If you go down to the woods today, you’d better go in disguise. Deep in the woods, constructed of the woods itself, is the Wallington Hall Fort featuring a carved bear.
Wallington Fort is a public children’s outdoor play area that was designed and built for the National Trust at Wallington Hall near Newcastle. They wanted an English Hardwood construction that would blend into the woodland and this will, in time, weather down to a mix of silver greys and soft greens. These soft, natural colours will blend into the forest, so that visitors seamlessly stumble upon this magical fort in the woods. We carved a bear to greet visitors and the fort features many different play activities to engage children. This fort is the embodiment of the fort that the Trevelyan children used at Wallington in the 1930’s and 40’s. It is the third installation we have carried out here, the first being the 4.5 tonne, 45 foot train and the second being the station.
Built exclusively of oak and cedar, both durable timbers, the fort has a high lookout tower, a dungeon, battlements and windows, climb nets, walls and ropes, climb ramps, a peg post with ropes to it, a slide pole, a rural branch climb, and a huge carved Larch Grizzly Bear. Once you have discovered all this, out the back, stretching away into the woods, is a rope bridge across which you can make your escape from your enemies.
A thick ground cover of natural woodchip gives a safe, deep, fall area. Up to 50 leaping, whirling, running, dancing children and soldiers can be accommodated on this installation and it has been reported to us by our friends at Wallington that it is a huge success.
The oak and cedar are untreated and the fort will gently grey down to blend with the grey green trunks of the nearby beeches, sitting in dappled sunlight in a natural clearing, like the train, which can be enigmatically glimpsed from a nearby hill top; you see the fort only when you are upon it (although the shrieks of laughter of playing children do give it away long before you see it).
This is natural rural play at its best and we are very proud of it.
Please take a look at the photo mosaic of Wallington Fort outdoor play area below. Clicking an image will take you into slideshow mode where you can view larger versions of the images.