Gwealan Tops Adventure Playground 

Gwealan Tops Adventure Playground 

Gwealan Tops is a charity dedicated to promoting play for children, young people and the wider community. It is a staffed adventure playground all year round in Cornwall managed by Bridget Hanscombe and John Fitzpatrick. Bridget and John are Playwork trainers, researchers and writers, as well as being Playground Managers. They co-developed and edited Stuff and Nonsense with Charlotte Derry and Wendy Russell and are good friends of Playful Places. They are an amazing sounding board for everything to do with the practical day to day stuff of play work, as well as being a constant source of inspiration – supporting children’s right to risky adventurous play and for cultivating a truly child-led space for play.

The Gwealan Tops site is a large area with some structures, wild areas and lots of space to roam, explore, experiment and create. Arts, crafts and imaginative opportunities are offered alongside campfires, building, sports and outdoor experiences with the main purpose of supporting free play. Children are able to take on challenges and manage risks gaining new skills, building confidence and increasing their understanding of themselves, others and the world around them. 


Adventure playgrounds offer a unique form of staffed play provision where children can play in ways that they often can’t elsewhere. They provide opportunities for children to face challenges and risks whilst supervised by skilled play workers. Benefits of adventure playgrounds include children and young people’s improved physical health, more respite for parents, as well as increased confidence and resilience among users. Adventure playgrounds can offer children – particularly vulnerable children living in areas of high social deprivation – places where they learn for themselves how to deal with risks and build the resilience needed to cope with life’s challenges. Because of the unique public service that adventure playgrounds offer, they often become the heart of a neighbourhood community. Due to increased traffic and parental fears children have less opportunity to play out by themselves and with their friends than their parents did. We particularly want to encourage school-aged children the opportunity to have the time and space to play, to test themselves, to try things out, to make friends, to create and destroy, and to have fun without their parents or other adults looking over their shoulders. 

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