“Tree climbing is a curious form of travel. Ascending, we cross the divide between two worlds, and the people passing beneath us become as separate as fish in an aquarium. Discovering a trunk with a clear path to the crown is enticing as finding a ladder to the moon; this is the essence of climbing, a method of passing between two spheres – the humdrum everyday and the elevated.” So wrote Jack Cooke in The Guardian recently.
First there was wild swimming and now, it seems, there is wild tree climbing. Not that the tree itself is necessarily wild, especially in cities. To see the world through Cooke’s eyes involves looking beyond the streets and buildings, and looking up as often as possible ‘Stepping off a bus or out from the underground, my first thought is to scan the street for its trees, learning to recognise crowns from afar and straying to catalogue new climbs.’
His list of the five best trees to climb in London includes parks – Clissold, Battersea and Lucas Gardens; Highbury Island, a large circle of green surrounded by roads; and the crumbling Paddington Old Cemetery. Find out more in his new book The Tree Climber’s Guide.