Go Ape! Glentress

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Neil Braidwood faces his fear and goes a little bit ape.

Go Ape! run several outdoor activity centres across the UK – three of which are in Scotland. We chose to go to Glentress near Peebles, to try out their tree-top adventure.

I say “chose”, but in reality I was coerced into this by my kids, Ella, 17, and Charlie, 12. They love danger, thrills and heights, whereas I prefer a nice long walk.

On arrival, we were given a safety talk, and strapped into our harnesses. Our group of a dozen or so were then led into the forest to begin the first of five challenges in the towering pines above. It’s a good idea to wear good grippy trainers or similar, and clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty. Gloves are an asset, too.

Our instructor showed us how to negotiate the various challenges ahead, from crossing bridges, swinging into Tarzan nets and sliding down zip lines. With three carabiner clips on our harness, we always remained securely attached to either the tree, or the jump. This made me feel safer, but up on the platform it was a different story. I found it difficult to believe in the harness at first, but after a while slowly began to gain confidence.
In addition, I was responsible for my two kids, so that helped take my mind off the forest floor below.

We were left to our own devices, following the well-signposted course through the forest, with the instructor always nearby if we needed assistance. Ella was fearless, charging on ahead, with Charlie confident but considered. He sometimes struggled with the carabiner clips, but eventually got the knack. The challenges became tougher and more interesting as the course went on, culminating in a zip line across the valley that was about 50 metres off the ground. By the time we reached this, we were ready for it. The view was spectacular, and a real buzz that I hadn’t expected.

Afterwards it was great to be back on the ground – we had completed the whole course, and this gave us a real sense of achievement.

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