Monthly Archives: September 2014

…And Over The Top

AB conquering Ben Nevis

Heading out from the Teenage Cancer Trust Unit in Yorkhill, Glasgow, ‘Wee’ Pete Scullion had 101 miles of tarmac between himself and day ones objective, Fort William. Grey skies soon delivered cold, steady drizzle, interspersed with a hot, high sun. Pete reached the 55-mile mark at Tyndrum in 4 hours dead and took on some much needed fuel for the climbs ahead. The Tyndrum and Black Mount climbs behind him and reaching the top of Rannoch Moor, the rain set in and soon visibility fell to 100m. Not ideal cycling conditions! After a brief stint in the support car with Dan (site manager) and ‘Big’ Pete, heaters on full blast, ‘Wee’ Pete enjoyed a fast, sunny blast through Glencoe along the flat lochside to Fort William. 8 hours and 10 minutes later, ‘Wee’ Pete made it to Fort William and didn’t even chew his dinner.

Day 2

The big one’. Both Petes set off up the UK’s highest peak, ‘Wee’ Pete with bike in tow, holding ‘Big’ Pete up just a bit. After a lot of confused looks from walkers in both directions, and just under 4 hours later, the Big Banana reached the summit with a whip of snow to greet it. After a brief lunch stop in the icy conditions well into the clouds, the Petes set off towards the North Face car park. ‘Wee’ Pete got a good head start down to the lochan before the path deteriorated and Pete Cox’s mountain experience saw him take the lead. ‘Wee’ Pete made the North Face car park after a brief bog-hopping and over-the-bars incident, inhaled some lunch, swapped bikes and made his way towards Aviemore. Thankfully, the going was smooth and fast, and ‘Wee’ Pete made the 65 miles good in 4 hours on the button. All this speed was fuelled by the promise of a day off and Aviemore’s infamous Mountain Cafe.

Day 3

‘Big’ Pete’s time to shine, being more than happy in the middle of nowhere surrounded by mountains. While Dan and Pete took more fuel on board, surrounded by the thunder of the international Harley Davidson meet, ‘Big’ Pete made his way over the Cairngorm plateau past the UK’s second tallest peak, Ben MacDui. Further down the Lairig Ghru, Pete had to ford the River Dee and the Derry Burn, the bridges that crossed both had been washed away in storms the previous weeks. Dan and ‘Wee’ Pete met Pete at the Linn of Dee car park after pulling over to let HRH The Queen, Prince Harry and pals en route to the pick-up point. ‘Big’ Pete had kept up the pace of the previous two days, coming in well ahead of schedule, a mere 5 hours 45 minutes after setting off, and a full 6 hours faster than the guidebook suggests.

Day 4

The shortest and easiest day thankfully. 42 miles from Braemar to Crathes Castle, just east of Banchory. ‘Big’ Pete would join ‘Wee’ Pete for this final leg on the bikes. Another flat gallop along Royal Deeside, past Balmoral Castle and Royal Lochnagar meant the pace was high, average speed a constant 29kph. A short, sharp climb seen on the route profile the night before never materialised and ‘Wee’ Pete even overtook a car coming down the hill into Ballater. Both Petes reached Crathes Castle in 2 and a half hours, again, well within the time planned for, minds soon turning to massive quantities of food and sleep, and how to better that leg next time around!

Both Petes would like to send a big thank you to Go Ape and Teenage Cancer Trust for giving us a very go reason to ride and run themselves into the ground, Dan Bruce for ferrying us about Highland Scotland providing logistics for the trip, TheCycleJersey.com for helping us look the part and allowing us to represent for the whole trip, The Braemar Lodge Hotel for looking after us, and finally, to everyone who followed our progress on social media, offered us encouragement and to everyone who donated to our challenge and helped us reach our target the day after we finished.

Go Ape Aberfoyle would also like to say a special thanks to Cafe Lochan for donating 20% of all profits from their Go Ape Woodchip Wedges sold!

(ps …and Go Ape would like to thank both Pete’s and Dan for going ‘above and beyond’ for charity!)

You can still show your support and donate at justgiving.com/goapeaberfoyle

 

Aberfoyle conquer Ben Nevis

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Bananas are a super food. We’re not monkeying around!

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Bananas are a staple in most family’s fruit bowl and the perfect fodder for a pre swinging in the trees at Go Ape treat.
As this week is ‘Eat a banana week’ we wanted to celebrate all things banana and have collated 10 fun facts you might not know about our yellow finger friends.

Here goes:

1. Over 100 billion bananas are eaten every year in the world, making bananas the 4th biggest agricultural product in the world, after wheat, rice and corn. And in Britain, we eat over five billion bananas every year.

2. The banana plant is the largest herbaceous flowering plant in the world. That’s right, the banana is not a tree but actually a herb and bananas are a berry!

3. A row of bananas is called a ‘hand’, while a single banana is called a ‘finger’.

4. Bananas contain around 75% water.

5. The Gros Michel banana was a popular variety before crops were destroyed by Panama disease in the 1950’s. Panama disease attacks the roots of banana plants.

6. The most popular type of banana now sold is the Cavendish banana, it is resistant to the Panama disease that wiped out the Gros Michel banana but there are worries that it too may eventually suffer a similar fate.

7. A medium-sized banana contains only 95 calories, and provides a quick and sustained energy boost in a natural, nutritious and easily digestible form with no fat, cholesterol or sodium – perfect for a pre and post Go Ape snack!

8. The word banana comes from the Arabic word “banan”, meaning finger.

9. The inside of a banana skin can be used to calm an itchy mosquito bite – people find that rubbing the bite with the skin helps to reduce irritation.

10. The inside of a banana skin can be used to polish shoes!

You thought you knew bananas.

Hopefully we taught you something new!

Q&A With A Member Of The Go Ape Team: Claire Potter

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This time, we’ve got Claire Potter, Site Manager of Cannock Chase Go Ape, in the hot seat. Read on to find out why not getting a US visa was the best thing that ever happened to her, and why she has become an expert at throwing pine cones…

What made you join the Go Ape family?

I have always been involved in the leisure industry and had done many ski seasons in America. However, when my visa was delayed I was gutted that I wouldn’t be able to continue working in the States. It was one of those ‘sliding doors’ moments really – if my visa had have gone through I would be working on the other side of the pond right now. But as it happened, I started looking for jobs in the UK. I was pretty disheartened to begin with as nothing really appealed, but as soon as I saw the Deputy Manager role for Go Ape Cannock Chase advertised, I knew I had to go for it. I spent days and days writing my application, and was given the position back in 2009. I was made site manager the following year.

Did you experience Go Ape for yourself before taking the job?

I actually didn’t! I did tons of research online, and I even got my friend to take me to a climbing wall a few days before the interview so I would know what it felt like to put a harness on. I thought I knew what it would feel like to zip wire through the trees, just from what I had read, but no words can describe the feeling of when you’re actually up there yourself. I was really thrown in the deep end when I started and was straight up in the treetops, setting up the courses. It was the best way.

What do you love about working for Go Ape?

Everything! Being site manager, I am given the freedom and flexibility to run the site as I see best, and this is something I really appreciate. But at the same time, I always know there’s someone at the end of the phone, someone who’s got my back, if I need help or advice. I also love the rewarding aspect; it’s definitely the sort of role where the more you put in, the more you get back. I feel proud on a daily basis; whether it’s witnessing the smile on a customer’s face, seeing successful results from a marketing campaign, watching a new instructor master something for the first time or – and this is probably my favourite – being given amazing feedback. There’s nothing more heart-warming than reading that you’ve helped someone conquer their fear of heights, for example.

What makes your site unique?

It’s great that we are a three-activity site as this means we offer something for everyone. I also think being slap bang in the middle of the country (we’re near Birmingham and the M6) means we are the perfect destination for groups of people wanting to get together somewhere central and convenient. We’re really popular with stag and hen dos, but we see plenty of corporate events, school and college groups too. Families also love the fact they can come and have a go at everything as we’ve got the Tree Top Junior and Segways, too.

Finally, tell us a story that will put a smile on our faces…

Not long ago, there was a lady who came to our course who was both deaf and blind. We spent days planning how we were going to go about it; how would we communicate with her when she was way up in the trees? What if we suddenly need her to stop? Much to her amusement, we developed a plan of throwing pine cones at her! That was the code: if she felt a pine cone touch her, she must stop immediately! She had the time of her life and absolutely loved it, and it was a challenging but fun and rewarding experience for us, too.

Go Further with Go Ape

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May your adventure bring your family closer together, even as it takes you far away from home.

Open yourself up to an endless stream of possibilities and challenge your tribe to another Go Ape in another county. It’s that unfamiliar territory that can draw people to a new adventure.

So whether it’s climbing up to the heady heights of Grizedales‘ tallest platform or the stomach-lurching leap from Margams’ six metre Tarzan Swing, we have it all.

If you’re looking at racking up some length, Go Ape Cannock offers a 1,500 metre Tree Top Adventure (our longest in fact!), sure to challenge even the fittest fiddle, or how about flying through the air on Go Ape Aberforyles‘ 426 metre zip in some of the most beautiful Scottish landscape.

The world (…or the UK!) really is your oyster when you have the choice of 28 exhilarating Go Ape adventures! And let’s not forget there’s a choice of seven stateside…

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