Last week we were lucky enough to attend the launch of the brand new Hootz House indoor play area at Pensthorpe Natural Park (described by Pensthorpe as an ‘indoor adventure‘). After an introduction by Owners Deb and Bill Jordan and the Chair of Pensthorpe’s Junior Board, and the official opening by members of the Junior Board sliding down a slide to cut a green ribbon, our Little Men got to road-test the entire £1M installation.
Built to compliment the already-fabulous outdoor adventure play area, Wild Rootz, Hoots House offers an extended opportunity for children to ‘get active’, all year round, no matter what the British weather is up to.
Hootz House is 300m² of carefully-considered rope bridges, ladders, slides, tunnels, nets and tree-top towers, offering a suitable challenge to children of all ages.
Under 5s are treated to the ‘Owlets Zone’, which offers far more for pre-schoolers than most indoor play centres. Inspired by Pensthorpe’s Conservation Grade Farm, watch (and hear!) them whoop with delight at the corn shower. The Owlets Zone was actually one of my favourite aspects of Hootz House.
The building sits inconspicuously behind Wild Rootz, blending in well with the rest of the site. It’s green credentials include a Ground Source Heat Pump providing a sustainable heating solution, environmentally friendly sound proofing and water saving features in the toilets.
Nature is still all around, even inside, at Hootz House, with natural birdsong providing holistic background noise and an emphasis on the use of sustainable, natural materials.
Speaking with Deb Jordan, her passion to inspire the next generation of nature lovers is wonderfully infectious. “Pensthorpe is like an amazing and extremely fascinating giant outside classroom! Our aim has been to roll education, play and family enjoyment into one big exciting day out, ensuring the next generations of Packham’s and Attenborough’s have all the necessary tools to expand their love and knowledge of the natural world”, she says. We couldn’t agree more.
The introduction of highly child-friendly zones at this gorgeous natural park is a canny ploy indeed. Aside from being a great way to gently expose children to nature and the natural world, it means that Pensthorpe now represents one of the serious heavy-hitters among visitor attractions in Norfolk (and East Anglia, in fact). It is certainly one of my personal favourite places to visit, offering a really full day out for families of all ages. Hoots House just enhances it’s offering even further.
If you’ve never been to Pensthorpe Natural Park, with Hootz House now fully open to the public, there’s never been a better time to go!
Located in near Fakenham, Pensthorpe is open daily all year round from 10am – 5pm (10am – 4pm in Jan-Feb). Standard admission is £11.25: adults, £9.50: seniors and £9.75: children aged 3-16. Annual passes are available.