Go Ape at Leeds Castle, Kent,
A warning went up from somewhere above my head: “watch out this one is really wobbly!” My first introduction into the world of Go Ape. The warning rang true as I clambered across the swing bridge like a jelly on a plate high up in the air. My nerves soon receded as I took in the gorgeous view around me, the tranquil setting (omitting the screams of the startled teenagers on the zip wires) and I really got into the swing of things – literally.
For those who have only just heard of ‘Go Ape’ I will explain, ‘Go Ape’ is a treetop adventure course which will have you zooming down zip wires, clambering over Chinese bridges, climbing tall ladders and scramble nets and all at altitude relying on a harness and safety wires to ensure your safety if you fall off!
Before starting my Go Ape adventure I was fully briefed on the harness fittings, how to use the safety straps and clipping onto the safety wires – essential information that really brought home to me that this was a risky activity. I am glad the safety element of the adventure was highlighted so strongly and ‘Always Stay Attached’ was the mantra for the day.
I was worried that my doolally creative brain would not listen to the safety instructions (like the time I tried to ride a motorbike, which ended badly) but the instructions were simple, logical and repetitive. I was fine with all the instructions, as were the ten year olds around me.
As I navigated myself around the adult course (allow 2-3 hours) I enjoyed the experience more and more. The zip wires were a highlight for me. Stepping off the high tree platform into the air, simply trusting the harness, felt unnerving the first time but thereafter I couldn’t wait to take that step. I felt safe throughout the whole course and in the harness I felt like I was sitting down on a chair whilst flying through the air, it is that robust.
This is an experience I would heartily recommend for two reasons, first of all it is the closest you will ever get to feeling like one of Robin Hood’s band of merry men and secondly this simply brings out the best in you.
I followed a family around the course and heard such fantastic words of encouragement and camaraderie I am sure it must have been a bonding experience for them and as for myself I was left with a feeling of real achievement.
With zip wires 20m above the forest floor and 250m in length, the highest platform standing at 13 metres tall, a hair-raising 25m crossing and total course length of 775 metres the 2 hours it took for me to complete the course flew by.
Although you guide yourself around the course, there was always help at hand if needed from first aid trained instructors. The introduction was clear and precise and all participants have a trial run as part of the induction. This enabled me to get to grips with the harness and safety lines and ask any questions needed.
I rarely say that I would repeat an experience over and over again but I would complete ‘Go Ape’ every day if it were an option – no matter what the weather. For an adventure that challenges you and unites you with your fellow man ‘Go Ape’ is hard to beat.
This tests your strength and agility and I would not recommend this for those with vertigo. I would recommend wearing gloves and strong, sensible footwear. The Adult course is priced at £25 for 10-15 year olds and £33 for 16yrs+. There is also an hour long Tree Top Junior course for £18 too.
Corporate events and gift vouchers are available. For more information visit their website here.