In the middle of a forest clearing, a cork-screw like structure rises above the trees: wooden walkways gently sloping towards dizzying heights, with a swirling, steep metal slide positioned around their inside. It’s a simple but effective structure: an elegant combination of sedate and exciting.
Avondale Forest Park (near Rathdrum, County Wicklow)’s new development is called ‘Beyond The Trees’, and pretty much does what it says on the tin. After entering through a children’s play park, past a small restaurant area and a coffee hut, you make your way slowly into the treetops, a sturdy, wheelchair and pushchair friendly wooden path leading you to a couple of storeys above the ground, and some fantastic views of the surrounding Wicklow hills.
Mostly, the pathway is simply a fancy walk – a relaxed one with lots of nice stop offs ranging from a little platform where you can electronically recreate the sounds of the local birds (and compare to the real ones in the trees), to a selection of high level (but safe) obstacles designed to give the young and the young at heart a bit of a rush.
Of course, it all leads to that huge viewing platform and the slide at its heart, but that aside, Avondale really is a place of simple pleasures: relaxed views, easy, accessible walkways and good coffee.
Elsewhere, there’s a river walk, a stroll to nearby Rathdrum, and a ‘below the trees’ version of the more impressive walk that simply follows a very similar route 20 metres below the raised version. A cycle route, and a 70 metre climb to the nearby Cairn round off the options – book ahead in summer. Tickets for the main walkway are €15 for adults and €12 for kids, while the rest can be accessed without payment.
PHOTOS COURTESY OF “BEYOND THE TREES AVONDALE” FACEBOOK PAGE
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