Rothay Park Play Log – Ambleside

21 May 2017 · 0 comments

in Developing School Grounds & Outdoor Spaces, Outdoor Play

Post image for Rothay Park Play Log – Ambleside

Last week I was passing through Ambleside en route south and made my habitual stop at Rothay Park. To my amazement there had been a significant change. Sixteen months ago, the park suffered badly in the floods of Storm Desmond. Thus plans were put in place to move the old playground to a less flood prone area that had greater prominence within the park. and give it a complete makeover. The previous playpark had evolved in a more haphazard way with no particular thought given to the overall design, I believe. 

In my lifetime, this is the third significant change to the play equipment in this park. As I’m almost approaching fifty, this gives an indication of the nature of any investment into fixed play equipment in a public space. It needs to last a long time.

Around 1971-72, the playground from my childhood was installed. This was state-of-the art provision at the time. Not only were there swings, but a very tall slide, a witch’s hat, a fast roundabout, a might zig-zag and a cuboid climbing frame. All iconic Seventies equipment with asphalt being the underlying surface. Interestingly it was situated two sides of the large rock outcrop and I distinctly remember this adding to the play value in that this feature inherently became part of our play and a key choice of travel between the two parts of the playground.

The brief clearly included the need for a mix of man-made and natural features and for a range of abilities and ages. What criteria were used for an inclusive playground I’m not exactly sure. I could find any indication of which company installed this playground and it would be helpful to know and find out more about the  rationale behind the playground design from their perspective. However my understanding is that a number of community groups were consulted and reference was made in the brief for the need of the local school and nursery to be able to use the facilities.

One of the nice elements of the park is the lack of fencing. Instead mounds are used to define the play area around the majority of the structures. I’m not sure why the decision was made to put the key natural play feature away from the main play area. During both times I visited, the families and children were congregating around the other parts. This seems a pity as clearly a lot of love and thought has gone into the design and installation of this play log area. The attention to detail is extraordinary. So for it not to have been fully integrated into the main play area appears from my external eye to be an oversight.

The photos above and below show the sort of detail which is unusual. Firstly the tree appears to be a local find. As an oak tree it will last a long time and blend into the park. The holes in the branches add interest. Below, a rough seat has been carved. However on closer inspection, I liked that it’s a hidden water play feature – the water runs off the edges onto the seat that’s gently inclined so that the water runs off and down a groove on the right hand side.

The seat also adds challenge to the main trunk by creating a thin ledge to balance along. I’m curious to know if the face is a particular tree spirit or local legend. Again – any advice or information here would be appreciated.

Finally I hope this play log does become a much-loved and integral part of the park. The natural element dovetails with the wider park which I’ve blogged about previously as a lovely unofficial play space.  Certainly I’ll be checking it out whenever I visit to see how it’s changing and degrading over time. I’ve know many oak structures to last decades… will I be blogging about this in my Eighties, I wonder!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Share the knowledge...

{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: