Or gasped at French tightrope-walker Philippe Petit walking between the World Trade Centre towers in the film Man on Wire and wondered if you too could manage the balance, dexterity and courage to attempt something similar?
Admittedly, both those might take a little building up to, but there is a tightrope-style activity you can practice in your local park. Slacklining is a great family activity for a summer’s day – and it’s surprisingly easy to set up and master. It is also terrific fun.
Slacklining puts a new twist into tightrope walking. It’s not only easy to set up – simply find a couple of trees and string your line between them – but because the line is flat, it is much easier to learn. Put simply, your foot won’t roll off, as it might with a standard tightrope.
The other key feature of slacklining is that, while the line is held under tension – it has to support your weight, after all – it’s not held taut. This looseness gives a degree of bounce and stretch, meaning crossing one is a little like walking on a (very narrow) trampoline. And, of course, you’re not going to be up in the clouds: most slackliners balance just a few feet off the ground – and that makes it ideal for the whole family.
You will need to buy a proper slacklining kit, though the good news is that starter kits are very affordable – you can pick up a 15-metre set-up with everything you need to get going for around £30 from most major sports retailers (try Decathlon). After that, it’s simply a matter of finding a couple of sturdy trees.
Of course. Once you’ve mastered staying upright and then walking the length of your slackline – not as difficult as it sounds – you can start to show off a little. The first and easiest trick is to adjust your stance so your feet are pointing sideways. After that try balancing on one foot and then the other, slowly dropping to your knees, walking backwards, jumping on, off and along the line… as you get better you’ll find the possibilities are almost limitless. Some top slackliners even perform yoga poses on their lines.
The UK Slackline Association has plenty of information and resources, and once you’ve mastered the basics, this online encyclopedia of tricks has more than enough ideas to keep you hooked.
But the simple truth is that slacklining is so simple to set up and get going that it’s really just a case of getting your kit and giving it a go.