Our adrenaline filled anniversary: monkeying around at GO APE!

This weekend on Saturday the 13th of June we celebrated our second wedding anniversary. It’s pretty hard to get our heads around the fact that it has been 2 years since our amazing wedding in New York City! We have had so many adventures together since then, seen and done some awesome things that and really can’t wait to see what the future has in store for us. To celebrate we decided to do what we do best: Excitement, adventure and adrenaline! We had wanted to give Go Ape a go for a while so thought what better day to be monkeying around high in the trees! Here’s our adrenaline filled anniversary!!

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We initially had plans to go Kayaking this weekend and have some lessons with an old friend but those plans fell through at the last minute (hopefully back on soon!) Then we wondered what to do, of course we could go climbing but we do that every weekend so we wanted to do something a little different but still action packed.

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We have our eyes on doing the via ferrata over in the Lake District at Honister slate mine on Fleetwood pike, but the weather looked unstable for the weekend and we didn’t fancy risking driving all the way over there and paying £80 for it to be a wash out (but we do have plans for this next month now!)

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But for a while now we have wanted to do a “Go Ape” course. For a few reasons we had never gotten around to going before. I think part of it was that we thought it might be too tame or that we would feel patronised as climbers. But some of our friends have been and loved it so we thought this would be the perfect time to have a go!

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What is Go Ape?

Well, it’s kind of like an obstacle course consisting of zip lines, amazing leaps, precarious rope bridges, swinging logs and unstable rings which you have to navigate high in the trees above! There are 28 sites in the UK and each one has a unique course. We decided to go for the one at Rivington near Bolton as it is the closest one to our home in Manchester.

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Our Tree Top Adventure!

As climbers we had a good idea of how it would work and how the various rope systems would keep you safe so we picked up the safety brief a little faster than the rest of the group. Having said that it really is quite easy and if you follow the golden rule of always having at least one point connected at all times is it totally safe too.

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We were a little nervous before hand…not because we were scared, pretty much the opposite actually! We were worried it would be a little too tame and not scary enough for us, not to brag but as climbers you get used to being a height and also in situations where you are not necessarily 100% safe. Whether that be from a ground fall or just a nasty swinging “whipper” where you will end up smashing off the rock face at speed should you slip!

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We also didn’t want to feel patronised either, of course we take safety seriously as climbers but also know how all this equipment works too. There is also the very real danger of getting a little too comfortable at heights and not paying enough attention or over looking something!

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But as soon as we turned up we found that the atmosphere was pretty chilled, of course they are very rigorous when it comes to safety, but much more laid back than we expected at the same time. I think this really added to our enjoyment of the day to be honest.

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We expected to be almost baby sat by an instructor all the way around the course who would check everyone and everything. But actually once on the course you are left to your own devices with just a scattering of Go Ape employees on the forest floor should anyone need any assistance.

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Of course, like anything once you are up in the trees it does feel higher than it looked on the ground. I wouldn’t say at any point we were nervous or scared, but instead thrilled! In the end it wasn’t tame at all, it was challenging in parts and a real adrenaline rush in others. Some where more chilled out but generally it was just really good fun!

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I think when you hit that point of not being scared of heights, but at the same time not being blasé about them you find that sweet spot where you can really enjoy things like this and the buzz they give you. The big Tarzan swing is a great example of knowing you are 100% safe but still taking a breath before jumping off the platform! One of the instructors below told us it “Gives you just enough free fall to make you think you have done something wrong!”… that’s our kind of day out right there!

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Highlight:

We spent a good 3 hours exploring the whole course and really felt we got our moneys worth. The fact you are left on your own for us made it so much more enjoyable too. Of course the obstacles which stand our for us have to be the massive zipline over the lake, we loved it so much that we sneaked around and got back on that section of the course again in-between groups! It was pretty spectacular flying over the water at speed!

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The of course the Tarzan Swing into the cargo net, I would say that the zip line was the most thrilling, but the Tarzan swing definitely the biggest adrenaline rush! This is where you have to jump off the high platform into thin air and wait for the rope to catch you before slamming into the netting down below! The ringed walk way was also pretty cool as it was quite a challenge trying to get your feet into those rings as they swung about!

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It’s also pretty cool how the course is slip up into sections, each one ending in a zip line too. We initially thought you would be up in the air the whole time but this means that if you need the loo half way around or want to take a break you can do…and it also means more zip lines and for us the chance to nip around and complete the section with the largest zip line again!

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What could be better

Each group only has half an hour between setting off and some folks can be quite slow. Despite being at the front of our group we ended up behind some kids at the end of the last one who took their time! In the end it’s not too bad and didn’t spoil the experience but it would be awesome to do the course uninterrupted by queues, part of it is probably because it was a weekend!

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The place itself is not very well sign posted either and we drove past it a few times, as did quite a few other people!! If you are going to Rivington then head for “Great house barn” its just behind the carpark there!

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How to visit for yourself!!

There are 28 sites all over the UK and even some in the US too. Most of the sites are in the south of the UK but there are some great ones up here too. Each one is different and once you complete one course you get a 15% discount for your next trip so you can try out one of the others. They also offer Segway tours at selected sites and smaller courses for the younger kids too.

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Booking

To avoid disappointment it is usually wise to book in advance with Go Ape as it can be quite popular, especially on the weekends. You can book online and it’s really easy and straightforward. You don’t even need to print out your confirmation page either, just tell them your name and time when you turn up (we did jot our confirmation number down just in case but didn’t need it). You can also book on the phone and also at the sites themselves.

Here’s the link to book a place:

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Cost:

Adult (16+) – £31.00
Child (10-15, over 1.5m) – £25.00

Initially one of the reasons we hadn’t visited was cost, we thought it seemed a little on the expensive side but after having an amazing day and spending a good 3 hours on the course it does seem like you get your moneys worth. You also get a 15% off voucher each for your next time after you finish the course!

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Overall

We had a fantastic day out swinging about in the trees to celebrate our second wedding anniversary. It was just great fun, nothing too scary but not too tame either and some real heart racers as well! The staff were all really friendly and informative too, we never felt like they were over our shoulders all the time or patronising. We had a great day out together and would highly recommend it!

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Check out our video!

Final reflections


We ended up then doing a bit of climbing on a crag not too far from here, having a wonderful meal together and watching Jurassic World at the cinema on the Sunday! A wonderful weekend reflecting on two years of adventures. Sometimes it’s hard to believe what we have managed to do in those past two years. We have been to Japan, Ukraine, Poland, Ireland (twice), Northern Ireland, Chester, Wales, Scotland, Slovakia and Austria. We have scaled mountains, ridges and climbed peaks together, we have abseiled, gone canyoning and been slacklining! We have rented out our house to go travelling and experienced some of the most amazing places around the globe in those two years….

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Next year? We will be on our journey around the world, who knows where we will be celebrating!

Here’s us on our wedding day on 13 June 2013, read all about our amazing day here:
We got married in NEW YORK!

You can also read what we got up to for our first wedding anniversary last year when we took a day trip to wonderful Chester

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Nicola Hilditch-Short

Nic is one half of the Roaming Renegades, a passionate traveller, climber, adventurer, photographer and artist who has a B.A in Fine Art and M.A in Design & Art Direction.