I step nervously onto a sliver of wood slung across the chasm between two towering trees. Small planks, joined by plastic coated steel ropes, sway perilously from side to side, as I try to navigate the ‘twisted bridge’. It’s a cautious dance between sections, as I frantically try to shift my weight and limbo beneath the steel cable to avoid being flung from the treetops. Thank god for those sessions with my personal trainer, as I have to combine strength, core balance and flexibility. Forget any notions of graceful acrobatics or monkeys scampering through the trees however. I’m more like the Incredible Hulk lumbering ungainly across a tightrope.
Jason tries to guide me, suggesting ways to distribute my weight, but as my foot slips from the wood, I release a scream fit to start an avalanche. I somehow manage to sway, swing and step safely onto the opposite platform, and release my breath.
High ropes course
The ‘twisted bridge’ is the penultimate challenge in our Go Ape Adventure. Jason and I have spent almost two and a half hours climbing trees, navigating tightropes, swaying footbridges, nets and tunnels, all high above the beautiful landscape of Cannock Chase in Staffordshire. This obstacle is just one of many pulse racing crossings.
The Tarzan swing is another, but this is one of the first Tarzan challenges. Barely out of Tarzan school, I take a leaping jump from the platform and whizz through the air into a large, sprawling net. After a loud screech, I scramble awkwardly onto the platform with my knees shaking.
We go on to navigate the adrenaline packed course, with a mind-boggling array of different obstacles. From swings to rope walls, to highly unstable, rocking rope ways. I definitely have moments where my legs shake so much I feel like I’m on a power plate. (Thankfully, I don’t have a total meltdown like I did when we did Zipworld caverns!)
You will certainly get value for money, as the Cannock Chase high ropes course ‘has the longest combined length of crossings of any Go Ape location.’ It offers nearly 1,500 metres of suspended tree crossings. Each has clear instructions, reminding you to ‘stay attached at all times’, and there’s also clear pictures on each tree. These show you where to put your equipment, and once you have done your practice run with an instructor, it’s pretty easy.
There’s often a choice of routes, so daredevils can take the extreme option, while those a little less confident can opt for more sedate options. Even though I am a wuss, I couldn’t resist opting for the harder routes!
My favourite bits are of course the zip wires. Each of the five courses ends with a wire, one of which is a whopping 260m long. The sensation of floating, with the wind whistling through my hair, and my feet skimming the forest, is pure ecstasy. Be warned however, the landing is rather less graceful, despite Sarah our instructor, giving us very specific instructions on how to slow our landing.
We had an absolutely fantastic morning at Go Ape, and I really felt like the course was a great ‘fear factor’ challenge in a controlled environment. The instruction at the outset was excellent and everything was very clearly signposted. I can’t wait to return but next trip, we will bring the kids, as it would make a perfect family outing.
What you need to know
Go Ape gets very busy at weekends, so be sure to book in advance. If you book before 8th July, you can take advantage of a 20% discount on your high ropes Tarzan experience. Book between 22nd July and 3rd September 2018 and keep the kids amused in the school holidays. See full Terms and conditions on the Go Ape website.
Allow two to three hours for your adventure. We are reasonably fit and strong, and took almost 2.5 hours to complete the course. If you are travelling with children, you may need to allow more time to help them.
Treetop Junior Course
Children over ten can take part in the main treetop adventure, but fear not, the young ones do not need to miss out either. There is a treetop junior course for all ages, subject to meeting the minimum height restriction of 1 metre. Take note, there are strict ratios for adults to children so please read all the rules before you book. Adults have to accept responsibility for children under sixteen, meaning you are responsible for the safety of your mini tribe.
Corporate days out
Go Ape also offer corporate team building days and although that kind of thing often brings me out in a cold sweat (after all, who really wants to make a tit of themselves in front of their work colleagues?) I actually think it would be great fun (unless you are terrified of heights).
Other things to do in Cannock Chase
This forest offers outdoor enthusiasts access to endless miles of running and mountain biking trails, the ‘Forest Segway’, orienteering courses and of course Go Ape. Just 20 miles from Birmingham, it feels like an enchanted forest, a million miles from city chaos.
If you want to stick around and make a weekend of it, Hotels.com offers a number of options available within a short driving distance of Cannock Chase.
Have your say
Have you ever visited Go Ape and tried the high ropes course? If so, I would love to hear what you thought.