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Hug some trees - Go Ape!
Go Ape! Grizedale Forest (Hawkshead)
Member Name: carlz2001uk
Go Ape! Grizedale Forest (Hawkshead)
Advantages: Fantastic experince, views, adrenaline rush, something 'different'
Disadvantages: Scary at times!
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.
Summary: 5 stars