Go Ape!, for those unacquainted with corporate adventure days, stag parties and other high adrenaline nonsense, is an adventure centre where participants are encouraged to complete, what can only be described as, a high tree top assault course.
We set off at high noon on Friday 24th of October 2008 on a warm and pleasant autumn day with no sign of the torrential rain storms that the weatherman had promised.
There were 13 of us in total made up mostly of sales staff from the cruise and ski call centres, as well as some from quality assurance, finance and IT.
Our destination was the Forest of Dean, across the River Severn to the western part of the county of Gloucestershire. The journey was pleasant enough as the conversation in the car ranged from how to succeed in the workplace (thick skin and rubber underwear) to whether or not we believed in Fate.
We were greeted by some very enthusiastic staff, full of smiles and jokes as the centre staff attempted to calm the nerves of some of the more anxious members of our group. This was promptly undone as we wasted no time in winding each other up about the difficulty level and the expected dizzying heights of the course.
After a comprehensive safety demonstration, repeat after me ‘the long one loves the tree’, and a practice on an obstacle 2 feet off the ground we set off ready to face whatever challenges might come our way.
The course is made up of 4 zones, each one more challenging than the last. Meaning the height increases as the obstacles become more daring. Obstacles include a network of rope bridges, trapezes, zip slides and cargo nets.
Before we knew it we found ourselves swinging from a perfectly safe platform into a cargo net across a 20ft drop, followed by our first zip slide.
Although instructors were to be found at certain key points and patrolling below, we were responsible for our own safety as we made our way around the course. As a result, I lost count the number of times I checked and re-checked my safety gear before leaping across the void or set off down a zip line for the first time.
Landing at the bottom of the zip line goes one of two ways. The first, you land facing forwards and gently almost gracefully absorbing the impact by running the last few feet. The second, much more likely (especially when everyone is watching), involves a reverse approach vector. By using your bum as a break copious amounts of woodchips find their way down the back of your shirt and undies before you’re finally thrown about like a rag doll against the stopper at the end of the line.
The first zone completed, only 3 more to go!
To be fair you do get more practiced on the zip lines and using the safety gear very quickly becomes second nature. We quickly got used to the height and each obstacle completed added to our sense of satisfaction. As our confidence grew, so did our enjoyment.
At certain points around the course you can choose from two paths, easy or hard. Often the harder path involves a little more strength and daring to cross. The most exhilarating of the hard paths was toward the end of the final zone. At the highest point on the course there is the biggest rope swing you’ve ever seen!
Needless to say most of us had a go, the initial drop followed by a speedy swing into a cargo net was too much to resist and it certainly gave everyone a big thrill, a big smile and a big scream!
We wrapped up the day with a Barbeque, a few drinks and a few more laughs as we swapped stories of our favorite bits and speculated to the identity of ‘Chief Gorilla’, whose identity to this day is still unknown…
On behalf of Virgin Holidays Cruises I’d like to say a big thank you to the team at Go Ape! and to the guys I spent the day with. I know many of us will go back as ‘old pros’, if for no other reason than to have another go on that big rope swing.
- Shiver Me Timbers! Gorgeous hot, sunny day, free-flowing top-shelf drinks, and clear...