New Playground at Danby Lodge National Park Centre

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The information in this post was last checked in July 2024 - it's important to always check info with venue direct before heading out as info can change.

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New Playground at Danby Lodge National Park Centre

A brand new playground has opened at Danby Lodge National Park Centre this summer and it's definitely worth adding to your summer plans. 

Need to Know: 

  • Located in North York Moors National Park, around a 1 hour drive from the Tyne Tunnel (a perfect stop off when driving to/from Whitby) 

  • FREE to visit with no booking required 

  • Excellent on-site facilities including a new playground, mud kitchen, toilets, Park Life Cafe, baby change, wheelchair hire, shop, indoor exhibitions, lovely walks, sculpture trail, nature trail, bird hides and lots of nature 

  • On site paid car park (card/apple pay only/PayByPhone app). Expect to pay between £3.50-£5.50

  • Pet dogs on leads welcome in the grounds (except Crow Woods) and cafe (indoor and outdoor seating). Water bowls are provided 

  • Postcode:  YO21 2NB

  • Danby Train Station is a 20 minute walk away (partially on a quiet road) 

  • A lot of areas are suitable for wheelchair users, there's an accessible toilet and clearly marked accessible routes around the site, a lift, mostly level access and some accessible play equipment 

The playground takes inspiration from nature and the wildlife in the surrounding North York Moors National Park and uses sustainably sourced British Wood as the main building material which I think looks great! 

The playground is just across the road from the car park with the Park Life Cafe, shop and public toilets just set back from the play facilities (although not within you line of sight). There is plenty of seating both on the grassed area next to the playground or within the playground itself. You're welcome to bring a picnic. 

Equipment is suitable for all ages - for thrillseekers there is a double zip wire where you can race your friends plus a climbing next, basket tower and tube slide and for younger ones there are toddler swings, a mini play ranger truck and a mud kitchen. 

I love the attention to detail and the animal suclptures are fantastic and really blend in with the playground. 

There are three different types of swing - basket, toddler and regular. 

Plus various sensorty / interactive boards and games dotted about. 

The main play structure is wheelchair accessible via this ramp - I didn't test it but it does feel wide enough to accommodate most wheelchairs. This ramp gives step-free access to the green slide (two photos above). 

In terms of terrain around the playground, some is smooth compressed bark and other areas are loose bark and some grassed areas. There were families there with pushchairs who seemed to be able to manage all of these areas. 

I would definitely say this is a playground designed to inspire adventure and imaginative play. I really liked all of the natural play equipments from tree stumps as stepping stones to branches wrapping the structure and how sculptures have been carved into the wood. 

The playground looks and feels great and the quality is up there with the best. But more importantly, the playground was clearly being enjoyed by lots of children when we visited including a large school trip who were having a blast. 

Honestly, this place is IDEAL for meeting up with friends and spending the day. 

How adorable is this North York Moors National Park Ranger Truck? Complete with (a pretend) electric charging point and steering wheel. So much fun for imaginative play and I can imagine lots of little ones running around the park pretending they're a ranger this summer. 

I really stuggled to get a photo of the double zip wire as it was SO popular but here's a quick snap of one of the swings. As you can see from the double platforms at the end, kids are going to have so much fun racing each other on this. 

Towards the rear of the park you'll find a fabulous mud kitchen (open Spring until the end of Nov). It's kitted out with pans, pots, ovens, cupboards, spatulas and more. Bring the kids a change of old clothes and they'll have a blast here. There is a picnic table and seating here too. 

Danby Lodge National Park Centre : Park Life Cafe & Toilets 

The toilets are part of the main building and free for everyone to use - you don't need to make a purchase from the cafe / shop etc.....There are male, female and accessible toilets plus baby change facilities. 

You'll also find lots of extras near the loos like a free bike repair station, free to use bike locks, a free e-bike charger, dog water bowls, bins, a defibrillator and a boot cleaning station. Honestly the facilities are just second to none. It's like they've thought of everything. 

During our last visit in early June there were so many beautiful roses around the building and there is plenty of seating here where you can just sit and admire the view. 

What a smart boy is Fozzy being while mam and dad take turns to spend a penny! 

A quick snap inside the ladies loos - they were nice and clean with soap in the dispensers and a mirror too. 

The Park Life Cafe is just on the other side of the building to the loos and is fantastic. It's the kind of place you walk inside and the staff immediatly say hello to you. Really friendly! 

They have an ice cream counter in here serving local Yorkshire ice cream in quite a few flavours so if you didn't want to stop for a full meal, you could always stop by and grab an ice cream to cool down after the playground. 

There are highchairs, a variety of seating (picnic tables/sofas/chairs) and free water refills are available here. Dogs are welcome inside and out.

The cafe serves a range of delicious sandwiches, burgers, toasties and main meals as well as breakfast/brunch, cakes, scones and a children's menu and kids picnic boxes too. I thought prices were reasonable (£7.70 for a burger for example). 

You can check special offers, up to date menus and cafe opening hours on their Facebook page here:

I went with the ultimate cheese toastie which I ordered at the counter and the staff brought out to me. It was lovely and filled with lots of oozy cheese. 

I couldn't resist the Homemade Summer Berry Lemonade which was honestly the best soft drink I've had this summer. It was so refreshing. I would drive to this cafe just to order this drink again. So nice. 

We couldn't resist the counter of homeade cakes either and finally decided on an Oreo Brownie which was super soft and gooey. Lush! 

You'll find a nice second hand bookshop in the cafe and a peaceful garden area too. Cafes at UK attractions can be hit and miss but this one is definitely a hit. 

Indoor Facilities at Danby Lodge National Park Centre 

Sadly, the weather in Britain is never predictable and there's nothing worse than just arriving at a playground expecting a sunny day for the heavens to open. Well the good news is, at Danby Lodge National Park Centre there is plenty of indoor fun to be had should you be caught in a passing shower.'s all FREE and drop-in. 

The interactive exhibitions and games are suitable for all ages (although adults only on the climbing wall) and spread over two floors (lift available). It's a real gem of a place. 

Expect lots of activities where you can learn about local wildlife including puzzles, fishing games, wildlife cameras you can control (I spotted a squirrel) and interactive digital media. As well as wildlife you can learn about the history of the North York Moors National Park including it's mining heritage. 

The pipe challenge below is lots of fun - can you design a safe route on the railroad? 

The Salmon Run Challenge is always a hit, you have to kind of press a button in the right way to ensure the Salmon jumps to the next level and makes it all the way to the top. 

I've visited this indoor area four times now and every time, I've found equipment to be in excellent working condition. 

The real star of the show though is this indoor climbing cave. The first time I visited I thought I'd read it wrong and that we'd have to pay but no, it's completely free! Just drop in (kids only for this bit). 

Next to the climbing cave you'll find wall building activities, a quieter crossword area and seating too. 

I will sing the praises of Danby Lodge National Park Centre all day long. What a fantastic free resource for families and an excellent alternative to a soft play or museum - I think it's kind of a combo of all the best bits from a day out and there's so much variety. 

Dog-Friendly Sculpture Trail at Danby Lodge National Park Centre 

What I like about Danby Lodge National Park Centre is that there are walks where pet dogs on leads are permitted and another walk (Crow Woods) where pet dogs are not permitted. I think you really get the best of both world's here. 

There are lovely short walks around the area with plenty of points of interest along the way whether this be a giant dragon sculpture, statues that talk to you and explain more about the area, a cloud gazing area where you lean back and look up at the sky and labyrinth where you follow the route of a salmon travelling up stream. 

You can of course take an extended walk around the North York Moors National Park with information and leaflets available inside the shop. 

Crow Wood Nature Walk (No Pet Dogs)

Crow Wood is located just next to the car park and definitely worth a walk through. It's small but packs loads in and is absolutely packed with wildlife. On my last visit I spotted three squirrels and two pheasants. It's also one of those places where you can constantly hear beautiful birdsong. Fabulous! 

Due to wildlife preservation, pet dogs are not permitted in this section. As a dog-owner myself I really think this is the right decision as you just wouldn't get the same amount of wildlife settling here if dogs were constantly disturbing them. And as mentioned above, there are other areas where dogs can enjoy a walk. 

It's not compulsary but you can purchase a nature trail from the shop for £3. These change regularly and across the summer holidays the theme will be 'Birds on the Edge'. They include different activities, encourage you to engage in nature and there is a fairly decent prize at the end (more than a sticker). 

Back to Crow Woods though and there is a tramper / pushchair accessible route clearly marked and the wildlife hides are wheelchair accessible too. 

As well as an abundance of nature, Crow Woods is filled with lots of surprises including a storytelling chair, den building area, wishing tree, wildlife ponds, bird hide, talking statues and more. It's a fun place for a little leg stretch and usually fairly quiet and peaceful too. 

There is seating in Crow Woods - around the storytelling chair, near the den building and in the bird hide. 

And that's a wrap! Danby Lodge National Park Centre is a real gem of a place. I love that everything is free / low cost and there is such a huge variety of things to do for all ages and weathers. 

Their new playground is a must but don't forget to check out the rest of their facilities and activities while you are there too. 

Find out more:

Oh and one more thing before I end this post, of course there's a gift shop. It's fantastic with lots of maps, guide books, pocket money toys and Yorkshire produce for sale alongside a fantastic range of jewellery from local suppliers. 

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New Playground at Danby Lodge National Park Centre


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