Monday, 23 October 2017

JUST JULIA TRIES: Go Ape in Autumn

If you're like me and find the weekend just flies by, you want to ensure you make the most of it. And with the dark mornings and nights creeping in, it's a challenge to get out and about and back home all before we're plummeted into darkness.

I love the outdoors. Ever since I was a wee toot you'd always find me outside. Whether that was playing with flowers, climbing trees, or rescuing wild rabbits from the neighbours cats. I'm out and about with my dog every weekend and I'm always looking for new places to hang out with him. We've visited Crathes Castle a number of times and I always love seeing the people flying through the sky as they take on Go Ape.

So, when I was invited along and got the chance to take some of my best friends to Go Ape at Crathes Castle, it was a no brainier for me.

Being someone who's scared of heights, it was reassuring to know I wouldn't be taking to the trees on my own. With my besties in toll I knew we were going to have a blast.

Once a month the four of us always try catch up, and what better way than to do it whilst exercising and having a right old laugh.  Their exceitment when I told them we were going to Go Ape was brilliant, although I don't quite think they knew what they were getting themselves in for...

Sunday came and we headed out the road. Arriving in plenty of time, we introduced ourselves to the instructors and read and signed all the necessary documents - I promise this only takes about 5 minutes, but is essential for the health and safety of all participants, and then we eagerly waited for the rest of the tribe to arrive.

I've visited Go Ape previously with my boyfriend a few times and have always really enjoyed it. We were put in groups of up to about 8 individuals, but for some reason this group had 21 people in it - which I hear is definitely not the norm.

After our instructor had introduced himself to everyone we made our way over to the practice section where he briefed us on the house rules and watched as we clipped, attached and unclipped ourselves around the mini course. Once he was happy with everyone - which you can imagine took a wee while with so many of us - we all headed over to course 1 - the first of five courses to come.

Being the enthusiastic individual I am, of course, I naturally put my hand up to volunteer as tribute. And contribute to everyone's hysterics I did. Not only did I struggle to find my feeting after sitting back on my harness, I bashed my head numerous times out of sheer stupidity. It's safe to say no one made the same mistakes I did.

We decided to hold back and let everyone else go ahead of us as I was filming, and we wanted to really just embrace the course and have a laugh.

It was around an hour from when the inductions started that we eventually got finished course 1, but the fact we decided to go last didn't really help this.

The high ropes course at Crathes is Go Ape's most Northernly hang out and individuals can get up to two or three hours to enjoy monkeying around in the trees, so we still had plenty of time to play with.
Course 2 was where the real work kicked in. 

I've been best friends with Samantha, Abbie and Amy for years. We've been through school together and have tackled a number of obstacles together, but I must admit, Go Ape was one of the funniest experiences we've had together as a group.

I guess what made it so fun was that Abbie and myself are super adventurous (and competitive) - we would have been swinging in the trees going head to head if we could have, and that poor Amy was petrified of heights - I guess I never really explained to her just how high some of the ladders can be. Sorry Amy! But what really had us all in stitches was Samantha's running commentary around the course - her one liners were class.

Course 2 is the one which kind of determines if you have the balls to commit to the rest of the courses. It has a Tarzan swing and a zip line - two of the main activities throughout - as well as various other ladder exercises which you need to carry out, all whilst remembering to STAY ATTACHED at all times.

House rules are that only three people can be on a platform at a time (the points where two different activities meet), and only one person on an activity at a time. You also have to ensure you're attached to the wires around the course at all times, clipping, and unclipping as you venture throughout the course. It's fundamental for your own safety to follow these rules, otherwise you could hurt yourself, or someone else.

Staff patrol the course to safeguard that everyone is following the rules and if you ever did get stuck, each participant is provided with a whistle so they can get staff's attention if/when needed.

With some words of encouragement, lots of laughs and cheering each other on, the four of us made it through course 2. However there were a few dirty bottoms by the end thanks to the zip line...
As you progress through the woods, the course gets that little bit more challenging. Course 3 was all about balance more than strength - like the Tarzan swing. It was focused on finding your centre of gravity and challenging your brain to figure out where to put your hands and feet. For me, the most exhilarating part of the course is the various zip lines throughout which finish off each course. Hilariously, I was the only one to land perfectly, and forward every time, escaping a dirty bum - my fiends, not so much...
Course 4 has a skateboard on the zip line which is pretty cool, but sadly, it didn't want to seem to roll back up to where the zip line started off so alas, our skateboarding skills weren't needed that da - phew.

This course incorporated the chance to go an easy or difficult way. Having chosen the difficult way before and embracing a massive laughing fit with my legs in the splits, I decided to let Abbie go rogue for this one and myself and Samantha cried with hilarity as she gracefully *ahem* made her way through the rings. Amy decided to sit this one out and braced herself for the bigger, and final course, course 5.
Course 5 - the final voyage for the tribe. After hearing copious screams, screeches and bellowing laughter, we figured this had to be the creme de la creme. And rightly so.

They say it's best to finish with a bang, and Go Ape Crathes certainly does that. After scaling higher into the canopy, not only does this course have a massive version of the Tarzan swing, it also has the longest and fastest zip line too. For those not brave enough to take on the big Tazan swing, there is an easier route with additional activities for everyone to get stuck into.

It took us about an hour and a bit to complete the full course which suited us perfectly. We took our time, had a laugh and enjoyed the outdoors. It was refreshing not having to meet my besties for a coffee indoors for once.
All safely back on the ground, we headed back to base camp to retrieve our certificates and hand in our harnesses.

Smiles all round, I knew the girls had really enjoyed the experience, and the fact Amy (who hates heights) managed to tackle all of the more advanced activities was a testament to how safe we all felt.

I guess, the only reason I can think the place was so busy was the fact the school's had just broken up for the October holidays, and although it was busy at the start, by the end everyone was flying around the courses.

Go Ape Crathes is an excellent outdoor activity for all ages and is a great way to not only get fit, but to catch up with friends in a different way.

Go on...release your wild side at Go Ape this Autumn and do something different at the weekend - I dare ya!

  For Now...

Just Julia
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