When The Big Adventure Family were invited to try out the challenging treetop courses at ‘Skywalk Adventure’, we didn’t need to be asked twice. But there was one small problem…. infact two small problems…. you need to be a minimum of 8 years old to take part, and at only 4 years old and 7 months (!), Oskar and Ella were just a tad too young. As happy as I would have been ditching the kids and doing the course by myself, I didn’t think that was entirely the point, so I recruited the kids from our awesome local school – The Treehouse – to come along with me. I’ve been working with the gang from the Treehouse on various occasions about the importance of having a Growth Mindset and setting themselves personal challenges so they can grow as people, so I thought this would be the perfect activity to consolidate these lessons.
Skywalk Adventure is based at ‘Sandown Sports’ in Esher, Surrey and so is just one of the many activities that you can do at this venue. The cool thing being that the ‘skywalk’ is inter-twined through the trees that tower over their large dry-ski slope so there’s plenty of goings-on to watch as you swing through the trees! You also have the most incredible views all the way to London and can see the Shard and other London landmarks in the distance. Pretty epic.
The Treehouse kids were aged 8-10 and there was a range of emotions as we waited to start the course, from nerves and outright fear, to excitement and anticipation to get started.
The Skywalk staff were SUPER professional – probably the best I have ever come across in all my time spent in outdoor education and activity centres (which is a lot) – and were really calm in their manner when dealing with the kids, sussing out how each of them felt about tackling the courses and catering for their needs.
After the safety briefing, we all got harnessed up, then had a practice at attaching ourselves with our ‘runner’ and leading it round the wire that would take us round the whole course. Unlike some treetop adventures there is no hooking on and hooking off – once you have attached on at the beginning you are attached all the way round, so no danger at all of falling (good to know!) One final safety check and we were ready to SKYWALK
There are two courses, both of equal challenge but with different obstacles and activities, including an angled indie bridge, tightropes, cargo nets to scramble across, wobbly stepping stones, suspended skipping ropes, a net burma bridge, barrel roll, star-crossing, swinging logs, and an Indiana log crossing, all of which require reaching/ grabbing/ hanging from some sort of suspended rope or wire and stepping onto something exceptionally wobbly and working your way from one tree base to the next.
Some challenges were more precarious than others, with a few of us finding our legs going in rather different directions on the ‘star-crossing’; and some challenges provoked a bit more fear than others because of their rather minimalist nature, e.g. the ‘tightrope’, which was a single wire to walk across whilst holding onto a single wire above; but regardless of the challenge, the Treehouse kids got stuck in.
The kids and my favourite activity were the two AWESOME zip wires on each course, which were pretty darn fast and basically saw me squealing with excitement as I whizzed from one treetop to the other, before finding myself embroiled in a big net at the end, which provided a good laugh for all. It’s fair to say that the slightly more nimble children managed to navigate their landing a LOT more elegantly!
It took about one hour 40 minutes for us all to complete both courses (with some speedy kids having a second go at one of the courses). Then we un-harnessed and had a picnic lunch outside at one of the picnic tables overlooking the ski slope and views across Sandown race course and had a bit of a debrief about the various challenges faced.
What was clear was that whatever their emotion at the beginning, every child gained a huge amount from the morning, whether an enormous feeling of accomplishment at having overcome their fear, or just feeling great having had fun fun fun conquering the obstacles. There was lots of chat and laughter over lunch about the different obstacles, which were the most challenging and all the funny things that had happened.
All in all it was a BRILLIANT way to spend a morning with the kids and if you are looking for a fun and challenging activity for your family, then I would absolutely recommend taking them to SKYWALK. Book in now for half-term so you don’t miss out!
If you need an added challenge then why not head there for their SCARY SKYWALK for Halloween, whereby you complete the course in the evening in the dark, with various ghouls, ghosts and creepies haunting you along the course – Eeeeeeeeeekkk! And don your fancy dress to be in with a chance to win a prize for best dressed! But again, get in quick and book a place as it’s only running for a short time from 25th – 31st October.
Having conquered the Skywalk, the Treehouse kids and I are hoping to head back to Sandown Sports to try our hand at the dry-slope skiing, sledging and whizzing down the slopes on the mini-ringos. I am so glad I’ve got kids (even if I have to borrow them sometimes!) – perfect justification for me having a go at all these things!