The Skywalk – Folkestone Sports Centre
The Skywalk is a new addition to the Folkestone Sports Centre. It’s an elevated course with zip wires, nets and ropes to traverse whilst attached to a harness. The Folkestone Sports Centre has received funding to invest in this area, plus renovate the ski slope, chalet and rear parking to access this part of the complex. Tessa Stickler, manager at the centre, spoke to Folkelife about the investment and plans for the future.
“We’ve invested half a million pounds in this area of the Centre. The ski-slope was in need of resurfacing having been here since the Centre was built. The story goes that the mound was created from the soil they dug out to make the swimming pool. Someone said ‘let’s make a ski slope’ and so they did. I’m not sure if that’s really true, but it’s a nice story. It was one of the first dry ski slopes in the country at the time. It’s 60 metres long, and will always be a place to get started and learn before going on to something bigger. With the resurfacing we’ve been able to extend the use of the sides of the slope, and the area at the bottom too, which is good.”
“The Folkestone Sports Centre is a charity and has been supported by many families over the years. You can see the names of donors in the path at the front door. It’s really good to acknowledge all the support we’ve had, and continue to have. A huge amount of work we do is about social impact, and a big thing, especially at the moment, is combating loneliness and anxiety. It started 3 years ago but it’s never been more pertinent than now. So we work with many different people in Folkestone and help rehabilitate those who’ve had stroke and heart attacks and so many other issues.”
“The area around the ski slope has been in need of a little TLC. So with the funding we have, as well as the resurfacing of the slope, we’re creating a new cabin reception area. It means that, along with the new parking area, you can get to this area of the Centre without having to walk all the way through from the top reception. The cabin will also be a nice warm place to sit and have a coffee, and for parties.
“The new cabin also serves the Skywalk and the footgolf which happens on the area we own of the old golf course. It’s brilliant to have this, and the new parking space too, as there’s limited space at the top of the site.”
“The Skywalk is rather exciting! It’s on two levels; you go around the lower level first, and then down the steps and up onto the second, higher level. Structurally it looks rather striking. The engineers who built it had never created this bowed shapes for the supports before, so that took some work. It makes it look like nothing else in the UK though, which is good for us! Anyone can come on here, provided they’re over 120cm tall and weigh less than 18 stone. But it’s for adults and children to enjoy. You get a 45 minute session and can go round as many times as you like.
“My team here are fantastic. They’ve done the training over lockdown and now are able to put it into practice. They’re fantastic at supporting anyone who gets up there and decides it’s a little scary! Everyone makes it through, although you wouldn’t find me up there!”
“This is just the start of what we want to do. I want to put another course here that smaller children can enjoy doing. These courses give you so much confidence, it’s such an important thing for anyone to have a go at. We can accommodate schools here, and team building sessions for work places too. You’re outside, having fun, stretching boundaries and challenging yourself in a safe environment. It’s what we’re here to do!”