Things To Do

Time to Go Ape

Written by Tim Barnes-Clay

Swing from tree to tree as you take on the aerial assault course that redefines “monkey business”.

Cast your mind back to those carefree days of childhood when a sense of adventure coursed through your veins and imagination could transform the monkey bars at your local park into a jungle wilderness, suspended high above the ground.

Sadly, any attempt to recreate that sensation today would leave most of us standing, feet firmly rooted to the ground and heads poking between the rungs of the climbing frame, frankly looking rather foolish.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. The folks over at Go Ape have devised a way to let big kids across the country relive the thrill of their playground days with the whole family in tow.

Tree Top Adventure

The recent bout of humidity set a rather appropriate jungle climate for the morning of high-wire escapades that Go Ape’s signature Tree Top Adventure promised to deliver.

After arrival, dressed suitably to allow for maximum mobility, you’re fitted with a harness and taken through the standard safety procedures. Far from an exercise in simple liability cover, the information provided is key to surmounting the 20-metre-high assault course because once you’re up there, you are on your own.

There are no instructors in the trees with you, although they do patrol the grounds so are always on hand to help if you need them. However, this does mean that you are responsible for helping your kids to ensure they are following the safety guidelines and hooked in properly.

After tackling some ground level apparatus, to prove to your instructor that you have mastered the safe and proper use of the climbing equipment, as well as taken on board the site’s mantra “always be attached”, you’ll be told to hitch up your harness and embark on the first of five tree-top assault courses.

At the foot of a rope ladder that stretches ten metres up into the trees, you suddenly realise this is the real deal!

Tree Top Junior courses mean the whole family can get involved.

Following a deep breath, you snap the carabiner (mountaineer speak for ‘clippy thing’) into place and start your glorious ascent. At the top, you stand triumphant on the wooden platform, ready to tackle the first crossing: a rickety jungle canyon rope-bridge straight out of an Indiana Jones movie.

With the personal pulley hanging from your harness and locked onto the steel rope suspended above the bridge itself, you transfer your carabiners one by one (remembering to “always stay attached”) and tentatively make it to the other side. Piece of cake.

The next crossing doesn’t look so simple. A dozen steel rings dangling from ropes in a zigzag formation. The reality hits as you step off the platform and there’s nothing between you and the floor but air. The first couple prove quite difficult as you attempt to hook your feet into the rings while simultaneously swinging from one to the next. But soon, you hit your stride and deftly glide to the other side.

Next up it’s the big one: a Tarzan inspired swing rope that lets you fly through the air like the jungle man from Edgar Rice Burroughs’ famous story. You clip on, take hold of the vine (once you pluck up the courage), push off and tear through the trees.

Finally, there’s nowhere to go but down. A zip wire takes you screaming towards terra firma as you let out the obligatory “Geronimo!” With your feet back on safe ground, you glance back up at the 50ft drop that you stood atop only seconds before. One course down, four to go…

This is a far cry from the monkey bars, and it’s brilliant.

Tree Top Junior

If you have smaller children then don’t worry, Go Ape have got that covered too. While the main adventure requires a minimum age of 10, the Tree Top Junior lets your little monkeys join in on the fun. Here, they’ll be safely hooked in at all times on a significantly lower course and you can even climb up there with them.

Forest Segway Experience

At selected sites, you can also explore the forest on the latest in green technology – a self-balancing electric Segway. Climb on board a rugged all-terrain Segway and sail through the beautiful forest rails with ease.

Prices for the Tree-Top Adventure start at £25 per child and £31 for adults. To find your nearest Go Ape site and book, visit