World Class Tree Top Adventure in Snowdonia
I love checking out those “biggest” and “best” attractions but didn’t expect to stumble across two in the forest just outside Betws y Coed, North Wales. The trees here may not be amongst the tallest in the world, but that’s not stopped the folks at Tree Top Adventure from thinking big, importing some massive trunks to create big thrill activities that go beyond your normal canopy adventure fare. When we found ourselves passing “Europe’s Biggest Swing” and the “World’s Tallest Powerfan Plummet” it just seemed rude not to stop, shell out a few quid and have a go.
A head for heights?
I have always wanted to skydive. It remains to this day an unfulfilled ambition. I loved walking around the outside of a skyscraper in Cebu on a glass platform last year, zip wiring over a slate mine in Wales and over alligators and crocs in Florida. Heights hold no fear for me and I do love an adrenaline rush. The only time I have ever had a problem with a sky adventure is when I had to ride a skateboard across a rope slung across two trees in Portugal. This is how it went.
“I hate it, I hate it, I hate it, I hate it! Why would anyone put a skateboard on a highwire in a forest?”
There could have been few people in the Portugese seaside town of Faliraki who didn’t hear me hating it. The kids, of course, loved it. But then that particular adventure wasn’t designed for a 46 year old woman who once wet herself at a roller disco.
Sky high treats
Travel most places in Europe and you’ll find a sky high adventure of some kind. In our own Lake District backyard Go Ape, an early adopter of the sky, has now been joined by Brockhole’s Tree Top Trek. Further north and Honister Slate Mine has perfected the Via Ferrata experience for tourists. And of course, as the technology improves, the adventures become more daring. In the Welsh Adventure Capital of Snowdonia we stumble across an attraction that has worked hard at going higher than others, with a giant swing, tree top trek course and plunge pole. We send the kids into the heavens at the Tree Top Adventure outdoor pursuits centre in Betwys y Coed to bring you their verdict.
The Skyride Giant Swing
If you get the opportunity to have a go on a giant swing then take it. Or so say our kids, who declared it their ‘bestest’ activity of the day. This attraction claims to be Europe’s highest and first five seat giant swing. Like any swing it is pulled back (rather more unusually to a height of 80ft) before being released. But clearly no Mum or Dad is strong enough to do this. Instead a hydraulic cable hums and winches the riders into the trees, and waits for them to pull a cord and send themselves soaring. To 120 ft above the Conwy Valley. Whheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! Check out the video at the top and you’ll see what I mean.
“This was my favourite. You go up and it’s all tension. And when you have finished going up, you get to pull the trigger. As soon as you pull the string the whole swing just drops. Its like being on a normal swing but 20 times better because it’s bigger scale and there’s more power to it. You’ve got more momentum so you’re going much faster.”
The Powerfan Plummet Plunge Pole
“Welcome to the highest Powerfan Plummet in the world. Our competitors poles stop at 30 metres, but this goes up to a grand 31m (106 ft)” says instructor Theo, who is in charge of our experience. If you’d like to try bungy jumping but aren’t sure if you’d like it then this attraction is for you. You have to make a commitment to step off, yet the fall is gentler and the landing soft as it’s controlled by a braking system depending on your weight. And unlike many bungy jumps you won’t be dangling over a river till the rescue boat can get there; the whole experience takes a matter of minutes for climbing and seconds for descent. But it’s not all thrill, you will get some exercise; the kids say the hardest part is the vertical climb up the pole. But you do get rewarded by views out over the Conwy valley at the top. In today’s cloud, we can’t see much beyond the pole, but we may be back for more!
“I liked the plunge stick but not as much as the swing. It’s less of a rush and is over more quickly. This one is really more of a test of courage because you are stepping off. You go really fast for the first few seconds and then you really, really slow down. When the brake hits, you are like a bird, slowly descending. The climb is exciting too. You have to make your own way up this massive pole with wet handles; just little pieces of metal sticking out of the wood! Your hands get really tired-you get half way up and go ‘ugh!’ The pole wobbled when Matthew got on behind me. He came up only 30 seconds after me so I had to climb faster in case he caught me up. And I wasn’t going to let that happen.”
The Tree Top Adventure Course
If you don’t like high thrills or going fast then don’t despair; at this adventure centre there’s a zone for everyone. Children from 4-8 can join the Tree Tots Trail. And for older children taller than 1.3 m (4 ft 3) and adults there is a full course in the canopy with 30 obstacles to climb, navigate and negotiate.
For young children the Tree Tots course is a safe and controlled adventure. They take responsibility for themselves by moving along ropes, over tree trunks and obstacles, strapped on by safety clips. I highly recommend you let them explore a course like this from an early age. When Hannah was little, her adventures in the air gave her confidence, and pushed her to go out of her comfort zone. It also helped with her balance and coordination.
On a wet day high ropes courses can provide protection from the weather, and something to do if conditions are too severe for more exposed outdoor adventures, although in high winds and severe snow and ice the course closes. No special clothing or equipment is needed, just suitable footwear and gloves for cold little fingers if it’s freezing. Everything else is provided but bring your own courage.