Learning to climb

RHS Garden Rosemoor's experienced arboriculture team show trainee horticulturist Caroline James the ropes

Getting instruction from Jonathan and Rod with both feet on the groundRecently I was given the chance to climb a tree. This was the second time I had tried climbing a tree with ropes and a harness; the first time I got about a foot or two from the ground.

Jonathan giving me a helping handIt is a very different experience to how I climbed trees as a child, by clinging on to branches, manoeuvring from one branch to another. The tree we were climbing was an oak (Quercus robur) and it didn’t have any low branches to mount without the aid of ropes.

Making good progressMy teachers were Jonathan Hutchinson and Rod Knight - RHS Garden Rosemoor’s expert tree climbers and arborists. They provided me with a harness, ropes and climbing helmet and took me through the process of how to climb.

Made it up to the first branchNear to the base of the tree I swung about a bit to start with, but gradually got to grips with the technique needed to hoist myself up. Also, Jonathan steadied me by pushing me closer to the tree.

Climbing down was a lot easierIt was really hard work, so I took quite a few breathers, eventually making it to the closest branch. Once I’d clambered on to the branch I felt such a rush of achievement; I had got much further than the previous climbing attempt!

It was a real privilege to be allowed to sit in a tree, looking over the gardens in Rosemoor. All I needed to do now was get down.

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The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.