A little ghosty told us that there’s something creepy going on at William’s Den this October half term, so we took our little gang of spook-seekers along to see what’s going on. Just a short broomstick ride from York just outside Beverley, William’s Den is still a relatively new arrival on the Yorkshire play scene but quickly gained a reputation as a great place to play, and it’s easy to see why. When we told our children (8, 6 and 3) where we were going for the day, they were as giddy as a box of frogs. It turns out that they have great memories of when we visited when William’s Den first opened, especially the ‘massive zip wire’ and ‘really wet water bit’.
Although we arrived at lunchtime with rumbling tummies, the sight of the indoor Den – a huge play area with lots of climbing, sliding, clambering and crawling opportunities – quelled all thoughts of food. For a good hour, all of the kids got stuck in with some serious playing, on their own, with the grown-ups or even together (I even got a photo of a rare example of sibling teamwork in the sandpit).
When hunger pangs got too much we headed to The Kitchen Table, the family-friendly restaurant in the gorgeous brick barn. Decorated for Halloween with witches’ hats hanging from the ceiling and some spooky specials on the menu, this is a fun place to eat as a family (and it’s worth noting that anyone can eat there – you don’t need to pay to play if you just fancy a meal). As you’d expect, there’s a good children’s menu and plenty of choice for adults. The kids variously tucked into burgers and meatballs while the adults had an egg and sausage bap apiece before getting on with the serious business of checking out the Forbidden Field.
New for this year, The Forbidden Field is a spooky trail based on Grimm’s fairytales. We had a short wait – be prepared to queue at busier times – before being briefed on our mission by none other than Gretel, famous sister of Hansel. Along with a couple of other families, we wended our way around the field, encountering famous villains along the way but also collecting some treats. We met Rumpelstiltskin, had a chat with Jack (of Beanstalk fame), encountered a terrifying witch, bobbed for apples and had to try to sneak past the Big Bad Wolf. It’s a fun, interactive experience that children will definitely remember, and mostly for the right reasons! Our youngest – who hasn’t quite worked out that the characters are actors and not real baddies – was scared by the witch and the wolf, but the other two found them hilarious. Everyone was fine by the time we got to the pumpkin patch (£3 per pumpkin), and the restorative powers of sugar shouldn’t be underestimated!
We spent the rest of the afternoon playing outside in the autumn sunshine, pushing the kids on the massive zip wire, having a go at pumpkin noughts and crosses, throwing hoops onto witches’ hats and rolling down the hills. We had a really full and fun day out at William’s Den before coaxing three happy ghost-hunters back into the car just as the skies started to darken.
William’s Den, Castle Farm, Wold Hill, North Cave HU15 2LS – Visit the William’s Den website for more details of their half term activities, opening hours and prices
Thank you to William’s Den for inviting us along to visit. As always, our reviews are entirely independent and we will only recommend something that we have genuinely enjoyed.