I have aspirations for our family to be an extreme sports kind of family.
The sort of family that loves making adrenaline-filled memories, loves being fit and active, and loves adventuring in nature together.
But here’s the drawback – neither dad or I are actually very sporty and we don’t own any gear. Plus, since our children are still relatively young, all we’ve done over the last number of years is potter round National Trust properties and visit soft play centres. Now they’re getting older (9, 6 and 4) and we’re feeling ready for some actual adventures.
But, where do we start?…
The answer – only the UK’s biggest climbing adventure course! The Air Trail.
The Air Trail
The Air Trail is a climbing park which stands 18 metres above the river Tees – located conveniently close to Stockton and Middlesbrough.
There are over 30 obstacles suspended over 4 levels – with varying degrees of courage needed to complete them. From wobbly rope bridges, beams, stepping stones, slack lines and even a plank which extends out over the Tees. You can decide which route to take, meaning that the more fearless participants (like our tiny 6 year old son!) can do the particularly terrifying challenges at the very top of the structure; while the more reserved can stay a bit closer to the ground (i.e. our 9 year old, who preferred being on the second level).
No previous training is required, all the equipment is provided by the centre, and there are staff on the structure at all times to help if any participants need extra support.
Who can use the Air Trail?
The great thing about the air trail is that all the family can join in. Children over 1m tall can climb on the main structure, but there’s plenty of challenge for the adults too.
Children over 2 years old can also join in on Air Tykes – a smaller climbing park right underneath the bigger frame.
How was the Air Trail?
All 5 of us absolutely loved it. I was actually slightly nervous that someone would be too frightened to go on, or even to come off the Air Trail early – but the opposite was the case. No one wanted the session to finish and the children asked us if we could do it every Saturday!
I really liked that each participant can tailor their experience of the Air Trail to their own comfort zone – our 6 year old couldn’t get enough of the scariest obstacles on the highest level, while our 9 year old felt really proud of himself for going up to the top level for a brief moment before darting back down to the second level.
There was a safety talk before we went on, the harnesses felt very safe and secure and having several members of staff on the structure to offer encouragement during the session was enormously helpful.
I really enjoyed doing something challenging but fun alongside out children – it was the first opportunity that we’ve had to do something like this and now we’ve got the bug!
Our 4 year old really enjoyed Air Tykes. We took Nana along with us, to look after her while we were exploring the course up above her head. Because we were directly above her, she really felt part of the adventure and would shout up to us “look at me!” or wave at us.
There are picnic tables on site, but we decided to go for a walk along the Tees (we didn’t spot any seals this time, but we have before) and we ate our picnic in the nature reserve that is next to the Air Trail. Afterwards we went for a well- earned shandy at the beefeater restaurant, while the kids played at the play area. Following that we sat on a bank to watch the kayakers on the white water of the Tees Barrage International White Water Centre. The Air Trail, Beefeater, nature reserve, river Tees and white-water centre are all a stones throw apart.
What a perfect way to spend a Saturday!
Prices and Opening Times
Sessions last 60 minutes
The Air Trail costs £13.50 for adults and children
Family tickets are available for £48.50
Air Tykes lasts for 20 minutes and costs £4.50
Currently the Air Trail is open every Saturday
During the Summer Holidays it will be open Tuesdays-Saturdays
You can book and pay on arrival, but I would recommend booking in advance on the internet to secure your place.
Air Trail at Tees Barrage International White Water Centre
The Air Trail is part of the Tees Barrage International White Water Centre. We are super lucky to live close to it – it’s a hub of extreme sport opportunities. If you fancy having some adventures here, but you don’t live locally then there’s premier inn and campsite a stone’s throw away from the centre, and believe me it’s well worth a visit!
From white water rafting, SUPing, raft building, canoeing, kayaking and powerboating – there’s something for adrenaline junkies and for those just testing the water, so to speak. We’re really excited to make the most of these activities in the years to come – but while our children go to swimming lessons, they still aren’t old enough or strong enough swimmers for these activities just yet. Some of the activities are open to confident swimmers over the age of 8, others for children over the age of 14. If your kids are in that age bracket then be sure to check it out.