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Julian Dormady crosses the half steppingstones bridge, which is one of 36 obstacles that the Go Ape high-wire forest adventure offers to its customers.

Julian Dormady crosses the half steppingstones bridge, which is one of 36 obstacles that the Go Ape high-wire forest adventure offers to its customers. (Sean Kimmons / S&S)

Julian Dormady crosses the half steppingstones bridge, which is one of 36 obstacles that the Go Ape high-wire forest adventure offers to its customers.

Julian Dormady crosses the half steppingstones bridge, which is one of 36 obstacles that the Go Ape high-wire forest adventure offers to its customers. (Sean Kimmons / S&S)

Denny Turner carefully balances himself while tackling the turtle crossing obstacle.

Denny Turner carefully balances himself while tackling the turtle crossing obstacle. (Sean Kimmons / S&S)

Jude Frith makes a crash landing at the end of a zip slide.

Jude Frith makes a crash landing at the end of a zip slide. (Sean Kimmons / S&S)

Chris Reynolds makes his way across the spider web obstacle.

Chris Reynolds makes his way across the spider web obstacle. (Sean Kimmons / S&S)

THETFORD FOREST — On a recent afternoon in this dense forest near the High Lodge Forest Center, birds chirped from surrounding pine trees and field mice quietly crawled under shrubs in search of food.

These peaceful sounds were momentarily interrupted by the screams of Nicola Allan as she raced down a zip-slide obstacle, part of the Go Ape high-wire forest adventure course, adjacent to the forest center.

A pile of wood chips, intended to soften Allan’s landing, went airborne when she hit the ground. A few seconds later, she stood up with a big grin on her face and walked to the next obstacle.

Besides Allan’s, many other screams and even laughs could be heard throughout the course on this day. Hidden in the forest outside of Brandon, the course allows thrill seekers and those afraid of heights to conquer their phobias with 36 balancing and zip-slide obstacles, some of which are built 35 feet above the ground.

“High rope courses, in general, are not all about how high you can go up, how strong you are or how many obstacles you can do. It’s about pushing your own boundaries a little bit further,” said Matt Brayshaw, deputy manager of the Thetford Forest Go Ape site.

One thing that makes the Go Ape course different, Brayshaw said, was that customers are allowed to take on the obstacles with limited supervision.

Following a safety briefing, an instructor closely watches the thrill seekers during the first couple of obstacles. If customers display proper practice of the safety equipment, they are allowed to roam the course without an instructor.

“If we don’t feel that they are safe, we don’t let them continue,” Brayshaw said.

While out there alone, customers will rarely see an instructor, except when the instructors conduct their regular 15-minute patrols throughout the course.

“Although you are essentially on your own, should something go wrong there will be an instructor,” Brayshaw said.

Depending on the speed of others, it takes about two hours to complete the course, which includes the safety briefing. A safety harness is provided at the beginning of the course.

If correctly hooked up to the safety lines, one cannot fall to the ground. But those who do slip and just hang out there won’t be safe from the laughs of others watching.

Go Ape

Cost: 20 pounds for customers over 18 years old, and 15 pounds for customers between 10 and 17 years old. Parking in the Thetford Forest costs 5 pounds.

Directions: From Brandon, take the B1107 toward Thetford. After about a mile, turn right at the High Lodge Forest Center sign. The course is next to the forest center.

Requirements: Participants must be at least 10 years old and 4 feet 7 inches tall. Customers under age 18 must be accompanied by a participating adult.

For more information about the Go Ape course, go to www.goape.co.uk.


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