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Outdoor climbing centre is back up and thriving

15th September 2020

Categories: Latest News

Businessman Chris Ireson turned a mid-life crisis into a dream and created Bristol’s only outdoor climbing centre.

Now six years on Leap of Faith at Wild Place Project is thriving despite the lockdown and social distancing restrictions.

Up to 10,000 people a year have been tackling the 25-feet-high climbing wall and giant swing at the wildlife park since Leap of Faith opened.

Numbers are being restricted under the Rule of Six but the eye-catching attraction, which is open at weekends and during school holidays, is still really popular.

Wild Place Project has the Visit Britain ‘We’re Good to Go’ UK-wide industry standard and consumer mark to reassure visitors that it adheres to Government and public health guidance.

Chris said: “Despite the restrictions I think people are really pleased to be able to get out and enjoy themselves.

“Leap of Faith is unique in Bristol. It’s the only outdoor climbing centre in the city and people of all ages love it.”

Chris, who leads a 10-strong team, has introduced a series of hygiene measures after reopening following lockdown.

He said: “Our instructors all wear visors and we clean the equipment after every climb and people appreciate that.”

Chris, who started climbing in the Peak District when he was a boy, regularly climbs in Avon Gorge and at Portishead as well as scaling the wall at Leap of Faith.

“I used to work in finance and I thought ‘What am I doing sitting behind a desk all day?’” he said.

After a spell as an instructor with the children’s adventure holiday group PGL he decided to set up his own climbing business.

“I was 45 and it was something of a mid-life crisis decision but it was also a dream and a great opportunity,” he said.

“It’s a great way to exercise. You are climbing in the open air and the whole family can get involved from four-year-olds upwards.

“We have lots of children taking part including those with ADHD and learning difficulties and they love it.”

Chris also offers other outdoor activities including axe throwing and fire lighting for groups at Wild Place Project.

A giant swing in which two people are winched almost eight metres in the air, also reopened this month.

He said: “It’s great to be operating again and seeing people challenging themselves, exercising and having fun.”

For more details about Leap of Faith go to wildplace.org.uk/explore-the-park/leap-of-faith.

Visitors to Wild Place are now asked to pre-purchase tickets, and members are asked to pre-book tickets in advance, online, here wildplace.org.uk/plan-your-visit/online-tickets.

Bristol Zoological Society, which operates Bristol Zoo Gardens and Wild Place Project, is a conservation and education charity and relies on the generous support of the public not only to fund its important work at Wild Place Project and Bristol Zoo, but also its vital conservation and research projects spanning five continents.

The Society launched an appeal to ensure the future of its work ‘saving wildlife together’. The Society, which is a registered charity, launched the BZS Appeal following the temporary closure of both its sites in Bristol in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic.

To find out more, or to make a donation, visit https://bristolzoo.org.uk/bzsappeal.

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