30 for a family (two adults and up to three children). Annual Passes to just the Adventure Play, Garden of Surprises and Sculpture Park are also available, offering unlimited visits throughout the open season; these cost £28 adult, £24 child and £98 for a family. Hide & Secrets is open daily from 10am to 5pm. Booking online in advance is strongly recommended to ensure availability for visit date and time. For more details, visit www.burghley.co.uk