This time last week, I was en route to my challenges. First stop was Cockfosters and Trent Park to GoApe to try out ziplining.
GoApe is without doubt a fantastic tree top adventure for families, corporate events or for anyone who feels like hanging out in a forest, clambering up rope ladders, hurling themselves at Tarzan cargo nets or zip-wiring and having an absolute ball.
I asked Aaron, my instructor how old you had to be to do the course and he replied, “Any age. Last week we had a man in his late seventies who brought his grandchildren. He loved it!”
GoApe are big on health and safety and won’t let you loose on the course until you have had a safety briefing. It is thorough. There is no way they want you to fall out of a tree or off a wire. As long as you keep connected to the guidelines at all times, you’ll be fine. Really!
You do a couple of ‘stations’ with the instructor watching who won’t let you move on to the others until he feels you are ready to go off on your own monkey adventure.
Allow 2-4 hours for this adventure and wear suitable clothing. Their fact sheet and website explains what you’ll need. 28 Sites are scattered throughout the UK so you don’t need to go to London. Click HERE for their website and locations.
How did we get on? First off, I was terrified. I absolutely hate heights. I go dizzy and then I freeze. Kim, my publisher knew that. To add to the mix, she was equally scared but kept it hidden. We were part of a corporate party and lagged at the back of the group so we could do a couple of videos and take photos. It also gave us a chance to see how easy it was!
We all guffawed nervously as the first couple of members of the group harnessed themselves up , practised walking along a low wire and did a small zip, inevitably landing on their backsides.
I had all the style, skill and grace of an ogre with short sight and whose shoes were on the wrong feet. I missed footholds, forgot which coloured attachment I needed and generally mumbled a lot. All credit to Aaron and Kim. They got me up there with words of encouragement. Once attached to the little wire, I let myself go and … loved it. For those few moments you are suspended above the ground, soaring like a bird, it is marvellous.
The next stage was harder. Actually, the next stage was the one where they nearly had to airlift me from the tree where I stood clinging to the rope squeaking loudly and saying “I can’t do this..” Faced with the prospect of swinging onto a large net, hauling myself up, staggering across a rope bridge, attaching myself to a tree then zip lining down a long wire … I did the inevitable … I froze.
I’d still be up there if it hadn’t been for Kim. I’m not sure if she pushed me or spoke wise words into my ear. Either way, I suddenly leapt off my platform, flopped into the net, pulled for all it was worth and struggled up the net, stared at the trees and scampered over the rope bridge yelling “Geronimo!” or making silly monkey noises, before soaring down the zip wire. I knew I’d enjoy that bit and I did.
Verdict: It’s huge fun. You need to be fairly fit to do it. You’ll use your leg muscles a lot and obviously, your arms. Go with a crowd of people and have a laugh. Would I do it again? I have a feeling Kim has signed us both back up for another session, so yes, but this time, I’m taking Mr G with me.
Did I fail? In a way, yes. I couldn’t manage to hold onto my attachments, leap off the platform and play a kazoo at the same time. Sorry, people, I didn’t quite fulfil the challenge but better that than have a kazoo stuck in my throat all this week, playing “Zipadeedoodah!”
Discover what happened to Charlie and Mercedes at the longest zipwire in the UK at Adrenalin Quarry, Cornwall in Three Little Birds – out now.
Click HERE to find out more.
This is what happened when we tried out some of Charlie’s Challenges.