“ Go Ape / High wire forest adventure / Sherwood Pines Forest Park, Edwinstone, Nottinghamshire, NG21 9JH „
Last Christmas my parents got Mr Cupcake and I a voucher for Go Ape. My best friend had been with her husband and had recommended it to me but I hadn't mentioned it to my Mum so the voucher was a complete surprise.
We had originally planned to use the voucher after the school holidays as we thought it would be less busy. Until we noticed at the start of July it actually expired on the 2nd September - cue a bit of panic as we tried to find a date that suited us both.
When we had picked a date that we could both do, I rang the number on the voucher. A friendly woman then asked a few questions such as the ages of participants, which date, time slot and course we wanted to do.
We picked Sherwood Pines as this was the closest to us. Go Ape have over twenty courses scattered around the UK.
We needn't have worried about how busy it would be despite it being the school holidays as they only allow a maximum of fourteen people on each session.
For those that don't know Go Ape is a high wire activity that is set in a forest location. You have to make your way around an obstacle course set in the trees, this is made up of zip wires, ladders, rope bridges, wooden tunnels and walkways.
When you arrive you are given a harness, pulley and a karabiner (a D-shaped ring with a spring catch on one side, used for fastening ropes in mountaineering). A qualified instructor gives you a safety briefing, and you have a go at the obstacles at a low level.
Then you are let loose over the six sites at the Sherwood Pines course - your safety is in your own hands.
It was only really on the morning whilst we were on our way to Robin Hood's home that it suddenly dawned on me... I'm not that good with heights!! What on Earth was I doing going to something like this??
To get to the course you walk a little into the forest, I spotted some of the obstacles which did nothing to help ease my worries, and while I was being strapped into my harness the nerves were really kicking in.
When you're going through the initial instruction, the instructor (ours was John Jacques) ask if anyone is scared of heights. I raised my hand, looked about and oh great there were no other wimps like me!!
So we'd had our instruction session, John made sure that everyone knew what they were doing with the safety equipment and went up to anyone he thought wasn't doing it properly. Once he was satisfied we all knew what we were doing we were let loose in the forest.
The course has different "scariness" or difficulty levels, green, blue, red & black. Green is the easiest, blue is moderate, red is hard and black is extreme. Sherwood Pines only has one black level that I can remember.
There are six sites at Sherwood Pines with a total of 41 crossings. If you come to a red or black crossing there is an alternate option if you don't fancy doing these ones.
You are also able to miss out a site completely if you want.
I believe Sherwood Pines is the only course with six crossings and the others have five.
At each crossing you are given some information about the crossing such as the height and the difficulty level of it.
While you are going round the course the instructors are walking around and will come up to you or give you a shout if they see you doing something wrong. Anyone they see deliberately breaking the rules will be removed and not allowed to participate any more.
You have to remember that you are really high up at points, this is not a place you want to be messing around and not taking your own safety seriously.
Despite my wimpiness when it comes to heights there was only one part of the course where I opted for the easier option of the two, this was on section one. Where I could cross over some swinging planks of wood or crawl through a wooden tunnel. As it was near the beginning of the course and I was still feeling a bit scared I opted for the tunnel.
There was another crossing I think which was site four where it was a choice of red or blue. The red option was a trapeze crossing which was about 6 metres up, the trapezes were quite long so swung a lot as you are trying to cross. I was umming and aaring over which way to go, but there were a few people waiting to come up onto the platform (you're only allowed three people on at a time) so Mr Cupcake told me to go for it. I got two in looked down, and tried to go backwards - this I found out is impossible and I had no choice but to carry on going.
I got to the end, I was almost hyperventilating and crying... but I was so chuffed with myself for doing it.
The only black section I can remember is on site 5 which is the Tarzan swing and eight metres up. You attach yourself to a large rope and leap off a ledge and swing into a huge cargo net, you then have to climb the net to get off of the crossing. You are given some excellent advice on this one - don't try and grab the net the first time you hit it as you thrown back off of it with the force.
My favourite crossings were definitely the zip wires and the longest one is 140m. They give you a few tips on the best way to land facing forward and with your feet. I thought it was more fun just to go for it and see which way round I landed. Mr Cupcake always seemed to land on his backside and was telling me he'd got lots of bark chippings in his pants!!
Although it rained while were going round it didn't ruin it all for us, I'd worn a rain jacket anyway. I've come to expect rain when going on a day out in England.
You are allowed to take a camera with you on the course (which I would recommend) but it should be secured to you by some means. I bought a Go Ape lanyard when we arrived.
It took us about two hours to complete the whole course.
I wouldn't say going to Go Ape has cured my fear of heights, but I feel it has definitely helped.
Oh and you get a certificate at the end!!
I'm hoping to back next month with a work friend.
You need a little bit of physical fitness, I'm not the fittest person in the world and didn't really struggle. Climbing the rope ladders is the most demanding part physically.
I could tell I'd done it the next day though.
Spectators can go for free and watch from the ground.
Parking at Sherwood Pines is £3 for the day but there are other activities to do if you still have the energy.
**Taken from Go Ape website**
Minimum age - 10yrs
Minimum height - 1.4m (4ft7")
Maximum weight - 20.5 stones (130kg)
The maximum number of participants per session is 14. Don't worry if you are going with more people; you can simply book more sessions to cater for the number of people you are going with.
At Go Ape we use harnesses to make sure you're nice and safe throughout your time on the course. The maximum waist measurement of the harness is 110cm and the leg loops (which go around the top of your thighs) is 70cm.
Under 18yr olds must be supervised by a participating adult.
Gorillas (18yrs+) from £25.00
Baboons (10-17yrs) from £20.00
Open daily 27th March - 31st October (closed Tuesdays term time) and weekends in November
Go Ape! Sherwood Pines
Sherwood Pines Forest Park
Follow brown tourist signs for Sherwood Pines Forest Park located off the B6030 between Ollerton and Clipstone. Please note that we are located at Sherwood Pines Forest Park and NOT the Sherwood Forest Visitor Centre.