(Mr) Muddy goes ape…
Have you ever looked up at one of those tree-top climbing forest adventures and thought, yeah, I’d love to put down my cappuccino and muffin and spend an afternoon hoiked in a harness in the trees? Possibly not, but actually, having fobbed off Go Ape duties to Mr Muddy the other week, I really regretted not having a go myself. No, I mean it! It looked like a lot of fun.
Never mind that Mr Muddy had to go the new ‘extreme’ route (available only at Wendover Woods, Bucks) with our oldest child and his daredevil friend. Or that he hilariously wiped out on the zipwire and ended up with half the forest’s wood chip down his pants. You could see they were all quite proud of themselves for going around it, and it was obviously quite a bonding experience too because it’s not like you’re up and down in half an hour – it’s a 2-3 hour physical challenge, and you have to stay as team to do it.
So to Wendover Woods, about 20 minutes from the Oxfordshire border and a really lovely 800 acre wood in its own right up in the Chilterns, with a fantastic cafe that opens 365 days a year, a large nature play area for younger children and den-building galore for older kids. With the younger Muddys to look after and (*sigh*) – tis true – a slight hangover, I saw my opportunity to wriggle out of doing the monkey stuff. So it was Mr Muddy’s buttocks squeezed and moulded into the harness rather than mine.
While the boys went through their safety routine, with clippings, zippings and other things ending in ing-ing-ing, I went off for an hour or so with my younger kids to the playground, before following the Go Ape course to watch from below as Mr Muddy and the crew flung themselves down the zipwire. Is it unkind to video your husband as he wipes out like a fly on the windscreen? Ahhhhh too bad…. It’s actually a big plus for this course, I think, that you can for parts of the course follow your team around and lend some ‘support’ amidst the hysterical laughter. So even if you have kids who are too young to take part, they can still feel a bit involved.
There were a couple of moments where Mr Muddy evidently had to man up – an early portion of the course sounded quite scary with some metal rings that sounded very mens gymnastics Olympics (except for your feet rather than hands) – and I think he was surprised by its physicality. Having said that, I bumped into a girlfriend of mine who had just completed the course with her mates, and she obviously loved it. I was amazed she’d just gone up on her own, voluntarily, as an adult of sound mind, but then I am the woman who has never sky-dived, bungee jumped, climbed Kilimanjaro or run a marathon. I’ve snorkelled in Majorca though, does that count?
Be warned: Kids have to be 10+ years and 1.4m+ tall can do the Wendover Go Ape, but if you have younger children who’d like to give it a go, there’s another Go Ape in Black Park in Uxbridge that caters to them – they just have to be 1m tall to try the Tree Top Junior course. Black Park is gorgeous too, 500 acres of woodland with a big lake to walk around, huge cafe and play area, mountain bike hire and masses of walks, so that’s another good option slightly closer to London. And there’s another one in Wooburn Safari Park near Milton Keynes.
If you’re still nowhere near geographically and can’t be bothered to travel – I know how it is sometimes, those repeats of Come Dine With Me won’t watch themselves – Go Ape is currently looking for a venue in Oxfordshire, so I’ll let you know as and when it happens. In the meantime, give it a go and I promise (honestly!) that next time I will too.
£25 (10-15 years), £33 (16+). Book now at goape.co.uk or call 0845 643 9236. #DiscoverAdventure