This was something we looked at doing when we were in the Lake District last month, but couldn’t get booked on to, so when the invite to visit Go Ape at Matfen Hall landed in my inbox we were signed up and booked on within about ten minutes. We went along to Go Ape Treetop Challenge at Matfen Hall on Friday morning to give it a go.
Disclaimer: we received a complimentary experience for the purposes of this review.
When I told people we were doing it, it was really interesting to see the reactions. Some couldn’t believe that I personally would want to – I’m not sure why as I love getting stuck into stuff like that. I’m not scared of heights and if I’m in a situation for some outdoor fun then I’m all for it.
Others who had done it kept mentioning this net you have to jump into, saying how scary it is, but overall everyone I spoke to said it’s a lot of fun.
Getting there was easy, it’s in the grounds of Matfen Hall about fifteen minutes from Newcastle, and it’s clearly signposted once you turn off for Matfen. On a sunny day like this was the whole of Matfen, the country house itself, the golf course and all the grounds look beautiful.
We found the Go Ape hut where we were talked through a safety disclaimer that we had to sign, and here you can also purchase gloves or extra clothing if you want. From there we were taken over to get harnessed up and a walk through of all the safety info and basics.
We were in a group of about 12-16, including one work group and a few other couples. The instructors helped fit us into harnesses, then we were given a demonstration of the main things to remember for when we were let loose in the trees.
This included always keeping two safety wires attached at all times – very important, and the different ways to attach yourself to each section depending on what it was, so zip wires and Tarzan swings.
They also teach you how to land properly after the zip wires. It’s all colour coded so really easy, and each section has diagrams to follow to make sure you’re doing it correct.
Once we had the full briefing we were walked through the first stage with an instructor looking on, to make sure we all got the hang of it. Initially it is a bit daunting climbing the first ladder up into the trees, it is really high!
Once up onto the platform we sorted our safety wires for the first section, which basically involved crossing from one tree to another via the suspended steps and rope railing.
Once across there were a couple more trees to get between, getting slightly more adventurous with each one, before my favourite bit – the first zip wire down. Any initial nerves from being high up, or making sure you’re attached properly go pretty quickly, and as soon as you’re zipping through the trees on that first zip wire it becomes a lot of fun.
There’s about five or six sections in total, and they get progressively more difficult and adventurous as you go. They include crawling through tubes suspended between trees, steps with no railings, nets to climb along, even a skateboard zipwire.
At a few points throughout the course you have a choice to take a ‘difficult’ route or an ‘extreme’ route, and this is where the net I’d been warned about appeared. It’s basically a tarzan swing into a net, but the platform to jump off is a lot higher so the initial part of the swing is free fall. This was scary and I screamed so loud but I’m really glad I did it.
My favourite bits of the course were definitely the zip wires, they’re so much fun and flying through the beautiful surroundings is very surreal.
When you finish, you find yourself back at the Go Ape cabin, where the staff help you get out your harness, and you can take photos at the finish point.
We really enjoyed the whole experience, albeit with a few screams and shaky moments, I’m so glad we did it. I’d definitely do it again, and I think it’s a great activity for groups too either work teams or groups of friends.
What I wasn’t prepared for was how much I’d ache the next day, I’m clearly very unfit! Worth it for an exhilarating few hours in the beautiful setting of Matfen.
The Go Ape treetop challenge at Matfen Hall costs £26.40 for adults, and £20 per child (over age 10 only) when you book online in advance, and this price includes 20% discount.
Time slots are 10am, 12pm and 2pm, and the course takes about 2 hours to complete.
Wear old, comfortable clothing as there’s a chance you will get dirty (if you crash land off the zip wire!), and sensible shoes or trainers.
For full details on the experience and to book check out the Matfen section on the Go Ape website.