Cragside Play Area

Thanks to our writer Bethanie for this post which was based on a visit in October 2022. Always check with venues direct for the most up to date info. 

Cragside Play Area

This post is the first in a new series where I am going to share updated information and photos featuring the playgrounds at different National Trust sites across the North East. 

First up is Cragside. You can read some of my other posts about visiting Cragside here: 

Over to Bethanie.........

If you are looking for a day out, where the kids get a good run around, the scenery is jaw-droppingly beautiful and you can also grab a hot drink and delicious snack, then I think you will love Cragside National Trust. 

We have been coming here for years; really making the most of our National Trust membership. 

My top five things I love about Cragside are:

  • It has the vibe of Canada about it, thanks to the tall pines that are native to North America.  I love that you can really got lost here and is the perfect place to leave all those work and life stresses behind and completely switch off as you soak up your surroundings. 

  • The kids absolutely love getting lost in the Labyrinth. 

  • The playpark has recently been updated and is suitable for a range of ages from young toddlers right up to teens. 

  • Every time we visit, we explore a different part of Cragside thanks to its extensive grounds. Only recently we discovered the beautiful formal gardens and like I said previously, we have been coming here for years. 

  • As well as the house, there is also a café and kiosk up at the playpark, serving hot drinks, food and ice creams. The café is open all the time; however the kiosk is seasonal and it’s best to ask on arrival if it is open or not that day. 

How to plan your visit.

The House. 

As you approach the drive for Cragside, you are immediately greeted by its stunning backdrop of dense woodland and lake. The house itself is hidden amongst the trees and boasts a dramatic flair. 

You will be welcomed by the friendly and helpful staff who check your card memberships or take payment if you aren’t a National Trust member. 

You can get a map from the member of staff, which I recommend doing to give you an idea of the grand scale of Cragside. 

Head first of all to the main car park. This is up a steep hill which veers to the left away from the house. Once you have parked up, you are able to explore the immediate grounds surrounding the house. There is a café and small gift shop. 

From here you can access the house. It is worth looking around and learning about its history, but I think young children will be keen to get back outside and start exploring. 

Cragside House was home to the Armstrongs and was the first home in the world to be lit by electricity. The house is open seven days a week during the spring, summer and early autumn.

It is then closed over the winter aside from being open for special Christmas events. It is always best to check on their website before visiting for opening times as these are very seasonal. 

This year, the house is set to open for the Christmas period on 3 December. The decorations are definitely worth making a December visit for - they're gorgeous! (do check opening hours before setting out to avoid disappointment). 

The Gardens. 

After you have visited the house and tearoom and started to get your bearings a bit, follow the signs towards the Formal Gardens. The path from the main house isn’t suitable for pushchairs or wheelchairs, however there is a more accessible route if you head back towards the main entrance and up to the left. 

The Formal Gardens are worth a visit, while you are rewarded with stunning views over Rothbury and the Coquet Valley. 

There are a few different walks you can do from here also, with a number of footpaths leading through the many acres of estate. You can also walk from the main car park up to the playpark, but I recommend you drive up the Carriage Drive. 

The Carriage Drive. 

The Carriage Drive is six miles long and takes you past many small car parks which lead to some lovely woodland walks. I always think it feels like a mini adventure driving up here which is why I always recommend it to people who haven’t been before. 

Head along to the Nelly’s Moss car park. This is the next car park along from the play area. We like to park here because you are right at the entrance to the Labyrinth which the kids will love getting lost in. You also have access to several picnic benches overlooking the two lakes and the scenery here will take your breath away. 

The kids will enjoy a bit of rock climbing and exploring before you walk back along the road to the play area. 

The road is one way so bear this in mind when driving. 

From this car park you can enjoy Nelly's Moss walk around the lakes which is suitable for pushchairs and around 1.5 miles circular. 

You can easily access the play area from Nelly's Moss or park in Crozier Car Park if you'd like to be a little closer (all well signposted). The map below shows both car parks plus the play area location (number 12 on the map). Accessible parking is available by the lake too (see map). 

The playpark and kiosk. 

The playpark was updated in 2021, with some exciting new additions for older children. Recommended for ages 0-12 years, there is a great climbing frame with ropes which my oldest loves to climb right to the top. 

The playground is enclosed here and fairly compact compared to some of the other National Trust Playgrounds in the North East. It does pack a lot in though and is ideal for a picnic and a play. We'd recommend here if you have children of mixed ages. 

Cragside Play Area

Playground equipment includes: 

  • Zip wire 
  • Climbing frames and cargo nets for different ages 
  • Climbing net 
  • Climbing tyre
  • Two big slides for older children
  • One smaller slide for toddlers
  • Bridges and obstacle courses 
  • Toddler swings 
  • Boppy Single Seesaws  
  • Seesaw
  • Nearby Trim Trail (between play park and Labyrinth) with four sets of activities including balance beams, swing on bars and cargo nets 

All of the equipment is in excellent condition and there is seating outside. The ground is covered in soft bark. 

Cragside Play Area

Cragside Play Area

Cragside Play Area

Cragside Play Area

A short walk away you will find a “trim trail” which is more suitable for older children. Dogs are not permitted in the enclosed play park but there is seating directly outside of the park which is where parents/carers usually stay with their dogs as the kids play in view. 

There is also a kiosk here which serves hot and cold drinks, ice creams and tray bakes. The kiosk is open seasonally however, so it is worth asking at the entrance whether it is open during your visit or not. You can also bring your own picnic. The car park is very close and it's easy to leave things in the car if needed.

There are toilets next to the kiosk / play area.  

It is worth noting…

Following the devastation of Storm Arwen in November 2021, Cragside is following a five-year recovery plan to clear some areas of damaged woodland.

This will not restrict your visit in any way as many of the walks and pathways are back open now.

However, I did see one car park (Canada Car Park) is closed and there are one or two footpaths that are shut. The popular walking routes are open however including the one from the house up to the playpark, and the route around the lakes. 

You do not need to book but please check current opening hours and non-member prices here:

Hopefully this post has provided you with lots of inspiration for your visit to Cragside and given you are a good idea of what to expect. 

Extend your day

Rothbury is just over a mile away and home to a lovely enclosed playground by the river which is ideal for younger children. It's nice to have a walk along the visit and play here (plus there's free parking). Read our guide to visiting Rothbury Playground here. 

Other North East National Trust Play Areas:

Seaton Delaval Hall 


A Comprehensive Guide to Visiting North East National Trust Properties 

(I will update these posts and add to this list soon)


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