Monday 24 May 2010


Exactly six weeks ago, my elder son turned 18. Today, it was the turn of my younger son, Ben, to complete the run of birthdays by reaching his 16th year. He is sitting his GCSEs at present, but, fortunately for him, didn't have an exam today, so we grabbed the opportunity to go out. The place he chose was here...

This is Cannock Forest.

Cannock Forest is on Cannock Chase, in south Staffordshire and, in spite of being close to Birmingham and the other centres of population in the West Midlands, is classed as an area of outstanding natural beauty - the smallest on mainland Britain.

But, we didn't come just for the beauty. Our ultimate destination was Go Ape!

Go Ape is a high-rope adventure course. There are several of these around the UK so, as we have visited the one at Buxton every year for the past three years, we decided to head south for a change.

Upon arrival, we geared up, completed our 30 minute training section and took off on the course.

Go Ape Cannock involves 38 crossings,

5 zip wires (the longest of which - number 3 - is 260m)

(This is the slightly shorter zip wire 4.)

...and 2 Tarzan swings!

...which required us to step off the edge of a platform and drop around four feet before the rope reached full length and began the swing into the waiting cargo net.

The crossings are fun; some because they are particularly high, some because they are particularly challenging and others because they are easy, but with the potential for going no-hands!

The zip wires are brilliant! The higher and longer they are, the more excited about them we become!

The Tarzan Swings are... different! There is something about stepping off and dropping which suddenly makes my knees turn to jelly! Mark and Ben always hurl themselves off. Today, I was very pleased with myself because I dropped from standing (as opposed to crouching); but climbing up and across the cargo net at the other end is sheer murder!

Ben had a great time; having turned 16, he wasn't required to be quite so closely supervised and, because it was a quiet day, he managed to go round to do the largest Tarzan swing twice!

Pizza Hut in a short while!

Happy 16th Birthday, Ben

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