Climbing trees: A big adventure for high achievers at Go Ape
Mark Lundrigan tested his head for heights through a treetop canopy as he took his family to try out the thrilling Go Ape at Alice Holt Forest
‘HOW on earth was I talked into this?’ I thought, looking down from a high tree top at my final obstacle – a long, steep zipwire.
At the bottom I could just make out my 12-yearold daughter, who a minute ago had been in the same nervous position as I was now. ‘ Go on dad, it’s really fun. Honest!’ I could hear her shouting.
With that encouragement I checked my harness once, twice, three times and took the leap of faith.
A minute later I was lying in a stack of woodchips laughing, partly with relief that I had survived the descent, but mostly because my daughter was right – that was really fun.
This is Go Ape at Alice Holt Forest, and that moment sums up the treetop adventure in a nutshell – fun, exhilaration and a healthy splash of fear.
For those unfamiliar with Go Ape, it is basically an assault course high up in the trees, and Alice Holt, just south of Farnham, is one of 29 dotted around the UK.
There are a choice of two courses here. The Tree Top Junior is aimed at smaller adventurers (as there is a height and age restriction on the higher course) but it is still relatively high and there are tricky obstacles, as my wife and youngest daughter can testify.
But it was the Tree Top Adventure that awaited my oldest daughter and I and, after a brief but essential training session, we were soon climbing up a rope ladder to face our first collection of obstacles.
The adventure is split into five sections, including the short training course, each with a fantastic zipwire ride at the end – and it gets progressively higher.
There are also two Tarzan jumps to tackle, which are similar to the zipwire in that you take that so-called ‘leap of faith’, swinging into a rope net then climbing up to carry on the course.
It is at these moments when you really focus your mind on how to harness properly.
There are no members of staff in the trees to hook you up in the correct way – you have to do it yourself, which makes the short training session at the start essential.
There are helpful signs
along the way reminding you how to alter your harness, and these also tell you how difficult the next obstacle is – ranging from moderate to extreme – although none are easy.
On our day on the Tree Top Adventure it was raining non-stop, but Go Ape does not close in these conditions unless there is a lightning storm forecast.
Instead, I was told it just makes it ‘more challenging’.
They were not wrong. Crossing from tree to tree by stepping on slippery wooden crossings makes those ‘moderate’ obstacles very difficult and there is always a sense of relief when you reach the platform at the other end after each challenge.
There are also a few decisions to make on each course. Sometimes there is a more difficult route that you can take to get to your destination, which seems daunting but there is a great sense of achievement once completed.
And don’t worry about holding up other participants if your pace is slow. They can simply overtake you at each platform, so there is no pressure. Whatever your pace, finishing the course with the giant zipwire (which really takes your breath away) is a great conclusion to an exhilarating few hours.
Despite being soaking wet and in need of a good bath, we left with smiles on our faces and a real sense of
Thrills and spills on the high ropes course.
Obstacle course: The Tree Top Adventure is split into five sections that get progressively higher.
Zippedy hoohah: Zip wires add to the thrills at the end of each section.
A helping hand for this young visitor.
Go Ape appeals to all ages.
l Tree Top Adventure costs £33 (16+ years)/ £25 (10-15 years);
Tree Top Junior costs £18 (children have to be at least 1m tall);
For more information go to www.goape.co.uk. High wire act: A rope bridge is tackled among the tree tops.
Junior course: The Tree Top Junior at Alice Holt Forest is for younger children who would like to test themselves.