Ropes Courses

Adventure activities involving aerial ropes courses have become very popular throughout the UK and many use trees as integral supports for equipment, cables, platforms and activities.  Trees can be ideal for this and add excitement and interest to a course, however they are living entities and their health and structural integrity are important as they can be damaged, compromised or destroyed by poorly planned installations.

Altering a tree’s natural dynamics can lead to structural damage and ultimately to failure.  Inspection prior to inclusion in a ropes course, and re-inspection within existing courses, is therefore vital for the safety of course users.  Careful planning regarding methods of attachment, loading limits, tree aspect and exposure are therefore all essential to ensure safe construction and on-going use.

Our services include:

  • Inspection of trees prior to course construction to ascertain health, structural integrity, suitability and ability of a tree to accommodate expected loadings.
  • Inspection of trees within, or close to, an existing course to assess safety, integrity and longevity of systems and fixings.
  • Resistograph testing of trees and wooden support poles to assess integrity.
  • Picus Tomograph and Resistograph testing of suspect trees to identify internal decay, fractures or other internal dysfunction.

We assess the tree’s general, physiological and structural health and the potential effects on its natural dynamics.  Our full assessment also takes into account soil type and depth, rooting habit and extent, stem and crown form (including natural induced loadings) and subsequent shape optimisation. We provide guidance on maximum load thresholds and heights of attachment, as well as equipment fixing techniques.  Where appropriate, we use the Picus Tomograph and IML Resistograph systems to assess internal decay or dysfunction. Bruce has experience in advising on design and in regular health and safety inspections of aerial ropes courses through his work with various Outdoor Centres and with Rope Course Construction, a company specialising in the design and build of adventure installations.

He has been awarded the accreditation of “Practioner in VTA” by Prof Dr Claus Mattheck, University of Karlsrune, in recognition of a deep understanding of biomechanics and causes of tree failure in relation to decay, loading and changes to natural dynamics.

There is a British Standard specific to Ropes courses, BS EN 15567-1 and BS EN 15567-2 2007 and LOLER regulations also apply.  Bruce is a qualified LOLER inspector under the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998.