It’s been a while since I properly gave myself time for me. A while since I allowed myself to really disconnect, switch off, and actually live in the present. About a month ago, a trip to my local Go Ape in Haldon Forest changed that.
Having visited Go Ape only once when I was ten years old (twelve years ago now!), I was eager to visit again. And this time, I would be responsible for my own safety. There was no relying on my trusty, safety-conscious uncle this time. So, on a rather chilly Thursday morning, my sister and I, along with our boyfriends, packed into the car and drove down to Haldon Forest.
After signing the consent and safety forms, we harnessed up and headed over to the safety briefing area. For about twenty minutes, we learnt all about the different coloured carabiners and what they meant. We also learnt, and practiced, how to clip on and clip off the cords, as well as what to do when it was a zip-wire or a Tarzan swing. The important rule to remember was to always, always stay attached at any one time. When switching over carabiners from one wire to another, we had to always make sure that we did it one at a time and never simultaneously.
Satisfied by our performance in the session and believing that we now had the knowledge required to take the tree-top challenge alone, our friendly instructor led the way to the first section of the course.
The sun was beginning to shine brightly (which also meant warmth, yay for our poor fingers!). Climbing the ladder to the first point, we were nervous but excited. And then we were off! Once we got started, we couldn’t get enough. We crossed planks of wood metres above the ground, balanced on wooden blocks, swung through hoops and pulled ourselves across sections using our harness. You can see the video clips in my latest YouTube video.
The Go Ape Tree-Top Challenge is definitely a great way to live in the present. You have to focus on exactly what you are doing because you are in charge of your own safety! There’s also no real time for phones (apart from the occasional snap) as your hands are far too busy getting stuck in on the obstacle course.
The course at Haldon Forest has five separate sections, and each one ends with a long zip-wire (the best part). Spending what feels like forever gliding down steep zip-wires with the wind in your hair and the smell of trees around you is something that’s definitely underrated. Does it make you feel alive? Yes. Does it help relieve your stress and anxiety? Yes. Is it really, really fun? Hell yes.
The Tarzan jump was definitely one of my favourite parts of the Tree-Top challenge. You have to leap into a rope net, cling on and clamber across it to the next point. What they don’t tell you is how steep the drop is! I felt like I was on one of those rollercoasters that really makes your heart jump into your mouth. It’s so much fun though and I’d do it again in a heartbeat. You can see a clip of me doing the Tarzan jump below:
Not only is the Go Ape Tree-Top Adventure such a welcome break from life and general stress, but it also proved to be a great bonding activity. The four of us ended up laughing, giggling and helping each other out as we went along the course. Go Ape’s adventures are fun in themselves, but they are much more enjoyable when done with friends. You can also read about other ways to de-stress here.
When we finished, the only thing we all wanted to do was to do it all over again. Completing the Go Ape Haldon Forest Tree-Top Challenge was thoroughly enjoyable. It gave me the break that I truly needed. After we’d finished, I realised just how small the things that make you most happy can be. I’d been stressing over four mock exams and procrastinating as a result, and what I really needed wasn’t a break on my phone just to scroll aimlessly through Instagram. What I needed was something like Go Ape. Something that would give me time to breathe in the fresh air, take in beautiful views, have fun, and spend time with those close to me. I came away not just with a certificate from Go Ape Haldon Forest, but also with more motivation and inspiration to continue what I was doing.
If you’ve never been to Go Ape before, I highly recommend you find the nearest one to you and sign up!
If you have been before, let me know which site you visited and what your experience was. I’m keen to visit more around the country now.
Peace and love,