One evening I was scanning Instagram, when the kids were in bed, and came across some pictures from a lovely lady who did my wedding hair. She has a daughter just slightly younger than our son and they had visited a place with mudpies, tree houses, waterfalls, swings, climbing ropes and much more. “Where is this?!” I commented.
The place was “William’s Den“.
Located about ten minutes from Junction 38 of the M62, William’s Den is a new attraction to East Yorkshire and, in my opinion, one of its kind. Its aim is to bring the outside in, giving a sensory experience and providing fun and quality time to those that visit. Set in the beautiful village of North Cave, the area is vast with views of rolling hills from every point. William’s Den provides both indoor and outdoor play for children of all ages, including my husband who had a great time!
Speaking to Christan Carver, who owns this attraction with his wife Tor, it was clear that he felt passionately about families spending time together and having fun as well as children being able to run wild and explore freely but also safely. His son’s parties had inspired the idea when they hosted his birthday parties in their garden, and also their own childhood, growing up on farms where they had been able to roam and play outdoors in all weathers.
We were certainly testing that theory as we decided to visit William’s Den on one of the coldest days ever. The news was filled with reports of “The Beast from the East” and snow fluttered down on and off all day. The weather, plus that it was a Monday in term time, meant that it was a quiet day and perfect for us to get the full William’s Den experience, beginning with ‘The Den’ itself.
Consisting of The Glade, The Rainmaker, The Beck, The Nest, The Suspended Platform and The Treehouse and Sandslide, it is the main indoor area of the attraction. When we walked in, I wondered how long our little man would be entertained in here however it soon became clear, as he confidently explored every inch, that he could happily play in it all day. L is an assured climber and scaled most of it with ease. It’s made clear on your arrival that adults should supervise their children in The Den and are encouraged to enjoy it as much as the children. My husband and I didn’t need asking twice and even took our little Spud to explore (mainly because neither of us wanted to miss out and be left sat at the side!).
It’s a sensory overload (in a good way!) with musical instruments hidden around the treehouse, the sound of the water trickling, different textures, colours, sand and educational too as children can create their own dams and pump through the water. Our two month
old little girl was mesmerised by the waterfall and was constantly looking around and alert when she wasn’t napping. I saw a couple of reviews stating that there wasn’t enough seating, or about the adult entry fee however I can’t understand why these things are a problem because one and a) there is no reason to be sitting down in a place like this unless you’re eating and two and b) William’s Den is all about quality family time and that doesn’t happen unless you make the most of the attraction, let your imagination run wild and get involved. Personally I think the prices are pretty good for the amount you get for your money. You can spend a whole day at William’s Den, even if you spend four hours there and pay the maximum of £8 per adult, that’s only £2 an hour!
After we spent a good few hours in The Den and worked up an appetite, we headed to ‘The Kitchen Table’ for some lunch. They allowed you to bring your own food and have designated ‘Snack Box’ areas for this, therefore if you are wanting to keep costs low, a picnic is a good choice. I’d not been that organised and actually, my kitchen cupboards and fridge were in desperate need of a “big shop” so we decided to eat there. The menu has a range of dishes and all have a child and an adult price which is a lovely idea as it makes the child feel more grown up. They have their own pizza oven so make delicious Wood-Fired Pizza’s as well as having burgers, salads, sandwiches and wraps. Their ethos centres around food that is “nutritious and delicious”, using “quality ingredients and wherever possible, showcasing the very best of Yorkshire and British produce.” This was clear from the food we ate but also from chatting to Tor Carver, owner, who when I commented on how healthy the menu was said something along the lines of “Not healthy enough for me! There is still too many chips.” As we talked they were sampling and coming up with new ideas for the menu so I look forward to going back and sampling some of the new dishes!
I also really appreciated that they served tea in a mug…
…teacups and teapots annoy me. But they do them too, if it’s your preference.
As I mentioned, it was literally the most bitterly cold day but we couldn’t visit William’s Den and not go outside. I’m a firm believer that outdoor play can be done at any time of the year, not just summer, as long as you’re suitable dressed, which we were. I was advised to take waterproofs, wellies and spare clothes and they are definitely a must, mainly so that you can make the most of everything on offer. The outside space, like the inside area, is a dream for children and their imagination. Zip wires, log structures for climbing, slides, sand pits, mud kitchens. amphitheatre, den building and teepees I really wish we could have spent longer out there but our noses were going to fall off with the freezing wind. I already can’t wait to go back on a warmer day and make full use of the Outdoor Adventure area.
On the William’s Den website, they quote George Bernard Shaw
“We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.”
As a drama teacher, I’ve always believed that to keep your imagination you have to use it regularly and adults lack imagination because they stopped using it. I have seen my husband find his imagination again as my son has got older and role-play games that once felt awkward to him, he now immerses himself pirate adventures and Paw Patrol missions and my son loves it. William’s Den is a place to reignite your imagination and fully involve yourself in activities with your children. We don’t get a lot of time together as a family (read here) so are always looking for days out where we can be together and not be distracted by technology. Given that this is part of William’s Den’s aim, it is the perfect place. When I tweeted them prior to our visit, regarding Spud’s buggy, they said ‘we like to think we’ve thought of most things” and they really have. From the unisex toilets with double cubicles to the sustainability, cleanliness and high quality finish, no stone has been left unturned in the development of this wonderful place…except made the ones in the den building area 🙂
I could talk about William’s Den forever but that would be a VERY long blog post, so I will leave you with a few more pictures of our visit. Find out more about William’s Den via their website or Facebook page. You can also contact them via Twitter and see pictures via Instagram. From my conversations with the owners, they have lots of exciting events in the pipeline that you definitely won’t want to miss out on!