It was mid-July when I asked my godson what he would like to do for his 9th birthday. I was fed-up of buying him clothes and games, could we have a day out instead, I asked? I can’t remember now whether Go-Ape was my idea or his, but on the one sunny day we had in mid-July this year, it didn’t seem to matter. Come a rainy, blustery Sunday morning in November, however, and things were a little less relaxed. I realised how bad the weather was when I asked my godson if he was going to have a shower before we left, “think I’m gonna get wet enough up those trees in the forest Aunty Katy”, came the reply. Mmm, thought I, as I peeled away to make a quiet phone call to Go-Ape, just to check if alongside the very blustery winds, the torrential rain might mean we ought to put it off for another day! “Not at all”, said the cheery man at the end of the phone…lightening and gales were not forecast today so there was no need at all to stay out of the trees(?!) Oh well, I had tried!
So, one nervous Mum/Aunty Katy, an up for it 9 year old godson and my, very, very cautious 6 year old daughter pulled on waterproofs and bobble hats and hopped into the car.
There was a road closure on the way and we got there over half an hour late but the very nice lady on the front desk told me not to worry we could still have our full allotted time up in the trees. Oh!
We had booked onto the tree top junior course, of which there is an easy and a more difficult section. The “easy” course, we completed with careful concentration and a few butterflies. At the end of the course comes the zip wire and, having asked the man to check our harnesses about 3 times, I jumped off the platform and to my complete surprise had sooooo much fun! The kids did too.
Enthused by his newly acquired primate skills, my 9 year old Godson decided he was “over” the easy course and it was time to try the harder one. Oh no, really?! I was sceptical as to whether it would really be suitable for a 6 year old little girl, but was reassured by a party of girls about that age who were happily beetling about the trees above us without any perceived difficulty. So my 6 year old and I nervously attached our harnesses to the higher, bigger and more “ape-ish” course and had negotiated the first log when I saw my 6 year olds face turn from white to grey (and then to green) as we reached a rope-bridge. Twenty foot up in the air attached only by a shoe-lace to a tree, the tears started to flow, then the shakes arrived and then… yes, you guessed it, she wanted to be sick. I had actually felt like doing all of those things myself so had no idea what to do next but with a queue of eager mini-apes and some adults ones too forming behind us, I didn’t have too much time to decide! No amount of cajoling or bribing from me was going to do it, she was not for moving. One of the Instructors below had obviously witnessed the commotion and with feet as sticky as spiderman climbed up to us in what felt like an hour but was probably in fact a second! He made arrangements for the queue of people behind us to turn and around and go back the way they had come and introduced himself to my sobbing 6 year old. He asked if he could attach her harness to his and if she would let him take her back to the beginning. With her still shaking and him walking backwards (!) he returned her to me on the ground.
To my amazement, after a cuddle, a drink of juice and a biscuit, she said she did want to have another go! We completed the course several times again, the Instructors having extended our time slots so that we hadn’t missed out on any time as a result of our little wobble.
Our visit to Go-Ape was a real success. Our tree-top rescue didn’t put me or my 6 year old off going again and in fact I think the way that the Instructors looked after her, probably gave her the confidence to try again. Despite the weather the 3 of us had great fun. It turned out to be a great way to spend a wet, blustery November morning, something I never thought I would say before we went.
Nb: Kate visited Go Ape as a guest however all views and opinions are her own.