Botanical gardens are not normally associated with high adrenaline activities, but then The Eden Project is no normal botanical gardens! Here you can fly over the biomes on England’s longest and fastest zip wire, plummet at 50mph from a 65ft cliff on a giant swing, or free fall from a 12-metre platform! In case you’re feeling tempted (or even if you’re not), I’ve put together my top 5 reasons to do the Eden Project SkyWire this Summer.
Hangloose Adventures has it’s pioneer site Hangloose@Eden right on the perimeter of the Eden Project in Cornwall, so there is no excuse not to try out one of their experiences while you are there.
Options include a giant cliff swing known as Gravity or a 33ft free-fall simulation known as The Drop. But I opted for a go on the Eden Project SkyWire, England’s longest and fastest zip-line experience; an interesting choice for somebody with a history of vertigo.
Despite my fears I totally enjoyed this thrilling experience, so I have pulled together my top five reasons to give it a go (even if, like me, you’re not much of an adrenaline junkie)!
1. Get a unique perspective of the Eden Project
Perhaps my favourite thing about the Eden Project SkyWire is that it gives you such a unique view of the site.
While you are awaiting your turn high up on the launch platform, don’t forget to look around and take in the impressive view. This will help you to get your bearings for the coming flight.
I recommend doing so because once you are launched from the platform you will have less than a minute to enjoy the ride, which takes you over the biomes and past The Core (the sunflower shaped educational building for children) before coming to a fairly abrupt halt on the other side of the quarry.
Getting a birds-eye view of Eden is a unique experience. You can almost imagine that you are an eagle soaring high above the gardens looking for somewhere to land.
As you fly over the biomes you will be able to make out the dense foliage inside. Tiny people mill around below like ants, and the floral displays in the outside gardens sing with colour. Even the 3.3 tonne giant statue made from electrical waste (known as ‘WEEE Man’) looks small from this high speed vantage point.
With amazing views over the Eden Project and the Cornish countryside beyond, this is a thrilling ride for anyone, as long as you remember to keep your eyes open and enjoy the view…
2. It’s the closest thing to flying without wings
Throughout history mankind has been fascinated with the power of flight. From the early birdmen with unlikely contraptions built to fulfill the original dream of flight, to modern day base jumpers in their wing suits, many people have tried to achieve human flight, sometimes with disastrous consequences.
I have been gliding and paragliding, and have flown in many planes, but for me the Eden project SkyWire was the closest thing I have experienced to flying. Once you get going you will hardly notice the light-weight harnesses, and the wind rushing past your face will only add to the sensation that you are soaring like a bird.
During the flight you will be safely strapped into a specially designed ‘Superman-style’ harness, which allows you to fly head first through the air with your body horizontal (front facing down).
Depending on your weight you will be asked to either hold your arms out beside you for the majority of the flight, or tuck them in behind your back. But either way you are going to feel like a superhero as you whizz through the air surveying the ground below you (and everything else in between).
3. Conquer England’s longest and fastest zip wire
The Eden Project SkyWire is the longest and fastest in England, measuring in at 660 metres long and 97 metres high. So why not earn bragging rights by conquering it while you are there?!
Nearby, The Zip at Adrenalin Quarry, in South East Cornwall, claims to be the UK’s ‘maddest zip wire’. At 490m long, 50m high and reaching speeds of 40mph it is clearly not as mad as the Eden SkyWire, although the flooded depths of the old quarry with sheer cliffs on either side may well make it feel like it is!
Elsewhere in the UK, Zip World in Wales can lay claim to being the fastest zip line in the world and the longest zip line in the northern hemisphere, where riders can exceed 100 mph and travel at 500 feet above the ground. So that one is definitely NOT for the faint-hearted and certainly not for me!
4. Reach speeds of up to 60 miles per hour
At 660 metres long and 97 metres high, you will build up a fair bit of speed. In fact you may reach speeds of up to 60 miles per hour as you fly superman-style over the Eden project biomes, safely strapped into your special harness.
At 60 mph it does feel really quite fast, and at one point I was suddenly concerned that I wasn’t going to stop in time and would flatten the adventure guide waiting for me to land, but then of course the brake kicked in!
Thankfully there is a brake…
The good news is that it is a passive zip line brake, which means that it requires no input from the rider. In other words, a passive brake will stop a rider even if they are freaking out and therefore unable to do anything to stop themselves.
As an added bonus, it is worth remembering that it only takes about 40 seconds to travel the SkyWire from beginning to end so if you don’t enjoy the experience it will soon be over!
5. Because you can!
When a friend asked me why I wanted to take on the SkyWire I realised that I didn’t really know, so I just answered “because I can!” with a shrug.
What I really mean by this is that I try not to say no to any opportunities when I’m travelling, even if they fill me with fear, because I’m always acutely aware that life is short and I might not get the opportunity again.
And no matter what your nerves tell you, you can do it! The oldest person (so far) to take on the Hangloose SkyWire at Eden was aged 89. I have a terrible head for heights and genuinely loved the experience, so if I can do it anyone can!
“Fear is only as deep as the mind allows.” ~ Japanese Proverb
Ok, so there are some restrictions. You must be at least 8 years old, and fall within the operating weight and height limits to take part.
For the SkyWire there is a minimum weight of 40kg/6st2lb and you must be at least 1m 20cm in height. The maximum weight is 120kg/18st 12lb.
All participants are weighed, as this determines whether you will fly with your arms out beside you or tucked in behind your back. So be prepared for the horror of stepping on the scales in front of another human being. But that will be the worse thing you have to do.
Eden Project SkyWire Fact File
Hangloose@Eden opens in February on selected dates. From March until the end of October it is open daily. Normal opening hours are 10:00-17:00. Some late night openings apply on selected dates during the Eden Sessions and the August school holidays.
The cost of the SkyWire is £20 per person and as long as you arrive by 17:00 you are guaranteed to fly (although you may have to wait at busy times).
Entry to the Eden Project is not necessary to access Hangloose Adventures, but once you have flown over the site you are going to want to explore it!
Cover Photo: Emily Whitfield-Wicks/The Eden Project