A new state-of-the-art adventure play park for children of all ages could be opening at an award-winning local tourist attraction.
The Department for Agriculture has brought forward exciting proposals for a play facility next to the visitors centre at Peatlands Park.
And it will deliver what is being described as a “completely unique play experience” for those dropping by to enjoy.
The vast majority of Peatlands, near Dungannon, has been designated as a national nature reserve to protect the various species which make it their home.
Nature lovers visit to enjoy the splendid insect life including dragonflies, moths and butterflies, and there are also many woodland and wetland birds to spot – even lizards and newts in the open bogs.
Now this latest planned development on site would allow younger minds to explore and enjoy through specialist crafted play equipment.
This includes a giant damselfly which will give them the impression of walking in the body of the insect!
But before that there is the Apple Walk to cross!
The proposals have been submitted to Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council for consideration.
And according to papers presented by DAERA – which operates Peatlands Park – the development has been designed to “capture the imagination of the younger visitors, providing the opportunities for both adventurous and cautious children”.
The various elements have been designed for two age categories in mind – two and over and eight and over.
For the younger visitors, the low level ‘Apple Walk’ would see children navigate their way through a trail of giant carved apples, developing balance and co-ordination skills, as they duck through holes carved into the structure.
Having completed this, they can crawl through a tunnel built into a hill which will lead them into the belly of the damselfly!
Children will be able to climb across its wings and tails. It will be surrounded by robinia uprights – carved and stained to look like giant blades of grass and giving the impression of a giant insect within its natural habitat.
This development is for all abilities.
And, while some children will be able to crawl through the tunnel, those with disabilities or wheelchair users can take the hill route, providing an exciting journey within the play space.
Wheelchair users will be able to touch and feel the bog cottom posts, gently shaking them to hear bells ringing and therefore enhancing the sensory experience.
All structures are low level with space for parents and carers to assist.
There will also be a basket swing – to accommodate wheelchair users – as well as rope walks, infant swings and even seating shelter.
The facilities for the eight and over age group have been designed to “challenge and stimulate the more adventurous and daring children”.
The so-called Sundew Scramble is inspired by a carnivorous plant commonly found in peat bogs and native to Peatlands Park.
Children will navigate their way through a series of slung nets to a series of specially-crafted sundew towers installed at different heights.
The more adventurous children will be able to embark upon a high level journey between small circular platforms connected by rope walks installed above the nets; the more cautious can climb up the smaller sundew towers and exit via a fireman’s pole!
Like the child’s play facilities, there will be connecting pathways ensuring ease of access for wheelchairs and prams.
There will also be pendulum swings, suspended from a four metre rope, which will give users an exciting sensation as the swing moves and gains momentum. It can also accommodate adults to sit behind children.
In all, the facilities are the latest plans designed to ensure Peatlands Park grows as a local attraction by offering unique and exciting play opportunities for all ages and, more importantly, all abilities.
The council is currently considering the proposals and a decision is expected shortly.