Spending time outdoors is my favourite thing to do at the weekend, but what I do when I’m outdoors involves all kinds of different activities. I recently spent the afternoon at Go Ape in Rivington, one of the popular tree top adventure courses that have cropped up all over the UK (and in fact abroad, too).
Go Ape, Rivington. Thanks Jenni for the photo of me smiling!
This wasn’t my first experience of Go Ape. I went along to Sherwood Pines as their guest a couple of years ago with my sister to try it out (read about it here). Before that I’d done high ropes at an independently run centre in Lincolnshire a number of times, and loved it, and always wondered if Go Ape would be less fun as it was more corporate. But on that day I learnt that there was a lot of freedom to enjoy the different tree top crossings at your own pace, and some of them were a real challenge even to someone who is happy to trust the safety equipment and run along crossings and jump off platforms without much thought.
This time I booked to do the course at Rivington with friends Jenni and Dave on a Sunday afternoon. We’d been camping in Lancashire with VARTA (read about that here), and spotted that it was close by, so booked a session before we came home. Thankfully the weather on Sunday afternoon was nothing like it had been all weekend, and so while it was good and muddy underfoot, it was not raining and wasn’t actually too cold despite being March.
The Go Ape at Rivington is based in the woodland that surrounds the Rivington Reservoir, which looks like it would make a lovely day out even without the tree top adventure. There are rugged hills, picturesque reservoirs and woodland bustling with wildlife – lovely. There is a café and public toilets close by, and plenty of free parking. On arrival we signed our lives away on the usual forms, were kitted out with our harness, and had the intricacies of “always stay attached” explained to us. After trying out our skills on the supervised and low-to-the-ground course, we were allowed to make our way to the course proper and enjoy all the different challenges at our own pace.
Always stay attached.
The course at Rivington is split into five sections, each starting with a ladder and ending with a zip line. There are all kinds of crossings to get you between the trees once you are up in the canopy, from simple bridges made from wood and rope, fixed lines and wobbly ones, sometimes with hand rails and sometimes without. When given the option, the three of us decided to go for the most challenging route because, well, why not. One of those most challenging crossings included some dangling rings that you’re supposed to put your feet in – not quite impossible but certainly hugely difficult!
The one thing about Go Ape that I don’t really like are the Tarzan swings into the rope nets. On a previous high ropes experience, when I was a lot younger, a good friend got herself caught up in the rope net, and as the swing took her back out away from the net she dislocated her knee and ended up hanging upside down in complete agony. While the rope swing itself is no bother to me, I love the feeling of falling (within the confines of the safety equipment of course!), I’m always a little tense when it comes to grabbing hold of the net. I think I’m allowed that! But it really is fine and I didn’t really have anything to worry about.
Thanks Jenni for the photo.
Of course my favourite part of the course, as most people will say I’m sure, are the zip lines. There is one in particular that I loved here at Rivington; the zip line over the lower Rivington Reservoir – the only one like it at Go Ape in the UK. It might only skirt over the edge in reality, but it definitely feels like you are whizzing over the water. So much fun. It’s a shame you can’t just go and do that over and over again!
My Go Ape adventure, officially called “tree top adventure”, cost me £32 and took around two hours from start to finish. After the initial safety briefing and check, you are allowed to head off onto the course in your small group and, as long as you follow the guidance provided, will be perfectly safe on your own. The advice “always stay attached” is absolutely key, but not difficult to adhere to. The staff were excellent and the course well maintained, and we even came away with a certificate – so if this is on your bucket list you can prove it!
Yes, this happened! Thanks Jenni for the photo.
A number of people have asked me about what to wear when doing Go Ape. I recommend clothing that you’re not bothered about getting muddy, as you will almost certainly land on your bum and back from at least one of the zip lines. Oh, and wear shoes with grippy soles that you are happy to lace up properly so that you have a good footing on the crossings and don’t risk losing your footwear when whizzing through the air.
If you are worried about the height or the safety side of things, you are definitely wise to test out the harness on that low-to-the-ground bit right after the safety briefing. Simply have a sit down in it half way along the crossing, you will feel how the harness works and know exactly what will happen if you lose your footing later on in the course.
I thoroughly enjoyed the course at Rivington, it was a great way to spend a couple of hours on a Sunday afternoon. It definitely lived up to my expectations from doing the Sherwood Pines courses a couple of years ago, and I would very happily book onto any other course in the UK based on these two encounters with the company.
Happy days! Thanks Jenni for the photo.
It seems I can’t get enough of tree top adventures, as I have booked to try out the one at Center Parcs Elveden at our holiday there in a few weeks’ time. I’m hoping that the one there is equally as fun. I’ll let you know.
Find out more about Go Ape and book your own Tree Top Adventure on their website.