Jo Leigh spends a day in the trees at Hampshire’s TreeRunners site, here’s how she got on…
“It’ll be fun!” They said… “It’ll be a challenge!” They said… “We can do it!” They said… And, as it turns out, they were right!
Hampshire’s Treerunners was the chosen destination for a ‘hen do’ upon which I was recently invited. The adventure-filled day was to lead me up into the heights of Cowdown Woods where I would swing, zip line, climb ropes and traverse trees. Nervous? Just a little!
Before the day’s activities had begun, I have to say my expectations were low. I’m not the fittest human out there and I kept thinking back to how much I had struggled to complete the last monkeying around adventure at Moors Valley. Would this be an embarrassing repeat? In the spirit of the day, I decided I was willing to give it a go – but was fully expecting to give up half way.
I joined our team, they weren’t hard to spot; the hen herself was dressed in full camouflage gear whilst all of her hens were given camo headbands. We certainly looked the part but ‘all the gear and no idea’ is a pretty accurate description for us!
We all listened to a comprehensive safety briefing; the guys at Treerunners clearly take health and safety very seriously, something that was warmly received by the hens. We were taught how to ‘lock on and lock off,’ which, provided it’s done correctly, ensures you’re never putting yourself in danger. After a few tries of locking on and off, we were ready to hit the course, of which there are five to choose from. I have to confess, I chose the easiest of the five, but knowing my limitations I played it safe. Other hens chose to go for the more adventurous courses straight away; the hen choose the black run (hardest) and was up, around and down within 10 minutes! Great, I thought, this will be easy!
My first challenge to overcome was the 40ft ladder climb to the first rope bridge. Suddenly, at 40ft your mind switches off and loses all common sense, nothing seems easy now. Indeed, fear takes over and you quickly realise you’re on your own. ‘Think. Lock on, lock off! Don’t look down. Look straight ahead!’ – this became my mantra for the day!
Finally, with composure reset, I was ready to go. The course I chose is designed to give rewards for hard work, which was great. After a challenging rope bridge walk, you get a fun zip line to repay your efforts and again a suspended tree ladder with an even longer zip line. Each challenge gets harder and harder as you, but in return the rewards become higher and the zip lines longer. It’s such a great and cleverly designed course, and all in the natural surroundings of local woods.
After the course was complete, I rejoined terra-firma with exhilaration and looking back I was astonished at what I had achieved. If someone had said to me that morning; “You will be hanging from a suspended ladder between two trees” I would have laughed in their face! But, that is what I did and I am so proud!
The site is geared up for all ages and there is a smaller course for very little ones. The other five courses do need to be tackled on your own so I would recommend only confident, older children attempt these. However, I do know eight-year-old children to have conquered these courses.
The staff are friendly, patient and happy to help. They talk you through each stage should you need a little extra advice and support. The setting is also ideal; with canopied seating areas on rustic leather sofas. Vintage and natural décor, wood fired pizza ovens and even warming fire pits ensure the perfect ambience for this type of day out.
Treerunners in Hampshire really is a superb adventure park for all. Open in the summer and spring seasons only, it would make an ideal birthday party or even a school trip. Challenging but so rewarding!
Prices are from £17 per person and booking is strictly online at www.treerunners.com