Task: Try Europe’s longest zip wire

I’m worried.  If the zip wire involves what Madonna-microphone-wearing shouty hot-bod gym trainers call upper body strength, this will be about as enjoyable and successful as my attempt at aerial silks.  Because I have no upper body strength.

No matter.  I arrive at ‘Go Ape’ at the ExCel centre where there is a tomboy-heaven trade show taking place, packed with enough derring do stands to satisfy the Famous Five.  At 500 metres long, the zip is long enough to gather some speed; 18mph may not sound like much on a double decker bus, but it sounds plenty fast enough on a zip wire.

There is a crowd of us queuing to have a go, and one by one we step into our harnesses; canvas straps which circle our thighs and waists.  They couldn’t make you feel more self-conscious if they were rigged with flashing fairy lights and ringing car alarms.

There are two ladders; one is rope and though people are clipped onto them, they sway alarmingly while they climb. I chose the wooden ladder and become more apprehensive with every one of the 31 steps to the wooden platform.  It moves, and feels very insubstantial which is alarming at 18feet high. I had thought that after wing-walking, this would be a cake-walk.  It’s very surprising to learn that this was just as nerve-racking.  The ground looks just far enough below you to reassure you that you would seriously hurt yourself if you fell.

As I’m clipped onto the zip, I feel lightheaded with trepidation.  The man calmly runs through what will happen, reassures me that I won’t be holding myself on by the strength of my arms, tells me how to stop, and advises me to sit in my harness.  This feels like sitting in an individually sized swinging hammock.  And then I’m off.

Wheeeeeee at 18mph, which is fast enough to feel it.  I’m beaming.  The end hoves into view.  For reasons that aren’t clear, I arrive backwards, and desperately dig my heels into the mountains of sawdust to stop.

I thought I’d be winded but I feel exhilarated.  Afterwards, all I can think of, as I stand and watch others zipping above me, is that I must have looked like Bridget Jones when she slid down the fireman’s pole for her television report.  All you could see was her enormous arse filling the screen; a total eclipse in opaque tights.


I’d really love to do this again, but in the fresh air, so I can zip-wire over the tree tops.  It must feel like flying.

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