I’m really excited to see that the timber decking is now in place along the entire length of the walkway! It’s a fantastic milestone to reach, and means we can now move on to the final stages of construction, including the handrail and interpretation.
This is the start of the walkway from the Welcome Building end. The new entrance sign is in place and the first part of the interpretation is in position showing the diameter of the largest tree by volume, General Sherman (a giant sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum) tree located in California, USA), and the names of all the donors who have funded Phase Two of the Westonbirt Project. The top of the timber bench which will be placed in this area should also arrive this week.
This is one of the views from the walkway at almost the highest point at the edge of Silk Wood.
This photo shows the view looking along the walkway. You can just about see the access to the rope bridge and walk-around feature. You will be right in the canopy at this point with several yew trees, oaks and sycamores either side of the walkway.
This is the walk-around feature which will eventually include a swinging rope bridge and a separate platform with several “totems” representing the different layers of a tree.
The rope bridge’s handrail and side mesh is in; the next task will be to install the timber boards so visitors can walk across to the platform, and the installation of the platform deck and handrail.
Despite seeing the walkway on several plans, 3D models and from the ground a real sense of the curves is only fully apparent when stood on the walkway itself. This photo is taken as you cross Willesley Drive, with the crow’s nest feature on the right.
The staircase up to the crow’s nest is steep and has been designed with a bounce! As you can see in the picture this staircase takes you up to a black pine. Don’t worry the staircase isn’t finished! The contractors will be installing timber stair treads and will fit a poem to the stair once complete. Once at the top of the stairs you can peer through telescopes so you can become a nature detective.
Some of you may have noticed some large stone boulders. We have placed these around the bases of some of the walkway legs to protect the walkway from vehicles. The contractors will be installing the last of the boulders next week to protect the legs alongside Willesley Drive.
On top of the steel balustrade the contractors will install a solid larch handrail; it is bespoke, chunky and is rarely straight! Some of the interpretation fits to the handrail, including a game at the end of the walkway, so we need it to be in place before the interpretation designers arrive to install it.
Although the walkway looks as if it’s ready to walk on, there are a few more elements to install before we can open. No one is more eager to finish the walkway than I am, having been involved in the project for the last six years. But I think you will agree once you’ve experienced the walkway that it will be well worth the wait!
Sophie Nash, Project Manager