Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Go Ape review: Monkeying around

Monkeying around is what I do best, so when I was invited to swing around in the trees last week at Go Ape Crathes Castle, there was no chance I was saying no...

I've got a confession, I'm scared of heights. There is nothing more daunting than that awful feeling in your stomach when you look down from a great height - it makes me queasy just thinking about it. Climbing ladders or being off the ground at high levels is not my cup of tea, so thankfully I had previously visited Go Ape just over a year ago with my boyfriend and knew exactly what to expect.

Go Ape is the UK's number one forest adventure, which put participants through a test of challenging, but extremely fun activities, showcasing the countryside in a completely new light. With rope bridges, Tarzan swings, zip wires and a number of other tree-top obstacles, this is one activity all ages and fitness capabilities can enjoy. With a variation of hard and easy pathways to follow in the trees, and an instructor always on hand to give you guidance and support when needed, everyone can feel at ease climbing around in the trees.

Taking about two to three hours the Tree Top Adventure is not something you want to rush through. The longer it takes the more fun it is! As always, a safety induction is very important and its vital you listen up at this point, you'll be reminded that this is a high risk activity and with primarily yourself being the only person responsible for your safety, I advise you listen up.

Arriving ten minutes before our slot we were introduced to a number of the staff, including the cutest member, Fergus, a beautiful border collie. Prepped in our safety induction by the talented and enthusiastic, Matt, we set off to course one, the trial run.
I was well aware what I was getting myself into so obviously killed it on the trial run (this is basically when they advise if you're going to keep yourself safe or not - nine times out of 10 everyone passes this stage) but it was good to be reminded about the different rules and regulations you need to abide by when out on the course.

Once everyone had completed stage one, a mini version of what's to come, we were let loose in the forest to monkey around in the treetops. Met by a long, slightly wobbly wooden rope ladder at the start of every stage in the course, stage two pretty much forces you to jump straight into the swing of things, which is probably for the best. With a Tarzan Jump, a number of rope bridges, and a zip line all in the space of one stage, it's every man for himself up in the trees.
Of the 29 Go Ape adventures set in some of Britain's most popular forests, three are based in Scotland. Crathes Castle, Aberdeenshire, Glentress Forest, Peebles and Aberfoyle, Stirlingshire - this is where you come face-to-face with two of Britain's longest zip wires, both stretching over 400m long, flying you 150 feet above the ground and over a 90 foot waterfall - sound daunting!? Every Go Ape Adventure across the region is a little different to the last, so it means you can go to every course and still find it completely individual which is great.

My favourite part of the course has to be the zip wires. Last time we participated in Go Ape I managed to land forward every single time. However, the same cannot be said for this time round...

Onto stage three which consists of a lot of tree top obstacles, panel crossings, rope bridges which is great for your core, and a great deal of balancing work - this section really works those abs. Of course zooming down the zip wire I was ever so graceful, to only end up landing right on my backside. Classy.

At stage four I came face-to-face with my arch nemesis of the course, the skateboard zip wire. After a prior incident last time, which resulted in me 'falling off' the skate board seconds after stepping on the last time I was at Go Ape, I was determined not to fall off this time. However, after battling a tough rope wall, as well as some insanely difficult rope hoops and other ridiculous obstacles, to say I was broken before the skateboard zip wire was an understatement. 

Not the greatest of skateboarders it was no surprise that I fell off within a few seconds again - pathetic I know...

With the final stage now in my grasp I was ready to face the biggest Tarzan jump, and the longest zip wire of the course, which is 125m long. Physical challenges always look easier when someone else is doing it, and it's not until you're faced with a pretty big jump into a cargo net that you start to feel a little uneasy - even if you're not scared of heights it's ok to feel a little apprehensive at this point! Determined not to make a fool of myself I lunged forward (after checking I was attached securely to the safety catch numerous times) and hit the net full force. Victory was mine and I even managed to let out a Tarzan call, well sort of...

As the course was coming to an end, I was delighted to finish on a high and go out with a bang on the longest zip line of the course, travelling over one of the roads of the Crathes Castle estate. The estate itself is stunning, and the castle views are breathtakingly beautiful. A scenic home for Go Ape indeed with a fantastic forest to walk around after.

Anyway, back to the zip line, and what a heck of a ride it was. If you fancy experiencing it with me, then you need to check out my video of Go Ape at the bottom of the post!
Alas, the fun morning was brought to an end and after a few hours of action-packed fun exercise, it was time to hang up my safety harness and go roam around the castle. If you're looking for something a little different, Go Ape is definitely the place for you...a stone's throw away from Aberdeen, you'd be crazy not to give it a go.

If you'd like more information on Go Ape Crathes Castle then Click here. Thanks again to Lesley from The Big Partnership (BIG) for inviting me along to put my upper arm strength to the test. The gloves were definitely needed and a great suggestion!

  For now...

Just Julia

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