Fort Douglas, Dalkeith

Fort Douglas Mini Maze

Dalkeith Country Park

Fort Douglas is an adventure play area in the grounds of Dalkeith Country Park. The grounds themselves are home to Dalkeith Palace, originally built in the early 17th Century with the River South Esk running through its heart. The house and gardens have been enjoyed by guests for hundreds of years and we hope our work has enhanced that for many years to come. There are over 1,000 acres to explore, The Fort Douglas Adventure Play Centre to play in, Restoration Yard to eat, shop and relax in and loads of walking running and cycling routes to enjoy too.

Our brief from the outset was to masterplan an extension to the existing play area to both increase dwell time, add more play and improve the offer to a wider age group.

Our work on site here has seen four distinct phases of work. These are shown on the original full masterplan here.

The overall masterplan for Dalkeith play at Fort Douglas

Phase one saw us enhance the existing play, whilst phase two welcomed the Orangerie Zipwire extension. You can see that here. Next came the Treetop Maze that brought a whole new layer of play value and some real adventurous challenges. Phase four was to add Toddler play, every bit as challenging and fun for the littler visitors and their parents together.

Zooming in on the plan for the Toddler play, you can see that here

Plans for the Dalkeith Toddler Play

The keys to great play for toddlers is to layer in challenges for the little ones and at the same time, enable the parents to relax, knowing the challenges we've set are appropriate and the area is completely fenced in. This means that even if they are out of sight, they are still very much within the site we've defined.

Next comes the block models to understand the scale and interactivity.

Alternative view of Dalkeith toddler play model
Initial model for play designed for Dalkeith Toddlers

The build is made up of walkways, climbs, slides and mini treehouses and as per our usual process, we first draw up our super realistic CGI's to enable a full understanding of scale and proportions. There's a large sandpit area with a tractor track, that's also fully enclosed. This is a simple strategy to ensure the sand doesn't either blow away on windy days or get thrown out into the wood barked areas during bouts of enthusiastic digging.

When it comes to the final build, this was completed with our usual on-site efficiency. All of the materials and external finishes have been designed to sit alongside the other three phases of play we've already completed so it gives a holistic look and feel, right across the wider adventure play areas.

These final images show some of the children being allowed to enjoy the new area and judge for themselves what they think of it.

The overwhelming opinion from the kids (and their parents) can be summed up in three words.

Just. Brilliant. Fun.

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