When I tell people I’m scared of heights they say
“But you did a sky dive!”
and they’re right, I did, from 15, 000 feet. I’m still scared of heights. Throwing myself out of a plane, strapped to a random guy, did not cure my fear but my fear is actually worse when I’m closer to the ground. At 15, 000 feet you don’t comprehend how high you are, as we floated to the ground in the parachute I freaked out. Going up the slow bit on Oblivion at Alton Towers, I freak out. On Level One of Go Ape at Temple Newsam, I freaked out!
You might ask why bother experiencing something like Go Ape if you have a fear of heights, well…
a) My son LOVES anything like this. Anything that involves obstacles, climbing, swinging etc. He’s a real life monkey.
b) I want him to face his fears, not run away from them, so I need to set the example.
c) It was a good opportunity for Lucas to get some Mummy/Daddy time which he hasn’t had much of since Sienna arrived.
If you’re looking for a challenge, Go Ape is the perfect day out. With 33 locations across the UK, they offer tree top adventures, springy trampoline nets, Segways and zip wires for children and big kids alike. Go Ape invited us to experience the brand new Park Adventure at Temple Newsam in Leeds, which is only a twenty minute drive from our home and somewhere we visit frequently for the parks, farm and scenery. The great thing about this site is that you can tailor it to your tribe depending on your ages. If you’re over a metre tall you can be let loose up in the trees.
Level One – low level loops perfect for younger children under the age of 7
Level Two – a mixture of levels one and three for those 7+
Level three – the full Park Adventure experience. Suitable for those 10+ and “grown up gorillas”.
As we signed in at the desk, we were greeted by a really friendly staff member who was super chatty and really good with a very excited Lucas. We were given a laminate to read with gave us safety information and then sent to be togged up in harnesses before a short safety briefing and demonstration. I was really impressed with how the girl leading this ensured Lucas was near the front so he could hear and she could check he understood and I was REALLY impressed when she challenged a couple of grown men who were talking over her, proving that safety is at the forefront of Go Ape. After a quick go on the practice circuit, we were off!
The difficulty of the loops gets harder as you progress through the levels but you’re not forced to do any you don’t want to. Level One is split into three sections, 1.1 is lower to the ground (1 metre high) and only takes 15/20 minutes followed by 1.2 and 1.3 which
are considerably higher. I’ll be honest, I squealed at 1.1, especially wedging my bum through the suspended tube that my husband was kindly swaying as I crawled through! Each loop ends with a zip wire which I only managed to land gracefully, once out of the handful of times I did them and one consisted of an epic thud to the ground which you can see on my Instagram story highlights, go have a look if you want a laugh.
My niece Evie led the way as we began to tackle Level 1.2 and giggled as I crawled up a ladder in a net tunnel, exclaiming “Ouch, my knees!” as I went (I have bruises from that which will look FIT when I go out at the weekend! LOL!) Suddenly we were faced with zip zag planks, 15 feet in the air with a considerable breeze and I froze
“I can’t do that! How do I get down?”
Well it turns out you can’t, once you’re up there the only way down it by doing the course and my four year old boy was stood behind me saying
“Come on Mummy, you can do it! Be brave!”
Well what am I expected to do when he says that?! I focused on Evie who had practically hopped, skipped and jumped over it and slowly made my way over it before breathing a huge sigh of relief as I made it to the other side. My son and husband followed behind without a single hesitation. To say he had to stretch to reach the ropes, Lucas showed no fear at all. I have to say, I think that was the hardest one of me to do and although i get a little nervous about a few others, once I had steps onto it, I was managed okay!
Obviously I knew that thanks to my trusty safety hardness I wasn’t able to fall but that doesn’t stop the fear, as I kept tell my husband as he encouraged me. The longer we were up there the more I got used to looking forward and not down, I may even say that I started to enjoy it! Actually I really did and with every crossing I did, I felt more and more proud of myself and my son, who is obviously a monkey in disguise. It’s definitely a sense of achievement.
The zip wire at the end of Level One was one I struggled to fully throw myself down. The member of staff who clipped me on said “Just run down the ramp” Run?! Are you joking? I let the fear get the better of me and sat myself in my harness to slide down it. I have promised myself that when we return, which we definitely will, I will do it from standing! As Lucas flew down it, a man by me said
“Wow, look at him go”
“He’s fearless,” I said, “which makes being his Mum nerve-wracking!”
The man couldn’t believe he was only four in June and was so confident. Neither could I! The only part his confidence wavered was the climbing wall (picture above on the right) where he couldn’t reach the handles but he solved that by holding onto the wire that his harness was strapped to.
As we finished Level One, Ric and Evie went off to try their hand at one of the higher levels whilst I “volunteered” to stay with Lucas to have another go on one section of Level One. Maybe one day I will brave Level 2 and 3 but for my first visit, I was happy to stay where I was. Lucas chose to redo 1.3 (with the climbing wall) and it was a new challenge supporting him around the course, meaning I didn’t really have time to be scared. By this point I was feeling more confident about it and Lucas and I were a great team.
As we landed after our final zip wire, I asked Lucas what he liked best. “EVERYTHING!” he said. It was something new for me and Lucas (Ric and Evie had been to the Dalby Forest Go Ape a few years ago) and it was a brilliant way to spend a Sunday morning. The rain that was forecast held off and the sun came out, encouraging and supporting each other around the loops showed why it’s a popular place for team building trips. It’s physically taxing and I was aching after, but don’t let that put you off because I am the least physically fit person and my upper body strength is terrible! Prices begin at £18 and increase depending on how much you want to do. I genuinely believe that it’s worth every penny and a fantastic activity to do as a family which gets everyone away from screens. As my friend said, if you cost up the actually site, safety equipment, training, staff and insurance, it’s pretty well priced. Finally, make sure you were comfortable clothing and decent shoes!
I can’t wait to go back and be part of #GOAPETRIBE again.
Go Ape kindly gifted us our entry to the Temple Newsam site in return for this post however all opinions are my own.