Every Monkey Needs A Fort
While looking around Amazon for wendy houses I came across several companies selling wonderful looking play set forts and Dunster houses. Annoyingly though these rather expensive fortresses have very few reviews and even fewer real photographs! So annoying!
I thought they looked great and wanted to know more so I looked around the web and got as much information on 3 of these amazing play sets as I could! We're talking slides, swings, monkey bars, climbing walls, and dens!
Unfortunately the company that produces these sets only ships to England and Wales so bad luck Scots. Perhaps check out my post about Den Kits and enjoy the great outdoors instead!
I like to do one cheap-ish set, one medium set, and one widly expensive set just because... well just because I like seeing a range of things and always want the biggest one!
The Dunster House Monkey Fort is the cheapest on my little list but it's still a sizeable playset that has loads of features. A slide, swing, monkey bars, climbing wall/ladder, and a tower! This was one of the smallest play sets I could find that fit my usual criteria; low maintenance and long lasting! The set is made with pressure treated timber with a 10 year guarantee. If you don't know what pressure treating means (which I didn't) it is a chemical process that wards of insects, fungi, and micro-organisms.
The reviews have been very favourable, talking about how the little ones love it and only ever taking points off for the annoyance of assembly. With the size of it, and from other people's experience, I strongly suggest getting help from strong friends or family to put this one together.
While this is the smallest on the list it may still be a large space investment as it is 2800mm (9'2") wide x 3400mm (11'2") deep x 2850mm (9'4") high. (approx)
Like most of the sets by Dunster House it is made for 3 years and up, is EN71 compliant, and has a few smart features like "clamp style swing hooks" that don't damage the timber, and professional climbing holds that won't crack.
- + 10 year guarantee
- + Lots of features to keep your little ones entertained
- + Includes everything needed to put it together (even includes a drill bit according to review)
- - May be too large for some gardens
- - Like most large projects; difficult to put together
The larger Balcony Fort has all the same guarantees as the smaller Monkey Fort; pressure treated timber, 10 year guarantee, professional climbing holds, and clamp style swing hooks. The only issue is that is quite a bit larger than the Monkey Fort at 4600mm (15'3") Width x 3800mm (12'5") Depth x 2800mm (9'2"). As with any large playset, measure your available space first!
This one is perfect if you have 2 little monkeys as it comes with 2 swings, a slide, monkey bars, a climbing wall/ ladder, and an enclosed tower with a balcony! According to the manufacturer it is appropriate for 3 - 14 year olds and can take up to 6 children at once (though only one on the balcony at a time for safety reasons). Time and use wise this seems like a great set.
Like most Dunster sets it is delivered flatpack but unlike my IKEA sofa it comes with all the necessary nuts, bolts, washers, and screws included. Minimal stress and no last minute mad dashes to B&Q! Reviewers have said that it is very sturdy once up and excellent quality, the only issue is that you will need a drill as the screw holes are not pre-drilled.
- + Great size
- + Pre-treated timber with 10 year guarantee
- + Plethora of features
- + Safety Caps for screws and bolts
The Dunster House ManorFort is the largest on the list and features everything the BalconyFort has, plus a knotted climbing rope, enclosed den area and a picnic table! A set like this coupled with a family BBQ is bound to go down a treat! My only issue is that while the den area is enclosed, the picnic table is positioned just outside the canopy. Obviously you won't be having a picnic on a rainy day but British weather is not known for co-operating.
The layout of this one, while taking up more space, looks a little better for groups as the swings and the monkey bars are now separate and, while you can't see it on the Amazon page, the set does still have a climbing hold ladder. My only concern is that the "enclosed den area" only has three walls, one of which is the ladder meaning anything left in it will likely get rained on.
- + Fantastic size and layout
- + Sturdy construction
- + Great for all types of play
- - Den and picnic table not too well thought out
Picking The Perfect Playset
When buying a playset of any kind it is important to measure the space you have so many complaints I've seen on Amazon complain about it being "too big" or "bigger than we thought". Measure the four corners and aim to give yourself at least a few feet on all sides. Place markers to help yourself visualise it and don't be afraid to ask a friend or family member to remeasure. It is a horrible feeling getting a flatpack item have constructed and realising it doesn't fit where you wanted it to.