16 August 2018

Going Ape... Again!

I love doing anything adventurous and I love the outdoors, so something like Go Ape is the perfect day out for me. It's all outdoors, there's a lot of adrenaline filled obstacles and the views you get, well they are stunning!

If you read my blog, then you might know that I've worked with Go Ape before here on hiyaitsashley. Back in November of 2016 I took on there Treetop Adventure course in Aberfoyle, which you can read all about here, and to this day it has been one of the best experiences of my life so far! So when the lovely people over at Go Ape and BIG Partnership reached out with an offer to review them again, I jumped at the chance! This time, I chose to take on their course in Glentress Forest in Peebles.

Just like the when I went to the Aberfoyle course, the trip to the location was a big plus for me. As someone who loves nature, and is keen to see more of Scotland, having the site be set in the beautiful Glentress Forest in Peebles is a great choice. For me it was only a short drive of around an hour away, taking in the beautiful surrounding scenery. It was raining pretty heavy on the day, but even wet the course was still just much fun. I would even say it added a little more to the experience for me!

This time when I went along I took my two younger sisters, Nicola and Lisa, with me to experience what Go Ape has to offer. Just like last time, the day began with some general housekeeping and health and safety practices. We were given a set of rules and guidelines to read over first, then as always, we have to sign a disclaimer to acknowledge that you are taking part in a high risk activity. One thing that I liked, was that when you have a child under a certain age, you have to sign for them and take them around the course, so it's clear that they take health and safety serious, especially when kids are involved.

After all of that is out the way its time to get fitted with a harness. At Go Ape, you are responsible for your own safety on the course and there are no instructors in the actual course, just dotted around, so after you get harnessed up you have to go through a safety talk when an instructor will show you and explain exactly how to safely use the equipment and the course.

At the base, there is also a small practice route for you to use. Before you are even allowed onto the first stage you have to go through this practice round and bee approved by the instructor, who will show you any mistakes you make and show you the right way to do it, to make double sure that you are able to use the equipment properly and safely when you are on the course unsupervised.

Lastly for the safety precautions, after we were cleared from the practice the instructor went over the safety demonstration again and showed us with his own equipment how to use the course safely. I personally loved that, because even thought I had been before and know everything that he was saying, I found that it was so professional that they had so much care going into visitor safety before you are even allowed onto their course. It also made me feel more confident knowing that my sisters were going to be safe, and new properly how to use the equipment as well.

The staff were extremely helpful right from the start, they would help adjust anyone's harness who needed a tighten, and would answer any questions that you had. It really helped make us feel secure and safe in what we were.

Once all of the safety elements where covered, it was time to begin the adventure!

There are 6 zones for you to tackle on the Glentress Forest course, however the first zone is more of a practice round to go you used to being off of the ground than anything else, which I personally think is a great thing. I had been before to a Go Ape course, so even thought I had butterflies, I knew I would be fine, but I knew that having this little mini stage with just two very basic obstacles would help a lot of the people who were feeling nervous, and it did! I know that once both of my sisters had completed the mini stage, any nerves they had had been quelled!

The Glentress Forest course is build into the hillside, so to get to this stage you have to climb up a fairly step winding hill, which to be honest I found to be the most out of breath I was all day! I'm not the fittest person around by any means, but this year I wouldn't say i was necessarily unfit either, but boy that was a steep hill!

This mini stage is simple, a quick climb up a small rope ladder, cross the wire and zip down a mini zip line! It was only maybe 10 or 12 feet of the ground, so it was the perfect taster! For this stage the instructor was also with you, he went up first to again demonstrate how to move across the course safely, and then had a volunteer come up. He stayed on the platform until we had all crosses the zip line, making sure everyone was following the rules and being safe! Our instructor was absolutely lovely, but he was strict too, and if you weren't listening or following the proper precautions he let you know!

Stage 2 was the one I had been dreading the most, but it ended up being one of my favourite stages. If you read my previous post you would know all about my one nemesis when it comes to these courses; the tarzan swing. We tried to make it work last time at Aberfoyle but in the end after struggling with the first one, then getting completely stuck on the second one, it just wasn't meant to be, and I did not like it.  I'll be honest, part of me considered just skipping zone 2 altogether. But I didn't, I still gave it a go!

Stage 2 had 6 obstacles in total, and they fairly simple ones to get you into the swing of things! There was a simple wooden crossing, a rope crossing, then some simple knots and crosses. Then it was time for... it. Both myself and Lisa were fairly worried about. Luckily, our instructor was underneath zone 2 supervising the zip line landing site, so he talked us through it and was super encouraging. Believe me, you don't realise how hard it is to swing into a rope wall and then climb it with nothing sturdy for support, until you have to do it!

But I did it, and to be honest I was really proud of myself because I was adamant I wasn't doing it after the last time, but I got over that fear and done it! So a huge shoutout to our instructor for taking the time to guide both of us through that with minimal panic! I actually think after that I would be able to take on the tarzan swings, just maybe not the larger ones! After that it was another crossing over to the next zip line, and on we went  onto stage three.

Stage three was an amazing stage but had by far one of the hardest obstacles of the day. They were essentially wooden Xs you had to walkl across with nothing more that ropes to balance with. It looks easy, but again its only rope you have to keep these wooden Xs in the air, and for you to keep upright. And unlike solid wod or metal, if you lose your balance then the rope move with you, so unless you help onto the connected wire like I did, you had nothing to balance with!

After that it was plain sailing and some these obstacles were some of my favourites! There was the good old wooden tunnels from Aberfoyle, then a tightrope crossing which was new, and so was the next zip line, which was by far one of my favourites. This one had a skateboard that you could ride on, 30ft in the air while you zip lined, how amazing it that? Definitely one of my highlights!

Stage four was a good one, it had log swings and an obstacle where you had to keep both sides balanced at once to cross. And of course, the big tarzan swing!

Luckily as this one was the bigger one, there was an alternative route you could take to bypass it. Nicola was brave enough to take it on, but of course, Lisa and I skipped it and took the slightly easier route which had you cross the tress by hanging in the air and pulling yourself with a rope, then crossing a rope bridge.

After that was another one of the pretty difficult obstacles, crossing a log bridge... with logs that spun as you walked on them! Luckily for us, Nicola discovered a little hack to get us across smoothly though. Then it was another zip wire onto the final obstacle stage.

Stage five was the final stage that had obstacles to complete, and it was the one that had a few of the hardest obstacles in my opinion. Luckily, some of the really tough ones were ones you could take another route on.

It started off deceptively easily, with a simple wooden log bridge. Then came the choice of crossing on nothing but metal hoops then taking a big jump from one tree to another (the very hard route) or crossing on nothing but rope loops then a length of wire (the slightly easier route). We all ended up taking the slightly easier route for this one, there was no way I could have key my balance on the metal rings!

After that came another wooden crossing, then a twisty bridge that turned itself in the opposite direction as you crossed it, and a wall of ropes just like the netting for the tarzan swing. This one gave us some challenges but we figured out that instead of trying to cross it, it's easier to just dangle between the trees in your harness, and use the knotted as a pulley system!

To end stage 5 you go to take one the largest of the courses zip lines, which took you across the entire Glentress Forest valley, all the trees and the water down below. That was by far one of the highlights of my day, the view was absolutely breathtaking.

To finish up your Go Ape adventure, zone 6 is a simple one, all you have to do is zip wire back across the valley to zone 2, and your done! This one was a little smaller than the previous one, but had beautiful views nonetheless!

Once we had done that, all that was left was to to take a short walk back to the Go Ape headquarters, were one of the staff was kind enough to take out picture for us, before we got unharnessed and could breathe easy again!

We even got adorable little certificates at the end to congratulate us on completing the course which I thought was the cutest touch. I still have my one from the Aberfoyle course tucked away, as it is a nice little keepsake, and it is good for anyone who, like me last time, was a bit wary of taking their phones up into the course with them, as it gives them a little something!

Just like last time I was left with such a buzz and rush of adrenaline after my day at Go Ape. I said back then that Go Ape was 100% one of the best experiences of my life, and even now I definitely still agree. I loved getting to experience all of the different obstacles that Glentress Forest had to offer compared to Aberfoyle, and I would definitely return. I mean, we hadn't even made it off of the grounds and my sister's were suggesting we go back sometime to Aberfoyle so they can try it out!

In my opinion, it's a definite must from any thrill seeker or adrenaline junkie! So far I've taken on 2 of the 3 courses in Scotland, and I'm going to make it my mission to complete all 3! Once again a huge thank you to Go Ape and BIG Partnership for making this happen, and if any of you want to see more photos from the day as well as some video clips you can find them on my Instagram page under the hiyaitsashley highlight.

Have you ever been to Go Ape, or somewhere similar? Are you a thrill seeker or adrenaline junkie? Tell me below in the comments!

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