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Tackling the new tree-top challenge

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You need a head for heights for the Isle of Man’s latest outdoor adventure experience.

And the man behind Ape Mann Adventure Park, at South Barrule plantation, says that only a week after the opening of its high ropes course it’s already proving a big hit with residents and visitors alike.

Steve Salter invited a team from Isle of Man Newspapers’ newsroom to try out the course for themselves.

Unlike at Go Ape sites, the rope course has been built using a continuous lifeline system, which means there’s no need to clip on and off as you reach the different obstacles.

After being kitted up with a helmet and harness, and paying full attention to the safety talk, it was time to head to the tree tops.

At its highest point, the course is set eight metres above ground.

From the start, the course is a test of good balance, co-ordination, and looking where you are going without looking down.

The first obstacle involves negotiating a series of suspended wooden poles. This is followed by narrow wooden beams and a see-saw, before the first zipwire.

For many the highlight of the course was another zipwire which involves jumping off a wooden platform on to a giant rubber ball.

Crawling upwards through a tunnel slowed some members of our team down as did traversing a tyre net.

This is followed by more wooden bridges and beams, before it is time to take a deep breath for the last challenge – a leap on to the 300 foot zipwire that takes you back down to the ground.

It took only a hot drink to ready ourselves for the next challenge that is part of the package for everyone who tries the high ropes course.

At 17 metres up in a tree, the bell you ring to show you’ve climbed to the top is barely visible from the ground.

Attached by a belay system to Steve, we knew we were in safe hands, but nonetheless, it is a long way to the top!

The way down is easier than going up, abseiling back down the tree.

Work started on the high ropes course at the end of October, and was juggled around customers enjoying the low ropes course and tree climb/abseil.

Steve said: ‘It’s been a real team effort to achieve what we have.

‘Now what we are hoping for is a reasonably decent summer weather-wise.’

Steve and the team have even bigger plans in the pipeline for the site.

As well as extending the high ropes course, they are also looking into developing the quarry for an outdoor climbing area.

‘Hopefully if DEFA continue to support our plans, because of the lease we have got, we would be more than happy to further invest in the area and develop it to its full potential,’ he said.

‘A lot of that will depend on what support we get from government.’

The high ropes experience (£18 for adults, £14 for children) lasts two hours and is open to people aged 10 and over.

For those new to Ape Mann there’s the chance to go on the low ropes course first to get to grips with the equipment and kind of obstacles you’ll face, before completing two laps of the high ropes course.

Hot drinks and a tree climb/abseil are also included.

 

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