THE region's most expensive playpark swung open last week.

And the hundreds of children have already enjoyed the brand-new Harestanes slides, rope nets, climbing frames and roundabouts.

Harestanes Countryside Visitor Centre not only has the biggest and best playpark in the South of Scotland it is also the most inclusive with many of the 50 items of equipment suitable for children with additional support needs - including the Borders’ only wheelchair swings and an all-inclusive sensory boardwalk.

The innovative, durable play equipment comes from recreation specialists Wicksteed, and features multi-sensory textures, landscaped features and safety surfacing.

At the heart of the play park is an impressive Jedburgh Abbey-inspired centrepiece and pyramid tower.

The £350,000 facility near Ancrum was unveiled with help from the local community and children’s storybook star, Badger the Mystical Mutt.

Badger was invited, not only to raise awareness of dogs being welcome at Harestanes, but also due to the ethos of the illustrated books which cover issues such as disability, bullying and prejudice.

Badger said: “I can't wait to play on all these fantastic new facilities and then enjoy a higgledly-piggledy tower of toast in the Pooches' Corner of the café.

"It’s brilliant that well-behaved doggies are welcome at Harestanes and I hope children of all ages enjoy playing at the super new play park!”

The play park, managed by Live Borders, is the latest to be funded by Scottish Borders Council’s £4million investment in new play and skate parks, pump tracks and other outdoor community facilities.

Ben Lamb, Director of Operations at Live Borders, said: “Our new play park offers children of all ages and abilities to have challenging and imaginative fun, in the stunning Borders countryside.

“We are placing Harestanes firmly on the map as a must-visit for locals and tourists alike.”

Work has already got underway on Coldstream’s new play park, while plans are being finalised for a new facility in Kelso.

Councillor David Parker, Convener of Scottish Borders Council, said: “Harestanes play park is a fantastic facility which will encourage local families to get outside and get active in a fun environment and hopefully encourage people to come to the visitor centre and the wider Scottish Borders.

“In the last three years, we have opened impressive and popular new play parks in Hawick, Galashiels and Oxton.

"We have Coldstream and Kelso both on the horizon to open later in 2019 and other facilities are due to be created across the Borders in the coming years.”

In a joint statement, local Jedburgh and District Councillors Jim Brown, Scott Hamilton and Sandy Scott, added: “Since the plans were announced late last year, there has been huge excitement in the local community for the opening of the Harestanes play park and it is great to finally see hundreds of children enjoying the wide array of play equipment.

“We expect Harestanes to see a boost throughout the upcoming summer and hopefully also bring more visitors to our stunning area of the Scottish Borders.”

The new park offers a variety of play equipment for children of all ages.

And in addition, there is an agility trail, a picnic area and a toddler play garden.