Since Go Ape opened in Leeds, I’ve been wanting to go. The thought of swinging between trees in the woods is so appealing, despite my fear of heights. I thought that if I can survive and also enjoy a skydive (best thing I’ve ever done) I’d be able to handle a couple of obstacle courses high up in the trees…
Earlier in June, a few of my friends and I booked a Friday off work to spend the morning together in the woods of Temple Newsam, monkeying around. I’ll be honest, I had a glass of Mimosa for breakfast that day, to calm my nerves a little bit and get the Dutch courage I definitely needed.
I think that when I did the skydive is New Zealand ages ago, we were too high up in the air for me to register how much it would hurt if I had an injury or would die. Shorter heights, like standing on a step stool at home to reach glasses out of my kitchen cupboard, is far worse. It’s as if I can sense what would happen if I were to fall from a couple of inches up. Or, it could just be that the older I get, the wimpier I get. Anyways, I’m not great with heights at all so going to Go Ape would be a challenge.
Safety first at Go Ape!
Before arriving at Go Ape, we’d been asked to sign an online disclaimer. Basically if something were to happen that shouldn’t, we’d be responsible for it. On arrival and before being let loose in the trees, we were again informed of the risks and asked to confirm before continuing the short instruction session. If you decide to pull out at this stage, they’ll give you a refund. We all said yes, happily! We then received help being strapped into our harnesses and showed how to use the equipment. The pulley and carabiner are the two things you need to think about and use all the time. You quickly get the hang of it.
We also took a supervised mini course with a zip line stretch at the end. That freaked me out as I didn’t think about first leaning into the harness, instead of jumping off the tree platform. Once I clocked to do that, all the zip line obstacles were so much fun. I absolutely loved it.
There are 5 courses in total at Go Ape in Temple Newsam. To complete all of them you need around 2-3 hours. The timing depends on how many groups are in front of you and behind you. The bookings are taken in time slots and they only let a certain amount of people go at a time. Extra measures has been taken during the pandemic and there are hand sanitisers at the entrance to each course to use. They also have water stations but don’t drink too much. The toilets are a 7-min walk away and you don’t want to keep your group waiting.
On every course there are wires along the whole route which your pulley is always attached to and that’s connected to your harness, to keep you safe and secure. By always dragging the pulley along with you along the wire, you know you’re always safe. It can’t fall out! The carabiner is also attached to the wire, however, you will have to unhook this now and again and keep track of this yourself.
Go Ape courses at Temple Newsam
We completed all five courses, although I had enough after the first one (5). It was by far the wobbliest out of the five when it came to obstacles to cross between the trees. I was sweating with fear and it took a lot of mind convincing that I could do it. I slipped a few times which scared me further and as I bruise like a peach, I came home with massive black and blue patches on my arms. Reminding myself that I couldn’t fall further than the lenght of my harness made me feel a little bit more at ease. To be honest, I think the course is better built for tall people. My short legs had troubles reaching the steps sometimes. Although, I had an advantage being short going up the fire ladders.
The second course (6) we took had the option of taking an easier route at one point, which I did. I was very thankful for that! The middle course (7) was by far my favourite. It is basically only zip line obstacles along the whole course. If I were to go back, I’d like to take that course five times over instead of each course once. The longest zip line stretch is 60 meters long, heavenly to glide through the air. I need to practice my landings though, I ended up on my bum each time.
The last two courses (8&9) scared us all a little bit as both include a free fall jump. On course no 8 it’s a Tarzan Swing which takes you across to another tree. About 10ish meters high above ground and you need to jump out to make it. The first few seconds, if even a full one, of the free fall are very scary but once you feel the safety of the harness and you’re flying, it’s liberating.
On the last course (only two obstacles) you finish off with a short bungee jump type of jump. The free-fall Plummet is 15 meters high. In this, you hang on to a rope which has the bungee jump effect for a couple of seconds (feet down, not head) and once stretched out turns into a slow motion motion. I decided not to look down for this one as it would have put me off. I also closed my eyes taking the plunge and I screamed a lot going down.
Considering I was nervous prior to going and sweating during some of the obstacles, I’m so pleased with myself for braving it. The last jump even more so but also everything else. I definitely kicked my fear of heights in the butt! It helped going and sharing the experience with lovely and supportive friends.
Have you been to Go Ape? Would you give it a go?