Go Ape

Highlight in The New Forest

Forest Adventure

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

Additional Price Comments

Go Ape costs £30pp per course, Segways £25pp per hour.

Last updated on 22-10-2012

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