With George in London today, there was sadly no regular weekend family excursion to be had, so Edie and I needed something to fill our Saturday afternoon. With the weather looking fine despite the imminence of crisp autumnal air, I decided we needed to be outside and somewhere new.
That new place was Dinton Pastures.
I have no idea who told me about Dinton but it’s been on my list of places to visit with Edie for about a year now. I had zero expectations, all I knew was a play area and a lake awaited us but twenty-five minutes into our drive Edie started questioning why we were going so far to visit a playground (our usual playground is two minutes away). She was right to question me as I hadn’t really anticipated the length of the drive so simply told her we were visiting a ‘very special playground’. A few minutes later we arrived, parked and followed the distant shrieks of youthful delight. Then we saw it… and what do you know, it really was a very special playground!
Edie ran in not knowing where to begin, and nor did I. There was so much to take in; from the usual swings and slides you’d expect from a play area to the huge wooden structures that inspire climbing, discovery and nerve. Everything is carved from beautiful wood that looks like it could have been chopped that very morning before being joined together to form such impressive formations. To get to the top of the slide the children must scale a small hill aided by ropes or wooden blocks then cross a narrow bridge before arriving at the top - an adventure in itself but surpassed by the looming rush of the slide. Other exciting obstacles include one huge central frame again carved beautifully, tree trunks where children can ascend to 10 feet off the ground, tunnels, zip-wires and much, much more. There’s even a huge wooden chair fit for a fairy-tale giant that graces many an Instagram feed if you have a look. The apparatus I’ve detailed above are probably suited to toddlers and primary aged children, but there’s also a huge sandpit for babies, plus plenty of seating for adults – everyone has been considered, and that’s probably what sums this place up - everything has been well-thought-out rather than simply targeting the nearest playground catalogue to hand.
After chasing Edie round what felt like 45 minutes on the Krypton Factor obstacle course, we strolled down to the lake (which is next the play area). Whilst the playground is a blur of 100mph fun, the lake is the other end of the spectrum; 1mph calm. The only speed here are dogs enjoying a waterside wander or the ducks hurrying to the rustle of an old bread bag. A brief blackberry forage rounded off our walk before heading to the café to enjoy probably our last ice lolly before that crisp autumnal air appears - boo.
A wonderful afternoon that could not be faulted... I suppose the only fault was that I didn’t discover it sooner.