Whilst touring South of the river, one of my friends objectives was to do the Tree Top walk she'd heard so much about. I'd been shown some literature on it, and to be perfectly I was not too keen myself. Heights are not my cup of tea at the best of times, and the way the brochures described it scared me to death. Put simply, it's a footbridge suspended on a network of cables, pillars and trellis work rising to a height of nearly 200 feet. Scary!!! It soars up amongst the tree tops through the world famous tingle tree forests of Walpole. These trees are amongst the largest on Earth, comparable to the giant redwoods of America, and it is quite an experience to walk amongst them. Some of them are over 400 years old, and are absolutely enormous both in height and in girth.. Makes you feel pretty insignificant alongside them. When we arrived at the site, we were only too aware that the kids were on their Xmas holiday. Screaming brats everywhere. As we approached the beginning of the climb, coming from an aerospace background I took the trouble to do something I noticed virtually no-one else doing. Read the safety instructions. It was quite specific on how many people should be on the path at any one time. 20 maximum per walkway, and 10 maximum per rest station pillar between suspended paths. Nobody gave a monkeys about that. Hordes of youths swarmed over the trellis like hungry locusts. The entire structure started to sway about alarmingly, it was already being swung about by the fresh breeze that had started blowing through the trees, and their antics just made it ten times worse. Something that really wound us up was there didn't seem to be anyone controlling the amount of people climbing around it. Being set up as a money making exercise, the authorities running it seemed hell bent on just maximising the number of people through the gate. Children were running erratically back and forth between stations, which set up a sympathetic resonance around the entire network. It was nothing to see up to 50 people per pathway, and more than 20 on the platforms. It reminded me of a roller coaster ride. It was quite terrifying, and to be frank, although the view from the highest point was quite stunning, I was glad to get off. It wasn't only me who was nervous, My friend bitched continually all the way around the climb, complaining bitterly that she'd looked forward to this for years, only to have it spoilt by a load of undisciplined kids. There was an enormous amount of spectacularly colourful wildlife within the tree canopy, but we simply never got a chance to take it all in since we spent most of our time just hanging on for dear life.
I would do it again, but most definitely outside of school holidays.