Friday 28 July 2017

Birthday Party Fun at Go Ape (Moors Valley, Dorset/ Hampshire)

It was my twins 10th birthday last week and they enjoyed an evening out with my husband and I but due to school and all sorts of end of term commitments there wasn't a big fun birthday adventure. So to rectify this gaping hole Go Ape stepped forward with a Tree Top Junior adventure for the girls and their brother to enjoy whilst we were on holiday in Dorset.

We tried out Go Ape at Bedgebury in Kent back in April and all three of them loved it, so they were super keen to go back and had we been home rather than on holiday I'd have happily booked a Go Ape party for the girls and some of their friends.

Birthday Parties with Go Ape
Tree Top Junior parties are available for 4 - 12-year-old children and the cost is from £18 per child with no minimum or maximum numbers. You do need to note the supervision ratio though as you'll need to ensure you have enough adults with you. If you are taking young ones (remember they have to be 1 metre or over) then you need one adult for every two children under 6 years and the adults have to do the course as well. If you are taking older children (6-12 years) then you only need one adult per eight children and the adults can supervise from the ground.

The £18 covers the cost of the hour's Tree Top Junior course, which includes the safety briefing and a certificate to take home. There are also invitations that you can print out yourself or use to email to your party-goers.

You might like some extras though and you can purchase party bags for a cost of £5 per bag and this might sound more than your average cost but the items in the bag are quality and branded with Go Ape. In the bag you receive a medal, a Yo Yo, a pencil set, pencils, a monkey mask and stickers. A Go Ape t-shirt is also available to purchase for the birthday child at a cost of £12 if you wish to make them feel special.

If you want to feed your party participants then you can book an hour (or more if you wish) in the covered forest shelter for £20 per hour and lay out your own picnic or snacks. Of course, if you expect the weather to be nice you don't have to book the shelter and can just bring your own picnic blankets and eat Al Fresco at a place of your choosing within the country park.

Tree Top Junior
Before we went to Moors Valley the kids were asking me if this Tree Top Junior course would be the same as the one they did before and I had to be honest and say I didn't know. I bit of a hunt around the Go Ape website showed me that everyone is unique and of course there are some similar features and they all end with an awesome zip wire but it meant the kids could be super excited by something new and unknown.

The Moor Valley Tree Top Junior is described on the Go Ape website as - "A fun-filled hour of canopy exploring, trailblazing and obstacles for all to enjoy at Moors Valley. You’ll negotiate three loops of crossings and finish on a high with two awesome Zip Wires. The Big U is a popular crossing with our tribe and Walk the Plank is arguably our trickiest obstacle!"

What did my kids think?
They loved it! Just as I expected they would. The day we went was after some heavy rain so when they came down the zip wire and landed in the wood chips at the bottom they all stuck to them and one of the girls had a pale grey top on under her pink hoodie so she got very, very dirty (but it all came out in the wash). Have a look at them in action -

Booking In - It was very quiet when we arrived at Moors Valley on the first Monday of half-term at about 10am and this excited the kids as it meant they would get lots of circuits in. After a toilet break (which isn't too far away and there are lots of them and clean too!) we headed to the Go Ape office and asked if we could book in early. Luckily after checking their numbers there was no issue as they were under their maximum for that time slot and they bought us forward, which was very accommodating.

Safety - The kids all read the safety instructions and I had to read and sign for them too. Of course, I had to remain there as their responsible adult and we headed over to the harness area to see one of the instructors. The kids were told about wearing their harnesses and helped into them by a couple of instructors. They then went over to the practice area and were talked through using their trolley, which is the part of their safety equipment that hooks onto the metal rope that they are attached to the whole time they are on the course.

The instructors are really good at testing the kid's knowledge of how many people can be on a crossing (2) and how many on a platform (3) to ensure that safe weights are kept and all the children remain safe and happy. This time they also got the kids to jump through a hole to make sure the harness would hold the kids safe, should they slip and this offered fabulous peace of mind to the girls to know that they could fall off, not hold on and still be absolutely fine as the harness would hold them totally.

The Course - As with Bedgebury there are two different circuits and the kids are encouraged to do circuit one first to get a feel for the course and then once confident move onto the second more challenging circuit. Both end with the zip wire, although you don't have to do the zip wire if you really don't want to. I know this as my Miss M got a bit fed up getting the bark in her leggings as it was wet and didn't do it the last few goes.

Miss M and JJ got a bit worn out and had around six goes each but we couldn't get Miss E off until her time had expired and she managed eight goes round the circuit in just over an hour. It really did wear her out! of course at the end you get a sticker and certificate of completion. Another one to add to the bedroom wall of fame!

They all agreed this was an excellent course and they had a fab time. Next time I could remember to take a change of clothes for them all if it has been bad weather.

Moors Valley Country Park
It was our first time visiting this country park but I'm sure it won't be the last as it is huge and there is so much to do there - Moors Valley railway, cycling, walking, play trails, nature hunting, picnicking, ranger-led events such as archery and pond dipping and of course the awesome treetop trail where you get magnificent views.

You have to be aware there are car parking charges in action and it is £10 for a car (up to 12 seats) during the school holidays to park for the whole day but I don't think this is bad when you consider what it gives you access to.

Why not pin this for later?

Disclosure: We received a free go on the Tree Top Junior course for the three children in exchange for this honest review. I have not been instructed what to write and I remain honest. Thanks so much, Go Ape, we had a great day.

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