Visitors to Westonbirt will get a bird’s eye view of the arboretum when a treetop walkway, part of a £1.9m project, opens next month.
The 300m walkway is 13m high and is believed to be the longest of its kind in the UK. It will be unveiled by BBC Countryfile presenter Ellie Harrison before opening to the public the following day on April 27.
Built from larch and Douglas fir, the structure has been designed around the topography of land near the arboretum’s entrance, allowing easy access without the need for a lift or steps, and is supported by more than 20 pairs of timber legs, which range from 2.5m to 13.5m tall.
It follows a serpentine path through trees into Silk Wood and is designed to educate as much as provide a unique view over the arboretum. Along the route there are interpretation boards giving tree facts and explaining woodland management, such as coppicing, a quiz game and telescopes that can be used to spot things placed in the trees, including fungi and insects.
The route also takes in a crow’s nest, a metal mesh-floored section and there’s the chance to divert down a length of rope bridge.
“People have been enjoying the views of Westonbirt from the ground for generations,” said arboretum director Andrew Smith. “The time has come to offer our visitors a new and exciting way to see the arboretum by getting up close and personal with the canopy, just like our tree team!”
Money for the walkway and a new tree management centre, which will include an interpretation area for visitors, has been raised by The Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum.
Access to the STIHL Treetop Walkway will be included in the arboretum’s normal entry free.
• More information: http://www.forestry.gov.uk/westonbirt