Our new Treetop Walkway at Westonbirt Arboretum was opened to the public this week by BBC Countryfile presenter Ellie Harrison, accompanied by the design team, client, funders and contributors to the project.
The new Walkway starts and finishes on ground level using the topography of the land, rising 13 metres as it follows the valley floor. It seamlessly integrates itself into its environment thanks to a sensitive approach to design and selection of materials. The sinuous elevated 300-metre route meanders through the arboretum, offering the chance to get up close with trees and the canopy, as well as providing glorious views across the historic downs landscape. At four key points, the walkway ‘bulges’ out to form hotspots where visitors can engage with their natural surroundings, and a ‘crows nest’ rises up over the walkway, wrapping around a 36-metre tall black pine tree.
Architect Glenn Howells said: “We are very proud to have designed this unique treetop walkway for the historic and internationally renowned arboretum at Westonbirt. The walkway allows all visitors, regardless of age or ability, to experience the site from the treetops for the first time. Focusing on visitor needs and materiality, the walkway is designed to disappear as a sinuous silver ribbon that meanders between trees and canopies. The aim is that this new feature will greatly enhance visitor experience and help to ensure Westonbirt’s popularity for many years to come.”
Glenn Howells Architects has previously completed the Arboretum’s Masterplan and Welcome Building, a curved, timber-clad centre that serves as an entrance to visitors of the arboretum.