Category Archives: Nikki Curwen

It’s National Parks Week!

Go Ape Snappy Rainbow
The sun is out, the trees are green and summer is officially in the air! There’€™s no better time to get outside and get acquainted with good old Mother Nature,€“ a lady that we’€™re very good pals with!

After all, the Tribe here at Banana HQ spend a lot of our time hanging out in some of the most beautiful locations in the UK. And if you were looking for a good reason to come and check out some of the stunning natural surroundings we immerse ourselves in every day, you’€™ll be happy to hear that 24th-30th July is National Parks Week! If that’€™s not an excuse to celebrate the great outdoors, then we don’€™t know what is!

What is National Parks Week all about?

National Parks Week is the annual celebration of the 15 spectacular National Parks of the UK, with a variety of events taking place throughout the week. From the rolling hills of the Brecon Beacons to the wild ponies of Exmoor, from the heather-strewn wilds of the Yorkshire Dales to the glittering waters of the Lake District, the National Parks of this country are filled with unique treasures, just the place to seize adventure and embrace the summer months!

So where are they?
  • Broads
  • Brecon Beacons
  • Cairngorms
  • Dartmoor
  • Exmoor
  • Lake District
  • Loch Lomond and the Trossachs
  • New Forest
  • Northumberland
  • North York Moors
  • Peak District
  • Pembrokeshire Coast
  • South Downs
  • Yorkshire Dales
How to make the most of the parks.

There are endless ways for the imaginative explorer to make the most of these breath-taking landscapes. Whether you want to gather your friends for a camping trip, push yourself to the limit on an epic hike, enjoy leisurely bike rides with a certain special someone or take the kids out on a boat trip, the National Parks of Great Britain were made for outdoors activities! You’€™ll be spoiled for choice!

Of course, you could think outside the box a little and gain a whole new perspective on the National Parks by taking to the treetops and seizing the chance to try out one of our courses at Go Ape. Yes, we really have secured some of the choicest scenic spots in the UK with some of our courses situated right in the heart of the most beautiful National Parks!

You could tackle the ladders, tunnels and Tarzan swings on our adrenaline-pumping Dalby Forest course up on the North York Moors, or fly through the trees for over 400m on two of the UK’€™s longest zip wires at Go Ape Aberfoyle, in the Trossachs. You might even choose to unleash your inner ape at Go Ape Buxton, taking in the beautiful scenery of the Peak District.

What better way to celebrate National Parks Week than swinging through the forest with Go Ape? Just make sure you capture all your capers on camera and share with #goape as well as #nationalparksweek2017.

See you in the trees!

Nikki Curwen on Staying Mentally Prepared

Nikki Curwen

Former Go Ape employee, and current Offshore Racer, Nikki Curwen has been working towards competing in the Mini Transat for the past three years.

Now in the second leg of the race, Nikki tells us what it takes to stay mentally prepared…

“When solo, particularly in a race like the Mini Transat where you’re at sea by yourself for days at a time. The race is more about mental preparation and mental strength. There is no-one else there to keep you motivated, no-one there to judge you so it can be quite easy to become lazy and demotivated. The boat is very technical, with a lot of preparation, and on going work required to keep her running 100%.

Nikki Curwen Offshore RacingIt’s raining, freezing cold, the boat seems to be going well…what’s going to convince you to get on deck and take the helm, to push and get that extra 0.5kt of boat speed?

Sailing for days, looking at the same horizon, heading in the same direction. The sun goes up and down, days go by with nothing very different happening, as the boat rolls down the waves, taking me with her.

For some this might sound like torture, but for me, there’s something quite nice about it. The feeling of being completely alone and doing something I love. Sailing has always been my freedom, where I have complete control and I can just be myself.

If ever I feel down or de motivated I just have to remind myself where I am, what I’m doing, then maybe blast my music out full volume and have a sing along. It doesn’t take much….!

I’ve got a collection of notes, drawings and photos on board from friends and family, which is always a good motivation booster. While I’m solo on the boat, I couldn’t have made it to the start without all the help from my ever-growing team around me. When I first started campaigning for the Transat it was my own personal goal and dream. That’s now changed I really feel like I’m out here for everyone following me as well. The support is truly overwhelming and definitely keeps me motivated.”

In the coming weeks we’ll be posting more insight direct from Nikki about the first leg of the Mini Transat, including the build up and start day.

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!  


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.

A Beginners Guide to Sailing by Nikki Curwen

Nikki Curwen Sailing Sunset

So you want to start sailing..!

We asked Nikki Curwen to give us the run down on where to start, here’s a beginners guide from a transatlantic pro:

“There are loads of options but I would suggest finding a dinghy course near you, or even go somewhere nice and warm. The Royal Yachting Association (RYA) have a very good scheme in place for beginner training, if you go on their website you can search for training centres across the world. Or perhaps you have a friend you could bribe for lessons, or at least a taster?

Understanding wind direction and the response needed is definitely easier to find from sailing in smaller boats. Although you might like the idea of starting on a nice dry cruising boat, to really get to grips with the sport I’d definitely suggest jumping in something smaller and taking the waves to your face!

From there you need to ask yourself, what do you want? Which direction do you want to go in? Big boat, small boat, cruising, racing, day sailing…there are many different channels you can take. Each needing different skills and each with their own positives and negatives.

Desperate to try dinghies?

A dingy is perfect for day sailing, club racing, and competitive fleet racing. Relatively cheap and easy to transport you can travel around easily, and can store in a garage or driveway. From solo sailing in a laser, to swallows and amazons style picnic adventures in a wooden classic. Once you’ve mastered the basics of sailing you can get on the water quickly. Whether on a local pond or on the coast.

If you want to get into racing there are many different options, from optimists, cadets, toppers, mirrors, moving up to 420, 29er, and the RS fleet. If your looking into dinghy racing, I’d suggest choosing your “local club” and seeing what classes are raced there, talk to the sailors, perhaps even persuade one of them to loan you a boat to try.

The quickest way to learn is to get stuck in and get as much time on the water as you can.

Yearning for a yacht?

Slightly larger and generally having some form of cover or accommodation you can travel further in a yacht, with flexibility for more people to join you.

Your basic principals of sailing are still the same as in the dinghy but everything tends to happen a bit slower. While you have more time to respond and react, you also can’t notice changes as well so can be more difficult. A yacht can come with an engine, plumbing, electrics, painting/varnishing and more things to tinker with to keep you busy, particularly when it comes to maintenance.


In short, there is no right or wrong way to learn, for beginners it’s what suits you, and what you want to get out of it.”

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