Friday, 6 August 2010

Playscape has a Great First Day

Children were smiling yesterday as they got to be the first to have a play in the brand new Crow Wood Playscape. We had lots of positive comments from excited youngsters and parents - if you've been down to Lyme Park and had a play please give us your thoughts on the project!

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Playscape is Open!

The all clear was given to Crow Wood Playscape today and the gates were opened to the first users, who ran through the greats screaming!

And it's not just children who've enjoyed their first play - Lyme Park property staff and volunteers have been enjoying the playscape too!

We'd love to hear your feedback on the playscape if you manage to make a visit over the summer holidays - and please send in your photos so that we can post them on the blog (

The project team hope that everyone really enjoys the playscape over the coming years

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Playscape fit to Open!

Members of the project team today completed a final inspection of the playscape site and confirmed that upon completion of a final tidy up this afternoon, the project will be practically complete.

The National Trust are having information signs fabricated to provide information for parents, and as soon as these have been installed the playscape will be fit to open.

The signs are expected tomorrow, allowing the playscape to welcome its first users on Friday - however, if you are planning a visit to the playscape it is advisable to ring ahead and ensure the playscape has been opened (01663 762023).

Confirmation will be posted here on Friday, and pictures of the first few days of use will be posted next week.

Keep checking the blog for information on the official opening celebration, likely to be in early September.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Latest News

The Crow Wood Playscape project team had another site meeting this morning to go over the site with a fine tooth comb! The work is essentially complete, and the team have drawn up a final list of small items to be completed. The site will remain closed for a least a week to allow newly laid turf to take root, paths to settle and be re-rolled and to allow the contractors to tidy the site up and remove their tools, machinery and vehicles.

The new entrance sign

Tower walkway

The slide as viewed from the towers

View of treehouse from towers

The 'high side' from viewed from the treehouse deck

Treehouse complete with new fireman's poles

Friday, 23 July 2010

Opening News

The Project Team met on site this afternoon to assess progress and list any small items of work that require attention before the gates can open.

Progress over the last fortnight has been excellent, and the work left to complete is very miminal. The team have decided that the playscape will be given a week to 'bed in' - this will allow newly laid turf to establish so that it is not damaged by the high numbers of visitors expected once the gates open.

With this in mind, we are moving into the last couple of weeks of the build - an opening date will be more clear after a further project team site visit on Tuesday 27th July. We know there are lots of eager families keen to make their first visit so we want to make certain everything is right before we tell you all to come along and play!

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Almost There!

The Playscape is within touching distance of opening, and the project team will meet tomorrow to check over the site and decide whether the gates can be opened next week.

The contractors are working frantically to put the finishing touches in place as the Playscape shapes up for its first visitors.

Check back tomorrow for opening news....

Carved Badgers

Climbing trees and carved egg

Hammock house

Willow eggs

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Another Great Day Out!

Families from Stockport took part in nature treasure trails at Lyme Park yesterday - and were offered a sneak peak of the Playscape on a site tour led by Groundwork Cheshire staff.

The Stockport families were invited to have a look around the site in return for their view on whether they felt the Playscape design accomodates children of all abilities.

All of the comments were positive, and the families thought that we had utilised the consultation advice from families during our design process to good effect, and that as such the Playscape accomodates children with a range of abilities.

From the comments, it will be important that we advertise exactly what facilities within the Playscape are accessible so that parents and carers know what to expect before they visit. Also, from observing the families on site we are now looking at including additional hand support to help access up the boulder scramble.

A great day was had by all! The invaluable advice from our participating families will be fed directly to the designers and contractors for any last minute tweaks, and also to the National Trust so that they can consider the design of any future developments on the site as well as the details of the advertising literature for the Playscape.

The first family off to visit the site

Taking in the view of the tree house

The treehouse access ramp has taken shape since last week

Two baby badgers spotted hiding from the contractors

Scaffolding in place for the willow nest to be constructed

Saturday, 17 July 2010

It's the Final Countdown!

The end is in sight, and the Crow Wood Playscape contractors are working furiously to get the play area finished, tidy and ready for the public to enjoy! We're on the final stretch of work now, finalising the playscape's key features and adding finishing touches and details that will make it such a special place to visit.

Followers of the blog will be informed as soon as the tools are put away and the gates are declared open - watch this space closely as it really won't be long!

The treehouse nearly complete

Badger chainsaw-carved by local artist Simon O'Rourke

The access ramp to the treehouse and the giant climbing trees

Members of the project team testing out the pod swing - all in the name of quality control obviously!

Thursday, 8 July 2010

July Update

The site is changing every day as we edge ever-closer to completion.

The treehouse is evolving into an exciting feature - the roof is now taking shape ready for the cedar shingles to be laid, and the access ramp structure is coming on apace.

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Progress Report

As we enter the last month of construction, the playscape is really starting to take shape. The tree house is going to be a real focal point for families visiting the park - work has now started on a fully accessible ramp up to the main tree house platform.

Not long to go!

Friday, 18 June 2010

Groundwork North West Staff Conference Pays a Visit!

The Groundwork federation held its annual North West regional staff conference yesterday to share best practice from around the region amongst Groundwork staff, and Lyme Park was one of the star features.

Twenty members of staff were taken on a tour of the Playscape site as part of a workshop looking at current practices in play space delivery. The Groundworkers were able to take a sneak peak of work on the site as we enter the last month of construction - and their impressions of the design and build quality were great.

The site has certainly progressed over the last few weeks - the photos below show the new boulder path up to the slide, the tree house roof starting to come together, and the tree stump seating area in situ on the low side of the playscape.

The double width slide and boulder scramble

Treehouse taking shape

Decking, swing and tree stump seating area

Friday, 4 June 2010

Work Underway on Treehouse

Subcontractors Hillan and Hunter have been beavering away on the bespoke timber features at Lyme Park over the past few weeks. The timber walkway is looking absolutely great, and they have now turned their attentions to the large timber treehouse.

The treehouse will be one of the star features of the playscape - accessible to all, with a great sense of height as the ground slopes away under one side. It will feature a timber shingle roof and scramble nets to provide an alternative way up and down for the more adventurous.

The photos show the latest progress and the form of the treehouse starting to take shape.

Thursday, 20 May 2010

What a Difference a Week Makes!

A site visit to Crow Wood today showed just how much progress the contractors have made on site. The timber walkway on the low side of the site is now all but complete, with beautifully tapered timbers snaking around the edge of the playscape. The pod swing area has a distinct look of completion thanks to a green carpet of turf covering the encasing mound.

The slide has now been installed, and work will continue to construct a seating area adjacent to the slide platform. The badger sett is starting to take shape - you can see the tunnels in situ as the contractors begin to build up the earth around them.

The pyramid walkways look absolutely great and are almost complete following their dramatic lift into site by helicopter. Attention will now turn to the new access pathways and the treehouse, so check back for more images!

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Progress Update

The build is really coming on well this week - good weather is certainly helping out so long may it continue. The National Trust volunteers have made a start on dismantling the boundary dry stone wall to allow for the new double width gate. Excavations to start work on resurfacing old pathways and creating new ones will shortly commence, and the excavated material will be re-used on site rather than being taken to landfill.

Monday, 10 May 2010

Site Progress

Photo by Groundwork Cheshire

The project team came together for a site meeting on Friday to review progress. Since the towers were installed by helicopter, work has moved on with good pace as the contractors now have good access to the entire site and can work around the main tower features.

As the photographs demonstrate, the swing frames are in and the boulders, sandpits and decking are starting to take shape. The towers are stunning, and the project staff were lucky enough to have their first sneak peak of the view from up inside the towers!

Work on the tree house will commence this week, so check back for more news and photos.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Brookside Primary School Help Out

Pupils from Brookside Primary School had a great day out at Lyme Park yesterday, and gave the playscape project team a helping hand.

Brookside students got involved in the project by making new bird boxes that will go into the playscape to encourage more wildlife to use the space so that children will be able to see birds up close whilst playing in the woodland.

The pupils then explored the Lyme Park gardens before planting wildflower seeds.

More Photos

For those of you with a real interest in the event, take a look at our series of photographs. Video to follow...

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

The Story of the Helicopter Day in Pictures

The towers are constructed on the car park area
Photo by Groundwork Cheshire

The helicopter makes the journey to Lyme Park from Cornwall

Photo by Sarah Dawe

Staff attach the strop to the towers as the helicopter expertly hovers

Photo by Sarah Dawe

The tower is carried over towards Crow Wood

Photo by Sarah Dawe

Staff discuss the complex procedures

Photo by Adam White

The helicopter lowers the tower into position

Photo by Adam White

Friday, 30 April 2010

The Helicopters Have Landed!

Photo by Adam White

Yesterday saw a landmark achievement in the creation of the new playscape, as helicopters came to the park to help install our giant play towers.

The 9m and 12m towers (equivalent to three double decker buses on top of one another!), constructed by Timberplay are so large that they had to be constructed horizontally. With the playscape site being on such a steep slop surrounded by dry stone walls and mature trees, it would have been impossible to complete the installation by crane.

As a result, the project team embarked on a special project to install the towers by the only way possible - from the sky! Principle contractor Visible Changes, along with Timberplay, brought in fantastic pilots from British International to do the lifts.

British International bought a 24 seater Sikorsky helicopter up to Cheshire from Cornwall. Their team ensured all project staff were fully briefed for the task at hand, and the National Trust wardens worked with a team of fantastic volunteers to marshal the exclusion zone around Crow Wood and the car park tower construction area.

The lifts for the 9m towers were completed with relative ease. The weather was very poor which made life less than favourable for the marshals, but in actual fact the helicopter required windy conditions to achieve the required levels of uplift. Due to the weight of the towers, the helicopter had to be refuelled after each lift in order to keep on-board weight to a minimum.

The lifts for the two 12m towers proved slightly trickier as they were even heavier than the others. The sheer weight of the towers meant that they needed to be partially deconstructed to enable the helicopter to lift them up and carry them into place safely.

However, by 6pm all the towers were in place and the crew, contractors and marshals could have a well deserved cup of tea to warm up!

British International Helicopters Chief Pilot, Ron Walker, who lives near Penzance and carried out the mission, commented: “This was a pretty challenging task, with limited space, lots of trees, a delicate wooden playframe and the need to fly close to listed buildings and structures. But although this was mission difficult, it certainly wasn’t mission impossible.”

“Flying to the Isles of Scilly each day means I’m pretty spoilt and used to breathtaking views, but to fly in to the impressive, oversized, surroundings of Lyme Park was stunning. This was just the sort of mission our helicopters thrive in. Whether it’s ensuring the safety of giant play equipment, or the comfort of passengers to the Isles of Scilly, the Sikorskys are amazingly delicate and responsive.”

British International's Sikorsky S61, which usually operates between Penzance and the Isles of Scilly, can carry up to three tonnes or 24 passsengers plus luggage. The 18 metre long, twin-engined helicopter can travel at speed of up to 166 miles an hour - although there was no call for this for our mission!

Check back for more photographs of the event and images of the new towers in situ!!!

Friday, 23 April 2010

Guardians of Crow Wood

The National Trust is welcoming pupils from Brookside Primary School to get involved in protecting the estate’s wildlife so that users of the new Crow Wood Playscape will be able to enjoy the full benefits and experiences of playing in the wild.

Construction for the Crow Wood Playscape is now well underway, and young people from around the region will soon be able to enjoy the imaginative play experiences that the innovative and natural facility will have to offer. The Playscape’s setting in the heart of Crow Wood should ensure young visitors will have the chance to see and explore the wildlife in a living woodland.

Brookside Primary School is the ‘Guardianship School’ for Lyme Park, and pupils will be living up to this role by making bird and bat boxes that will be installed in the trees around the new Playscape to encourage nesting.

The budding wildlife enthusiasts will be planting mushroom plugs into deadwood from the woodland, and taking them back to school to study the different species that they can grow, as well as studying the flora and fauna present at Lyme Park.

Check back for photos of the day!

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Progress Photographs

Construction work is continuing on site, and this photograph gives you a good sense of how the Playscape is taking shape. The photo is taken from the top of the site where the first of the play towers will sit.

Felled timber is visible in this photo - the felling was carried out as part of tree management that will ensure the continued health and growth of the woodland. The trees and tree limbs that have been removed were either diseased or in danger of causing risk to park visitors in times of high wind.

All of the felled material will be recycled and put to use as seating or climbing features within the woodland as we attempt to make the Playscape project as environmentally sensitive and sustainable as possible.

Monday, 19 April 2010

Contractors Start to Sculpt the Playscape

Visible Changes have made visible progress on site! Work has now been underway for 3 weeks, and the shape of the new playscape is really starting to come together. Earthworks have been carried out under the watchful eye of National Trust appointed archaeologists who have made sure no history is hidden beneath the soil.

As you can see from the photographs, the lower side of the site is taking great shape - you can start to make out the footprint of the soon-to-be decked pathway, the hollow for the climbing tree and the mound around the pod swing.

Keep checking back for more progress photos throughout the build period, and for instant bursts of news, follow Gwk_Cheshire on Twitter!

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Bella and Harry help the Contractors start Excavations!

Harry and Bella got their spades ready to help contractors start work on the new Crow Wood Playscape. They were joined by Peter Cox, Managing Director of the project's primary funder WREN.

Friday, 19 March 2010

Construction Work to Start!

Work is set to start on Monday 29th March to construct the new Playscape at Crow Wood! Visible Changes will start setting up on site, and the new play area will be open for use in the Summer. Keep checking back for progress photos and updates!

David Morgan, General Manager at Lyme Park said:
“The new Playscape will offer opportunities to create and enjoy play imaginatively. It will differ from the ‘average’ playground by allowing children to explore and challenge their surroundings, learn to take acceptable levels of risk and let their creativity shape the play value of the natural landscape.
The Playscape is also being designed to provide an inclusive play facility for children with special needs under the countryside based ‘Access for All’ play opportunities’ scheme.

Play is something children don’t get enough of. Simple pleasures and basic enjoyment is something that the National Trust really values. We’re grateful for WREN’s funding which has enabled the Playscape project to take place”.

Katherine Stanier, Senior Project Manager at Groundwork Cheshire said:
"The Crow Wood Playscape that families will be soon be able to enjoy is something of their own making. Our participatory design approach has ensured that the themes, features and challenges of the playscape are truly reflective of the aspirations of children, parents and visitors.

We have listened to the imaginative flair of a 7 year old school child and the practical considerations of an elderly carer who still has a great sense of fun. Added to this, The Access Collaboration Ltd have conducted a fantastic consultation to ensure that the Playscape is accessible, so we are confident that Crow Wood will be a place of great adventure for everyone."

Landscape Architects Adam White and Andrée Davies said:
"Think grassy mounds, innovative planting, timber decking, trees, tunnels, boulders complemented by modern well designed play equipment and you've got Playscape: an exciting and challenging space to play with unlimited creativity and imagination.
The project sits somewhere between the traditional playground design and the play value of building snowmen or climbing in trees. Forget swings and roundabouts, this innovative design rejects preconceived notions of a playground in favour of a more natural approach to play.

Remember how a fallen tree trunk could provide hours of entertainment, a sprinkling of snow endless fun? Playscape returns to these simple pleasures encouraging engagement with natural surroundings and taking acceptable levels of risk”.

Planning Permission Granted

The project team are pleased to confirm that the project has now been given planning consent by the Peak District National Park Planning Authority. We have worked very hard to ensure that the Playscape design will sit sensitively within the landscape and offer enhanced learning and adventure opportunities for young people visiting Lyme Park.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Visible Changes Appointed

Progress continues on the project with the appointment of principle contractor Visible Changes Ltd. Visible Changes have a wealth of experience delivering playful landscape projects similar to our Crow Wood scheme, and we are pleased to have them on the team.

Visible Changes will be working with specialist carpenters Hillan and Hunter on a bespoke tree house, and with Timberplay Ltd who will be constructing our network of pyramid towers and walkways.