Wild spaces

Wild or natural spaces such as woodland, meadows or beaches can provide the most satisfying places to play.

Natural features create an abundance of ‘loose part’ materials that children can use as props in their play – a rock as a precious jewel, leaves for the dinner plate or a stick as a magic wand. Sand, water, earth, trees, shrubs and rocks can be moved around and manipulated into sculptures, moats, dens and anything else that can be imagined – developing a sense of mastery and confidence and building a deeper appreciation of nature. Unlike the usual approach to a garden or park, there is no sense of ‘look but don’t touch’.

The adventurous can climb trees or swing from them. All sorts of nooks and crannies can be found to set the scene for imaginary play and wide open spaces used for more energetic games. It is the number of opportunities available in wild spaces that make them such enjoyable places to play. Plus, lots of research evidence tells us that being in nature improves our health and wellbeing.

Make use of wild spaces available to you, even if only a small, overgrown ‘pocket’ of space in your neighbourhood. And next time you’re out on a family visit to the woods, instead of focusing on walking through, spend some time in one part of the wood and encourage your child to play.

Please let us know of your favourite wild spaces to play in Midlothian and surrounding areas and we’ll post those here.

Forest Families

Forest Families is a project set up to allow families of children aged between 3 and 8 years in Midlothian to explore their curiosity, learn and experience the enriching and creative potential of natural spaces. It is run by Gorebridge Community Development Trust.

More information is available at ourforestfamilies.wordpress.com or on 01875 822 141.


A woodland can make a terrific place to play, for lots of the reasons given above. This website by the Woodland Trust helps you to find your nearest woodland – Visit Wood.