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Review: 2 hours on Go Ape’s new Zip Trekking Adventure

Actually flying and not just dreaming about it (c) LJM Photography

Actually flying and not just dreaming about it

So you like flying at high-speed through the air with a bit of thick rope wedged up your bottom, getting smacked in the face by branches? If that’s you, then you’ll love Go Ape’s new Zip Trekking Adventure in Cumbria, Lake District. Just kidding, it’s nothing like that. But it is amazing!

Since the age of about three, my night-time visions have been filled with dreams of flying. Flying over fields and rivers and mountains. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do. And now I had the chance. So I grabbed my photographer friend LJ and friendly Lake District expert, Kate, packed the car with camping essentials and bombed it up the M6 to Grizedale Forest in Cumbria.

sIMG_2127     sIMG_2134

This was my first Go Ape experience, and I must say, I was very impressed. Incredibly friendly staff were the cherry on top of an already exciting experience in stunning surroundings. So to give you a little glimpse into the experience, I’ve set out a bit of a Q & A below for you. Feel free to send me a comment if there’s anything else you’d like to know.

At this point I was still oblivious to the huge ground drop I was about to witness

At this point I was still oblivious to the huge ground drop I was about to witness

Q & A

Is it scary? Depends what your scare-factor is. My two friends and I all like varying levels of danger. Kate loves dangling off rock faces, I only partially like hanging off rock faces, while LJ prefers to opt for gentle strolls over rolling hills — but we all absolutely loved the experience.

Is it safe? Absolutely. You’re accompanied by two qualified instructors the whole way — they make sure you do everything safely, so there’s no chance of falling off. And as with other Go Ape adventures, you’re always attached by two safety lines.

Being given our safety briefing

Getting our safety briefing

Do you get an adrenaline rush? Sure do. The first zip wire is nice and short to help ease you into the experience. But the second one is easily one of the longest. About halfway along Zip 2, the land suddenly drops away, amplifying the exposed feeling. Zip 7 is by far the most adrenaline-inducing ride. But on all zips you get an absolutely amazing view over Grizedale Forest.

How fast do you go? Our instructor told us his fastest speed was 42mph on Zip 7. This is the longest and fastest zip and of course the most fun. I’m pretty sure I reached at least 40mph – pretty exhilarating!

The breathtaking view from Zip 2

The breathtaking view from Zip 2

Is it expensive? While other Go Ape activities are generally priced around £30-35, this one is £45. I did initially think this was quite steep, but I think the additional cost must be to cover the cost of the Land Rovers that drive you to the start and the instructors that accompany you on the course. I do still think it’s pricey, but completely worth it. A brilliant activity for a hen do or birthday bash.

How long is the experience? Our adventure was a little over two hours and although you’re actually only on the zips for around 10 minutes, it feels much longer. There are eight zips varying between 200-500m, so on average you’re flying through the air for about a minute at a time. Also, the groups are relatively small, as they don’t want to keep people waiting too long.

Go Ape Zip Trekking Adventure     Go Ape Zip Trekking certificate

But is 10 minutes air time really long enough? You know when you go on holiday and you reach that point where you’re happy with the time you’ve had away, but equally happy to go home? That’s how I felt at the end of the adventure — contented.

Tips for going faster… If you want even more of an adrenaline rush, you could try:

  • Going backwards — this is kinda hard, cause soon as you’re flying you do turn quite a lot. If you hold higher up the rope you can stop yourself from turning, but Go Ape discourages this, as you could get your fingers stuck. That would be kinda nasty.
  • Be heavier — not a whole lot you can do about this, but you could try eating a bigger breakfast!
  • Tuck into a small ball — the smaller you are the faster you’ll fly. Aerodynamics darling!
  • Don’t flail — the more you try spinning round to face the front or the back, the slower you’ll fly. Go with the flow.

The Apple Pie, Ambleside     The Giggling Goose Cafe, Ambleside

A couple of lush pit stops in Ambleside for a bit of tea and cake post zip trekking

Would I do it again? Absolutely! If you love flying through the air as much as I do, you’ll be wanting all your friends to celebrate their birthdays, hen do’s and graduations in Grizedale Forest.

Want a bigger rush? If this is a bit tame for you, you could always try Zip World Titan at Blaenau Ffestiniog. Flying at over 100mph for over a mile, it’s the longest and fastest zip wire in the world!

I hope you found this review helpful. If there are any other adventures you’d like to hear about, just let me know.

All images courtesy of LJM Photography


Hiking gear review

I like a good hiking adventure and although it’s pretty cold at the moment, the winter months can be a beautiful time to get up into the mountains. It’s often just a few degrees colder up there, which means at this time of year you’re likely to find a bit of snow lying on the ground. Be that as it may, it’s always a good idea to be well prepared and having the right gear can make the difference between a cold, soggy, miserable day in the mountains and a dry, warm, beautiful day in the mountains.

So I tested two bits of kit from Gelert pretty vital to any walk.

One more thing about the Venture Trousers is that they’re not only good for walking, but climbing, bouldering and mountain biking. I even took them for a run the other day and am still loving how light and comfortable they are!

Gelert has been trading since 1975 and has a strong ethical trading policy. The company works hard to ensure it not only produces high quality and fair priced products, but that everything it uses is ethically sourced.

Jon Clarkson is head of product development at Gelert and offers some handy advice for anyone looking to go hiking in the Brecon Beacons, or any other mountain range, this winter.

What advice can you offer walkers hiking in the Brecon Beacons this winter?

“The Brecon Beacons is a beautiful area of the country for walking, but being prepared for changeable weather conditions is essential whenever hiking in the UK. Taking practical precautions should ensure you enjoy a good day out which is both safe and comfortable.

“Even if you know the area well, weather conditions in the Brecon Beacons can change quickly and it’s important to take a good map and compass, carry plenty of water and food and make sure you’ve told somebody where you are going.

“With exposed conditions on the tops, it’s really important to carry extra layers, waterproof clothing and dress for warmth, even if it feels like overkill when you begin your climb.”

What gear can you recommend and why?

Gelert Women's SS Flex T-Shirt

Gelert Women’s SS Flex T-Shirt

“In winter even experienced walkers can be caught out if they are not wearing suitable clothing. You may want to carry a larger rucksack than you would in summer to make room for extra layers and waterproof trousers. A 35 – 45 litre bag such as our Summit Rucksacks would be ideal.

“A warm base layer will keep you comfortable when exercising in the cold. Our Women’s Flex SS Tech T-Shirt is carefully designed to wick moisture away from your skin, keeping you warm and dry whilst exercising in the cold.

“Getting wet can really put a dampener on a walk and could let in a winter sniffle. Different kit has different ratings and for hill walking in the winter, I’d recommend opting for a hydrostatic head rating of 3000mm, meaning that it will withstand water pressure from a 3000mm column of water. Our Women’s Timor Jacket is designed specifically to keep you thoroughly dry in adverse conditions and was awarded ‘Best Value Waterproof Jacket’ by Trail magazine. With a double storm flap, adjustable hood and cuffs and taped seams the jacket makes sure that you will stay dry as a bone underneath.

“Walking poles are popular with fell walkers as they can act as an extra limb, helping to stabilise you on rough ground, particularly on tricky descents. Our walking poles are designed to make longer hikes more comfortable by reducing pressure on the knees, controlling speed, improving balance and providing support for the shoulders and arms.”

Gelert Wind Up Headtorch

Gelert Wind Up Headtorch

What gear would you recommend for both beginners and more advanced walkers?

“The essential items we’d recommend to anyone wanting to start walking are a decent pair of boots and a warm waterproof jacket. Other items such as waterproof trousers and fleeces can be added in time.

“Gelert supplies a wide range of kit with different specifications, from beginners’ kit for those wishing to enjoy valley walks, to technical hill walking kit, suitable for adverse weather conditions. Advanced walkers will need items such as base layers, first aid kits and small camping stoves for longer walking trips.”

What does Gelert do to encourage and support walkers and the protect the natural environment which is so important to them?

“Gelert also supports a number of outdoor associations including the RNLI and the Ramblers, helping them in their endeavours to promote responsible walking and respect for our environment.

“We also supply our own range of eco-friendly products. With innovative hardware such as the Gelert Wind Up Headtorch and a range of clothing made with Bamboo charcoal yarn, including base layers and warm jumpers.”