Exploring The Hidden Realm (Country Kids)

On the way home from our weekend break in Butlin's on Monday, we decided to break up the journey with a visit to a National Trust venue. We picked The Vyne in Basingstoke as it would be a perfectly timed mid-way and mid-day break, and I'd also recently seen MummyMummyMum's post about the new Tolkein-inspired play area; The Hidden Realm.

The Hidden Realm is a new play area, only opened since the beginning of April, and inspired by the well-loved book The Hobbit. Tolkein is thought to have based his tales on the ancient, gold ring on display on site, and so it was an obvious theme for a play area to occupy the once abandoned area of walled garden. Over the past six months, it has been transformed into a unique fantasy landscape for children with elements of jungle, mountain and stream, based on the Middle-Earth landscapes.

When we arrived there were only a couple of other children playing and so we pretty much had free run of the place, the perks of weekday visits! It amazes me how much has been fitted into such a small space, bridges, tunnels (with inter-connecting communication pipes), slides, stepping stones, fireman's pole (very Middle-Earth), and the best bit (for me anyway) was a dammed stream with a standpipe nearby to allow the children to play with the water.

The Hidden Realm at The Vyne, Hampshire

I really hope that the National Trust start building some more of these themed play areas in their venues, such great fun and a joy for both adults and children to enjoy.

country kids

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    • TheBoyAndMe says

      I couldn't agree more, having children is a wonderful excuse for abandoning all the boring grown-up stuff and having fun!

  1. says

    WOW! I'd love to go there never mind my boys. I like play areas which are good fun but also capture your imagination and it looks like this one ticks both boxes.

  2. says

    What a great way to break the journey up. It looks like a magical place to visit and explore for both children and adults. Lovely pictures of The Boy having a great time, thanks for linking up to Country Kids.

    • TheBoyAndMe says

      It really was so very magical, and while it's great explore nature's playground and climb trees, it's also really nice to see such a well constructed playground which provides play stimulus. One boy kept calling the tree house the heart of the tardis, a Dr. Who fan at only four!

    • TheBoyAndMe says

      You really must, I'd not bother buying a ticket into the house because as nice as it was, I felt claustrophobic and pegged it halfway through. There are some beautiful woodland walks as well but we didn't have time for them this time.

    • TheBoyAndMe says

      I don't think I'd have bothered before now, but The Boy is really getting a benefit out of it. We'll definitely rejoin once our media pass runs out!

    • TheBoyAndMe says

      We could have spent hours there, but unfortunately didn't have the time. Brilliant idea for a play area though.

    • TheBoyAndMe says

      It really is, maybe when Monkey is a little older though? I can't quite see him coping with the fireman's pole yet ;-)

  3. says

    The National Trust has so many lovely places to visit, and many are great for kids. I'm going to make a huge effort to visit more this year. This place looks great. #countrykids

    • TheBoyAndMe says

      I have always thought of them as a little stuffy, I never really realised how marvellous the sites were. Or maybe they've just rejigged them all to entice the younger family?

  4. says

    what a wealth of activities for children to enjoy, explore and discover! and all outdoors and designed for children which makes it even better, whoever designed this knew what ticks all the right boxes for young adventurers. some really wonderful photos too – the one of him walking through the tunnel, turning on the tap and playing with the little dam. what an amazing place x

    • TheBoyAndMe says

      I suspect that one or two may have been parents! It was really magical and probably not that much more work than a normal playground, just put together differently, and of course for someone to have the idea in the first place.

    • TheBoyAndMe says

      The treehouse was fabulous, the central pole was an upturned tree so instead of branches at the top it was roots!

    • TheBoyAndMe says

      Your photos looked very enticing and I know your children appreciate the same things as The Boy. Thanks for the recommendation.

  5. says

    Ahh, that Hidden Realm looks amazing, I wish we had something like that close to us! What fun you must have had exploring, I confess I would have been probably much more excited than my child. x

  6. says

    Sounds magical! It's great finding places which really allow children to use their imagination and have fun! I enjoy having opportunities to visit places mid week with less crowds!

  7. says

    The National Trust has some amazing places. I can't wait to explore more when we move back to the UK. I'm a massive Tolkein and LOTR fan so The Hidden Realm is hugely appealing. It looks amazing.

  8. says

    Sounds brilliant, just wish it was closer to us! Lovely photos too. And I think you're absolutely right – more themed play areas like this one would probably help boost NT membership.
    Thanks so much for popping by my blog :)

  9. says

    Looks great, and I love the idea of themed playgrounds – could do brilliantly using books as the themes. A different one to tick off in each place.

  10. says

    This looks amazing, my kids (and myself!) would love it here. We are big fans of National Trust properties and the idea of a themed play area is awesome! Great post x

  11. says

    Ooh my son would love that playground! it's a bit far from us but we will have to find a few things to do in the area at the same time. I'm loving reading about all your NT explorations. I've been considering joining but we have a dog so most of our outdoor time in the summer is with him in tow. I'm glad in autumn we'll be able to take him into most NT places.

  12. says

    We were the designers working with Green Play Project to make this wonderful site. We are really happy with how it has been received and that you and your son enjoyed the Hidden Realm!
    It is lovely to see these pictures of the vyne. I'm wondering if it would be possible for you to email me one of the great photos you took – the third last picture (with the hill and stone steps on the left, the stream in the middle and the tree house + bridge on the right). We have a presentation to make next week and that perspective matches perfectly with a design image we made for the final concept development,
    kind regards

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