Walking Among The Treetops At Kew Gardens

September 29, 2019
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Kew Gardens Treetop Walkway
The Treetop Walkway at London’s Kew Gardens gives you a close-up view of the trees and a birds-eye view of Kew Gardens

Imagine walking through a canopy of leaves at treetop level and looking over 300 acres of garden with the London skyline in the distance. The Treetop Walkway at Kew Gardens allows you go beyond imagination to real-life experience.

Kew Gardens in southwest London has one of the largest and most diverse collections of plants in the world. There are 14,000 trees representing over 2,000 species. The Treetop Walkway opened in one of the garden’s mature woodland areas in 2008.

Steel walkway looping through treetops at Kew Gardens

The walkway is 18 metres (59 feet) above ground and runs in a loop for 200 metres (656 feet) bordered by sweet chestnut, beech, horse chestnut, and oak branches. Made of weathering steel, the structure blends into the landscape.

Steel twisting staircase leading up to the Treetop Walkway at Kew

There are 118 steps to get up to the walkway. There is a lift (elevator), but it was not operational the day we visited. Kew’s website suggests you check the status of the lift before arranging your visit, so perhaps it is common for it not to be running.

The climb up was not as onerous as I might have expected. The stairs are broken into flights of about 12 steps each. There is a small semi-circular landing at the end of each flight and the stairwell turns. There is room to stand to one side of the landing and rest if you need to without stopping the flow of people behind you.

View of the steel Treetop Walkway passing by treetops at Kew from the ground

Looking up at the walkway from the ground, the steel mesh-like floor appeared to be see-through. This unnerved a friend with me. She thought she could handle the height, but not with a see-through floor. She decided to give it a try. To our surprise, when we were on the walkway, the floor beneath us appeared to be solid. We couldn’t see through it.

Walkway with railing and small lookout points of the Treetop Walkway at Kew

The views were worth the climb. The width of the walkway, the height of the handrail (chest level for most people), and the seeming strength of the structure eased any discomfort I might have felt with the height. Every few feet, there were semi-circular lookout points.

Leaves of tree tops from the Treetop Walkway at Kew
Up close with the tops of the trees
Trees viewed from above at Kew Gardens
The trees below
Ceilings of Kew Gardens glasshouses amid the tops of trees as viewed from above in the Treetop Walkway
View of Kew Gardens and its glasshouses
Glass conservatory Temperate House among the trees at Kew Gardens
View of the Temperate House
Tall buildings of the city beyond the trees at Kew Gardens Treetop Walkway
City view

The Treetop Walkway was designed by Marks Barfield Architects, the same firm that designed the London Eye. The design used the Fibonacci numerical sequence to determine truss support points. In order to minimize damage to the root systems of the mature trees, radar surveys were done of each pylon point so that concrete poles could be strategically positioned between major roots.

Man waving from one of the staircase levels of the Kew Treetop Walkway
My husband and friend, who lingered on the walkway longer than I did, wave to me on the way down

Admission to the Treetop Walkway is included with general Kew Gardens admission. The Walkway closes one hour before the Gardens close. At ground level you’ll find the entry to Rhizotron, an underground lab where you can get learn about the roots of the trees.

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  • Reply
    Ken Dowell
    September 30, 2019 at 9:22 pm

    That’s pretty unique. Must be a great way to see the gardens.

    • Reply
      Donna Janke
      October 2, 2019 at 4:43 pm

      Ken, It’s a pretty cool experience. You don’t get a wide open view of all the gardens though because of all the trees, but what you do see is pretty impressive.It’s an interesting feeling to be among the treetops.

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