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Pools and Muddy Pits

Many children enjoy splashing in puddles with their wellies, or throwing sticks and stones in standing water. It’s even better when puddles freeze in cold weather and children can have fun skidding or smashing through the ice.

How to build

  • Puddles are usually formed unintentionally on, or beside, paths during and after rain. Often these puddles are then drained through ditching or raising the path level to shed water to surrounding areas. However, if the puddle is not causing significant damage to the path and there is a dry passage on a hard surface around the water it could be left.
  • If children are playing in puddles, but damage is repeatedly occurring to the surface of a path that needs filling, retain or create a slight hollow for a puddle to form beside the path, ensuring that it is not so steep or deep as to cause a hazard.
  • A muddy pit can be created by excavating a shallow hollow, lining it with 150–300 mm puddled clay (excavated clay that is watered and trampled by foot or machine to create a watertight seal). A muddy hollow that is being made from scratch is best situated in an area of low lying ground where water tends to gather, or on the line of a ditch where rainfall will keep the mud wet. Often clay that is suitable for puddling can be found nearby; ask engineers for advice.


Pools and puddles are low risk where banks are stable, gently sloping and the risks apparent to the user.

Last updated: 8th March 2016

England's Woods and Forests are cared for by Forest Enterprise England, an agency of the Forestry Commission.