Beecraigs Go Ape closes after winds destroy tree cover

FOR the thousands of youngsters who swung through its trees it provided a thrilling experience of the great outdoors.

But now Mother Nature herself has brought an end to a treetop trail in West Lothian – just two years after it opened.

Go Ape at Beecraigs Country Park has been forced to close permanently after January’s high winds devastated the site, taking down nearly 100 trees and destroying the infrastructure of the attraction.

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Bosses inspected the site this week and were told it would take at least three years to fully repair the site.

The most serious problem is safety, with much of the remaining above-ground course now bluntly exposed to the wind due to the loss of sheltering trees. As a result, the decision has been taken to close the park, which will come as a bitter blow to those who went to significant lengths to secure planning permission for its opening in 2010.

Managers said they were keen to find another site in the Lothians to build another adventure park, and council bosses also bemoaned the unfortunate situation, vowing to help them find alternative locations.

Course manager Stewart Deards said: “Following the storm damage, the decision has been taken to close and remove Go Ape Beecraigs.

“The trees that remain will now be facing wind directions that they have not grown with and therefore are susceptible to further storm damage.

“It will take them at least three years to stabilise again by growing new root systems.” Since opening, Go Ape Beecraigs had become a popular destination with both families and Lothians businesses seeking team-building days.

It featured the company’s biggest Tarzan swing in the UK and the longest zip wire, measuring more than 275 metres.

Full-time workers have all been redeployed within the company, mainly to its Aberfoyle outlet near Loch Lomond.

However, three part-time staff at the attraction – two of whom were students – have lost their jobs.

Jerome Mayhew, Go Ape’s managing director, added: “Having spent the last few weeks clearing up the damage it has become obvious that we cannot construct an adequate replacement course that maintains our high standards.

“We are now looking at alternative local sites because we know how popular the course was with locals and visitors alike.”

The adventure park is yet another victim of the 100mph winds which battered the area at the turn of the year.

Millions of pounds worth of destruction occurred, bringing down trees, ruining buildings and causing traffic chaos.

Residents even sustained injuries as the gusts hit the Capital. The 102mph recorded at Blackford Hill was a 14-year high for the area.

Forty trees at the Royal Botanic Garden were brought down and a cargo plane at Edinburgh Airport was damaged, while thousands of homes were left without power.