Today we took a trip to one of our favourite family spots, Dunham Massey, just near Altrincham and under a 30 minute drive from Manchester's city centre.
Although I have visited the beautiful Dunham Massey Hall and grounds numerous times as a child and also as an adult with my own children, I was surprised to discover that there a whole area that I had always missed! The Log Pile, an all natural adventure play area and picnic spot, perfect for budding adventurers and little ones with a love of tree climbing.
What? The Log Pile children's play area is abundant in fun and innovative activities such as leaping logs, follow along deer tracks, cute carved animals, a massive fallen tree perfect for climbing and cut trees that have been cleverly equipped with climbing wall moulds.
Our 5 year old son had an absolute blast bouncing from one log to another, trying his best to stay out of the "ocean" floor and escape the "pirates". He also had a miraculous transition into a Tarzan like figure, hoisting himself up onto the climbing tree trunk, balancing along the narrower areas and shimmying his way right to the end.
Because the playground is made from all natural materials it has a lovely quaint, outdoorsy feel to it, there's no brightly coloured apparatus, no rubber mat flooring; just good old fashioned nature at it's best.
As well as the playground, The Log Pile is also the perfect area to stop for a picnic, there's a number of large wooden (of course!) picnic tables under the shade of the trees, so there's plenty of room and it's well away from the hungry deer!
Where? This may have been our terrible map reading skills but it actually took us longer than I would like to admit to locate the play area. As you find a spot in the main car park, you are directed to the Dunham Massey information centre and reception, as well as containing toilets and the gift shop, this is where you will need to pass through to enter the main park and gardens.
To find The Log Pile, you need to turn left before the centre entrance and follow the path right into the trees, here you'll find the picnic area and a little further along, the playground.
Anything else? I'm sure a lot of people are familiar with what Dunham Massey has to offer, but if by chance you're not then there is a whole lot to discover. Dunham Massey Hall is huge, stoked in history and open for viewing, albeit at an extra cost. However if you're looking to save the pennies then the hall's grounds are still worth the trip.
Take a stroll amongst the deer, purchase some seeds from the shop and feed the masses of ducks and geese that swamp the lake. There's an onsite coffee shop serving up hot and cold food, as well as delicious ice cream. Check out some of the old outdoor buildings and learn some interesting facts about what used to happen in the grounds.
Dunham Massey is also home to some great seasonal events including children's hide and seek trails, Halloween ghost story telling, craft classes and the amazing after dark Christmas light trail.
How much? Dunham Massey is owned by the National Trust so there is an overall entry cost, £6 per car. There is additional costs for entry to the hall and official gardens, although the hall's grounds and The Log Pile are free.
You can check out a full price list here.
For Dunham Massey's full details make sure to check out the National Trust website.