If you follow me on social media you will know that we visit Castle Howard regularly. With having a family membership we can often go and enjoy the parklands and allow the kids to let off steam in Castle Howard adventure playground.
Castle Howard is currently operating a pre-booking time slot system due to coronavirus. We haven’t found it difficult to get tickets but I have looked ahead and pre-booked a few days beforehand to ensure we get a time. That said, we have also got tickets spur of the moment on the day without much trouble.
The adventure playground, or Skelf Island as it’s known, is situated by the Great Lake. On arrival you will be given a map and details on their seasonal activity trails for kids.
Castle Howard have let us all into the secret that for centuries the Skelves have inhabited a secret world, over the water from Castle Howard, causing mischief and mayhem high up in the trees, interacting with birds and protecting wildlife. Ingenious treetop nest structures connected by rope bridges, slides, nets and climbing equipment will allow the Skelves to take young visitors on an adventure like no other. We love that there’s no age restriction, just a brave restriction so you can often find parents on the zip line and rope bridge enjoying the park with their children.
The adventure playground next to the cafe and toilets facilities has a smaller wooden climbing frame/slide/playhouse for very little ones.
Then it moves on in size and ability with a medium structure and then a large adventure pyramid with tunnel slides for the more adventurous. On the opposite side of the playground there are some fun bouncing tyre and button swings as well as a wooden play structure of which my eldest loves to practice his parkour on.
Beyond the original wooden adventure playground across the lake is Skelf Island. Reach the treetop adventure playground over a thrilling rope bridge or across a pushchair / wheelchair accessible wooden decking path.
Once in Skelf island there are a series of treetop structures, tunnels, slides and climbing structures. My children can spend a lot of time in here playing tig and other games, teaming up with each other and running off a lot of steam.
Our children never tire of playing here and we often have to prise them away with an offer of an ice lolly or sweet treat to walk back up the tarmac path or grassy hill to the carpark. Pre Covid times there is a land train that travels between the carpark – house – park but this is currently not operating.
In term of keeping clean and safe there are hand sanitiser pumps dotted about all over the park and children are asked to sanitise before and after leaving by a member of staff. There is also an outdoor hand washing station. The staff count children in and out of the play park through a single access point.
We recommend going earlier or later in the day when the park is quieter. You can always walk around the woodland, rose garden and the south lake to break the park visit up.
Adjacent to the park is the boathouse cafe, currently running a basic lunch menu of their more popular items due to coronavirus. Hot drinks, cakes and ice creams are also available from the cafe / ice cream kiosk. In holidays and busier periods they have a pop-up wood fired pizza tent next to the ice cream kiosk but I recommend checking ahead on this one to avoid disappointment. We often wander around the gardens and eat our picnic before heading down to Skelf Island adventure playground. If your kids are eager to get down there and play there are plenty of picnic benches surrounding the adventure playground to have lunch as well as benches at the boathouse cafe overlooking the Great Lake.
There are a number of toilets including a disabled/ baby changing cubicle. There are also extra portaloos on the grounds as well as toilet facilities by the ticket office entrance. Every toilet station has hand sanitiser available.
Head to the Castle Howard website to pre- book your tickets. To visit the gardens and adventure playground it costs £12.95 per adult and £8.50 per child (4-16), under 4s are free and family rates and concessions are also available. Membership packages are available just pop into the booking office and enquire. Car parking is free and I’m sure you won’t be disappointed with your day out, it’s one of our happy places in Yorkshire.