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Unleash your inner Tarzan
Go Ape! Grizedale Forest (Hawkshead)
Member Name: jipp05
Go Ape! Grizedale Forest (Hawkshead)
Advantages: Fun, exhilarating, different
Disadvantages: Could work out expensive for families
~~~~~~~~~~ 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.
Summary: A brilliant day out in the Lakes
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