King of the swingers

Editor Beth Forsyth spent a sunny Saturday afternoon flying through the trees at Go Ape and lived to tell the tale…

Beth [right] with her two friends, harnessed up and getting ready to play monkey.

The closest I usually get to rope is feeling ropey after one too many cocktails.

And I’ve always thought ‘carabiner’ was a hot and expensive holiday destination. Not so. It turns out that these little metal loops attached to a harness are going to be, quite literally, my lifesavers this afternoon.
I’m at Go Ape, a treetop adventure centre in Aberfoyle, where two friends and I are about to unleash our inner Tarzans. The site at the verdant Queen Elizabeth Forest Park (there are others at Glentress Forest near Peebles and Crathes Castle in Aberdeenshire) is essentially a huge aerial assault course of rope ladders and swings, commando nets, wooden plank bridges, tightropes and zip wires.

Go Ape Aberfoyle features two of the longest zip wires in the UK.
Walking the plank – 30 feet off the ground!

Before they let us loose, an instructor fits our harnesses and gives us a thorough safety briefing. This very hands-on induc­tion means I’m soon attaching myself to ‘test’ zip wires and swings and learning what the various cords and carabiners do – all with my feet still very firmly on the ground. We’re told that as long as we keep ourselves ‘double-attached’ throughout the course (with two cords carabiner-ed onto the safety wires), there’s no risk of falling. Phew. Off we venture, setting out into the forest by zooming across a zip wire.
Out in the course, I feel like Indiana Jones stepping across bridges, swinging on ropes and side-stepping across wires. It really is a total adrenaline rush flying 40 feet above the forest floor. It’s not without its physical and mental challenges, though. Clinging onto ropes and clambering up nets gives your legs and arms a workout, and when my friend decides that her vertigo is setting in, my other friend and I have to give her a ‘positive mental attitude’ pep talk to restore her confidence. This team-bonding element is what makes it a great activity for hens and stags. That, plus knowing that after mastering one of the UK’s long­est zip wires, you’ll definitely deserve a celebratory drink! Prices from £30 per head.
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