“ Address: Queen Elizabeth Forest Park / near Aberfoyle / Stirlingshire / Scotland „
Go Ape is a tree swinging company, high wire company who at present have 21 courses throughout the UK, although at the moment Aberfoyle is the only one in Scotland. The basic idea is that each course is an aerial assault experience, now its important to note that your not going to be having an army drill instruction and aerial assault should not be confused with any of the physical challenges on the Krypton Factor (very retro reference!). You are in fact safely attached and harnessed to within an inch of your life and have a carefully managed route through the trees.
My partner and I occasionally do bizarre day activities to keep things interesting and revel in our no-children-yet freedom. We had been looking at Go Ape for a while so one quiet bank holiday I booked us in allowing us to go camping as well the evening before (Trossachs Holiday Park review).
Booking online is simple and at Go Ape Aberfoyle they run sessions for 14 people every half an hour. It costs £25.00 per Gorilla (adult to you and me) £20 per Baboon(child between 10-17) but thanks to Google I managed to get a 10% discount with Reward Gateway. I appreciate it's a bit pricey for a day out but as I will explain you really get your monies worth. The course is less than an hours drive from Glasgow so would be a great addition to a stag or hen do! There are moments when you'll scream like a girl! Located in Queen Elizabeth Park above Aberfoyle the locals are happy to point you in the right direction.
As this is a review of this site in particular I better get cracking with a description of the Aberfoyle course. It has the UK's longest (426m) and second longest zip wires. What they don't tell you is that literally seconds after being strapped in when your still not entirely confident that this seemingly flimsy bit of rope will support you your expected to launch yourself down the second largest zip to the start location!
Of course your fully safety briefed first and we were relived at the mix of people taking part with us. In our group of 14 we had another few couples, a family, an older family consisting of grandparents and grandchild! The Go Ape instructor gave us a half hour safety briefing making sure all our harnesses were correctly fitted and showing us how to be safely attached at all times. To my immense surprise we would be left to our own devices, the platforms in the trees can only hold three people at a time and I had assumed an instructor would be with us the entire time. This was not the case and although there were plenty of instructors on the ground keeping an eye on us it would be our responsibility to make sure we were strapped in and attached. I can imagine if you had children with you it could be quite stressful having to ensure their safety, most people seemed to have one adult to every one child for this reason.
Safety briefing over my partner was nominated to go on the zip first with me second. It was amazing!! Quite simply an unforgettable experience, you zip over a valley, small waterfall with some incredible views of the surrounding area. We had pretty bad weather but I suspect when its sunny you can see for miles. On arrival at the other side you are greeted by the course itself. It consists of 5 stages, each stage is a combination of zip lines, tunnels, high ropes, tarzan swings and then at the end the tarzan drop! Now im not scared of heights but even my legs went to jelly on some of the exercises stepping out onto a swinging bridge with nothing but a wire and 30 foot drop would do it to anyone. At times there is an easy route and a difficult route with difficult being a little scarier!
In terms of fitness I was pretty tired at the end. You have to climb 5 rope ladders and the cargo nets that you land in when you come off the tarzan swing really hurt to climb but anyone with moderate fitness would enjoy it and the grandparents finished it as well so cant be so bad!
The experience lasted three hours but you were not hurried and everyone was supportive and patient of one another, a great community atmosphere develops between you and three hours for £25 didn't seem that bad at all. Each course has its own unique attribute and here it is clearly the long zip lines. Going back on the longest one again provided breath taking views but I got drenched! Amazingly it had not been that wet in the woods as we were so protected by the canopy so it really is an any weather activity although good shoes, jacket and trousers you don't mind having bark stains on are essential.
Personally I think the concept is great because it maximises use of woodland that would not always be seen or utilised. Not only that but is makes exercise fun and everyone enjoyed themselves.
Forewarned is forearmed and thanks to some fellow campers we drenched ourselves in midgey repellent - they are a law unto themselves but thankfully left us alone!
No children under 10, this would make it difficult for families if one had to be left out. I totally understand it is out of safety fears and the responsibility that's placed on the individual but it's a shame they can't have a course for 'smaller monkeys!' However I still refuse to knock a star off because its well worth the adventure.
High Wire Forest Adventure!