Go Ape Exeter: Tree Top Junior adventure with a three-year-old
There was much excitement in the Tin Box household when we heard that our closest Go Ape in Devon was to gain a Tree Top Junior adventure course. Last summer we’d visited the one at Itchen Valley Country Park in Hampshire and had such a fun day. When I say we, I actually mean Mr Tin Box and Tot, as Baby was still under 1m tall so she and I watched from the forest floor. This year Baby hit the minimum height limit with perfect timing for Go Ape Exeter’s new course opening.
The tribe at Go Ape know we are fans and invited us to try it out.
Go Ape Exeter at Haldon Forest
Go Ape is at Haldon Forest Park six miles south of Exeter and not far off the main A38 on the way to Plymouth.
As well as Go Ape there are cycle trails, two pump tracks for different abilities, segways, play grounds and a Highway Rat Trail on the family-friendly Discovery Trail with dens, woodland instruments and sculptures along the way. You can also see great views across Exeter and Dartmoor on a clear day.
The Go Ape cabin is in the forest away from the main car park, cafe and visitor facilities. Make sure you go to the toilets here before heading to the cabin to start your Tree Top Junior Adventure as it’s a long walk back.
When you get to the cabin they will have the information you booked online so there’s no need for a reference number or printed booking email. You get a reminder 24 hours in advance with details of your booking.
Go Ape Tree Top Junior adventure
When you check-in there’s a safety briefing including the number of people allowed on platforms, crossings and zip wires then you’re off to get your harness fitted at the course on the other side of the clearing.
I’m not sure that three-year-old Baby was taking much of it in but we had no intention of leaving her to her own devices at any stage. Plus you have the added reassurance on the Tree Top Junior course that it’s impossible to unclip yourself. Only the instructors can do this for you.
We had a go on the small practice course to familiarise ourselves with our safety equipment before joining the main Tree Top Junior course.
There’s a low level route just a meter off the floor which we decided to do as this was three-year-old Baby’s first time at Go Ape. It turned out to be more of a challenge for Mr Tin Box and I crawling through the narrow planked tunnel. Baby and Tot sailed through so next we went to the Tree Top courses.
On the main course complex there are three loops of obstacles you can take through the trees including nets, moving planks and wobbly bridges, each ending at at 73m long zip wire.
Can you Go Ape with a three-year-old?
Yes and Tin Box Baby loved it. Here’s a few things to be aware of if you decide to take your little monkey to Go Ape Exeter’s Tree Top Junior adventure course or any ofter Tree Top Junior:
How high is the Tree Top Junior course at Haldon Forest?
The highest point on the course is just under 10m which is just 4m lower than the high point on the adults course, so pretty high. It didn’t phase Baby but if you are afraid of heights or your child has shown fear of heights in the past then this is something to consider.
Can young children do the whole course?
We tackled two of the three loops and on the advice of a member of staff we gave the third more challenging loop a miss as Baby wanted to hold an adult’s hand for most of the obstacles. We still filled an hour going round the course, which you can do as many times as you are able depending on how busy it is within your time slot.
Some parts of the first loop have a green wire you can use as a hand rail and on this part of the course Baby was happy to tackle each crossing on her own. It was on the second loop that she wanted the reassurance of mummy or daddy’s hand.
Are there any really tricky parts?
We all found climbing down the towers from the zip line a bit difficult because there aren’t steps or ladders. You just lower yourself down between 4ft floors like you would in soft play – but there’s only wood chip to break your fall. I wouldn’t feel comfortable letting my girls do this on their own. As long as your child understands that they have to move to the back of the zip wire landing area to allow the next person (you) to descend then this isn’t a problem. There are also staff about the course to help.
What’s the Tree Top Junior course like for adults?
Mr Tin Box and I have done Tree Top courses designed for people aged over 10-years-old so know the Junior course is less challenging. However it is still great fun and a brilliant family activity. You’re still high in the trees and your heart is pounding as you step off the zip wire platform. There’s an extra element of pride too when you see the kids pushing themselves and completing the course. It’s well worth it.
Something that adults need to be aware of is that the Tree Top Junior course is designed specifically for kids so the wire you’re attached to is lower. This put it at about head level for myself and Mr Tin Box (both under 6ft), which meant it got in the way a bit.
Our verdict on Go Ape Exeter’s new Tree Top Junior adventure course
We had a brilliant time trying out the new Tree Top Junior course at Haldon Forest. Seeing Baby tackling the crossings and zip wire with as much enthusiasm as her big sister was such a proud moment. If you have adventurous under-10s then this is a great Devon family day out.
Disclosure: we were invited to try out the Tree Top Junior course at Go Ape Exeter in exchange for a review on the blog. All opinions are my own and those of my monkey tribe.
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