Go Ape: The Family Guide – What you need to know for Tree Top Fun

May 9, 2020

Go Ape’s famous TreeTop Challenge is available all around the UK. Read this family’s guide to Go Ape…

Go Ape has high rope courses and forest adventures up and down the country.

We went along to Go Ape in the Wyre Forest to bring you this family’s guide to Go Ape.

Either read this guide through end to end or click on something in the Contents.

Go Ape Guide Contents

The Go Ape TreeTop Challenge

Some high rope courses just look like a bunch of telegraph poles with ropes, swings, and nets between them. Not the Go Ape TreeTop Challenge.

Their rope courses are among the trees and are in fantastic scenery, and make the best use of the landscape. At some Go Ape centres, you can even fly across reservoirs or waterfalls.

The Tree Top Challenge is the main Go Ape activity and can be found at each Go Ape location (see Locations later). There are also TreeTop Adventures, Forest Segways, and even giant netted areas at some places (more on that later).

Go Ape Zip Wires

Go Ape Zip Wires

Zip Wires

Each TreeTop Challenge is slightly different, but you can expect to find Zip Wires, Crossings, and Tarzan Swings.

Courses are usually divided into different sections, and you make your way around them in order. Many sections finish with a zip wire.

The Zip Wires at Go Ape are fantastic!

They are really long and you fly over and through the trees.

Sometimes the zip wires will be on one side of a valley, so you can fly high above the ground (see later section if you’re not too keen on heights).

Click on the picture to see a larger version and try and spot me.  You can hardly see me – that’s how long this zip wire was – and this was only one.

Go Ape Tree CrossingsTree Crossings

Each Tree Top Challenge has a number of ‘crossings’. These are crossings you make between tree-to-tree.

They get quite inventive at Go Ape. Some crossings you’re walking a beam, others a tightrope and one was even through barrels floating up in the tree canopy (not my favourite – see our video to see what I mean!).

Don’t worry – you’re fully harnessed in at all times (see later section on Safety) – so even if you were to fall off a crossing, you would just float and get yourself back on it (we never saw anyone fall, despite how wobbly some crossings were).

Go Ape Tarzan SwingsTarzan Swings

Another item often found in the TreeTop Challenge is the Tarzan Swing.

Here you swing from a platform holding a rope (harness attached, of course) and land in a net at the other side.

Tarzan noises are optional.

Go Ape Tree Top Adventure Video

Watch our video to see the sort of things you might find on a Tree Top Adventure.


TreeTop Adventure

Height and age restrictions do apply to the TreeTop Challenge (see Who Can Go Ape?), but some Go Ape locations have a TreeTop Challenge course.

We have a detailed review of the Go Ape TreeTop Adventure. We highly recommend giving TreeTop Challenge a try, especially if you’ve not done anything like this before.

You can watch our video below to get an idea of what a TreeTop Adventure course looks like. This was filmed at Go Ape in Cannock Chase.

Click here to see more details on Go Ape’s TreeTop Adventure

We highly recommend giving Go Ape TreeTop Adventure a try


Forest Segways

Segways were invented in the USA as a ‘personal transport device’ and you may have seen these on the TV.

They are electrically operated vehicles that you stand on…and they only have two wheels.

Go Ape have a number of Forest Segways where you spend about an hour zipping along the forest floor instead of the treetops.

A number of Go Ape locations have Forest Segways (see Go Ape Locations below).

We’ve not tried the Forest Segways yet, but they’re on the list to do 🙂


Who can Go Ape?


Go Ape is a family activity, but for obvious safety reasons, age and height restrictions apply, as well as the number of supervising adults….yep supervising adults. After given training, and showing that you understand how to navigate the course safely, you are responsible for navigating the course yourself. You will also be responsible for any children you take.

For TreeTop Challenge, children must be at least 10 years old and 1.4 metres tall. One adult can supervise a maximum of two children aged 10-15 (the number of children you can supervise increases for 16-year-olds and older).

The TreeTop Adventure course is designed for children aged 6 to 12 years old. However, under 6’s can do the course as long as they are at least 1 metre tall and are likely to enjoy it. One adult can supervise two children, but only one child is recommended if it is their first time.

Alternatively, some locations have a TreeTop Adventure+, which is in between the TreeTop Challenge and TreeTop Adventure, and a good opportunity for kids to try a more challenge course after the TreeTop Adventure.

The Forest Segways have an age restriction of at least ten years old, and a weight restriction. Riders must be between 7 and 19.5 stone. This is needed to make the Segways balance.

One parent can supervise up to 3 under-16s on the Forest Segways.

(Please check the latest rules on the Go Ape website when booking).


For the TreeTop Challenge you are given a full safety briefing, and a chance to try out and demonstrate what you have learnt.

You are strapped into a climbing harness, which has two safety lines. At all times you have at least one safety line attached to the safety wire that runs around the course.

As the supervising adult, you must make sure your child understands how to clip on the safety lines, and for ensuring they are clipped on correctly.

It’s not as complicated as it sounds, and there’s plenty of practice before starting the course.

Go Ape also have lots of easy to follow instructions at each obstacle, showing you exactly what to hold and what to be clipped onto.

There are also other rules, such as only one person on a crossing at a time, and a maximum of 3 on a tree platform.

The first section of the course is a low-height set of obstacles where you show the instructors that you know what to do.

The harness is secured and adjusted by the instructors to make sure it’s fitted correctly.


But I’m scared of heights!

Go Ape - scared of heightsDon’t worry, you’re not alone. So am I!

Mountain walking doesn’t bother me. Flying is no problem. But up a ladder to paint the stairwell, and vertigo kicks in for me. It’s as if my eyes can’t focus properly on the ground.

My kids, however, are like monkeys and love climbing walls and abseiling. So, it was time to ‘suck it up’!

Go Ape is used to people who are not too keen on heights, and plenty have overcome their fears on the course. (And they can rescue you if you do get stuck).

Also, after trying out the first section, which is not too high, you can quit and get a full refund. You can’t get fairer than that.

Despite my problem with heights, for the most part, I really enjoyed the TreeTop Challenge.

The saying “don’t look down” doesn’t work well as you have to look at your feet for many of the obstacles, however, you are concentrating on how to navigate and you soon get used to working at tree level.

We found that each section got progressively higher, so you can work your way up and if it starts getting too much, you can skip the next section.

If it’s busy you may be waiting for the previous people to clear a crossing and platform, so there’s plenty of time to catch your breath and get used to the height.

It’s important to remember that you are attached to steel safety lines at all times, and if you follow the procedures correctly, you will not fall.


What to Wear for Go Ape

You need to make sure your midsection is covered so that the harness doesn’t rub.

Also, hoop earrings are not allowed and long hair must be tied back – this is so nothing gets snagged when crossing the course.

Be prepared to get mucky, especially when you land in the bark at the end of the zip wires. Bringing a change of clothes for afterwards is advised.

Slip-on/off shoes (flip flops, sandals, etc.) are not allowed, and footwear that supports your ankle is advised (I took walking boots).

Gloves are also advised. I took some padded fingerless cycling gloves, which made holding ropes a little easier.

A full list of what to wear is provided on the Go Ape website.


What about those not doing the Go Ape activities?

There are often some refreshments in the visitors centre near Go Ape locationsNot everyone may be able to do the course, especially if you have to look after those too young.

However, most of the course will have a footpath so that you can follow your family in the trees and take some great photos.

Most of the Go Ape locations are in woodland visitor areas, such as those run by the Forestry Commission, and so there could be a snack bar, play area, and other activities such as cycling.

You could quite easily turn the whole day into a great day out for all the family.


How long does the Go Ape course take?

This will depend on how long the course is and how busy.

It took us nearly 3 and a half hours. However, we spent a while up in the trees waiting for a family in front of us to safely clear the obstacles. A less busy time and you may be a bit quicker, so you would probably expect 2-3 hours, including time for the safety briefing.

Make sure everyone has visited the toilet before your session starts.


Go Ape Locations

Go Ape is located in most of the country. If you’re staying or camping in the area, then consider trying out one of their courses.

Some of these courses get very busy, so pre-booking via the Go Ape website is advised.

Go Ape is continually enhancing their courses, so please check their website for the latest before booking.


With thanks to Go Ape for enabling us to bring you this guide.

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Gav Grayston
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Gav Grayston Contributor

Father to 3 kids, who loves getting out and about (hiking, running, camping, cycling, canoeing...) Co-founded Get Out With The Kids to help other parents enjoy the outdoors with their family.

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  1. How old do kids have to be to go alone ?

  2. Our kids went to Go Ape Junior at Delemere Forest last April. They are still talking about it now:)

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