Go Ape has opened its first ever course in London! Okay, it’s in Enfield, at the very northern end of the Piccadilly Line. It’s also in Trent Park, which is so vast and wooded that you feel like you’ve completely left the city. But I live in Wandsworth, buried deep in the heart of south-west London, and I made it door-to-door in an hour and a quarter. I’ve had longer commutes – haven’t we all?
If you’ve never heard of Go Ape, it’s a series of zip wires, Tarzan swings and platforms to be negotiated, way up in the treetops. You’re harnessed up with several safety lines, shown the ropes (so to speak) and then left to scamper round the park and swing through trees (yodelling optional) to your heart’s content.
Sound fairly straightforward, and a lot of fun? Well, after the safety demonstration and the explanation of how the gear works, it is both of those things. It’s also absolutely terrifying.
Not necessarily in a bad way, you understand, but I’ve never had a problem with heights and yet as I stood on the tiny platforms circling the trees 40 feet off the ground (12.4m at the highest point, to be accurate) and prepared to just step off into empty air, I definitely experienced some queasiness. And navigating your way across wooden-bridged obstacle courses way up high is even harder – at least with swings and zip wires you don’t have to do anything more than jump. You’re harnessed in, yes, but you still wouldn’t want to fall (I’ve fallen off a mountain in a harness before, and it’s not a comfortable experience).
And yet, within about half an hour, it gets easier. You become remarkably blasé about scrambling up ladders which are 20 feet high and about three inches wide. Positively nonchalant about plunging into the abyss before colliding with nets – in fact, as a result of having fast people in front of us and slow people behind, we were even able to do a sneaky loop and go back for seconds on that one.
Physically, I was hurting afterwards – arms and inner thighs in particular – and because I was foolish enough to forget my gloves, which were strongly recommended in advance by Go Ape, my hands feel as though they’ve been sanded. But it’s a good pain – a you-don’t-swing-through-the-trees-often-enough pain.
They don’t mess around here – you have to be a certain weight, a certain height and a certain age, and they stress continuously that this is a high risk activity and if you don’t want to plummet to your death you’d better be very careful. To this, I would add that if you know you don’t do well with heights then this is probably one to avoid – or the perfect activity for you if you’re into facing your fears. But if you have an adventurous spirit, then this is great fun, something a bit different and you can spend hours here if you like. Trent Park, too, is a great place for a picnic, so make a day of it.
Go Ape Trent Park is open from now until the end of October, closed on Tuesdays during term time.
Go Ape! Trent Park
Tel: 0845 643 92 15 or book online