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Trying out the Treetop Trek
A NEW adventure Treetop Trek, with a zip wire running all the way to the waters of Windermere, has opened to the public at the Lake District Visitor Centre at Brockhole.
Reporter Emma Lidiard went along to explore the thrills on offer at the attraction.
Have you ever had the impulse when gazing up into the trees to suddenly want to jump, step, swing and fly through the leafy world above?
Well you will now be able to bring that dream to reality thanks to a new visitor attraction launched by the Lake District National Park Authority at Brockhole.
Armed with a sturdy pair of shoes, a harness and accompanied by instructor Mike Turner, who personally constructed the wooden haven in the sky, I climbed up 22 metres to become a Treetreker.
There is the option of a 50-metre high course but this takes a bit longer and I wanted to get my head for heights before venturing on to the more intense route which children and grandmothers were completing without any hesitation.
My first challenge was quite a simple one compared to what lay ahead: walking across a wobbly but robust ladder with side handles similar to the ones you see in children’s playgrounds, only it was attached half way up a 200-year-old oak tree.
It was not until the second stage that the height really hit me.
This time Mike bounced off ahead along wooden moving stepping stones that had no arm handles.
Balance, an old skill I had not had really practised since childhood, suddenly became crucial.
Then for the next task, walking along a rope with an X shape rope arrangement to lean into. Although 22 metres sounds like child’s play, when you are up there is does, at first, feel pretty high. So to be slowly walking between the trees on a tiny rope did feel ratehr surreal and got the old adrenalin pumping.
Mike was reassuring, telling me how he had adapted the course to make it more convenient for the less -experienced tree-goer. He used his four-year-old daughter as a guinea pig for revealing areas that may need tweaking. I felt that if an infant could do it, then I should not be too scared.
Between each trial is a wooden platform - a welcome chance to get my breath and feel a return to the safe state of ‘solid’ ground.
Foot swings were probably the most unnerving. One swing-like platform lead to the next so the momentum builds with every step.
The finale of the adventure is a zip wire. My only instruction was to jump into the air, which did go against all of my natural instincts.
On the lower course this has to performed solo but, on the more advanced course, Treetrekers get the chance to jump in a trio.
Mike's passion for the project could be witnessed not only by his eye for detail and pioneering zip wire but also his enthusiasm.
“The trees give out energy and confidence,” said Mike, who lives in Arnside. He has set up courses around the country in both urban and rural settings.
“This has definitely been the best one I’ve worked on. To have the lake and the ancient woodland canopy is a real highlight.”