I was browsing Trip Advisor for something to do at the weekend and came across TreeRunners, which offers courses similar to Go Ape. I was pleased to find they were suitable for 6+ years (subject to a height restriction), and as they’re based in Andover, Hampshire only an hours drive from home.
Ten minutes later and I’d booked us onto the TreeRunners Junior Adventure for the following day. This course is aimed at the under 10’s, although older children and adults are welcome as well.
Next morning found us driving along a dusty farm track which eventually took us into Harewood Forest. It’s certainly not a place you’d just stumble upon. We parked and then went through the registration process, signing away all liability. It also involved confirming that our children weren’t pregnant!
The session started with a short safety briefing and then we were shown how to put on our harnesses. TreeRunners use a special clip on system so once you’re clipped in at the start you don’t need to keep re-attaching yourself as you do at Go Ape. I was rather glad of this as it meant I didn’t need to keep checking the kids were safely secured.
We started with the white course, which is the easiest one, at around 3 metres off the ground. Youngest son has always been pretty fearless so I was rather surprised when he decided he couldn’t do the first obstacle. Older sister had whizzed across the balancing logs without a thought but it took a lot of encouragement to get my son over.
Once past the balancing logs he picked up confidence and the next couple of obstacles were very straightforward. We reached the first zip wire and again there were a few wobbles about launching from the safety of the platform (ah, OK that was just me). After you jump though you realise that you just have to trust your harness and go for it!
There is another zip wire at the end of the white course, and by the time we reached this we jumped off without hesitation. I think the smiling face in the photo says it all!
We moved on to the yellow course, which is higher and a little harder. It starts with a climb up a rope tube and moves onto a rather tricky zigzag plank walk. I could feel my legs trembling on this one, so was glad to get to the other side. It was much harder than the photo below suggests!
The zigzags were followed by a rope net and balancing wire obstacles.
The kids both enjoyed the rope swing, where you have to sit on the rope and swing over to the wooden platform opposite. We did somehow manage to get a bit caught up in the ropes and wires though, which took a little sorting out.
We managed to go round the courses a couple more times before our time was up. Due to safety restrictions, we did find there were a few bottlenecks whilst we waited for those in front to complete obstacles but nothing too major.
The courses for 10+ looked exciting with levels ranging from green, red and blue to the extreme black. These were much higher, and with some rather unique obstacles, including a bicycle and a snowboard. I’d loved to have gone on the zip wires, but I think I’d have been pretty scared on the black run.
So, what’s my verdict? The kids had a great time and after a few initial nerves found that they could step out into the unknown and survive! The white and yellow courses are very much designed for children, and as an adult I found the supporting wires were at the wrong height which meant I had to rearrange myself on some of the platforms. Whilst TreeRunners state that adults don’t need to go on with the children, I do think the younger ones need a parent on hand to help the first time if necessary.
It was brilliant, I recommend it to everyone. The zip wire was best because it was fast.
- The toilet facilities are very basic, in part of an old paintball course. Whilst the rest of the site has had a lot of money spent on it can I just say that leaking toilets and slugs on toilet seats do not create a good impression!
- The kiosk sells drinks and some snacks. You can also bring your own picnic.
- Further details at www.treerunners.com
- The Junior Adventure costs £15 for 1.5 hours. Older children (10+) pay £20 and adults £25 for the harder courses, although this is for 2.5 hours.