History meets adventure at new CAPCO play projects in Scotland

Weehailies at Newhailies

Adventure play specialist CAPCO recently completed two new projects at historic homes in Scotland.

Fort Douglas at Dalkeith Palace

Located in Midlothian, south east of Edinburgh, Dalkeith Palace sits in over 1,000 acres of wild woodland and countryside and is one of the most stunning privately owned estates in the world. It was created in 1711 for Anna, 1st Duchess of Buccleuch, and has been lovingly cared for by the family ever since.

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Fort Douglas at Dalkeith Palace

In 2016 the park, stable yard and courtyard were redeveloped to create a world-class visitor attraction. The project encompassed the creation of the Fort Douglas Adventure play centre. This included an impressive treehouse complete with stairs, tunnels and a high rise walkway.

More recently, CAPCO was commissioned to extend the adventure play element. The brief was to offer more challenges for visitors young and old.

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The initial phase of the development was the new Orangerie Zip Hub, modelled on the 12 sided Orangerie and its Doric columns and central chimney that sit alongside the stables. This is accessed from the existing Fort Treehouse if visitors complete a difficult maze inside the fort.

Weehailies at Newhailies

Newhailes, on the outskirts of Edinburgh, is a Palladian style country house built in the 17th Century. It was acquired by the National Trust for Scotland in 1997 after more than 200 years in the ownership of the Dalrymple family. The house and gardens the Trust inherited were in need of major revitalisation to bring them back to their best.

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The walled garden at Newhailies

CAPCO was brought on board to build an adventurous destination attraction within the kitchen garden. This was very much a blank canvas. With no immediately adjacent design cues other than the enclosing brick walls, CAPCO’s team took inspiration from the history and wider architecture of Newhailes House to create a playground called Weehailies.

The library was thought to be a central hub for key writers and thinkers associated with the enlightenment. The grand Central Library building acts as a vibrant hub for exploring and adventure. Shelves are stacked high with books, ladders to climb, nooks and crannies to explore encouraging imagination, learning and invoke a sense of discovery in the children as they play.

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A speaking tube at the Weehailes playground

The secret butler doorways and servants tunnels of the house are echoed in the passageways and Narnia cupboards of the playground. Children will need to use all of their problem-solving abilities to navigate the many walkways and find their way through all of the play zones.

The final build is completely enclosed within the walled garden and landscaped to integrate planting for the wider kitchen garden.

Designed specifically for younger kids to play safely and reach their own personal limit of perceived ‘risk’, it offers a relaxing and safe haven for fun and adventure.

Photos by Lindsey Mackenzie Parker at Mack Photo