To inspire the next generation of budding designers and engineers, Raby Castle has launched a competition encouraging local schools to design their own adventure playground.

Specialist playground design company CAP.Co, which is building the castle’s exciting new attraction, The Plotters’ Forest – paid visits to four local primary schools to inspire students who may want to enter the competition.

All primary schools within the local area have been encouraged to send in their entries, and the prize for the talented winner and their whole class – who will be chosen by a panel of judges including Lord & Lady Barnard – is exclusive access to The Plotters’ Forest, before it opens to the public this Easter. The closing date for entries is 5pm on 10th March, with the winning entry being announced a week later.

Johnny Lyle, chief design sheriff at CAP.Co said, “It was an honour to spend time with all the children in the four schools we visited. All of them were asking amazing questions and eager to get started on their own designs.

“Our job is to inspire children with creative and imaginative play and the children who use and hopefully enjoy our playgrounds are our biggest critics – having their creative minds and input at the heart of what we do is very important to us. It was fantastic to talk to them more about the job of designing playgrounds and I hope we’ve inspired one or two as the playground designers of the future.”

Leanne Collings, deputy headteacher at Escomb Primary School in Bishop Auckland said: “The session was brilliant. The children were hooked and so excited to start their designs, completely inspired.”

Chris Riley, headteacher at Gainford CE Primary School said, “The visit was a great success. All of our children were inspired by the presentation and had lots of questions to ask too. The session really helped our children to gain inspiration for their own designs.”

Nestled in a stunning woodland within the grounds of Raby Castle, this new adventure play area will be an exciting mix of challenge, discovery and intrigue for all its visitors, both the young and the young at heart.

Inspired by Raby Castle’s history, particularly The Rising of the North in 1569, The Plotters’ Forest encourages everyone to unleash their inner playfulness and mischief as a ‘Raby Rebel’. Young visitors will see special features throughout the site, which represent Raby Castle’s architectural history – including its entrance which has been built to honour the famous Nevill Gateway, and the Plotters’ Spire, a three-story tower with a top-floor slide and unusual pentagon shapes which have been used across the playground.

Lord and Lady Barnard said: “We’re so fortunate to have the collaboration and support of inspiring primary schools, with teachers who want to challenge and motivate their students with creative and imaginative play.

“We can’t wait to see the fantastic entries and it’ll be a pleasure to welcome the winners to The Plotters’ Forest for their special day out.”

The Plotters’ Forest is due to open this Easter and tickets will be available to book from the end of March. Please visit and sign up to the newsletter to receive updates on The Plotters’ Forest.

For the terms and conditions of the competition, please email [email protected]

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