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

Staines Informer - - NEWS -

‘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.

Pic­tures cour­tesy of Go Ape.

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 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.

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