We have all visited soft play at some point or the other, whether it be birthday parties, specific visits or 5 minutes peace on a visit to a pub. Soft play has its place in life but I am sure I am not alone in having an intense hatred for them.
Being a home education family we try to find places that have at least a little education value to them and when we heard about William’s Den it sounded like somewhere that would appeal to both the girls and myself. Opened in 2012 by Tor & Christian Carver who had the idea of creating an environment for children to play in both inside and out, where they could run free and experience real childhood joys of nature.
Every part of William’s Den was built using as much salvaged pre-loved materials as possible, the walls are hemp blocks, the toilets are powered by rainwater, the heating is via a big biomass boiler using wood pellets. The floors are ‘foamglas’ which is a 100% recycled material and the timber is all locally sourced.
Unfortunately during our visit it rained non stop so we didn’t get a chance to experience the great outdoor section of William’s Den but what we did get to see and play with indoors certainly made us hope for a second visit.
The girls adored the multiple levels of play and we were delighted that education seemed to be prominent at every turn. There was a water pump system which allowed children to create their own water flow, this then trickled down a man made water bed so you could see how the power of water works. A sandpit at the bottom of an enclosed slide was a huge hit with Amelia and she insisted on doing everything barefoot (it is recommended you wear shoes because of the rocks etc but Amelia is a free spirit and would be barefoot everywhere if possible so we weren’t worried!)
The Den is built to allow adults to play with the children too which was lovely to see, the girls kept running back to us and telling us we ‘have to come and see this now’ which you don’t normally get in other children’s play areas.
If we had thought it through we would have brought a change of clothes so that the girls could have not only played outside but messed around in the water feature within the indoor den. There were lots of children walking between the walls of water and splashing around, as it was after the larger kids had returned to school we seemed to have hit lucky with it all being little ones. The squeals of delight and joy filled the place and not once was there tears.
William’s Den is not just a play area, it has the most amazing wood fired pizza oven for a freshly made lunch! The cafe was open and airy so lent itself to a great meeting spot for parenting groups to chat over coffee etc and it would be ideal for home ed groups – I just wish it was a little closer to home but this would definitely not put me off visiting should we be in the area again.
Plus the chocolate brownie was to die for and worth a visit alone!
Of course, being a stationery addict, I couldn’t leave without doing what everyone does on holiday! I had to visit the shop too and managed to pick up these super cute bits to add to my collection. Anyone else remember having to have at least a pen and rubber from wherever they visited when little?
William’s Den is open during winter from Monday 10th September to Sunday 6th January. Monday to thursday 10-6, Friday 10-7 and Saturday/Sunday 10-6. Closed 25th Dec and 1st Jan.
Prices are from £3.00
We were invited along to play for the purpose of this review. All views and opinions are my own and genuine.