Newly opened royal playpark forced to shut due to safety fears

Playground opened by Prince Charles that was modelled on his grandson George’s treehouse is forced to partially shut because of safety fears

  • The playground is in East Ayrshire at the headquarters of the Prince’s Foundation
  • It is nestled six metres up among the trees on the Dumfries House estate
  • Featuring rope bridges and a net tunnel, the playground was opened Thursday  
  • One eyewitness said a problem was caused by adults jumping on the bridge 
  • Less than a week after opening, engineers have had to be called in to do repairs 

An adventure playground opened by Prince Charles on Thursday has been forced to shut three days later, following safety fears concerning a suspension bridge.

The playground is located at Dumfries House in East Ayrshire – which is the headquarters of The Prince’s Foundation – and features a large central play tower made from sustainably-sourced English chestnut.     

It is believed a tension wire broke on the suspension bridge. 

Followers on the estate’s social media speculated about the cause of the problem.

One wrote: ‘The problem was too many people on the bridge and lots of adults jumping up and down on it and a wire came loose a lady who worked there said.’

After only three days since its opening, the park has been forced to partially shut due to safety fears concerning a suspension bridge

The rustic wooden playground features elevated rope bridges, a netting tunnel, two side-by-side racing slides and a tube slide (pictured) 

The playground’s design was inspired by Charles’ belief in the importance of understanding the ‘balance, the order and the relationships between ourselves and the natural world’ 

The 300-square metre rustic wooden playground is nestled six metres up among the trees on the Dumfries House estate, and features elevated rope bridges, a netting tunnel, two side-by-side racing slides and a tube slide.

In a statement the estate said: ‘As a precaution, a part of our Adventure Playground has been temporarily closed after a fault was discovered earlier today (Sat).

‘We hope to reopen all aspects of the play area by next weekend (January 29/30) but welcome young adventurers in the meantime to enjoy the chute, climbing frame and zip wire, the parts of the Adventure Playground that remain open, as well as our nearby Engineering Playground.

‘The safety of visitors to the estate is naturally our priority, so we made a decision to temporarily close a part of the Adventure Playground to ensure the new suspension bridge is as stable as possible.

The royal, pictured with local children from nearby Muirkirk Primary School, was said to have enjoyed watching the youngsters explore the park at the opening 

The Prince of Wales with pupils from Muirkirk Primary School, in a nature-based children’s adventure playpark 

‘Engineers from constructors CAP.Co are working to make repairs.’

Simon Egan of Creating Adventurous Places (CAP.Co), the company behind the recent additions to the Adventure Playground, including the suspension bridge, said: ‘Following the successful opening of the Adventure Playground at Dumfries House, regrettably it has been temporarily closed today (Sat) in order to make a technical adjustment to one of its features. We wish to apologise to visitors for any inconvenience caused.’

Last week Prince Charles opened the nature-based playpark here at Dumfries House as part of The Prince’s Foundation’s commitment to championing the benefits of nature-based play and learning.

The playpark, specifically designed to utilise the estate’s existing wooded landscape, will provide local children and visitors with the opportunity to have fun while reaping the physical and mental benefits that come with engaging with nature. There is no charge to enjoy the attraction, which is located beside the Coach House Café. 

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 Charles’s memories of his childhood visits to Sandringham.

To encourage family members of all ages and abilities to play together, the playpark 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.

Last week Charles joined in the fun as pupils from nearby Muirkirk Primary School explored the new playpark.

Charles chatted to youngsters as they clambered around.

‘Have you enjoyed it? Have you run around the whole thing? Which bit do you like most? You like all of it – great,’ he said.

Charles chuckled as he watched one boy jump from a height on to the ground in front of his feet, pointing and saying: ‘That’s what I like to see.’

The initiative also follows in the footsteps of the Duchess of Cambridge – a key champion of outdoor woodland play.

Kate designed her own Back to Nature garden for the Chelsea Flower Show in 2019, which featured a tree house, waterfall, rustic den and a campfire.

She has stressed how spending time outdoors can help children grow up to become ‘happy, healthy adults’, and says her own youngsters – George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis – are ‘dragged outside’ whatever the weather.

The duchess also opened a children’s playground at RHS Wisley in Surrey, inspired by her garden, featuring a rope swing, tepee hideaway and a tree house.

CAP.Co also worked on the recent adventure play area on the Queen’s Sandringham estate.

The prince led a consortium of charities and the Scottish Government to save Dumfries House ‘for the nation’ with a last-ditch £45 million purchase in 2007, with his own charitable foundation contributing £20 million.

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