Stilts are poles, posts or pillars used to allow a person or structure to stand at a height above the ground. Stilts for walking are poles equipped with platforms for the feet to stand on and can be used, depending on the design, with straps to attach them to the users’ legs or be held in place by the hands of the user.
Walking on stilts apparently dates all the way back to the 6th century BC in ancient Greece and there is a Chinese folk legend about a foreign ambassador in the period 722–481 BC called Yan Ying who was very short. When he visited a neighbouring kingdom they laughed at him, so he tied two stilts on his feet to make himself taller than normal people.
If you walked on stilts whilst completing a Treasure Trail you might miss some of the clues, but on the other hand you would definitely see more than you were looking for!
Who walks on stilts?
During my childhood the stilt men always visited the house at Christmas time and when we saw them heading along the street we knew the festive period had arrived! At the street markets and fairs around the UK, there are often lots of different street performers including stilt walkers and of course you can usually see them performing in circuses and variety shows.
Apart from entertainers, other professions use stilts to carry out their work. The inhabitants of marshy or flooded areas sometimes use stilts for practical purposes, such as working in swamps or fording swollen rivers.
The shepherds of the Landes region of southern France used to watch their flocks while standing on stilts to extend their field of vision. And then there are the stilt fishermen of Sri Lanka.
Aluminium stilts are commonly used by fruit farmers in California to prune and harvest their peach, plum, and apricot trees and stilts have been used for washing large and high windows, repairing thatched roofs, and to aid with the installation or painting of high ceilings.
Stilt walking records
Over a hundred years ago 1891 Sylvain Dornon, a stilt-walker from the Landes region of France, walked from Paris to Moscow in fifty-eight days.
More recently, in 2007 Neil Sauter has attempted the Grand Rapids Marathon on stilts and the following year, Roy Maloy of Australia, after several attempts, took five steps on stilts 17 metres (56 ft) high, a record for the tallest stilts.
Our Challenge to You
Create a fun video of you walking on stilts and holding a clearly visible Trail booklet and we’ll send you two free Trails of your choice! Upload your video to YouTube and contact us with the link before 1st September. Please be prepared for us to share your star performances on our social media sites.