After years and years of days out together I’m not letting go. I’m that annoying mum who wants to grab and hold on to as many family days out as I possibly can before they head off into that big, wide world.
Sure we still walk the dog together. We’re big fans of the cinema and do that together a lot. But what else? Gone are the days of idyllic picnics at National Trust properties or visits to new parks or aquatic centres.
“Come and try a day out with us” Go Ape said. “Share your experience, let us know what you think.”
Wait a minute. Isn’t Go Ape a bit physical? Am I going to need oxygen at the end of it?
Am I going to regret ever signing up as I lose the feeling in all my fingertips and the skin off both knees?
Well sometimes you’ve just got to go for these things. so we went for it. The kids tried to moan that it was lame and couldn’t we take a friend and whhhhhhyyyy. But I gave them the Death Stare. The thought of actual bodily harm affords you that opportunity.
Turns out there are lots of activities you can take part in, including their famed Tree Top Adventure and Forest Segway. You can even make a day of it while you’re there and hire bikes or go off on a walking adventure (if you’ve got any energy left after!)
We opted for the Tree Top Adventure. Because it has trees in the title and I’m slightly tree obsessed.
So what is it?
Well it’s hell. Only on high so if you’ve got the slightest fear of heights you’ll have palpitations from the get go.
See those ladders up the sides of the tree? You’re harnessed up and sent up into the canopy to fend for yourself, Tarzan style.
Ahead of you are assault courses and swings and things to crawl through and on and over.
You will use muscles you never knew you had, find great wells of bravery, give yourself a good talking to and find yourself swinging through the branches as you descend to the ground once again on a huge zip wire.
That’s pretty much it in a nutshell.
So what is it actually?
Well, it’s also the Best Fun Ever.
I mean, I achieved something. I kept up with the teenagers and my kids thought I was cool for achieving it.
All the wins right there.
Here’s how it works
We were walked through a strict briefing on how to use the equipment and the harnesses by one of the lovely assistants and she ‘held our hand’ for the first couple of platforms (actually she was a guardian angle for most of it, something we only discovered when a couple of times a ghostly voice from below shouted up ‘are you sure you want to clip that there Tara?‘!)
Then after a quick practice run at ground level, it’s on to the course.
First up you have to climb up to the platform, half way up a tree – a feat in itself as the ladders require every ounce of core strength to keep you straight! I’m starting to wonder if I’ve bitten off more than I can chew as the kids race up like mice on a rope.
Once on your platform you face a series of ‘challenges’ to get to the other platform half way up another tree opposite you.
But here’s the thing. Once you get going you realise you’re harnessed up to the eyeballs and so you can actually run across that precarious looking plank bridge and if you slip you’ll just be left dangling and you can easily right yourself and get back on that bridge again.
So that’s what we did. We daredeviled our way around the course!
Standing on the top of those platforms is a little daunting but just look at the view. The highest platform is 14 metres and you really do feel like you’re up there in the canopy.
The kids admitted it totally wasn’t lame and I won a couple of parenting brownie points.
And the zip wires back down to ground level are awesome!
We were guests at the Go Ape at Cannock in the West Midlands but there are centres dotted all over the country. Just check they do the activity you’re interested in before visiting. And then you too could take a weird family photo at the end of it like this one *rolls eyes*.
- I’d recommend you wear something comfortable as those harnesses aren’t fashion items and will be digging into intimate places. You are likely to get really dirty too, unless you can affect a perfect landing on the zip wire which every one of us found impossible.
- Wear trainers if you can – you will be climbing, balancing, tightrope walking so you need the support and flexibility.
- The course can take up to 3 hours (we made it round in about 2 trying to keep up with the teens!)
- The minimum age for the Tree Top Adventure is 10 and the minimum height is 1.4 metres.
- Parking wasn’t free at our centre so check out beforehand to see if you need to take change.
- If you are afraid of heights you might want to consider the segways instead!