Descending a 725m Skywire at 50mph surrounded by beautiful white chalk cliffs seems like a crazy adventure you’d do on vacation, not a day out somewhere less than an hour from London.
Bluewater Adventure Hangloose is home to England’s longest zip line – it’s 724 meters long – and is just a short high-speed train ride from central London.
With a breathtaking backdrop of Kent’s white chalk cliffs, you zipline down at speeds of up to 60mph over bushes, ponds and a nature reserve.
I was delighted to be invited to test it and was lucky enough to spend a glorious sunny January morning soaking up the natural beauty.
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The adventure park is located right next to the Bluewater mall so it was very easy to find.
At the moment the Skywire is the only attraction, but by summer there will be a giant swing and an outdoor skydiving experience that will have you soaring above the trees suspended only by the air – one day amazing filled with adrenaline.
Work is also underway to install a climbing wall in the cliff for an authentic outdoor climbing experience, which promises to be lots of fun whether you are there for the day or using the wall for yourself. train several times a month.
When I arrived for my Skywire experience, I was checked in by one of Hangloose’s many lovely staff members and introduced to Chris Lane, site manager and ‘first flight officer’ who was going to show me around.
I was walked through the safety information and requirements and weighed so the instructors could instruct me on correct arm positioning when riding the Skywire – for safety you must weigh between 40kg and 120kg to ride the zipline, and your positioning will vary based on your weight to ensure you travel safely.
Then I was buckled into my harness: long padded blue suits that were far from fashionable but very important given that I was about to be suspended face down in the air. I was given a helmet and a great pair of goggles to protect my contact lenses from drying out in the wind, and I was good to go.
A short minibus ride brought me to the 15 meter high starting tower, where we had to climb five flights of stairs to reach the top.
My flight mates and I were quickly hooked onto the zip line with various ropes and carabiners, and after a few quick photos we were released.
The flight took about 45 seconds, but felt like an eternity in the best way – hovering 100 meters above the ground, I could see for miles and marveled at my reflection in the water below. I really felt like I was flying.
It was exhilarating, breathtaking and so much fun, as soon as I reached the airstrip on the other side of the cliff I wanted to go back and start all over again.
After a short interview on Facebook Live, which you can watch here, Chris then took me on a behind-the-scenes tour of the site to see everything that’s coming soon: from the new permanent welcome dome that’s sure to get you excited for your adventure, to areas where the giant swing and jump parachute Be soon. The zip line was fantastic on its own, but the site looks amazing when finished.
Behind the new reception dome will be the viewing platform, where friends and family can watch the flyers as they glide down the wire, and the platform is even positioned at eye level for the best all time photo opportunity.
The structures are all made with sustainably sourced wood that blends in well with the natural surroundings. As part of the nature reserve area, birdhouses have been erected, including a huge peregrine falcon nesting box to allow the beautiful birds of prey that inhabit these cliffs to nest.
On top of all this, Hangloose is committed to ensuring that as many people as possible can enjoy an adrenaline-filled experience, including wheelchair users and people with limited mobility.
Chris explained that the team is busy preparing a system that will allow wheelchair users to fly on the Skywire, with an elevator taking them to the start platform, arranging a wheelchair to meet them at the other end and opening an hour earlier to ensure customers with disabilities can enjoy themselves at their own pace.
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He added that the first customer to try out the wheelchair-friendly Skywire will be a local man called John, who is paralyzed and has shown huge interest in the site since they started building it – Chris says John can’t not wait to have a go itself.
Hangloose Bluewater is a fantastic way to spend a day, and I for one had no idea adrenaline junkies were so well catered for so close to central London.
A ride on the Skywire costs from £50 pp and tickets can be booked on the Hangloose Adventure website.
How to get there
Bluewater is not far from Ebbsfleet International which is on the high speed rail line with trains going to both St Pancras International and Stratford International. From Ebbsfleet it’s a 10 minute bus ride to the shopping center and then about a 15 minute walk to Hangloose.
However, the trains and buses are not too regular, so it is important to time well, otherwise you might have to wait a while. For this reason it might be best to take a taxi from Ebbsfleet International or get off yourself – it’s about a 50 minute drive from Stratford in east London.
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