Go to GoApe, Battersea Park
Our Managing Editor, Charlotte Peterson, took in the view from the treetops in Battersea Park
and reports back from solid ground.
I arrived in Battersea Park with two excited seven-year-old boys in tow, walked past a gorilla carved out of wood and headed to the reception desk. The whole site is brilliant. To those who claim the paid-for GoApe and Putt in the Park attractions detract from or impinge on the free playgrounds, need to visit for themselves. There are hours of fun to be had. Perhaps until your toes start freezing at this time of year? Despite over an hour of swinging around the tree tops, once back on terra firma the two boys were off and running around the fab wooden playground for a good long, run-them-ragged kind of time.
Back to GoApe. First impressions? Great staff. Welcoming, efficient, calm, reassuring. Above all, reassuring. I will confess I hate heights. If it wasn’t for being in the very fortunate position of having been invited along to review it, I would never have entertained the idea of going up there myself. But go up I did.
For the Tree Top Junior ‘Mini Tarzans’ course for those over one metre tall, you’re supplied with clear and concise safety regulations to read with your children, before heading over to be harnessed up. That process is well-handled, quick and did I say reassuring? Then there’s a brief safety chat (eye contact with the children) and a small practice slope and steps to help you get the hang of how you are firmly attached to the wire.
And then you’re off. Rope bridges, scramble nets, wooden poles, obstacle crossings, flying carpets (wooden ones), platforms to rest a while and let your legs recover. There’s a lot to be said for going up there with your children. Not least to share it and be able to talk about it excitedly before, during and after, but you have to do it. You have to overcome your fears and not put your anxieties onto them. My words of encouragement and reassurance to my slightly nervous 7 year old in front of me, were as much for my own ears as they were for his. We coaxed each other along – “Don’t look down, Mum”, “Look straight ahead”, “Nearly there, just one more step and you’ve done it, Mum”, “Well done, you did it, Mum!” Okay, so I may have needed more encouragement than he did, but you get my drift.
We all agreed the zip wire (you get to do two on the Junior Trail) was the best bit. My son’s friend did Superman arms on the first one, I did Wonder Woman arm on my second. We took just over an hour to complete the course. Some will be quicker, some slower. You have to wait until the platform ahead is clear enough for you to arrive there; only 3 people allowed at any one time and only two on the crossings. And this is another reason for the fun atmosphere. You can pause to chat a while, exchange friendly remarks with strangers, take in the view above, below and sideways, and ponder how extraordinary it is to be up in the treetops in central London.
It’s novel, adventurous, challenging. And it’s right on our doorstep. Never have I known adrenaline coursing through my veins quite so dramatically as to make every limb shake like the leaves that had fallen from the trees. But I focused, I looked ahead and I did it.
Reflecting over a delicious pizza afterwards at the Putt in the Park pizzeria next door, I asked the two boys how they would sum it up in three words. Fun, fantastic and amazing, said one. Awesome, cool and a bit scary, said the other (mine). So perhaps I had passed on my fear just a little, but we headed home happy, tired and exceedingly pleased to have done it. I urge you all to GoApe. If you don’t want to go up, you don’t have to, so long as you think they’ll be alright. There are staff dotted around and ready to help should help be needed. But challenge yourself and give it a go, if you can. I don’t even like backless stairs, but now I can walk along rope bridges in the treetops.
Back home, the sofa had never felt so comfortable. A glass of wine, a bowl of popcorn and a movie were in order. Cliffhanger, perhaps.
Mini Tarzans (over 1 metre tall) £18
Baboons (10 to 15 years, over 1.4m) £25
Gorillas (age 16+) £33