“ Address: Hawkshead / Cumbria / LA22 0QJ / England „
I recently went camping in the Lake District with some friends and we had planned on doing some activities while we were there. One of the things that I really wanted to do was to visit Go Ape as it was something that I had never done before but my friends had and they had all loved it.
~~~~~~~~~~ what is Go Ape? ~~~~~~~~~~
GoApe is an outdoor experience that is run in forests in 28 different locations across the country. It is essentially a tree top adventure that has zip wires, Tarzan swings and crossings that are suspended above the trees.
~~~~~~~~~~ Grizedale Forest Go Ape ~~~~~~~~~~
The Grizedale Forest Go Ape is one of the highest sites in the country and is located right next to the Grizedale visitors centre so it is particularly easy to find. You can't really miss it as when walking in the forest you will see people zipping past above your heads.
We parked the car in one of the forest car parks near to the visitors centre and these have to be paid for and I think it was around about £5 for 4 hours. Luckily for us the day we arrived the ticket machine was broken so we didn't actually have to buy a ticket but it's worth knowing that Go Ape doesn't own the car parking facilities as these belong to the forestry commission so there is no way of normally getting free parking.
We hadn't pre booked as we weren't sure what time we were going to be arriving at the forest so we went to pay and book a time slot hopeful that we wouldn't have to wait very long. There were four of us and they told us that they had a slot with four spaces for an hour later so we went to the visitors centre and had a drink while we were waiting and filled in our consent forms.
We had to arrive back at the start of the course 15 minutes before our start time so that we could get a safety briefing which involved a member of staff talking us through our equipment and showing us to a shoulder high zip wire where we could practise attaching and unlatching out karabiners to the wire. You get a safety harness, a red and blue karabiner and another attachment which is what secures you to the zip wires.
After the safety briefing we then went to the training area where we had a chance to practise on a low zip wire and tree ladder before we were let out to start the course on our own. I was a bit surprised even though my friends had already told me that we were left to our own devices on the course as I had imagined in this day and age of health and safety gone mad that no one was going to let a bunch of people off climbing trees and zipping down wires tens of feet in the air without supervision.
The first part of the course was all about climbing trees and manoeuvring ourselves over bridges suspended up in the air. At the end of the first section was the first zip wire. I will admit that I did feel a bit of trepidation at this point but I gamely sucked it up and throw myself out of the tree.
After the first section was completed it was time to go and start the more difficult sections of the course.
The rest of the course was more or less the same as the beginning of course but just a little higher and scarier. I will admit that I thought that I was going to have some problems with doing Go Ape as I have a real fear of heights but for some reason my usual vertigo didn't affect me while doing this. I can only put this down to the fact that I knew I was charge of my own safety. The course is perfectly safe as long as you follow the rules and make sure that you secure yourself properly every time. At one point I was on a platform 50 feet in the air looking down on the forest and I did have a little wobble but that was about the extent of my vertigo. Don't get me wrong walking across the suspension bridges and going down the zip wires was scary but it was an enjoyable scary and a real adrenaline rush.
The best part of the experience was definitely the zip wires. There was one in particular that was memorable. It was extremely high and carried you right across the forest to the other side going over the main road in to Grizedale Forest. Zipping through the trees at such high speeds was a truly memorable experience and one that I won't forget in a hurry.
There was only one part of the course that actually unnerved me enough that I would think twice about doing again and it was right near the end. It was a Tarzan swing which is where you attach all your safety equipment to a rope and then throw yourself off the platform to go swinging through the trees and doing this took a bit of steeling my nerves and when I jumped my stomach actually lurched into my throat.
I was so pleased that I finished the course and had managed to do every single obstacle without chickening out on them. My adrenaline was really pumping at the end and I truly felt exhilarated. When you hand back in your harnesses you can receive a certificate stating that you completed the course which is a nice little souvenir to have.
~~~~~~~~~~ Allocated time ~~~~~~~~~~
There is no set time to how long you should take to finish the course. Go Ape say that it should take between 1.5 and 3 hours to complete and we did the entire course in about 2 hours.
There are 14 people in each group that starts with you and it depends on where you are in the group as to how long it should take. We were first in our group so it meant that we had little waiting about to be able to enter each section and do the obstacles. We occasionally came across people from the previous groups who were more nervous than us and it was taking them longer to complete each section. However we usually could overtake them at places along the course so we didn't have long to wait each time.
~~~~~~~~~~ Safety ~~~~~~~~~~
Obviously Go Ape can be extremely dangerous if you aren't careful about securing yourself and there have been accidents before with people falling out of the trees. I was obsessive about ensuring that I was secure before attempting any of the bridges or zip wires.
Other than making sure that you are fully secure each and every time there are only as few other things that you need to consider before going. The minimum age for any participant is 10 years old and all children must be supervised by an adult. When we were there even though it was a Sunday the majority of people on the course were adults but I did spot a couple of teenagers. I am not sure that I personally would recommend this for anyone who isn't at least a teenager. The minimum requirements for doing it are that you need to be over 4 foot 7 in height and under 20.5 stone. Go Ape don't say that pregnant women can't do the course as they say that it is up to them to decide but I really would think twice if you are pregnant as there are some quite hard landings when coming down the zip wires and I got a couple of bruises while there.
~~~~~~~~~~ Price ~~~~~~~~~~
Go Ape isn't cheap activity and it costs £30 per person. Now for me I personally think it was worth every penny but was only paying for myself and I might reconsider if I was having to pay for a whole family. Children are slightly cheaper at £20 but this could work out expensive if there are a few of you.
~~~~~~~~~~ Would I recommend it ~~~~~~~~~~
I would thoroughly recommend Go Ape at Grizedale Forest as it was an amazing experience and the highlight of my trip. After completing the course I felt completely exhilarated and so pleased that I had went. I found that it was such a different experience from the run of the mill tourist attractions that I would definitely go again. It really was a fun experience and one that my friends and I really enjoyed and had a right laugh doing. The location also makes a really nice day out and even if members of your family or group decide not to do the actual Go Ape they can still view you doing it from most of the course so they needn't be excluded.
Go Ape is an experience allowing you to zip line through the forest, climb in the trees and generally act like a monkey for the best part of three hours. It is an absolutely fantastic experience and one I must recommend to everyone (except those with a fear of heights!).
My husband has recently turned 30 and as something a little bit different, my parents booked the two of us to stay in the Lake District and go to Go Ape. It is something I'll remember forever and I'm already looking at booking us in again for later on in the summer. While I'm not an adrenaline junkie by any stretch of the imagination, I do like to try things a little bit different, and this sounded absolutely fantastic when I was told about it.
When we arrived on Saturday, we pulled into a car park on the edge of a forest and couldn't really see any indication of where we might find Go Ape. We followed a path along through the edge of the forest (which I have to say was lovely in itself!), and soon saw the assault course in the air! It looked very high and I couldn't wait to get started. We soon came across what can only be described as a large shed (!) and booked ourselves in. We were told to fill out the necessary declarations and someone would be with us soon. This included the usual, name, address, signature to basically say if you died or hurt yourself then it was your own fault because you had been given all the necessary safety talks! The forms also had the decency to tell you that across the sites in the UK, two people had fallen out of the trees because they hadn't followed the safety advise correctly. Eek, good job I've eaten my weetabix, me thinks.
Next up was the safety talks, where I scowled at my husband every time he tried whispering something to me... did he not realise I could fall out of a tree if I didn't listen to this safety talk. Men! The instructor took a group of 12 of us to a zip line at shoulder height and gave us the necessary talks including a few handy sayings which would help us remember the correct procedures for clipping on our harnesses, ropes, karabiners, etc. The instructor made us all stand in a line and clip on and off this zip line, and he wouldn't let us start the course until we had done so. When he was happy we were all adequately trained, we made our way to the start of the course. He then went over the training again and we were off. To get on to the course we had to climb a rope ladder, where we were met with our first obstacle, to cross on a wire with another wire at head height to hold onto. This was easy and the instructor stayed close by until we had left this area. I felt safe knowing he was behind us and we could check with anything we were unsure about. The next section was a rope bridge with pieces of wood about a stride apart. Before we got on to the course, the instructor had given us a challenge to run across this bridge without holding on, which I had agreed with my hubby I was definitely gunna do, yeah right! I practically crawled across!!
I won't take you through all the different sections of the course because we would be here all day, but basically the course is split up into five sections where you end each section usually by a zip wire. Each course gets progressively harder, but from the first to the second course there seemed to be quite a big difference in difficulty. The second course was petrifying and the one I found the hardest as I hadn't actually got my confidence with the course yet and this section involved walking across planks of wood with nothing to hold on to, and the trees were also a lot taller. At this point I would estimate we were roughly 60 foot high! Yikes! Leaving this part of the assault course, I screamed from start to finish as not only were we 60 feet high, but the zip line was also 450 metres! I must have asked my husband 10 times to check I was hooked up correctly, as each time you leave a section of the course and get to a base (the tree), you have to unhook yourself from that particular section and then to the tree - needless to say you spend a lot of your time clipping and unclipping!
I would also like to mention the scenery and the real sense of being outdoors (obviously!). Because you are set in the forest, the views are spectacular, and when you get your confidence a little, you really start to appreciate how beautiful it is. On one particular section, we zip-lined into a meadow, which was something I'll always remember. The peace and quiet is lovely too, you don't hear cars or any noise (except for a certain person who we won't name constantly screaming!).
Just as I was starting to get a little cocky on the course, and showing little fear, I realised this was soon going to end as at the end of the course is the Tarzan swing or the leap of faith. Both describe this section perfectly, but I will explain a little more. This section basically requires you to clip your harness rather than your ropes, to a very tall swing rope, and then you jump off the base and have to grab onto what looks like a very big spiders web. The feeling you get from this is absolutely amazing, and it resembles a mini bungee as you free fall until your harness catches you. There is an alternative route to this section and if you are at all unsure this is the way to go, but I was determined to do it as my step dad at this point had come to watch us, so I literally just went for it and didn't hesitate, as this seemed to be where people bottled it in the hesitating part!
This course took us just under three hours and we completed the course with 10 other people who we didn't know, but who had booked in on the same time slot as us. As we were going round we had a bit of a chat with the other people and this only seemed to add to the experience.
Not everyone can take part in a Go Ape course. You must be over ten (but a very brave over ten), at least 4"7, and a maximum 20 stone. It is also worth mentioning that family and friends can watch you take part as the course is through the forest, over paths, and even over a road at one point! I'm not physically fit by any stretch of the imagination but didn't find this particularly hard at any point, climbing up the ladder is probably the hardest part, physically!
At no point in this course did I feel unsafe. Yes, at times it felt 'unnatural' to be doing some of the stuff we were, but I felt more than secure on all aspects of the course, and there are members of staff patrolling the ground below. You are also fitted with a whistle in case of an emergency, although how much use this could be in a real emergency is questionable! The one thing I will say is, once you are up those tree's, you really are up there, there is no way to get down other than complete that section!
There are 26 courses in the UK, up and down the country, so if you fancy having a go, check out the website to see where your nearest one is. Expect to pay £30 for an adult (gorilla) and £20 for an under 18 (baboon).
A fab experience recommended to all.
I've always been one of those people who likes the sort of adventure activities that involve water, heights, climbing and generally anything that gets the adrenaline going a little. So whilst on holiday in the Lake District flicking through the various attraction brochures I spotted this and decided I had to give it a go.
Firstly, I had to phone up and book, something the brochure I found it in mentioned was essential, this was simple enough, I just stated which course I wished to visit and how many participants and the lady at the end of the phone gave me the available dates and times to choose from. Then a few details - name and address, a contact telephone number and a quick check over that you'd read the 'small print' carefully to check that no one over 20.5 stone, under 10 years old or under 4"7 could participate to prevent any disappointment when arriving on site, followed by a couple of 'how did you hear about us questions'. Finally, they took payment by card and then confirmed the booking, giving us a reference number to keep hold of.
Finding the Go Ape centre in Grizedale Forest wasn't quite as easy as I'd have hoped it to be. Whilst getting to Grizedale itself was simple enough, once we arrived there wasn't much in the way of clear signposting as to where we were meant to go. Instead we found ourselves driving through in the hope we'd spot something. Eventually when we reached the visitor centre, we managed to spot a small Go Ape symbol on the corner of the sign. Continuing on, we found our way to the car park and walked back to the visitor centre following the signs. From there, we had to walk all the way round the visitor centre, past another shop until we finally spotted the centre in the corner near the road. In short, it really could do with clearer signposting! We did spend a bit of time wondering whether we had or hadn't gone in the right direction or not, all the time checking our watches not wanting to miss our slot - we had left plenty of time, but no clear signs meant we were concerned about getting lost!
On arrival at the Go Ape Centre, we walked up to the hut and had a couple of forms to fill in and a safety guide to read. Once completed we handed them back in and waited for our session to begin - which frustratingly, was not on time! We had about a 15 minute delay before our safety training began, which, when you're in a sizeable group, meant it took a fair while longer than expected before we actually got going.
The safety training was comprehensive and clear. It started simply with instruction on how to put on your harness, which was then checked by the course instructor. Then a run through on what to do with your karabiners and pulleys, emphasis on how you needed to ensure you were always attached to something at all times, followed by a walkthrough on a cable at ground level, to ensure you understood the attachment system and were confident with attaching yourself to the safety lines.
Then we were finally out on to the course! Another run through on the other types of lines and clips we were going to experience on the course, which we were supervised over and then we were allowed to begin! The instructor advised that those who expected to move at a slower pace headed towards the back of the group. The only problem we had here was that parents with some of the younger children didn't quite seem to realise that they would move slower with the parents having to supervise at all times. Certainly I think it should be advised that if you have one adult supervising two or more children, they should also head further back. We unfortunately had such a group ahead of us, and consequently ended up with queue build ups behind them as the children sometimes needed held with their karabiners. Not that I'm complaining that much - it provided me with time to take in the view I had from up in the tree tops!
I've not yet completed any other Go Ape courses, so I don't know whether or not this is standard, but the Grizedale Forest Course comprised of five stages. The first is more a training stage, which continues to be supervised by an instructor. It comprised of a rope ladder, a cable path to walk across and a zip wire. A sort of introduction to what you will experience throughout the rest of the course and a chance for the instructor to check you are competent with the safety procedures. Once you've completed this stage, you have free range of the course, moving at your own pace and unsupervised.
The second stage is a little more challenging. Starting with an ascent up another rope ladder, you then cross several different types of rope bridge, at this stage in the course, you still have ropes to hold on to either side, though everything still moves about a little. The second stage is also the first place you will encounter a 'Tarzan swing'. This is where you attached yourself to a sort of rope swing thing above you and jump over and into a net which you have to then climb up. This is only the miniature one too! You don't swing too far at all, and don't have too far to climb up the net at the end until you reach the zip wire to finish the section off with. This is your first experience of one of the longer zip wires and it is really quite exhilarating! You do come down at quite a speed though, something you cannot really prepare yourself for. It's just a case of go for it, and then keep running when you get to the end so as to not fall on to your backside and find your underwear full of woodchips!
Stage three of the course is where it can start to get a little daunting, although, I must say, don't let it daunt you too much, as whilst the course in the treetops may seem a little challenging and scary from the ground, once you're up there, they're actually not so bad and the really long zip wires at the end of it, are so very worth it! In this section, the bridges no longer have sides to grasp on to, so, firstly, remember that you are always clipped on to something; you can't fall all that way down! Then what you do is up to you, you can choose to hold on to nothing and try to keep your balance, or you can steady yourself by holding the cable your pulley is also on. Once you've got through the treetop obstacles, you reach the first of the two long zip wires. These go across a vast distance, crossing the road we drove down to get there in the first place. The distance you travel means you pick up a fair bit of speed, but have so much to take in as you do it. And once you've completed the first one, you go up a hill, climb another ladder and you return back over to the other side on another long zip wire. A very exhilarating experience!
Section four is a little more challenging, more rope ladders, except now you're climbing down things as well as up! There's also a tunnel to crawl through, so if you're feeling battered from the first three sections, you may wish to take a brief break or even stop here - after all, no one wants a good day ruined because someone's had an accident due to exhaustion. On a course like this, it's definitely better to be safe than sorry! Some of the rope bridges move a little more than those previously experienced, so they're a little more tricky to complete and as with every section before, you finish off with another zip wire!
The final section, section five, is the big one! With the full Tarzan swing and an alternative route for those who don't quite feel up to it. The rope bridges are a little trickier still and you also have a net to cross before the Tarzan swing, which can be quite exhausting. The swing itself is excellent, you drop more than you would have expected from looking at it, but it even got out a little squeak from me - a person who hadn't even made a noise going down the zip wires! Once you've crossed the swing, the net you have to climb can seem a little tiring after that bout of excitement. Once up it, just a couple more bridges to cross until you reach the final zip wire, which to be honest, considering how good the rest of the course is, feels a bit of an anti-climax. You would have hoped your last zip wire would finish the course of satisfactorily with another good length and good speed, but alas, it is relatively short. Still, I'm sure there are those who are simply glad it's over by that point!
For those who do not wish to participate, there are plenty of viewing areas, you can pretty much follow the course round on paths along side the obstacles to take photos or provide moral support. There's also a café nearby for sandwiches, drinks and ice-creams if that's where you'd prefer to be.
I found the whole course a thrilling experience and I would definitely recommend it for anyone who enjoys the adventurous hands on sort of activity. Prices were £25 per adult and I think £22.50 for 10-17 year olds. Completing the course took about 3 hours, and I would say overall it was definitely worth it and I certainly look forward to Going Ape another time at another course!