Plotters' Forest Adventure Playground at Raby Castle | A Review

Ad - Our writer Gaia was invited to a preview event on 9 April which is when the photos in this post were taken. Any shares/edits beyond this point have not been asked or paid for. Please visit Raby Castle's website and social media for the most up-to-date information.

Plotter's Forest Adventure Playground at Raby Castle | A Review

Plotters' Forest at Raby Castle

We got a sneak preview of the new adventure playground at Raby Castle; ‘Plotters' Forest.’

Situated within the Christmas tree plantation at Raby up in the treetops, it’s a brilliant new addition to this North East Landmark and it opens on Good Friday 15th April. 

Getting to Raby Castle

Address: Staindrop, Darlington DL2 3AH

Raby Castle is in between Bishop Auckland and Barnard Castle in County Durham, about an hour’s drive from Newcastle. Stick to Google maps, our in-car sat nav took us down single track roads to the back of the Raby Estate which wasn’t accessible! Luckily it wasn’t too far from the main entrance and Google got us back on track. It is possible to visit Raby Castle by public transport too. Please check here for the most up-to-date information.

Pricing for Plotters' Forest and Raby Castle

Prices for the Park & Plotters’ Forest cost: £8 for adults, £7.50 for children and £29 for a family ticket. A concession ticket is also available at £7.

Prices for Raby Castle, Park & Plotters’ Forest cost: £13 for adults, £10 for children and £45 for a family ticket. A concession ticket is also available at £12. 

Parking at Raby Castle

There is plenty of free parking and a brand new car park outside Plotter’s Forest which will be ready when it opens to the public on 15th April. There is about a 5 minute walk between the castle and Plotter’s forest.

Plotters' Forest Adventure Playground at Raby Castle

This treetop playground has been built within the Christmas tree plantation at Raby Castle. I was impressed that they’d managed to build it without chopping down very many trees and was told that the construction company abseiled into the forest to build it!

The few trees that they have chopped down have been used as part of the structure. The wooden playground has lots to explore; walkways through the trees lead to castle-like turrets containing ladders, slides, climbing walls and much more.

The friendly staff made sure we were aware that there is a big slide which might be too high for little ones, and once you go up you have to go down the slide to get down which was useful info (parents of little ones might want to go up with them).

You climb up netting to get to the top and then slide down a twisty slide which they both thought was great fun.

There are fun activities which link to Raby Castle’s heritage including a picture matching game and xylophone to keep kids entertained.

We really enjoyed all the walkways and being up in the trees, which you can actually touch and smell. It’s a great sensory experience and felt very special. It is a bit of a maze, which is quite fun but make sure you don’t lose each other!

Toddler Playground at Raby Castle

There is a dedicated under 4’s area which is ideal for toddlers, with a mini castle and little slide. 

Cafe at Plotters' Forest

There is a takeaway cafe opening within the Plotters' Forest serving takeaway hot and cold drinks, freshly made sandwiches, snacks, cake and ice cream and conveniently overlooks the toddlers’ play area, which includes mini turrets, climbing equipment and chalkboards.

Accessibility at Plotters' Forest

The wooden boardwalk through the playground is accessible by wheelchair and pushchair, creating a fun and inclusive space for all of Raby’s visitors.

The Deer Park and Grounds at Raby Castle

Raby Castle has beautiful grounds to explore so make sure you check out their wild herds of red and fallow deer and Longhorn Cattle.

Easter Trail at Raby Castle

Included free with a Deer Park ticket is the Easter trail which is on until Sunday 24th April. Follow the clues around the park and spell a word to get a little treat. The route isn’t too big so that little ones can manage it.

The walled gardens are currently closed for development as part of exciting plans to update Raby and they will re-open in Summer 2023.

Yurt Cafe at Raby Castle

We grabbed some hot drinks and sat outside the yurt cafe, the baked goods looked delicious and they had kids’ meals as well. 

Dogs at Raby Castle

Well behaved dogs are welcome in the Deer Park and Gardens on leads only and in the Stables Tearoom. Dogs are not permitted in the Castle (except assistance dogs) or Plotter's Forest.

The Plotters’ Forest will open to the public on Good Friday, 15th April with tickets now on sale from the website:

We spent a good hour in the Plotter’s Forest exploring and playing. To make a day of it I would suggest combining it with a trip to the deer park and grounds (and inside the Castle too if you want some history). We loved Plotter’s Forest and will definitely be back.

Plotters' Forest FAQs 

Do I need to pre-book? 

Booking in advance is highly recommended. Some time slots have already sold out. 

Can I bring my dog? 

Dogs are welcome in the castle grounds, deer park and stables shop and yurt cafe on a lead. They are NOT permitted within Plotter's Forest of the castle. 

Can I bring a picnic? 

Yes, visitors with a ticket can bring a picnic to enjoy on benches in the castle grounds and there are picnic tables near the car park area. There are two cafes and food outlets too (which I would recommend - the food here is always yummy). 

I have an annual pass, can I visit? 

Annual passes purchased before 2022 do not include entry to Plotter's Forest. However you can upgrade to include this. New annual passes which include Plotter's Forest are now available here. 

Is Plotters' Forst wheelchair/pushchair accessible? 

Yes, the main boardwork that winds around the attraction is fully accessible. 

Can grown ups play? 

Plotter's Forest has been designed for children and any adults need to be accompanying children when they visit. Adults can accompany children on the equipment/slides etc.... if needed. 

Do I pay for my baby? 

Under 4s go free 

How long should we spend there? 

Our reviewer stayed for around an hour. We would suggest 2-3 hours is a good amount of time and you can combine with the deer park and castle to extend your day. 

When can I visit? 

Plotters' Forest opens to the public on 15 April 2022. Pre-booking is strongly recommended with many Easter dates already showing as sold out. 

Where can I stay nearby? 

We recommend High Force Hotel. It's lovely! Read our review here.  If you're looking for a budget option, (ad) Premier Inn Darlington is a few miles away and offers both family and interconnecting rooms from £30. 

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