Tree climbing for grown ups
Before I start this, a bit of background might be helpful.
Growing up we had a huge oak tree in our garden. I used to climb up and settle down on one of its branches to do my homework, read and occasionally just escape the hubbub of a house with four noisy children in it.
And my favourite activity with my dad was to head into glorious Richmond Park, near our home, where he would help me climb up trees, then walk away (not very far, for those of you concerned about health and safety issues), leaving me to figure out how to get back down again.
So perhaps, knowing all that, it’s not necessarily a surprise that when I read about The Great Big Tree Climbing company, I was more than a bit intrigued. Being somewhat ancient and rather more creaky than in my more adventurous and agile youth, I hadn’t done any serious tree climbing in years, so the chance to remind myself of the joy to be had scaling the branches was too good to resist.
So I didn’t (resist, that is)
And boy am I glad. True there’s not all that much climbing per say involved, because you’re strapped into a harness and you pulley yourself up into the canopy of the tree, but there’s definitely effort involved for which you need a reasonable amount of strength. You can use the branches along the way as stabilisation and as pit stops on your assent, and its entirely up to you how high you ‘climb’.
The trees they use are always huge - partly to make sure there’s enough space for the eight pulleys they install, partly to offer exciting scope for well, going very high up!
You can book a private climb, alone or in a group of up to eight, or join others in any given hour- long time slot. I did my climb, which was at Alexander Palace in North London, in the company of six delightfully excited 10 year old boys doing a climb to celebrate one of their birthdays.
Ally Pally (as it’s colloquially known) is at the top of a hill, so the added bonus of working my way pretty high up into the canopy of the tree if I do say so myself, was to be treated to the most sensational views across the London skyline.
Certainly the harness isn’t the most comfortable thing, but its snugness and the fact that there’s a member of the Big Tree Climbing team at the end of the safety rope watching and guiding your climb the whole time, meant I felt completely safe and secure (and yes, of course, you have to wear a helmet too). The adrenaline rush afterwards lasted for several happy hours and I’m reminded of the joy of it every time I look at the certificate I was given when I lowered myself back down to earth.
You definitely don’t have to be a habitual tree-climber to enjoy this. Nor do you have to be a child, but if you have one to take along with you, all the better. This is multi-generational recreation at its best.
Find out where there’s a tree climbing event near you by going to http://www.bigtreeclimbing.co.uk/tree-climbing-events/ Climbs cost from £17.50
And let me know if you have a go!