I took on Go Ape! and make a monkey out of myself

Tuesday, 10 April 2012 5:43 PM

By Amy Heritage

Originally, when I was told that the Adventure company - who already run 28 sites across the UK - would be opening a new course in Central London, I had pictured a calm day in the park. A teddy-bears picnic with zip lines. After all, how intimidating could the British countryside be?

It feels much higher when you’re actually up there.

I begin my jounrey with a lengthy climb up a rope ladder, which sways precariously and gives the poor spectators below a very unflattering view of my rump. Then, a chance to catch my breath on a wooden platform - which is so narrow I can't even put my feet side by side. 

Suddenly, I'm very aware of being half way up a tree. From the ground it all seems like a doddle, but up here, right now, trying to balance on a tiny plank of wood - it all feels very real, and saftey feels a long way away. My plams are sweating. 

But, before I can return to the saftey of the ground a la zip wire, I have to face the obstacles. Does that sound menacing? Good, because it is.

I walk across the rope bridge with ease, but perhaps there should have been more haste, less speed, because now I have to face the Tarzan swing.

“What’s the Tarzan Swing?” I had asked innocently, during the safety talk.

“Oh, you’ll find out” The attendant replied- in hindsight rather ominously.

The Tarzan swing is a rope, hanging in mid air from a tree branch, with nothing below it but the muddy ground. I’m going to use it to swing from the platform to a large rope net. Beneath me, a Go Ape! attendant shouts cheerily, “It’s better if you don’t look down!”

“Aiiieee!” - I crash unceremoniously into the netting. The whole thing was over in a few seconds, and I feel like a ridiculous fool for being so frightened. I also feel pretty elated.

Unfortunately, now I have to climb the netting... 

It’s all about the arms.

Here's a discalimer - I'm that person who always looses at arm wresteling. So perhaps I shouldn't be suprised that I'm struggeling to acsess my inner spider-woman; I look more like a spider scrambeling up the side of the bath, than one expertly navigating its web.  

Fortunately the staff are clearly used to city types like me – all brain, no brawn – and are good at making me feel less like a fool as I dangle in my harness, unable to lift myself up. Which is not to say I don’t feel like a fool – I do – but just not quite as acutely as I did before.

When I’ve finally managed to reach the second platform I feel utterly drained... and I’m only on course one of five. It might not look like it, but the Go Ape course is really a test of your strength, particuarly your upper body. Expect to get sweaty. 

Finally it's the moment I've been waiting for - the zip wire back to earth. Flying through the air like a glamazon, even if only for a few seconds, I feel like a proper adventurer.

Once I hit the ground, I want to do it all over again. It’s like childbirth – that one moment of happiness erases all the straining, and pain, and hormones, you felt just moments before. But I suppose that's a good thing - there are many more courses to go, including a balancing act between moving planks of wood (suprisingly, I don't fall), and a highly entertaining 'skateboard' zip wire (as fun as it sounds).  

So, what did I learn about Go Ape?

This isn’t really about the zip wires. This is about getting to them.

 

Amy tackled the course at Go Ape! Trent Park, which is five minuets from Cockfosters Tube Station in North London. 

One session at any Go Ape! park costs £30 for adults, and £20 for children (10-17 years). 

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