Brits are taking more breaks at home this year than they have in decades, with families across the country looking for ways to stay entertained over the summer.
Luckily Hangloose Adventure at Bluewater has just the thing, the longest and fastest zipline in England – Skywire.
Situated just outside of the M25 in south-east London, the shopping and entertainment destination has been a firm favourite for years, but has now added an adventure string to its bow.
Thrill-seekers reach up to 60 miles per hour as they hurtle over an old quarry on site, travelling down one of four 725-metre zip lines newly-installed among 50 acres of stunning parkland.
Robert Goodman, senior centre director at Bluewater, explains: “This is undoubtedly a landmark in the 22-year history of Bluewater.
“The addition of a new visitor attraction for the south-east of England, accessible to millions of people within an hour’s drive, is a proud moment for everyone involved.
“Already, we have had huge interest in Skywire not just locally, but from across the UK and overseas.”
He adds: “To operate the fastest and longest zip wire in England is a huge draw, and to have Hangloose as our partners, given the huge success of their operation at the Eden Project, is a significant scoop for us.
“From forward bookings already taken, we know that thrill-seekers will travel great lengths to ride on the zip wire and we are sure our regular guests will equally be dazzled by the attraction and the spectacular view of our parkland as they fly through the air at up to 60 miles per hour.
“Adding in our retail stores, restaurants, bars, leisure, cinema and free parking, Hangloose Adventure – Bluewater is even more of a must-visit, day-out destination.
“And not just for people living in this part of the country, it will drive tourist spend in the region from around the UK and, with our nearby high-speed international rail link, into France too.”
When we visited earlier this month, the place was packed with families, some looking a lot more nervous than others.
A quick check-in process at reception, and it is over to be fitted out with the latest safety gear, which again only takes a moment.
Before there is really time to think, we are packed off in a minibus to the top of the ride, waddling along dressed head-to-toe in our harnesses.
The launch area sits atop a 40-metre chalk cliff – creating a combined vertical drop of more than 55 metres – with views over the surrounding countryside an added bonus.
In the distance the Dartford Crossing shimmers, taking my mind briefly off what lays ahead.
After watching a few hardy fliers set off on their journey, it is our turn to take the ride.
Laying flat on your stomach, you are strapped onto the zipline, secured in place, before a platform is lowered away beneath you, leaving you suspended in mid-air and at the mercy of Hangloose technicians.
I had previously considered myself something of an experienced zip liner, but I have to admit, staring down the track ahead of me, there was certainly a moment of fear.
Three, two, one and we’re off – barrelling over the quarry, forest and lakes below with arms outstretched before coming to rest at the far end.
Its all over in 45 seconds, but extremely exhilarating nonetheless, with a few white faces in the landing area attesting to just how scary it can be.
Brian Phelps, managing director of Hangloose Adventure, added: “The Bluewater project launch is a great moment for us.
“We have created a bespoke experience, designed to fit into and utilise elements of the picturesque surroundings, and all within close proximity to Bluewater itself.”
Adventurers will be pleased to learn this is just the first attraction in a number planned for the site.
Bluewater also has plans for an outdoor skydive experience, the largest rock-climbing wall in Europe and a 45-metre-high giant swing, all within the next 12-months.
These will be followed by five more experiences: a bungee tower, giant slide, clip and climb, waterdrop bouldering wall and a Via Ferrata, a route-marked climb using metal rails and rungs.
Plenty of reasons to keep coming back in the months ahead.
Tickets for Skywire, the longest and fastest zip wire in England, are available here.