Step this way for a natural play trail and discover secrets of parkland

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A natural play trail is the latest development designed to attract visitors to one of Falkirk’s iconic parks.

It uses the park’s extensive outdoor space and landscape to create a footpath around an area at the back of the impressive Callendar House.

Along with providing a walk slightly off the beaten track, it also gives the young – and young-at-heart – an opportunity to practise their balance skills as they navigate their way from one end to the other of some wooden balance beams.

For those looking for something less energetic, they can admire the numerous wooden sculptures placed around the trail, as well as looking out for the ‘fairy doors’ nestling in the trees.

Several wooden benches, carved out of fallen trees, have also been strategically placed around the route.

Visitors should make sure they take time out to sit back and enjoy the view of the wooden television at one of the highest points on the trail.

For the really adventurous there is also a cableway slide – and at 40 metres in length is reckoned to be one of the longest in the area. If that wasn’t enough there are also two ropes so people can race each other from one end to the other ... but watch out there are no crash landings at the other end.

Claire Mennim, a team leader with Falkirk Community Trust, said: “The trail is half a mile long and takes around 20 minutes to complete at a steady pace. This gives people the 20 minutes of daily exercise that the NHS says we should all be doing.

“However, it also encourages children and young people to enjoy outdoor play while engaging in skills such as climbing and balancing.”

She added that the idea for the trail came from public consultation in 2015 when the community was asked what people would like to see in the park.

“We were looking at what we needed to do to adapt and maintain Callendar Park to ensure that it continued to provide a facility that people of all ages would use. Once we decided on the play trail, we involved pupils from Victoria and Comely Park Primary Schools to help us design it.

“Their ideas were great and allowed us to come up with this fabulous facility that we’re sure will be another attraction to encourage visitors to make use of these great surroundings.”

The trail cost £60,000 and was entirely funded from donations and grants.

Funding came from The Robert Barr Charitable Trust, the fizzy drink makers who support a wide range of Scottish charities, especially those involved in environment and conservation, as well as child and adult welfare.

Falkirk Environment Trust and Falkirk Common Good Fund also helped with the costs, while Link Housing provided the fairy doors and there were lots of volunteers who also helped with the development.

The benches and wooden sculptures were created by Jonny ‘Chainsaw’ Stableford, a tree surgeon and chainsaw carver, who is based at Hopetoun Estate, near South Queensferry.

Work will take place in coming months to improve the footpath around the trail and make it easier for people pushing prams to navigate the course.

Falkirk Community Trust is looking at a range of “creative” ways to bring in funding and is currently crowdfunding to replace the children’s chute in Callendar Park.