Images by Sean Elliott Photography
I’ll tell you something you probably already know – it’s not a natural thing to throw yourself off the roof of a very tall building. Least of all when there’s a group of gawping tourists below you and a girl dressed as a pink furry gorilla behind you. This was the position I found myself in on a grey day in October; standing on the edge of BALTIC’s rooftop, trying not to be a wimp.
These things are very easy to say yes to several months ahead. When asked if I wanted to test out a zipwire from BALTIC’s rooftop to Sage Gateshead’s car park, I jumped (literally) at the chance. Having done a rather tame zipwire in New Zealand, I was taken by the chance to see the lovely scenery of the Quayside from a different viewpoint.
The anticipation of these things always makes the nerves jangle; my fellow zippers and I were directed to a staging area to get into our harnesses. The amount of safety gear we had to climb into should have made me feel secure but only added to the fear factor, and made the girls trying the zip out for a hen and stag do experience dressed as a giant banana and pink gorilla look positively demented.
Hard hats on, and jangling with several different harnesses and grabby things, we tottered to the roof. Who’s going first? Knobhead here sticks her hand up. The crew running the zipwire are hardened pros and as soon as we stepped onto the roof we were securely locked onto a steel safety rope. We all blamed the chilly breeze for our shaking hands and knocking knees. Instructed to sit on the edge of the roof with my legs dangling over the edge, I held onto the rope for dear life. “Now just edge your bum off the roof.” They say. “Do what?” Says I. There’s no going back now though and, after a momentary hesitation, I shuffled off the roof and zipped into the abyss (ahem). After the initial “oh shit” adrenalin rush has eased, I started to look around at the riverside scenery zipping past me at a relatively sedate pace, which was really quite lovely. The gaggle of tourists below pointed and waved (probably at my fat arse hanging out of the harness, don’t look too hard at the photo please), and I giggled like a maniac all the way down. Bracing myself for impact, the minute I landed in the Sage’s car park I instantly wanted to do it again.
If this sounds like your idea of fun (and it genuinely was huge fun) BALTIC offer the ultimate daredevil zipwire experience across the River Tyne on Saturday 4th and Sunday 5th March, where thrill seekers will zip from the top of the gallery on a 280m line across the river, experiencing speeds of up to 40mph. The zip weekend will help to raise money for BALTIC’s learning and outreach programmes, in which the gallery work with 78,220 children, teens and adults every year. Costing £50 per person, the experience comes complete with GoPro film footage so you can relive the excitement again and again. Highly recommended!