The thrill is in the illusion

Christina Massey tries out the Go Ape aerial course.
Christina Massey tries out the Go Ape aerial course.
Share this article

Mercury reporter Christina Massey gets to grips with her inner primate tackling the challenging Go Ape course in Buxton

My cold hands clutch nervously to the rope.

Christina Massey tries out the Go Ape aerial course.

Christina Massey tries out the Go Ape aerial course.

I check for a fourth time to make sure my safety harness is properly secure, then I take a breath... and step off the platform into thin air.

Suddenly I’m free falling. I open my mouth to yell, but instead a weak girlie scream resonates from my throat.

After a couple of seconds the rope goes taut and I swing Tarzan–like through the air – landing, ungracefully, in a large net.

I grab onto the net and at last feel at ease – giggling with excitement at my escapade.

“It’s good, isn’t it?” I hear someone shout.

I look around and see my safety instructor, Ben, standing on the ground below – a large grin on his face.

Before he let me and my fellow apes out onto the course, he made sure we were well equipped with harnesses and the knowledge of how to use them safely.

Leaping from tree to tree like a flying squirrel is not how I usually spend my Saturday mornings – but it certainly is fun, even in the icy Buxton weather.

Stray flakes of snow float gently past my face as I work my way around the course.

There are five separate sections with 32 tree-top crossings varying from hanging cylinders that you have to crawl through, to terrifying walkways that move as you put your feet on them.

This certainly isn’t a pastime for anyone with a fear of heights.

The thrill comes from the illusion that you might be in danger – but of course that is not the case.

Once I get to the first zip wire I am standing on a ledge a good 20 metres in the air.

I look down, and immediately regret it, as the woodland floor seems to be a considerable distance away.

Although I know I am safe, jumping off the ledge and putting all my faith into the steel wire to carry me to land goes against every instinct.

Focusing on the point in front of me, I relax into my harness and make the leap.

I glide down the wire through the trees with a pleasant sensation of flying.

Spinning as I go, I land backwards in wood chips, digging my heels in to stop myself.

All-in-all the course takes about three hours to complete including training, which in my opinion is time well spent.

Go Ape is a novel way of having fun and trying something out that you might not ordinarily do.

An adult ticket costs £30 and tickets for children aged ten to 17, and at least 1.4 metres in height, cost £20.

Further information is available by visiting