Pensthorpe Unveil Plans for £1million Development to Connect Children to Rural Britain

Just Regional
May 31, 2013 4 mins read

Pensthorpe Wildlife and Gardens based near Fakenham in north Norfolk has announced plans to launch an exciting new £1million outdoor expansion, ‘WildRootz,’ aimed at improving children’s connections with the natural world.

The 7,000 square-metre outdoor activity area will encourage children to play and explore in natural habitats such as woods, fields and streams and once completed will be larger than the Canopy Walk at Kew Gardens and the outdoor play area at Chatsworth House combined.

Children’s growing dependency on technology, spending less time outdoors and a reduction in wild spaces for outdoor play has underpinned Pensthorpe’s decision to develop the natural play trail.

‘WildRootz’ will be unlike anything else that Norfolk has to offer and will be set at the edge of Pensthorpe’s existing woodland and park to become an extension of its gardens, wetlands, conservation centre, wildflower meadows, farmland and woodland.

‘WildRootz’ will comprise of over 30 individual items of play equipment including hills, tunnels and burrows, a giant 11m high winding slide tower called ‘The Worm’, ‘The Flyway’ zipwire, trees to climb, shallow streams to wade through and more gentle areas for younger children including a sandpit and, coming in autumn, an ‘Arty Party Barn’ for indoor parties.

Deb Jordan, owner of Pensthorpe comments: “It’s been well documented how children today are inclined to stay indoors to play in the virtual world rather than putting on a pair of wellies and playing outside in the natural world. We believe children are becoming quite detached from rural Britain and instead getting hooked into technology, to the point where they don’t know what many species of bird, insect, tree or plant look like.

“Understandably parents do all they can to protect their children from potential danger or allowing them to stray too far when playing outside. However we have concerns that this may have irreversible consequences on children’s sense of freedom and wellbeing.

“At Pensthorpe we see ourselves as custodians of the natural world and in an effort to encourage the next generation to play their part in protecting the environment for the future, we are launching WildRootz as a first step to safely reconnect children with outdoor, green spaces. This is our contribution in encouraging a new generation of Chris Packham’s or David Attenborough’s for tomorrow.”

Mark Noble, Commercial Manager at Pensthorpe adds: “The aim of WildRootz is to provide a healthy and inspiring place for families to have a fun and energetic day out.

“It has the potential to bring so many benefits from offering healthy, physical exercise, inspiring curiosity, problem solving, social fun and interaction plus a hands-on opportunity to learn about the wonders of the natural world.”

‘WildRootz’ will also have a compelling educational message for children and be packed with activities and information relating to the natural world around them.

In conjunction with this new and exciting nature play area Pensthorpe is also launching a new ‘Passport’ which will guide children and families through ‘WildRootz’ before linking them into the reserve and the remodelled bug walk and stamper trail.

Visitors to Pensthorpe will see lots of development activity over the next few months but disruption during the works will be kept to a minimum and there will be no disturbance to the rich and diverse wildlife living there. Work on WildRootz will not impact on the rest of the Reserve and Pensthorpe will remain open to the public at all times.

First steps in the development will see the refurbishment of the offices to become a new reception and exhibition centre plus increasing and improving car parking with added pathways, tree planting and landscaping throughout.

Work started on the development in May with a view to opening WildRootz in July 2013.

Those with questions about the development are encouraged to email or speak to a member of Pensthorpe staff.

Pensthorpe can be followed on Twitter @Pensthorpe or on Facebook at


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