I AM looking up, at the canopy of trees, the rain falling on my head, into my eyes and trickling down my cheeks.

I am looking up, as my feet gingerly move one in front of the other, because looking down doesn't seem like a good idea at the moment.

There is some kind of drop. In a moment I will be flying.

Before I know it, I feel the rope above me tense, my feet leave the ground, and I am hurtling downwards, through the valley, towards a stream.

There are people watching. Brave people, who have slid down this zip wire a minute before, without making a sound, so I bite my tongue hard to stop myself screaming like a teenage girl on a rollercoaster.

In a heartbeat I'm on the ground, the precious solidity of it reassuring, safe. Such is human nature, that I'm desperate to go straight back up and do it all over again.

Valley Gardens in Saltburn, once a Victorian pleasure ground, is an awe-inspiring ancient woodland, sometimes missed by those who flock to the town's beautiful beach, the cliff-lift, and the pier on summer days.

But this place - just ten minutes' walk from the beach - is magical. Even the name of the valley we zipped into - Fairy Glen - is enchanting. A little tea room is nestled in the trees near the top of the gardens, tranquil and friendly.

Valley Gardens, a gem of a place, looked after by a group of dedicated volunteers, Friends of the Valley Saltburn, is beautiful even in the torrential rain. The beach is grey and uninviting in this weather, but here, under the tree awning, it is strangely peaceful.

Valley Adventures is run by two outdoor and fitness experts. Dan Fawkes, an RAF reservist, and former RAF adventure instructor, and outdoor challenge veteran Simon Palmer, are using the woods here, close to their base in the Woodland Centre, to teach bushcraft and survival. A zip wire and slacklines have also been set up, as well as a commando rope, with more planned to create a co-ordinated rope course through the area.

This was a long-held dream of the owners, and the ropes part of the business has been nine months or more in the planning process.

Their outdoor activities business has a long list of outdoor pursuits on offer, from archery, abseiling, and paddleboarding to rock climbing, corporate team building and orienteering.

In the Valley Gardens venture, they have several different packages on offer, which run on specific dates advertised on the website. They will even do kids' "survival" birthday parties - apparently enjoyed by the adults almost as much as the children.

In my morning with the pair, and their team, we learn how to make nettle tea (it's delicious), chocolate chip damper bread - also good - how to start a fire using just a battery, some wire wool and a tampon - yes, you did read that right - and to filter water for drinking. We also build shelters in the woods and learn how to make string out of nettle stalks.

If you love nothing better than watching Bear Grylls or Ray Mears on TV while sitting on the sofa and working your way through a tube of Pringles, this is definitely your cup of nettle tea.

*The course is open for bookings from this weekend. Visit www.valley-adventures.com for more information or contact details.