Dumfries House Estate is a brilliant day out for families. It is a stunning 2,000 acre estate near Cumnock in South Ayrshire with giant sequoia trees, outstanding play areas for kids, beautiful woodland walks, a huge manicured garden and a great cafe to boot.

The Estate

As you drive into Dumfries House Estate along the tree lined avenue the first thing you notice is how big the trees are. The grounds here are very well kept and it’s incredibly pretty.

There are some lovely walks around the woodland here. If you head over the bridge to the other side of the park you’ll come across the walled garden. Every season it looks different but in summer the gardens are particularly stunning. Definitely worth a wander round when you visit.

The maze at Dumfries House is really fun. It costs £1 per person (kids are free) to enter and the kids just love finding their way through here to the middle. The centre of the maze is very pretty with a pond covered in lily pads and a wooden pagoda overlooking it. Depending on the time of year you might find a lot of tadpoles or frogs in or around the pond.

The Play Areas

The play areas at Dumfries House are excellent. We always spend a good few hours between the different play areas and especially at the water play area. The water play area, or engineering playpark at Dumfries House, is brilliant.

It has water pumps and water wheels and water reservoirs and water gates to play with. There are troughs and plugs and skooshy things and a pump you can jump on that makes a big water jet shoot out.

Every part of the engineering playpark can be shifted to make the water move in different directions; stop it; release it; make it flow faster and slower. There is so much learning to do here without kids even realising they’re learning!

The first time we went my youngest had just started to walk. He mainly splashed and got himself utterly soaked, but he had a brilliant time. We’ve been a few times and the kids of every age we’ve been with from 1 up to 11 have had an absolute blast.

I would recommend taking spare clothes for enthusiastic kids as mine have both ended up sitting in the water reservoirs or in the burn. Also either wellies, water shoes and/or waterproofs are a good shout because trainers will get wet.

The sand play area has a couple of climbing frames and buckets on chains to be hoisted up. My kids love this as well. There is also an adventure play area just behind the cafe. It has a big log climbing frame, a zip slide, a big slide (that’s pretty tricky to get up for little kids and large adults alike) amongst other things.

The Cafe

We’ve only ever gotten takeaway from the cafe; sandwiches, ice cream and tea/coffees. The sandwiches were nice and the rest of the cafe food, and the cafe itself, looked lovely too. I have also heard rave reviews from a few good friends about the food in the restaurant.

The Logistics

  • There is a free car park on site within the estate grounds. The car park is huge so you don’t ever have any issue parking.
  • This park is very wheel friendly. Great for buggies.
  • Spare clothes and/or waterproofs are highly recommended if you plan to play in the water play area.
  • Dumfries House is a great place for picnicking and you can get takeaway sandwiches, lunch boxes etc from the cafe if you haven’t had the chance to organise before you go.

The Cost

Entry to Dumfries House grounds and playparks are completely free. The maze is £1 for adults and free for children. Tours of the house are available at a cost but we haven’t ever been inside the house itself as we’ve always had very young kids with us. (It has very fancy and very famous furniture and I don’t think I could handle the stress of a guided tour with kids in there.)

The Verdict

Dumfries House is an absolute hidden gem. The grounds are beautiful and that water play area (engineering playpark) at Dumfries House is one of the best play areas we’ve come across. You could easily spend a day at Dumfries House just exploring the grounds and playing as you go. There’s so much to do, and best of all it’s free!