Why high ropes centres make a family day out

Need an activity to unite the family? Got teenagers and tots to entertain on a rainy day? High ropes centres are not simply fun obstacle courses in the treetops – they are a shared adventure for a family day out.

What is a high ropes centre?

Think of it as the BBC’s Total Wipeout in the treetops. Or Tarzan in the Welsh woods perhaps. In a nutshell, a high ropes centre provides an obstacle course suspended in the forest canopy. Over one course you’re likely to scramble up and down ladders, wobble across three-wire bridges, totter over spinning beams, leap onto trapezes, swing on rope-swings and whoop down a zip-wire or two. Not even the PlayStation generation can resist so much concentrated fun.

Is it dangerous?

Woman at Go Ape, Coed y Brenin, Wye Valley

 by Go Ape

Would be if you were to try it without a safety harness. All participants receive a safety briefing before they begin and are hitched to a safety wire that runs around the entire course. If you fall the worst you’ll receive is a big hit of adrenaline before you climb back onto the obstacle (and big hits of adrenaline are half the point). Some high ropes courses position instructors to supervise higher obstacles.

Higher obstacles? I’m scared of heights!

Don’t worry – you are always clipped on so cannot fall far. And there’s no need to complete an obstacle that seems insurmountable nor to complete the course. While staff provide reassurance, they do not apply pressure. Your teenagers are another matter, but you may surprise yourself if you don’t look down.

Can all children go?

While each centre is different, most provide a low-level course for very young children who cannot manage safety systems alone, with parents assisting from the ground. Older children are usually allowed to clamber at their own pace alone. Parents can still watch, take photos and offer encouragement from the ground. Expect around two hours per course circuit.

Can parents join in too?

Llangorse Multi Activity Centre, Powys, Mid Wales

Of course. High ropes courses have a habit of uniting families in a shared challenge: youngsters find reassurance together, teenagers get to show off and mum and dad might discover they really aren’t too old for this sort of thing after all. All in all a great family adventure that’s as much a mental challenge as physical.

Sounds like fun. Is it educational too?

Actually, yes. High ropes centres stress the importance of safety outdoors and share techniques that can be useful in activities such as climbing.

What happens if it’s raining?

You have more fun, say some guides. With rain comes mud and that means more slippery courses – teenage heaven. Most high ropes courses only close when safety is threatened by extreme winds, lightning, snow or ice. The forest canopy provides some shelter in rain too. Bring your waterproofs and embrace the challenge.

I’m sold. What do I need?

Comfortable clothing that you don’t mind getting grubby. Shoes with grip and an enclosed toe. Possibly gloves. Always a sense of adventure.