Category Archives: Meet our Tribe

Q & A with Bryony Morris, Crawley Tilgate Park

Byrony Morris

Go Ape Instructor Byrony MorrisBrilliant Bryony has been part of the Go Ape tribe for two seasons now, having started as an instructor at Margam Park, and now firmly settled into life at Crawley Tilgate Park.

With a degree in Sport & PE under her belt, she’s been in the outdoor industry for some time and, as you can see from the following Q & A session, her zest for life and all things adventure is somewhat contagious. Here, she tells us about some of her most exciting escapades to date. Have a read and tell us you don’t feel inspired to get out and live life more adventurously!

Where is the most adventurous place you’ve been?

Wow. Now this is hard because I have been to some very adventurous places! But if I had to pick one it would have to be the beautiful country of New Zealand. Never before have I visited a country where they live and breathe adventure quite like the Kiwis do. From the two months I spent there I found that their laidback lifestyle goes hand in hand with their sense of adventure and their love for the great outdoors. I mean, with the amazingly beautiful scenery they are surrounded by, how can you not fall in love with the place?! My trip was packed full of adventures, including hiking the Tongariro National Park, jumping off a canyon in the South Island (ropes firmly attached, don’t worry!), mountain biking, surfing, jet boating in Queenstown, sailing Lake Taupo and hurling myself down a mountain on a tin tray – to name but a few. If you relish that feeling of doing something crazy (maybe ticking something off the bucket list) or experiencing natural beauty that dreams are made of then YOU MUST GO! Adventure is in their blood, and as a nation they are pretty damn friendly, so it’s just about perfect, right?!

What’s the most adventurous, craziest thing you’ve ever done?

Two moments spring to mind with this question:

1. A week long hike of the Andringitra mountain range in Madagascar. At an altitude of 2658m this was one of the most challenging and adventurous things I have ever done. This was my first ever trek at high altitude, living off the contents of my backpack and camping on cliff edges surrounded by lemurs – it almost seems unreal when I look back on it today. At the time, I genuinely thought I was crazy embarking on such a challenging and risky trek along narrow ridges, with rocks crumbling under my feet and moments of pure exhaustion. HOWEVER, I made it… and it is one of my proudest achievements to date. The views weren’t too shabby either!

2. I am a bit of an adrenaline junkie, so in New Zealand last year I decided it would be a great idea to jump off a canyon in what is named “the world’s highest cliff jump”. I have never been so terrified in my entire life. Standing on the edge of that canyon thinking “WHY AM I DOING THIS?!” In the jungle of adrenaline this jump is the gorilla. Once you decide to jump off that edge after countless words of persuasion from the instructors, you experience a 60-metre freefall, followed by a 200-metre swing over the Shotover River. It’s fair to say that was definitely one of my craziest decisions, but I don’t regret a second of it! Just awesome.

What did you get up to on your recent trip to Barcelona?

In November 2015 myself and a group of five other Go Ape instructors from Crawley Tilgate Park thought we would book a spontaneous last-minute getaway to the beautiful city of Barcelona. This was five days of walking, cycling and climbing the length and breadth of this gorgeous Spanish city. Some of the highlights included cycling up to Park Güell – a Gaudi-inspired landscape garden with beautiful buildings, hidden caves and some seriously good views. Little do the tourists know that if you hike up the steep hill just beyond the park you will reach a secluded and outstandingly beautiful summit, offering 360-degree views of the city, away from the hustle and bustle of the snappy-happy tourists. Another cool adventure was walking up to the 17th-century hilltop fortress Montjuïc castle which overlooks the ocean and the city. It’s so worth the many steps which take you to the top! A trip to Barcelona wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Camp Nou to watch FC Barca play a football game, as well as evenings filled with mouth-watering tapas and Sangria. It was the perfect break after a busy summer of Treetop adventuring in Crawley, and no doubt there will be many more mini-trips to come for the team!

Why do you love to live life adventurously, and why do you think others should do the same?

I think almost everybody would like some more adventure in their life. I’m the kind of person with the attitude of “Dream it, Believe It, Achieve it” and I honestly believe that everyone can be more adventurous if you set your mind to it. You don’t need lots of time or money to have an adventure, or have the fitness of Bear Grylls, or have lived in a cabin in the mountains of Canada. Adventure is so much closer than you think and even the smallest of changes to your attitude and therefore your life can get you living life more adventurously.

I breathe adventure. If I’m not on an adventure, big or small, I’m dreaming and planning my next. It’s how I live and I wouldn’t change it for the world. I try my best to look at the opportunities and not the restraints in life, which is why I attempt to make the most of every day; whether it is taking a different route home from work, or waking up that little bit earlier to take a walk before the world wakes up. That’s why I love my job as an instructor at Go Ape – because of the opportunity it gives me to inspire people to challenge themselves and do things they wouldn’t normally think about trying. It’s so easy to slip into a mundane 9-5 routine, but people need to think about the flipside of that and look at the 5-9 routine. That’s a whole 16 hours of free time which is screaming adventure! Having a sense of adventure makes every day different; you will fear less, do more and your dreams will become a reality if you want them to. So, get out there people – and don’t look back!

We hear you have some YouTube videos in the pipeline – what can we expect from these?

This is a new project of mine in an attempt to put across what is, to me, a very important message:

Life is a one-time offer, so use it well.

I’m currently planning a YouTube channel to focus on this message and to encourage people to live their life a bit more adventurously, make a positive impact on the world we live in, and reiterate the importance of sustainable tourism, travelling on a tight budget and encouraging women, in particular, to unleash their inner adventure and make a change in the world – no matter how small. I’m looking at making adventure travel videos that will inspire more people to open their eyes to adventure and see just how easy it is to make a positive impact in the world and travel without breaking the bank. You can expect many crazy adventures documented through film, handy hints and tips on travelling, honest travel guides and general lifestyle ideas to live your life to the fullest. So watch this space!

Who’s the most adventurous person you know?

The most adventurous person I know is a very close friend of mine. She lives and works in London in a 9-5 office job, so naturally relishes ANY opportunity for an adventure. For example, there are several occasions I can recall where I have received a text in the early hours of the morning saying “Just about to book flights to Iceland… fancy it?”. As you can already tell, these propositions are always VERY tempting! Another example was when she rocked up to my house in her old banger of a car which was falling apart at the hinges, and we spontaneously went on a road trip with an old school paper map not knowing where we would end up. Those adventures are always the best; the ones that barely cost a thing yet you have the best time exploring somewhere you’ve never been before with one of your best buddies. It just goes to show that if you dream adventure, and believe you can do it, you can ALWAYS achieve it. So she is definitely one of the most craziest, adventurous people I know, for sure!

We ask Liam McCabe – What’s on your life list?

Liam

We’ve all got a life list. Perhaps not written down, but in our heads at least. And the great thing about these lists is that every single one is unique.

So, we thought it’d be a good idea to grill some of our tribe to find out what’s on their life lists. First under the spotlight is Liam McCabe, site manager at our beautiful Go Ape in Buxton. Liam’s a lover of outdoor adventure (we should hope so, too) and has a lengthy career working in the industry. It’s little surprise, then, that his list contains several daredevil activities…

1. Longboard in Iceland/Scandinavia

First up, Liam wants to try his luck at longboarding. “I’d love to buy a longboard and head to either Iceland or Scandinavia, with the long, winding roads and amazing landscapes. I’d want to travel as much as possible via push power and gravity.”

2. Have a go on a water jet pack

Imagine, flying across the water and through the air using a jetpack. Sounds a lot like whizzing through the air via zip line at one of our Go Ape courses, only a little more wet…

3. See spider monkeys

We’re glad to see something monkey-related on Liam’s list. Spider monkeys are native to the tropical rainforests of Central and South America. Much like Liam, they spend most of their days swinging through the trees (the only difference is, they have no thumbs). “I’m fascinated by spider monkeys. I’d love to see them one day in their natural habitat.”

4. Visit Bhutan

Situated on the eastern edge of the Himalayas, the kingdom of Bhutan is a magical and mysterious land comprising valleys, mountains and subtropical plains, speckled with monasteries and fortresses. “Bhutan’s got to be on my life list; a place where your wealth is measured in your happiness.”

5. Learn to snowboard

It’s something he’s never tried before, but Liam would love to head to the mountains and try his luck on a snowboard.

6. Skydive

“Skydiving’s got to be on the list. I’d relish the chance to jump out of a plane…with a parachute, of course!” We asked Liam where he’d like to skydive…“Anywhere!”

7. Learn to fly a plane

Liam would like to jump out of a plane, but he’d like to take control and learn how to fly one, too.

8. Canoe in the Canadian lakes

“I have been canoeing for 10 years and I’ve yet to visit Canada to paddle where arguably the canoe was invented.”

9. Visit Machu Picchu

Liam would one day love to visit the magnificent, ancient Inca city of Machu Picchu in Peru, set high in the Andes Mountains.

10. A Capoeira class in Brazil

Last on the list is a trip to Brazil. “Having done Capoeira (Brazilian martial art) for a couple of years now, I’d love to travel to its country of origin to experience the culture first hand.”

Q&A with Grizedale Site Manager: Paul Brady

Go Ape Zip Trekking Adventure

Is it a bird? Is a plane? Nope – it’s just Grizedale Site Manager, Paul Brady, swinging through the trees!

Paul joined the Go Ape tribe back in March 2007, starting as an instructor and making his way up the (rope) ladder to become Construction Team Member, Deputy Manager and now Site Manager; a position he’s held for the past 7 years.

We recently caught up with Paul – and were rather surprised to learn that he once had a huge fear of heights…

What made you join the Go Ape family?

After leaving school I worked as a Chef for almost fifteen years – I started to grow disillusioned with my career choice and wanted a new challenge. My housemate at the time was the Manager for Grizedale and he convinced me to give instructing a go, even though he knew perfectly well I was scared of heights! I initially managed the Rivington site, before moving back up to Grizedale where it all began in April 2014.

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

Yes – I completed Go Ape once before I joined. Well, when I say ‘completed,’ I missed out on the Tarzan swing due to sheer fear! I loved the experience in a weird kind of way, despite being nervous all the way round. I felt a great sense of achievement when I finally got my feet back on solid ground.

What do you like about working for Go Ape?

The two main things I enjoy are the people I work with and the customers who visit us. Each day is different and the job is never dull! Our instructors are what make Go Ape so great and their enthusiasm and enjoyment of their jobs is great to be a part of. Our customers come to us for a great time and an exhilarating experience, which means they are here to enjoy themselves and are up for fun – that’s what makes our jobs so enjoyable!

What makes your site unique?

Grizedale is the first site to offer 4 full activities, with our Zip Trekking Adventure coming on board in July last year. With over 3km of zip lines zip-zagging their way through the forest, we’re proud to be the first site in the Go Ape family to offer this unique experience. Grizedale is also home to the highest platform and obstacle in Go Ape – at over 18m our site 5 zip platform really tests your nerves!

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

When I was managing the Rivington site, we had a film company visit us to film an episode of Don’t Tell The Bride. One of my female instructors stepped forward to be filmed as part of the programme, and she was really excited. When the day came, she arrived to work looking immaculate – uniform ironed, hair and make-up done, the works.

The day went really well, apart from the grotty weather, and we all waited eagerly for the episode to be aired and when the day came, we all watched with baited breath. The bride was filmed flying through the air on the zip line and swinging through the trees on our Tarzan swing and it all looked great. But, the only slight hiccup was that with all the editing of the film the only actual footage of my instructor was of her bright pink spotty wellies walking away through the mud! Some people said that was the best bit!

Fancy taking on the highest Go Ape platform? Or the UK’s best Zip Trekking Adventure? Book a trip to Go Ape at Grizedale Forest.

Jerome Goes Offshore Racing

Jerome Mayhew Sailing

We’ve been following Nikki Curwen as she prepares for her mammoth Mini Transat race – a 4,000 mile solo race across the Atlantic. Not shy at a bit of adventure, Jerome Mayhew, our Managing Director, joined Nikki on little excursion:

“Ex-Go Ape instructor Nikki Curwen got in touch with us to tell us about her amazing project to compete in the 2015 Mini-Transat race.  The “transat” stands for transatlantic and the “Mini” for the size of the boat – just 21’ (6.5m) long.  There is only room for one person, and that is only if you don’t mind not being able even to sit up straight.  

Having been inspired by Nikki’s determination to live life adventurously we became her title sponsor for her campaign and yesterday I got to have a go on the boat!  

WOW!  

With wind gusting gale force 8 Nikki headed straight out into the thick of it.  Up went the gennaker and we took off, except when my steering skills failed to avoid ramming the waves in front.  Have a look at this clip to see what happy looks like.”

Looking good Jerome!

Follow Nikki as she prepares for her next big adventure, with no phones and no computers, just paper charts.

www.nikkicurwen.com

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