A playground a day – Knowle Park

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Name Knowle Park
Location White tree close Fair Oak
Parking yes free
Toilets no
Dogs allowed yes except in the fenced off play area
Comments
Knowle park is huge with 17 acres to explore you could definitely spend several hours here. We visited on a Sunday afternoon when most other visitors were dog walkers. We completed a short geocache trail around the park which led us to a viewing point, picked blackberries and played on the playground. We didn’t go too close to the pond or look properly at the skate board ramp.

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The park is big but it feels a little under developed there are very few natural features at the park and very little development. With this amount of space there could be a sculpture trail, a play trail or a frisbee golf course. Instead most of the land is a field.
The play area is designed for older children, it had a zip line, a small but complex play structure, a basket swing, a double swing, a hanging roundabout and some balance logs.

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My six year old had fun but needed help to get on the zip wire. There was nothing my nearly 3 year old could do independently and she very quickly lost interest.

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I can’t help but be a little disappointed with this park. With the space available there could be some lovely play structures and multisports areas. We will be back to fly kites but will avoid the play area until H is a bit bigger.

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A playground a day – Greta park and Turnpike way recreation ground Hedge end

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Name Greta park
Location Upper Northam rd Hedge end
Parking yes free but small car park
Toilets no
Dogs allowed yes
Comments
Today’s blog includes a bonus park. Our plan for the day was to park at Greta park and walk through the woods to Bridget Mary Gardens before returning to Greta park. Unfortunately we took a wrong turning in the woods and ended up at Turnpike way Recreation ground so we played there before returning to Greta park.
Turnpike way rec includes a small fenced in area and a large playing field. The play equipment was well maintained with a couple of items having been removed. There are toddler and big children swings with large seats and good safety bars. There is also a two person swing.

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The younger children liked the smaller play structure which had an easily accessible wobbly bridge, a slide and a tiny fireman’s pole.

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Our resident Spider-Man once again proved he has no fear by climbing to the top of the bigger play structure.

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All the children enjoyed the tiny roundabout and the bouncy horse. We were not prepared to lift them to the bigger roundabout, which required you to hang by your arms to spin.

This playground was a bonus, it’s not the best in the area but the children had fun. In future we would park in the large car park here and walk the 5 minutes to Greta park and the library.

Greta park is much bigger and more modern. The children loved climbing up scramble nets and running down the wobbly bridge neck of a dragon.

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The dragons back is a set of monkey bars that proved too difficult even for Spider-Man. The dragons tail is a slide which was not easy for the 2 year olds to access.

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There is also a large very high slide which the children really enjoyed even if the adults were petrified watching them climb the ladder.

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Also in this playground are some toddler swings, a basket swing, a see saw roundabout, a bouncy rodeo rider and a castle to climb.

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The children loved this park, its imaginative and provided plenty of challenge for them.

We will be back as it’s in a really good location within Hedge end, there are amble shops nearby and the small but perfectly formed library is great.

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A playground a day – 100 acre woods

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Name 100 acre wood/ West Walk
Location 100 Acres road PO17 6JD
Parking? yes £1.50 for up to 2 hours
Toilets? yes
Dogs allowed? yes except in fenced play area
Comments
This is another lovely imaginative playground, the forestry commission have put a lot of effort into making this a great play area for children of all ages. 100 acre woods is part of Bere Forest, the forest includes mile of footpaths, cycle ways and bridle paths. Our visit was purely to the two closest play areas.

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The two play areas are separated by a footpath and a fence. Aimed at slightly older children one of the play areas is primarily a balance trail with logs to balance on, bridges to cross, a stepping stones, and a scrabble net. There are also several bucket swings and a really big swing.

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The downside to this play area is it is open to the woods and dog walkers, my daughter got very scared by a dog running up to her when she was balancing. This is really the only negative, the balance trail and swings are great. There are also plenty of opportunities for den building here too.

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The second play area is aimed at younger children and is predominantly fenced in. At the centre of the playground is a tree house with a steep ramp to access it. There are several swings, a big sandpit, tepees, a bouldering wall, play houses and bridges.

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This is a great play area, the little houses, tepees and slightly hidden areas add to the adventure, the children can be out of sight but safe. The children loved exploring the area, running through the willow tunnel, hiding under the bridges and playing games in the houses.

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Be warned, though this area appears well fenced in there are quite deliberate escape routes, a totem pole with a hole in it, a tower that allows you to climb over the fence into the woods beyond. I read (and have since lost)an interview with the play area designer that said he deliberately put these holes in to add to the adventure and to link the play area with the woods.

I love that all the play equipment is wooden, no plastic, metal or bright colours, the play areas don’t blend into the woods but they do fit in.

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It would be easy to spend a full day here. There are picnic areas, toilets, a refreshment van and bookable bbqs, everything you need for a fun day.
Despite having visited 100 acre woods several times we have never got further than the play areas, we have so much fun here the children have never wanted to go deeper into the woods. One day we will!

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