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  • Writer's pictureMike Douglas

Go Ape, Southampton

A few weeks back... maybe months now...(we had to postpone because of the snow), Paul from Go Ape Southampton was kind enough to invite me and a Pompey Bloggers Crew over to his Gaff in the Itchen Valley for some tree top high wire fun.

It was great to finally drive over to Itchen Vally, after the disaster/ excitement of snow on our original date for visiting.

It was fun to see the regulars; Saffers, Charlie and Alanna. Plus the fun of meeting Laura, Kat and Isla. Not to mention Kim, who I've not so secretly wanted to meet for a while.

I have liked so many of Kim's adventures on social media, it was becoming a 2018 goal!

On arrival we were welcomed and provided with some brief information to (skim) read about the activities and safety (seriously though, you should read that stuff properly).

Next up was our safety and setup talk/ training with Peter. Who I found to be a very lovely human. Though it is possible that our hair conversation has given me a slightly biased view. Peter and the other staff we interacted with as we made our way around the course were friendly, helpful, motivational and very understanding of our occasional moments of apprehension (and OMG OMG OMG, I can't do it, I can't do it... I did it, moments).

Once we started moving round, I quickly appreciated not coming when it was too wet or snowing(!). There were a couple of times towards the end that I slipped, which I found stupidly funny immediately after. The thing is, even if (like me) you slip, you are attached always by 2 or 3 means to a main cable that will stop you going anywhere. The scary part really isn't the danger, its your mind.

While I was still scared in places, my mindset has changed so much in the last few years. This is something I would not have done before. Now though, I think two things have changed.

Completing my first skydive last year definitely gave me some confidence in the "You can do it" category. But more so, I honestly think this is an occasion where my mental health struggles have actually benefited me.

I struggle with my mind, my thoughts, my own existence at times; this has meant that things which I would have once run from, I now (slowly) stroll towards. My concern about things like being high up are not as emotive as my concerns about my health and/ or wellbeing.

I have to say I was very impressed with everyone. We had a good mix of ability and confidence amongst us to get a fair reading on the course, hahaha. I have, have, have to shout out Charlie. Who said "I don't even like Krazy Kaves!", Charlie climbed ladders, walked wobbly bridges (that were higher than some trees) and did a Tarzan swing. I need no time to say, she showed more bravery than I ever did in my 20's.

Some of the courses have different routes available, so you can choose harder options if you want. I chose the harder options each time, I was feeling up for giving it a try. They were fine, a little more tiring on the arms I think. Thats mainly because it took (me) more concentration and patience sometimes, like the feet hoops thingy. Where I struggled to get the right footing and match my reach with the moving apparatus.

I found this to be a cool, different activity to do. Its great for team bonding, because of the variety in abilities and confidence you can complete this activity with. Additionally if you have 5 minutes here and there waiting for someone in front, you can causally have a chat in the trees. I actually preferred the couple of minutes waiting at some of the sections. It gave me a chance to watch the others in our group and to look around and take in the view. In fact I would say, try and stop every so often and look around, take it in.

I would also say, gloves are a good shout, I didn't get any and I was ok. But they would have been 'handy' in a few places.

As you can see from some of the photos, there are lots of signs. They are super helpful in reminding you what to do with your support cables, clips and what to hold. Plus theres usually staff nearby you can shout or blow your whistle to get some help if you need it.

I really enjoyed visiting Go Ape Southampton, I would definitely recommend it. Its a nice course, I think you can do it in 90 minutes, though we took about double that. So allow plenty of time.

This was super fun with the guys, but keep in mind you can be quite far from each other if theres more than 6 of you. So if you want to team build or socialise, think about how you could mix up the order of people on different parts of the course.

I also recommend checking out my fellow Pompey Bloggers posts, for their thoughts and photos.

Already looking forward to the next Pompey Bloggers adventure.

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