Highlight in The New Forest
Go Ape is billed as the UK’s number one Forest Adventure.
Taking a gulp of earthy air, I try to calm my nerves - but my insides are jelly. Heart pounding, I grip the tree trunk three storeys high, peering at the forest floor below. My ears prick at the sound of a primate’s howl. The beast is getting closer. With a thud, it lands on my branch and bounds over to me. ‘Isn’t this fun?’ grins the stranger.
Like me, the man is taking part in Go Ape, an obstacle course among a canopy of trees in Moors Valley Country Park, close to the New Forest in Hampshire.
Following a safety briefing, my partner and I can complete the two-hour course at our own pace. Helmets aren’t provided, but as I’m secured with two safety harnesses, there’s no way I can fall.
It starts off easy - a wobbly bridge here, a tightrope there. But soon I’m faced with my first real challenge: hurling myself from a platform 10 metres above ground - the height of a double-decker. Now I’m no acrophobe, but launching myself off proves too difficult, so I opt for the squat and shuffle technique instead. Not as glamorous, but it makes the safety harness tug around my rear and I feel like I’m sitting in a chair - so I kid myself I’m safer. Soon I’m swinging through the air like a baboon, before colliding with a web of rope. Clinging on, I heave myself across to the next platform. Tarzan I am not.
The rest of the course is a piece of cake. I soon get to grips with clipping my safety harnesses on and off around the 1,000 metre course, and when I fly down the longest zip line - 166 metres - and hear the echoes of an ape, I realise it’s me.
Keen for more adventure, we hop on Segways two-wheel electric vehicles which go up to 12mph - faster than it sounds when you realise they don’t have brakes. Donning helmets, we have a practice run to get the hang of maintaining our balance while manoeuvring the vehicles - you simply lean forward to go, back to stop and left or right to turn.
Before long we’re zipping along forest trails with our guide. I’m surprised how secure I feel; the sturdy tires don’t like puddles but they cope well with tree roots, so even though I’m concentrating I can appreciate my surroundings, too.
Segways make a change from riding a bike, but if you want to hire one the going rate is £15 a day, double for a tandem. There are plenty of firms to choose from, but consider Forest Leisure Cycling, in Burley village.
Sara Raven is a UK-based freelance Travel writer
|Reviewer's Rating||★ ★ ★ ★ ★|
|Type||Outdoor / Adventure|
|Suitable for||Couples, Friends|
Go Ape costs £30pp per course, Segways £25pp per hour.
Last updated on 22-10-2012