I’d heard a lot about Williams Den over the last 6 months, lots of parents at playgroups and classes I’ve chatted to in our area have been discussing what it was going to be and when it was going to open. The new attraction, on the road between North and South Cave, opened its doors last month so I was very keen to go and find out more.
I thought I’d better wait for school holidays and take my 6 year old along with my 3 year old or I wouldn’t have been very popular! I also used it as a good location to meet up with my friend Emily from York (who runs the York Mumbler) and her 2 and 4 year old children.
The concept is a play area like no other I’ve been to, it’s all about embracing play, with dens and plenty of sensory experiences to use your imagination with. I’d heard there was a lot to do outside as well as inside and the forecast was looking bad, but we packed our waterproofs and decided to brave it.
It’s very well set up for indoor play and while it rained we spent a good couple of hours inside to begin with. There is a huge ‘treehouse’ style indoor play area (The Den) with steps, bridges, ropes, fireman poles, a slide and even some fabulous musical chairs. There was also a little ‘river’ water play area (which today was a sand river) and a large sandpit area too. There was also a large room with soft materials to build dens with where we spent a lot of time.
I was most impressed by how safe I felt it was, some of the tree’s are a challenging climb for my 6 year old and there were some parts where I couldn’t completely see them all the time, but the environment and atmosphere felt very secure. There were lots of staff constantly walking about checking on children and if any of them did get lost they were finding their parents. The system to get in was brilliant, each child got a wristband and you put the parent/carers phone number on it so any problems and they would call you.
When we went outside space and the views are the first thing that you notice, it’s beautiful. It’s all built very in-keeping with the surroundings, all from very good quality, natural materials. There are loads of mounds (mountains and molehills) that have been created to give the ‘rolling hills’ feel… makes brilliant simple play for the kids to run up and roll down plus they’ve put some cool tunnels through some so the adventure continues. My 6 year old loved a huge climbing frame made from tree branches, and my 3 year old spent most of her time in the tunnels and at the mud kitchen making ‘mud mash’.
We had lunch at ‘The Kitchen Table’ and we were hugely impressed by the quality of it, You can see the menu here but we thought it was really good value for what we got. The kids pizzas were wood fired and delicious, one small kids pizza easily fed both of mine (and my 6 year old his very hard to fill!) and at £5 I thought it was a good value lunch. The staff were super helpful, especially with getting people tables during the lunchtime rush.
Outside and attached to The Kitchen Table there is a little enclosed outside space with benches and a play area. You can enter the Kitchen Table and this play area without entering the den so there is no charge if you just want to come here with little ones. There are some things for kids to play with including some stacking bricks and cool spinny seat things, which all our kids loved.
Overall I would HIGHLY recommend a visit to Williams Den and I feel really lucky that this has been built in our area, I haven’t been anywhere quite like it before. It wasn’t cheap to get in, and I have heard a lot of negative comments about the price, but it did feel it was completely unique and can be a full day out (we arrived at 10.30 and left at 4.30 and could have stayed longer). The staff were excellent and went the extra mile, my son lost me at one point and they were fantastic. He was on the zip wire and I was in the tunnels with my 3 year old when it started to rain, he couldn’t see me so went inside thinking I’d gone to shelter but we were playing in the rain. He got upset, a staff member approached him and brought him out to look for me and find me, he said they had really looked after him. They were also constantly cleaning! Despite kids playing in mud outside and running inside, all of the inside area looked immaculate.
It was an ideal place to meet my friend from York, and she is going to meet me there again and bring her kids pyjamas and stay later (it closes at 7pm Thurs – Sat) so drive back when its sleep time.
Here are my top tips to get the most from the day:
Take clothes for all weathers – the all weather suits and wellies meant that we could stay outside and play even with the showers. On a nice day I would have wanted to take swim suits and towels for the outdoor sand area and water play.
Take a Picnic – The food is fab but to make the most of the day I’d probably take a picnic for lunch to eat outside but then stay late and have tea in The Kitchen Table. It’s open until 6.15pm on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. If I was going and day Sunday to Wednesday I’d get breakfast there (served 9.30-11.30) then have the picnic lunch.
Toilet trips are easy! They have normal toilets but also some bigger ones with a grown up & child’s toilet in the same room as well as a changing table. Every time we went the kids wanted to try a new toilet combination!
Take snacks and drinks– with this much play, the kids need regular energy top ups and it’s fine to eat your own food in the outside areas.
Head to the Hideout – When you need a bit of chill out time inside head up to the Hideout – it is a more open inside area and has sand bags and play bricks to build more dens, also big cushions to relax on (or jump on if you’re a mini mumbler!). We managed a full grown up conversation while our kids built a huge den in here.
William’s Den is open every day (except Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day). Find William’s Den at Wold Hill, North Cave, HU15 2LS. More details on their WEBSITE here.