Crack the code for historic adventure play this summer

Secret spy missions with Cecil the Mole, code-cracking games and thrilling Hidden Towers adventure play with wobbly walkways have proved a soaraway success at England’s greatest Elizabethan house.

Opened last year, the new Hide & Secrets Adventure Play area, tucked away in a hidden woodland, helped Burghley House and Gardens record the biggest increase in visitor numbers of any attraction in England, according to the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA).

And for 2024, admission to the family fun play area within the grounds of the Elizabethan mansion, on the edge of Stamford, Lincolnshire, has been frozen at 2023 prices, helping to make it a “must visit’ family day out destination this summer.

Themed around one of the country’s first chief spymasters William Cecil, the first Lord Burghley, Hide & Secrets combines play, exploration, and discovery, featuring a series of fun-packed family play zones and a spectacular Hidden Towers wooden structure.

Burghley character Cecil the Mole – the attraction’s very own chief spymaster – features throughout, including in a free Spymaster’sGuide activity booklet, which challenges super sleuths to take up their very own secret missions and challenges.

Among them are finding hidden wooden mole sculptures, including in a network of secret tunnels and passages in the woods, while adventurers can also test their sleuthing skills on the I-Spy Nature Trail by spotting everything from creepy-crawlies to birds, flowers and leaves.

For a top secret mission, youngsters can turn code breakers by discovering letters and ancient symbols and then using them to unlock the special codeword.

Accessed through a hidden stone arch – there are a series of imaginatively landscaped play zones with hands-on activities, including Den Building, the Whispering Woods and the Sensory Wall, designed to stimulate and engage the senses.

All lead to the Hidden Towers play structure, which is inspired by the architecture of Burghley House featuring three impressive tall spires. Among the play features is a wibbly wobbly Rope Bridge crossing a deep craggy gorge to a tree-top lookout, the chance to speak to friends and family from above through whispering funnels, and highflying thrills on two enormous slides. For younger children, there is also a dedicated toddler and pre-schooler area with a mini slide and low level adventuring.

And the whole attraction has been designed with accessibility in mind, with wide pathways, sensory wall, accessible platforms in the lower levels of the towers and accessible lookout points.

Refreshment spot, The Muddy Mole, serves hot dogs and snacks to take away, as well as hot and cold drinks, while there are also an abundance of outdoor picnic benches amongst the woodlands.

Adventure Play admission costs £9 for adults, £7.50 for children (3-15 years, free for under three) and £30 for a family (two adults and up to three children) when booked online in advance. Adventure Play tickets include access to Burghley Gardens. House, Gardens and Play tickets are also available, costing £18 for adults and £8 for children, when booked in advance.

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