A crack team from Alpkit GHQ headed to Thornbridge Outdoors in order to see what they could throw at them.
The Big Shakeout weekend is all set to get the adrenaline pumping for all levels of outdoor enthusiasts, but what activity could cater for all levels in one sitting? Well our hosts for the Big Shakeout, Thornbridge Outdoors have a number of set ups that could well fit the bill, whether that’s for groups of mates, young kids or families. On a recent visit the Alpkit team decided to take a tour of some of the on-site activities that are on offer.
First up was the Sky ropes, a skeletal network of wire, wooden poles and cargo net, towering in the Thornbridge grounds. Striding up to it there is a slight air of apprehension combined with a feeling of ‘how hard can it be?’
“Stepping out onto a damp, 10mm tensile wire over a 6 meter drop I have to admit to feeling more nervous than I’d expected, the meter and a half of slack I’d blasély asked for in my safety line now not seeming quite so sensible. I was a little sceptical of the high ropes course, as a climber and a reasonable slackliner I’d not really seen where the challenge would lie… “Pete
In a mix of friendly bravado and encouragement, the sky ropes proves a fun and challenging exercise whether it’s overcoming your fear of heights or refining your high-line techniques. “I really enjoyed the Sky ropes even though it was raining, i loved the fact that each of the sections could be made easy or hard to suit who was doing it, and even better to see Izzy complete the course even though she was scared of heights” Nick
“After a year off work on maternity leave, what better way to reintegrate myself with the Alpkit staff than joining them at Thornbridge to tackle the sky ropes and low ropes courses. I have done a couple of high ropes courses before but never with a group of experienced climbers. My climbing ability is rather patchy, at best enthusiastic, so I thought that I was going to be the one left sobbing halfway round the course neither able to move forward or backwards and needing to be rescued by a sympathetic instructor. When it came to the crunch though, it turned out that we were all in pretty much the same boat. The exposure of the course gives quite a different feel to climbing, especially if like me, you prefer to always have something to stand or grip onto! It was definitely a ‘heart in the mouth’ moment when I stepped onto the first wire but having seen Nick and Ben go ahead of me, there was no way I was not going to finish!” Jenni
“I definitely preferred the low-ropes. However there was lots of team encouragement as I made my way around the sky ropes and a zip wire is always fun, even if you are scared of heights. There’s fun for everyone!” Izzy
Moving on from the sky ropes we took a quick peek at the pump track, which will be home to the Campbell Coaching bike skills sessions, before heading out to the high ropes.
The high ropes has a mix of activities based in the trees, but it was the zip wire that we had come for. Starting 30ft in the canopy, the long climb up to the small platform is rewarded with a quick flight through the tree tops, once you take that step off…
At the Big Shakeout there are a number of high ropes and sky ropes sessions available through the Saturday and Sunday to hopefully fit around your plans.
There is also plenty to occupy the younger kids and get the whole family involved at the Big Shakeout and so we moved onto the low ropes course. Forming part of our Mini Adventurer sessions, it will provide a great challenge in balance, trust and confidence for the younger kids. But fear not, it is not primarily aimed towards younger age groups and can be adapted to make for a fun and more challenging course for the adventurous families to work together on when taking part in the Family Adrenaline day.
“Chris our instructor led us into the woods and presented us with the series of intriguing obstacles which made up the low ropes course. Even though it is never more than knee height from the ground it turned out to be an adventurous and entertainingtest of balance, co-ordination and team work”Kenny
“Surprisingly entertaining, the low ropes was a lot of fun and i’m sure families will have a lot of fun getting Dad through the course blindfolded”Nick
“The low ropes course was much more about team work and was really enjoyable to simply aim to get round without touching the ground. I’m not a fan of small, dark spaces so was pleased that I managed to get through the short mole hole however that didn’t mean I was brave enough to try the true mole hole experience! That’s for next time”Jenni
Which is just where Pete and Ben finished their time at Thornbridge. Again part of our Mini Adventurers, Family Adrenaline day, and Mole hole/Nightline courses, the mole holes are a man made series of tunnels to navigate through. Whether you want to go for the narrow or easy option, it’s a good introduction to the more adventurous side of caving. Just happened that Pete and Ben came away with some rather interesting mole facts too.