Climbing Up High

Rusty learning to tree climb with ropes

It’s always so satisfying to climb a tree: to scramble up and reach that first low branch and carefully wind your way higher before sitting against the rough bark. I can’t think of a better way to end a busy week. So I was delighted when Goodleaf invited us to try out their new twilight tree session. We met them at a huge old oak tree, standing just above the beach, with ropes reaching high up in to its canopy.

Looking up at a pulley in a tree

These guys seriously know their trees, and it was great to grab the odd snippet of information (did you know cork trees are part of the oak family?) whilst we harnessed up. After the briefest of intros, Tom and I were wending our way to the top of this magnificent oak, clambering in to hammocks strung up high, and peeking through the highest leaves at the city across the water.

View of Spinnaker Tower across the water through the trees

Tom tree climbing

I confess my competitive spirit got the better of me. When Paul mentioned Goodleaf’s vertical marathon fundraiser for local Island charity, Gift to Nature, I had to join in. So, I proudly wore my gold ‘three climbs’ sticker on the way home, while we buzzed with the beauty of the adventure and planned our return.

Now it seems strange that we hadn’t done this before. After a taste of that great height and the light through the youngest leaves at the top of that old tree, once could never be enough. We’ll be back!

Rusty hanging from a rope up a tree

Thank you to Paul, Archie and Abi at Goodleaf tree climbing company for showing us such a good time.


Quiet Woods

Tree roots and stumps

Small tree framing white flowers and bluebells

Tom’s been laid low the last week, and he’s had some quiet days with plenty of honey and lemon and aspirin.  A good time for a trip to the woods: a place where talking is positively discouraged.  With late afternoon sun calling we took an easy amble around Firestone Copse and said very little.

Tom walking through trees

Layers of sound build the farther you walk without talking:   A few birds, then your step scuffing sandy ground, or snapping twigs on untrod paths.   Farther on, more birds with different rhythms, persistent or tuneful.  Then the almost-groan of trunks or low beams as a gust blows through.  Climb one of the gnarled trees by the estuary and listen to how the wind changes in its boughs.  Or walk below the pines and listen to the silver-tip icy sound of the wind through their needles.

Squirrel in a tree

If you are quiet for long enough, and remember to look up, you might hear leaves in top branches brushing against each other, or a skittering sound against bark.  The red squirrels leap so confidently across the canopy, reckless and graceful. happy to stop and stare from a safe height.

Bluebells and trees photo collage

Walking through tree roots

Take stock on a sturdy root, and stop for a snack.  (I recommend coffee and popcorn cookies) and sit in companionable quiet while the sounds wrap around you.  And then go home and read this quote.  Heck, read the whole book.

Sunlight through the trees

Five Reasons to Climb a Tree

When was the last time you climbed a tree? I can’t resist the temptation of a strong branch at the perfect height, the arms of a tree inviting: ‘Just think how much better things are from up here..’

Close up of feet climbing a tree branch

Every step gives a better view, and a little more of a thrill: can I reach that next branch up? I’m a fraidy cat, and it is always harder to get back down, but even one branch up feels good, and you can always jump from there!

Looking up through trees near Bonchurch, Isle of Wight

Sitting in the crook of a firm branch, back long against the rough bark of the trunk. The trees in the wind sound different from up here, still and close.
And did I mention the view?

Skinny trees photo collage

You might get stuck, your arms might ache, but there’s never an unhappy moment.

Bryony stuck in a tree in Bonchurch, Isle of Wight

And climbing trees only leaves you inspired to play more outside. So keep your eye out for a good tree. Why should we let kids have all the fun?

Tom on a rope swing

Jumping off the Longstone at Mottistone Down

A walk in the woods

Borthwood Copse

Tom and I recently discovered Borthwood Copse, the remnants of an ancient woodland that covered most of the East of the Wight.  Step a few feet in and you’re soon lost in the hundred hidden paths, big robin hood oaks and sense of its medieval past.  This discovery has been a long time coming, considering we’ve lived on the Island for five years.  We found it after mentioning our bluebell hunt to a true local, and this was his immediate suggestion.  We were too late for the bluebells this year, but did find some great climbing trees and a few local residents.

Tom tree climbing

Bryony viewed from up an oak tree

Red squirrel up a tree at Borthwood Copse


Turning off the lane, I make a long trudge into the wind into the oak trees…The whole wood creaks.  The curious thing is how quiet and calm it can be inside a wood during a wind.  The wood shelters itself.  All you hear is the wind in the fringes and in the treetops, a sound with the quality of a shingle seashore not far away.

– Roger Deakin