Mon­key­ing around in the trees

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - LIFE & LEISURE -

THE first thing that comes to mind when some­one says ‘tree­top adventure’, aside from fear, is Tarzan, which is swiftly fol­lowed by images of a half naked man swing­ing on vines through the trees to the sound of ele­phants trum­pet­ing in the dis­tance.

But since 2001 adventure com­pany Go Ape has been run­ning its own tree top ad­ven­tures in forests and parks through­out Eng­land. An ob­sta­cle course in the sky, the com­pany has re­cently ex­panded into both the ju­nior mar­kets and Amer­ica, with plans to launch a new ‘Go Ape City Park Adventure’ in Bat­tersea Park, Lon­don.

Last year the com­pany recorded record vis­i­tor num­bers of more than 820,000 to all of its UK sites, and with two Go Ape sites right here in Buck­ing­hamshire, at Wen­dover Woods and Black Park, Tony Mitchell says ex­treme sports are more popular than ever.

Mr Mitchell has been site manager of the Black Park site since July last year and since then has seen it grow. He was pre­vi­ously site manager at Wen­dover Woods and his en­thu­si­asm for the sport is in­fec­tious.

Asked why the sport did so well last year, he said: “I think fi­nally peo­ple have started to feel bet­ter about the econ­omy. We had quite a few cor­po­rate bookings for the first time in a few years.”

He added: “Ex­treme sports are def­i­nitely on the in­crease. Bik­ing is on the in­crease too. Peo­ple are be­com­ing more ac­tive, peo­ple want to be do­ing some­thing. It is down to the me­dia, the Olympics cov­er­age of sports, com­puter games. Peo­ple are tak­ing that and they want to give it a go.”

The fig­ures tell us peo­ple in Buck­ing­hamshire are tak­ing to the sport too. Mr Mitchell tells me the Black Park Go Ape was one of only five sites in the coun­try that stayed open through­out win­ter, and be­cause the Chilterns is right here on our doorstep, peo­ple are able to take ad­van­tage of the fan­tas­tic scenery as they climb.

“It has be­come a des­ti­na­tion, not just an ac­tiv­ity. Chil­dren can go on the ju­nior course, and we also have bikes, Seg­ways, you can have a pic­nic in the park. Peo­ple can stay for the whole day.”

Last year the Black Park site opened a Tree Top Ju­nior course, which Mr Mitchell said is one of the rea­sons he has wit­nessed a growth from 28th in the coun­try to one which is “com­pet­ing with the other sites in the coun­try”. The ju­nior course means that chil­dren as young as three can par­tic­i­pate, and with no up­per age limit, even grand­par­ents can try it out – the old­est ad­ven­turer was 85 years young.

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