To me there are pretty much two kinds of people who travel. There are those that just want to lounge on the beach and have the sea gently kiss their toes to keep them cool. They want a cocktail of all the colours of the rainbow by their side and they don’t want to think about work or responsibilities back home. On the other hand there are those that strap themselves up with every kind of sports, hiking or ski gear that they own and go off on their adventures for an action packed holiday full of adrenaline and danger. I’d like to think I’m somewhere in the middle but people that know me know full well that I’m not the latter. In fact any physical activity more challenging than walking doesn’t really agree with me.
We had booked to go to the Lake District for my partner’s birthday. We hadn’t really planned out what we were going to do except visit Lake Windermere since we were staying nearby and tackle a few of the walking routes, a pretty standard trip for anyone visiting the area I would guess. Very close to where we were staying was a ‘Go Ape’. If you’re unfamiliar with ‘Go Ape’ it is an adventure course which involves climbing over different wooden obstacles in the top of trees. There are zip wires and barrels to crawl through and things to jump onto, it’s very muddy and looked intense. We drove past it a number of times while we were going back and forth from our hotel, each time we saw people clambering above the forest floor meters and meters in the air. We toyed with the idea of doing it ourselves but could we really do it? Were we brave enough?
Well that is exactly what we did. We decided to go and try it out. After signing up we were led to a small clearing next to the forest. We got helmets strapped on and harnesses attached before a brief safety lesson, at this point I’m pretty sure I still didn’t know what I was doing but I thought it was best to go with the flow. We followed our instructor into the forest, now the trees towered above us, other groups were swinging from tree to tree through the series of complicated looking obstacles. One person jumped from her podium onto a net and I grew even more nervous, hoping that I wouldn’t have to do that. After a more detailed orientation I felt more confident and we were left to get on with the real course after a practise. Now those trees are higher than you think and with every breeze the wood moves from side to side taking you with it, your legs turn to jelly and I forget the unforgettable rule ‘don’t look down!’. The adrenaline starts pumping and I am motivated to take a step forward. I walk onto a rickety rope bridge. Images of Indiana Jones flash through my mind and I’m convinced it’s going to break, causing me to fall into a river full of alligators – ok maybe I’m being dramatic.
Slowly but steadily I make it to the end of the course and I am greeted with a zip wire. I attach myself to it and stand there for a minute and look around. The birds fly out of the trees right next to me as I am the same height as them. I build up the courage and step off the platform. Now I am gliding through the air. I feel like I could reach out and grab one of the rich green leaves from the branches of the trees. I gain speed. Faster and faster I cut through the sky, the wild blowing breeze refreshes me instantly. I feel like I could just keep flying through the forest like those birds I saw earlier, but I land at the other side of the forest. I slide through the mud as I slow down. My first thought is that I want to go again. I want to run across the fields, climb the tree, work through the course and jump from the podium over and over again!
After the course we took our gear off and went to the reception where we were given a certificate, which means I am now an official ‘Ape’ so if anyone questions it I have proof! I know that for most people the course wouldn’t be challenging at all, but for this guy with asthma who got picked last in P.E at high school every time it was out of my comfort zone. I think it brought something to my experience of the Lake District that I wasn’t expecting since it wasn’t planned. I guess that’s the message of the story. Don’t be afraid to try something different while you are away, it’s good to throw away the itinerary and do it freestyle!
If my readers want to explore ‘Go Ape’ adventures further I have included a link to their website. They offer a range of activities all over the UK! (This article was not written for promotion. I have just written about my experience doing something different in the Lake District.)