Meltdown in the tunnels of terror
‘Jason, I CANNOT DO IT!’ I holler. He is looking at me in abject horror, as I cling to the wall, trying desperately not to look down, images of me slipping to a gory death racing through my mind. My legs are shaking so badly, I can barely lift my feet, much less take the leap of faith onto the chain stretching across the chasm ahead. Jason is trying his best to calm me, but I’ve entered the land of irrational thought, as tears start to well in my eyes and I enter meltdown in the tunnels of terror!
I’m urging Jason to return to the zipwire platform, so I can take the walk (or zip) of shame and return to solid ground. There, my pulse can return to normal and I will avoid the heart attack which is clearly heading my way if I do not calm down. Evidently the staff are well versed in dealing with panics, as I’m semi conscious of someone whispering to Jason, trying to determine if I am a lost cause or just a drama queen.
Taking the first step
Taking a deep breath, I fix my face to the rock and gingerly slither a foot onto the thick chain. Slowly, I inch along the wall, clipping and unclipping myself from the safety wires. I’m fully aware that these are fool-proof clipits, that even in the midst of full blown panic, I cannot hurtle to my death, but that knowledge is doing little to calm my frayed nerves. My hands are shaking, my mouth feels dry and blood is thundering through my head. It takes an iron will not to have a complete toddler tantrum.
Sometimes blissful ignorance really is the best policy. If I had actually bothered to check out what I was letting myself in for in the Zipworld Caverns, I might have opted for something tamer. I wouldn’t say I’m especially terrified of heights, but I sure don’t like enclosed spaces and this adventure encompasses heights, tunnels of terror and Indiana Jones style hazards in gleeful abandon. Think rope bridges, tightrope walking and an abundance of zip platforms, intermingled with suspended platforms, eerie lighting and mystical shadows.
I don’t think my pulse descended below critical level for the whole two hours I was attached to my clipits, and I must have burned a day’s calories with the leg shaking alone. I certainly made up for the lack of squeals on Titan, with deafening screams during this activity. Only mildly embarrassing, considering the way the two young lads in front are practically scampering over the rocks ahead.
With hands shaking and a steely purpose, I zigzag from side to side across the cathedral-like cave. Terrified screams accompany each slide, but worse is to come. We descend into a tunnel which ends overlooking a sheer drop. The only way out is a tightrope with hand ropes hanging across the chasm. I tiptoe precariously across, holding my breath, wondering if this experience can get any worse.
Yay, I practically clap with glee as I make it safely to the other side. What follows becomes a blur, as tunnels connect to zipwires, zipwires to perilous foot rings hammered into the cave walls and Indiana Jones inspired bridges lead to ever smaller tunnels.
It’s just one nightmare after another. Whoever designed this incredible maze of tortures really knew how to thrill and terrify in equal measure. The cool lighting is however a welcome distraction.
Temple of doom
A ladder descends into a hole in the ground which leads to a tiny stone platform. From there, a rope walkway climbs up to a series of tiny tunnels and I find myself clambering through them on hands and knees, furiously trying to clip and unclip myself. I feel like I’m in a scene from the Temple of Doom, with one obstacle after another testing my sanity.
And then we emerge into the huge chamber where we began our journey. I sigh with relief, my heartbeat returning to normal, thankful to be alive. Even the pouring with rain cannot dampen my spirits as we emerge from the bowels of the earth.
There’s no denying, I spent the bulk of my experience praying I would make it out without injury. Yes, I feel a sense of achievement for conquering my fear (ok, maybe not quite conquering, but at least taming it!) and I quite enjoyed the zipwires once I figured out how to avoid bashing into the wall, or tumbling to my death. There’s one large cave with a few long zipwires and they were hugely thrilling, especially when combined with the colourful lighting creating eerie shadows and artistic effects.
This is an experience ideal for adventurous types, hen and stag parties, team bonding sessions and slightly wussy forty somethings on a mission to live life to the max. The creativity of the team who built this master piece is nothing less than awe inspiring and I take my hats off to the plentiful staff who were quick to provide help and advice with endless smiles.
Cost: £60 per person and worth every damn penny for the pleasure of scaring myself to death!
Disclaimer: Please note my knee shaking experience was as a guest of Zipwire caverns but all opinions are honest and truthful. As much as I would like to say I thoroughly enjoyed every moment, most of it was sheer hell. Here’s what my husband Jason thought though: ‘It was incredibly well organised and a truly exhilerating experience. It was great fun and a much longer experience than I imagined.‘