2016 for me so far has been all about getting out of my comfort zone and saying yes to opportunities. Earlier this year while in Iceland I climbed a volcano, flew in a helicopter and rode a snowmobile across a glacier as part of the new, adventurous version of myself. Did I mention I’ve had a lifelong fear of heights? So when Go Ape got in touch to invite me to try their tree top adventure park in my home country of Scotland, I put thoughts of vertigo and jelly legs to one side and said yes. Here’s how it went…
Go Ape Aberfoyle
My willing accomplice and I arrived in plenty of time for our 12.30pm slot, after a beautifully scenic hour and a half’s drive. Go Ape Aberfoyle is situated in the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park in Stirlingshire, Scotland and you can’t get much greener an area than this. After reading the safety information and signing the disclaimers, we were given harnesses and talked through the half hour safety demonstration. Go Ape operate a self belay safety system and the golden rule is always stay attached. You are entirely responsible for your own safety and for hooking and unhooking your carabiners – a sobering prospect when you first arrive! However, the instructors are on hand to explain everything thoroughly until you get your head around it and feel confident with your equipment.
Go Ape Aberfoyle begins with a long zip wire into the forest, an amazing introduction to the beautiful Scottish countryside. My friend and I were chosen by our instructor to be the demonstration people – naturally I went second – and knowing there were about twelve pairs of eyes watching me, I couldn’t chicken out. Confident I was strapped on okay, I let go and soon was flying through the forest on the second longest zip wire in Britain, high above a river. I may have closed my eyes at some particularly eek points though (no, I’m not a natural adrenaline junkie). Exhilarating! After zipping through the forest and finishing on a soft woodchip landing, we then climbed a hill until we reached the first treetop adventure course.
The first course consisted of a rope ladder leading to a platform and then some stepping stones in the tree tops along with some other obstacles and a final zip wire. If you are unable to complete this first course, you can’t go any further (as it gets progressively harder and higher). After my initial hesitance after reaching the first platform (don’t look down), I powered through and to my surprise, completed the course. There are 5 obstacle courses in total at Go Ape Aberfoyle which include a trapeze, net bridge, tightrope, stirrups, tarzan swings and a log balance among other crossings to navigate. Most of these I found mildly terrifying! The sense of accomplishment when finishing a course made it worthwhile however – and I didn’t want to be shown up by the seemingly fearless twelve year old girl in front of me (I do have my pride). The adventure finished with the longest zip wire in Britain – over 400m long, 150ft above the ground and over a 90ft waterfall – and it’s safe to say the views were spectacular! (I didn’t close my eyes once this time).
We lucked out with the weather, as it stayed dry throughout despite the dismal Scottish “summer” we’re currently having. True to Scottish form though, the infamous midges were out in force. Luckily for me (but not so much for the midges) I had been armed with a selection of midge and insect repellent from Pyramid Travel Products* which I duly doused myself in prior to starting the course. I am an absolute magnet for bugs of all kinds and don’t generally have much luck with repellent sprays (I’m just too tasty, I guess) but I was pleasantly surprised to see I remained largely midge free, despite the muggy conditions! I used the Trek Midge & Tick repellent which you only have to apply once and it lasts for up to twelve hours, even being sweat and splash resistant. After all, the last thing you want to worry about while flying through the forest is reapplying midge repellent! The Hysan antibacterial hand gel also came in extremely handy (… sorry) when we had finished the course and were ready to settle down with our picnic.
Go Ape was a fantastic day out and a brilliant way to get some much needed fresh air and see more of my own country, which I’m guilty of not exploring enough. While I may not have fully conquered my fear of heights (I’m not sure I ever will), flying through the tree tops was an incredible experience and one I would definitely recommend. You even get a certificate!
About Go Ape
There are three Go Ape locations within Scotland – Go Ape Aberfoyle in Stirlingshire, Go Ape Peebles and Go Ape Crathes Castle in Aberdeenshire and more throughout England and Wales. Find your nearest here.
Go Ape prices range from £33 for a gorilla (aged 16 and over) to £25 for a baboon (aged 10 to 15, who must be supervised by an adult). For further information and to book a Go Ape adventure, please visit www.goape.co.uk.
*I was a guest of Go Ape in exchange for a review and this post contains PR samples, however all opinions remain unbiased and my own.
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