Climbing trees is a thrilling personal challenge that pits your courage and skill against one of nature’s biggest plants. What if you could spend every day climbing trees and getting paid for it?
Tree surgeons and power line workers are constantly having to get up in the air to trim trees away from power lines or to remove trees that have become dangerous. I can just picture a forest of well hard trees causing problems for locals. By dangerous I mean that they might fall down and cause damage.
I grew up climbing all sorts of trees wherever I went. I soon learned that oaks are ace, as are hazel and chestnut. I also discovered that birch trees have steep angles where the branches meet the trunk and you are forever getting your foot wedged into the tight angle and getting stuck. Birch trees also seem to harbour lots of ants!
Not everyone has the luck of growing up near miles of open countryside. So if you want to learn the right skills for tree climbing as part of your job, where do you go?
I recently came across Tree Top Challenge in South Wales. I asked the owner Mike Stowell why he set it up and what makes it different from something like Go Ape.
Mike told me, “Tree Top Challenge was born in the midsts of a series of very unfortunate events. Thankfully, there is a happy ending.
As a working climber, I’d offer my services all over the globe & I experienced things I’ll never forget. Sadly, in 2014 I was seriously injured in an accident at work & this single event changed everything. The affects on my family were devastating & watching the pain, misery & uncertainty it brought to my loved ones was more painful than any physical injury.
It didn’t take long for me to realise that the career I loved was over & I had to set my sights on a new way to provide for my family.
On a family day out in 2015, I saw huge potential in an over-grown area of woodland at a local tourist attraction & I knew I had to act on my instincts. After some positive responses from the management team at the farm, I put together a proposal, designed a course & presented it. It was a resounding success & I was given the green light to proceed. And so, after 5 months of blood, sweat & toil, Tree Top Challenge took form. The feeling has been overwhelming & I’m thankful I was able to turn such a negative chapter in my life into something positive.
The plan from the outset was to make Tree Top Challenge a unique climbing experience, a way for everyone to experience the technicalities, physical challenges & awe inspiring feeling that I was fortunate enough to experience on a daily basis. My work required climbing & abseiling from all manner of structures, both natural & man made & for me, climbing trees was the ultimate fusion of pure adrenaline & connection with nature. Tree Top Challenge provides both in huge doses.
Complex Climbing Challenges
Set amongst mature oak trees, the activities take elements from all climbing disciplines; arboreal climbing, rope access, rock climbing, caving & even military tactical techniques. Combined, they provide an experience that is hard to forget. With a 15 metre caving ladder, 8 metre high log bridge sourced from the sustainable spruce trees of the woodland, 8 metre high slack-line, rappelling, low slack-line, arm bursting 12 metre tree climbs, military style fast rope & finishing with our 12 metre high zip-line. By the time finish you’ll be so highly spiked with adrenaline, you won’t realise straight away how exhausted you are!
Learn Technical Tree Climibng Skills Safely
In addition to the recreational climbing course, we also include custom climbing challenges, such as foot-locking, speed climbing & aerial arts facilities. We will also be hosting various events throughout the summer, including tree climbing competitions, slack-line competitions, wood cutting demonstrations and trade events.
We also provide vocational training courses for the arboricultural & rope access industries, as well as educational packages for local council projects, given young people the chance to learn whilst getting active. Climbing is a great workout for the body, and so we hold ‘rope burn’, a twice weekly workout utilising trees, ropes & gravity to give you a gut busting workout!
We have just acquired an additional 400sqm of woodland, which we are currently raising funds to restore, and use with minimum affects to the ecosystem which it sustains, which has been part of our mission statement from the start. I owe a huge amount of gratitude to the trees with which we so often overlook; they’ve provided for my family & given me many years of enjoyment and job satisfaction. My aim is to make others aware of their importance to our environment & to enjoy these majestic living organisms as much as I have.”
So as you can tell, tree climbing isn’t just about getting into the branches. You can find out more about tree climbing and safety training courses at
Tree Top Challenge
Amelia Trust Farm, Five Mile Lane
Vale of Glamorgan.