Category Archives: Tribe News

Rafting river rapids in the rain!


Go Ape spirit isn’t created, we’ve all got it within us.

Last Wednesday saw all 29 of our Site Managers come together from across the length and breadth of the UK. These get-togethers happen every few months and they’re normally filled with a whole lot of laughs, plenty of learning – and a healthy dose of adventure!

We gathered on a field next to the river Wye (in the beautiful Symonds Yat if you get the chance to go…) with the task of building a raft. A simple task for a number of Outdoor Instructor types you might think! A competitive bunch; the race was on between 8 teams to create an award-winning raft.

Much fun was had spying on what others had put together, and there was some serious banter in the air about who would be first in the water!

Whistles were blown, the race was on.

There were bodies in the water, paddles flying in all directions and shrieks and screams heard from anyone close to the Forest of Dean – but we were all in it together! In the end, there were no winners, just a lot of great amusing stories to discuss round the campfire that evening. Yes, we really did sit round the campfire in hail stones and anything else the Great British weather might want to throw at us.

Here at Banana HQ we’re already looking forward to the next…

Go Ape is all about having fun, living life adventurously and getting out of your comfort zone!

Racing bikes in Scotland!


Deputy Manager at Grizedale, Dan, and Area Manager Clair applied to the Adventure Fund for support to enter some enduro mountain bike races early this year. This is what happened.

The two races could not have been more different.

The first race at Gisburn Forest in Lancashire was bathed in warm spring sunshine and had lovely dry trails. The Vallelujah Enduro in the Tweed Valley in Scotland threw everything the weather gods could at us. We live and ride in Grizedale Forest in the South Lakes, so are no strangers to wet weather, but what we faced in Scotland was something else! 

For those that don’t know, enduro mountain bike races consist of a number of timed special stages and untimed transitions in between. The trails of each race were a mixture of man made and natural trails that provide a multitude of challenges from steep, muddy and slippy, to super fast with jumps and drops that always make for very exciting races.

Riders have to have a good combination of skills and fitness to do well.

The first race at Gisburn was a one-day affair with a chance to practice the 5 stages in the morning and then race them in the afternoon. We had tracks that were tight through the trees, open tracks with big rock slabs and steep sided berms and fast tracks with drops. Clair did exceptionally well in this one and came 4th and managed to get a spot on the podium (in mountain bike races, the first five riders get a spot). Dan didn’t do so well with a few mechanical issues and a couple of little crashes that resulted in a mid pack finish.

The second race at Peebles was a bigger and more serious event and lasted the whole weekend. Practice took place on Saturday in nice, dry and warm conditions. The tracks were running very well and everyone was excited about the race on Sunday. Then the weather got involved and after 2 weeks of benign conditions, the wind picked up.

The rain came. It never went away.

This turned the trails into the slippiest kind of sloppy mud. Much of the transitions were spent with our heads down avoiding the wind blown hail stone bullets that seemed to pelt in sideways through the trees stinging any bit of exposed skin. A bit of snow fell and then the sun came out. Then the hailstones came back. The stages in this race were harder, longer and steeper than Gisburn and to be honest, by the end of the day, thoughts of results had gone out of the window and we were starting to suffer in the cold. We were happy to finish the race safe and sound after about 4 and a half hours on the bikes.

It’s been a good start to our race season and with the Adventure Fund’s help, we are doing more enduros throughout the season.

The next one is at Grizedale, more to follow.

Hitting the wall in Manchester


Here at Go Ape we like to support our tribe into all things adventurous. We have an Adventure Fund set up for all staff to help them on their way.

Rob from Go Ape Buxton tells us about his first Marathon, fully supported by the Adventure Fund:

It was 12th March, 4 weeks before the Asics Manchester Marathon and after several conversations with different people I decided it would be good to challenge myself and sign up. Leaving myself short on time to train I got my trainers on and got straight to it.

I had a fairly decent fitness level to work with having completed several half marathons during 2015 so I had a rough idea of my pace and what I had to do to train.

1804RobThe four weeks in between flew by and I managed to squeeze in 12 training runs before the big day. My training plan consisted of three runs a week; a short run, a long run and a quick run. I increased my distance each week and my long run from the previous week became my short run and so on and so forth. Having reached 16 miles as a long run and a week left I decided to have last week to taper down and completed three short runs just to avoid any chance of picking up any last minute injuries.

All of a sudden Sunday 10th April arrived and it was race day! I made my way to Old Trafford where the start line was and jumped in with all the other runners. Nerves kicked in but before I could panic too much Dr Ron Hill and sounded the horn and the race was underway. I crossed the start line and set my watch going to track my race. The mile markers seemed to be coming quickly to start with and I realized this was because I’d started off far too fast! During this time I felt good, I felt fast at one point I’m pretty sure I believed I could win it! Running at around 8:30min per mile for the first 15 miles soon took its toll and I gradually slowed my pace down to around 9minutes per mile which felt much more comfortable. I kept picking out different runners to either pace myself against or challenge myself to overtake as when you see a Gorilla running ahead you know you’re not running fast enough!

It was around mile 16 that I hit the well known wall and I was convinced my legs were going to give way.

This feeling lasted longer than I care to admit. I fought through this mental battle with the help of a few jelly babies and an energy gel and finally made it to mile 21 where I got my head back in the zone.  The last 5 miles were very well supported by the public, which made everything easier as you can’t stop when people are watching you!

I reached the top of a hill half way through mile 25 and I could see the finish line in my sight! I couldn’t quite believe it, it was nearly over.

I decided it was now or never, I picked up my pace for the last section and embarked upon what I thought was a sprint finish however looking back I think it was nothing of the sort!

I heard a cheer from the side, which was my family standing waiting for me to finish. I crossed the finish line and it took a good few minutes for it to sink in that I had completed my first marathon! I made my way through the masses of people to receive my medal and race bag which included my finishers t-shirt. Next stop was the bar for what I believed to be my well-earned pint and to find out my official time. I checked my watch and couldn’t believe I had completed it in 4 hours and 3 minutes! I was over the moon.

Now a few days have passed since completing the race and I still believe it was one of the most difficult things I have ever completed however I am already on the look out for the next one!

Thanks for sharing with us Rob!

NEW Go Ape Turbo Adventure


Latest adventure unleashed

Wind turbines we hear you say? Yes – wind turbines. Take a look for yourself. We’re currently constructing one of our multi-award Tree Top Adventures onto the horizontal axis of a Scottish wind farm to create a revolutionary experience. Go Ape Turbo will challenge adventure-seekers like no other experience in the UK. 

Go Ape Construction Manager Paul Love-Williams is leading the project. He said:

“The highest crossings are double the height of most Go Ape courses, and all obstacles are three times as long, making them extra wobbly and challenging. We’ve been tasked to develop our latest adventure and design a safe yet dynamic hybrid experience. It’s certainly taking Go Ape to a new level”.

The experience will last two hours, which will include a detailed safety brief. It will also include a two-tiered Zip, a first for Go Ape.

We have a slight confession. It’s time to own up! 

Our announcement this morning was an April Fool. Sadly there is no such thing as Turbo Adventure. *Cue sighs of relief from the Go Ape Safety Team.* But, good news, we do have new sites joining Go Ape family tree with Alexandra Palace and Chessington World of Adventures – that’s no joke! Keep your eyes peeled for more information.

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