This was marginally more daring than it first seems, as Woodland Play are an outdoor playgroup. In Scotland.
Initial impressions were a little uncertain – it looked remarkably like we were paying a fiver to stand in a field for two hours. However, I’m delighted to say I was completely wrong; it’s a slick operation with a wide array of stuff to delight almost any small child and really not bad value at all.
The group are based in the paddock in front of Greenbank house. There’s only one gate out of that field, so no matter how expert your child is at sprinting into the far distance, you’ll notice them making a break for freedom. Scattered around the field are a good number of Exciting Things To Do, such as: an outdoor mud kitchen (at which you can see mini-DarkerSide rustling up a tasty little something at the top of this page); a sandpit; a (toddler-friendly…) assault course; a water play area; a few other bits and bobs; and all the grass, trees, mud and puddles that a small child could shake a stick at.
There’s also a central base point with handwashing facilities, a changing tent and potty (see below – it’s not enormous, but big enough), and tables and chairs for group activities.
Halfway through the two hours there’s a break for a good-sized selection of healthy snacks and water/juice, plus (joy of joys!) coffee, tea and cake for the grown-ups.
The session finished with a group singing session (which was relaxed enough that even my reckless approach to pitch felt comfortable…).
All that for a fiver, plus an extra quid for any further children you happen to bring along. Heartily recommended – we’re going again on Friday.
PS: It goes without saying, but dress yourself and your small people appropriately. Full-body splash-suits were de rigueur for participants, and wellies are a good idea for all. The water play area suffered a touch from midges, so if it’s a still day a spot of insect repellent wouldn’t go amiss.
PPS: There’s also a full-time nursery available, which looks amazing. Kids apparently spent 80% of the day outside, and “we have hammocks, tents and sleeping bags that the children sleep in, regardless of the weather. On dry days, they can drift off to sleep whilst looking at the trees and birds above”.