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Nature-inspired playground unveiled in memory of north-east mountaineer

Tom's son Ian Patey (centre), Ian's wife Jennifer (left) and their daughter Megan unveiled the memorial plaque on Thursday. Image by Rory Raitt.
Tom's son Ian Patey (centre), Ian's wife Jennifer (left) and their daughter Megan unveiled the memorial plaque on Thursday. Image by Rory Raitt.

A nature-inspired playground designed to nurture children’s imagination and creativity has been unveiled in Aberdeenshire’s newest town.

The family of renowned climber, mountaineer, doctor and writer Tom Patey unveiled the new park at Chapelton of Elsick this week.

Patey Park was created as a lasting legacy of the Ellon-born adventurer, who has been hailed as one of the leading Scottish climbers of the 1950s-1960s.

The Duchess of Fife and director of Elsick Development Company, Caroline Carnegie said: “Tom was a brilliant and inspiring mountaineer from the local area, and he was an advocate for children embracing outdoor adventures and testing their limits through exploration and play.

“We hope this play area will be a fitting legacy to his feats.”

Playground designed to encourage creativity

Built in the heart of the Chapelton development on the top of Cairnhill, the park features a range of natural elements designed to encourage imaginative play.

A range of winding paths take young adventurers on a journey over mounds and slopes, rocks and boulders, logs, tree stumps, and balance beams.

There are also conversation areas, art features and swings.

Children from Newtonhill Primary School got a chance to try the new playground on Thursday. Image by Rory Raitt.

The duchess added: “The design of the playground differs from other play areas since the topography is challenging, making it fun and natural.

“We are planning to add more equipment at a later date, and it is hoped that we will also have a zip line.

“The entire ethos behind the playground is to encourage nature-based group play, which helps to encourage the development of motor, sensory and social skills.”

Benefits to children’s development

Studies show that children enjoy natural playgrounds as they encourage more active play and lead to extended playtime.

Nature playgrounds have also been proven to encourage children to consider their safety, while encouraging creativity, challenge and flexibility.

Children at the new playground in Chapelton

Jane Wallis, an early years senior practitioner at Newtonhill Primary School, which is attended by children from Chapelton, welcomed the new playground and said: “Natural play holistically supports the development of a young person by connecting mind, body and soul.

“By exploring natural environments, children develop many valuable skills including decision making, problem solving, and risk assessing to name but a few. Developed now, skills like these will stay with them for the rest of their lives.”

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