It’s all go here at Westonbirt at the moment. The STIHL Treetop Walkway is well underway with most of the foundations complete. The main structure will soon start taking shape when four very large cranes arrive!
The majority of the Walkway is being fabricated off-site; in Yorkshire where the steel sections are being manufactured and in Holland where the timber legs are being machined.
I recently visited Woodspecials in Holland along with Paul Miller from Glenn Howells Architects, Shane Marsh from SH Structures (the steel fabricators) and Susanna Byers, our Interpretation Support Officer, to check progress.
The timber has been sourced from Belgium and Germany and is a mix of Larch and Douglas fir. The legs vary from 2.5 metres up to 13.4 metres in length. This is a picture of me stood next to some of the Larch before machining; this is about 8 – 10 metres in length.
The log is trimmed to size at the end to ensure it fits onto the machine. Once in place the team check if the timber is in its correct position to ensure the straightest section is cut from the log. They do this partly by eye and also using a tape measure and some very large calipers!
Once checked the machine gets going. The timber rotates as the blade runs up and down the length removing the sapwood and creating a perfect smooth finish to our precise dimensions. It was mesmerising watching the timber being machined but also incredibly loud.
The first delivery of the completed legs will start arriving in the next few weeks. Once here they will be sorted into order, transported to the walkway and then carefully craned into position. This will involve careful manoeuvring over and underneath the tree canopy. Please be aware that we may have to close Skilling hill and parts of Willesley Drive for your safety.
Sophie Nash, Project Manager