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REVIEW: High ropes in the Forest of Dean with MOTIVA

REVIEW: High ropes in the Forest of Dean with MOTIVA

Mid-summers day and we found ourselves travelling again to the Forest of Dean for another adventure – this time not in the water but up in the trees.

Our destination, Motive High Ropes, just outside Berry Hill and adjacent to Christchurch caravan and camping site and the new luxury holiday cabins.

Met by Matthew, the founder and head honcho of Motiva, we were soon slipping on the safety harnesses and donning the protective helmets. Matthew systematically went through the all important safety training and answered any questions. It was at this point I knew that this was one man who knew his trade, and with over twenty years in the outdoor pursuit business, I could see why.

Set amongst stunning forest scenery, our evenings forest adventure consisted of three tasks, which, it transpired, was the perfect introduction to the high ropes.

The first exercise was ‘Crate Stacking’. From the images I’d seen previously this activity came across as a bit dull, but this was not the case at all. There were four in our group – two adults and two teenagers. The objective was to build a crate tower whilst standing on the crates. Split into two teams, the ‘young ones’ went first, whilst we drew the ropes and kept them firmly taught, as the crates grew taller, as did the builders. It wasn’t long until the tenth and final layer of crates were locked into place. The smiles beaming from the elevated teens. The ceremonious ‘kicking the crates down’ marked their triumph and after they were eased to the ground.

Now it was our turn. Unfortunately for me, my ‘better half’ had obviously been watching too much Wimbledon, as her tennis elbow was playing up a little. The first three or four layers of crates were fine but each layer thereafter proved trickier, especially as I had a less-able body clinging to me like a leech. Before the task Matthew had told us certain techniques to a successful crate tower build and for once in my life the wife obeyed my instructions – she really wasn’t saying much at all – again, a first! We completed the task but a somewhat premature slip by the ‘clingy one’, and the crates went flying before we could do our victory knock down. Oh what Matthew must have been thinking at this point?

On reflection I can see why this particular task is a great team building exercise for school children and corporate groups.

On to the next challenge – the ‘Pole’. The pole was about twenty feet high with a two foot square platform on the top and the objective was to climb to the top and stand up. Again the young blood opted to go first and during their ascent they had to put blocks in the slots above to make footings as they climbed. Once at the top they stood up, held hands and leaned back in opposite directions before letting go of each other and falling to the ground backwards – well they didn’t fall actually did they, as they were attached to the safety ropes!

One adult down (this task was too much for the tennis elbow) and I powered my way to the top before you could say “Tarzan!”.  That was the easy bit, the hard part was to stand up from the kneeling position on the what was now a very, very small platform. A pause, a longer pause – it seemed an age before I worked my one leg upwards, steadily rising my body to allow my second leg to then help ease my whole body to a an upright position– I was standing. From the ground it must have looked like the famous illustration of the ‘Evolution of Man’ – from ‘Ape’ to ‘Neanderthal’ to a ‘human wreck’! The adrenaline rush had firmly kicked in and as I decided not to look down and gaze only across a never ending forest of trees, Matthew’s voice called out those terrifying words, “Now lean backwards and let yourself go.” I gulped and did as I was told.

The third and final challenge was the ‘Leap of Faith’. I wasn’t sure what the previous one was called but if I had to name it would be the ‘Totum Pole of Doom’. The ‘Leap of Faith’ was simple. To climb to a platform half way up a tree (very big tree) and launch ones body through the air and catch a trapeze swing. Easy. Well, my daughter made light work of it and then seeing the hesitation in my son’s eyes, I decided to go second. Still buzzing form the previous task, I climbed to the platform and looked at the trapeze, which was about a metre away. Again the realistion of my phobia of heights hit me. “Mind over matter, mind over matter”, the voices in my head kept saying. Leaping from the platform and grasping the trapeze with my sweaty palms wasn’t as bad as I thought – it’s just that bit beforehand which is the worse. Once completed, I let go of the trapeze and was lowered gently to the ground. My son overcame his initial fears and all three of us had another go – this time with the trapeze further away. Making and maintaining contact with the trapeze was a relief, but still having to let go was a daunting thought, but then again, this was the only way down to terra firma.

All the way through the tasks it was so re-assuring to have Matthew there.

A couple of years ago we went to another high ropes activity in the Forest of Dean. Although a fantastic experience with full safety instructions given, the instructors left us after the first three high rope tasks. The unique selling point with Matthew and his team at Motiva, is that every group is always fully supervised with a qualified and dedicated instructor through all the high ropes challenges. With hindsight, I now wished I’d booked a high ropes adventure with Motiva first.

We all had an amazing time and Matthew has welcomed us back to take on one of the many other activities that Motiva have to offer in the Forest of Dean, including archery, rock climbing, abseiling, canoeing, kayaking, orienteering and map reading, raft building and many more.  Motiva also have their very own Climbing Tower located at Beechenhurst.

Throughout the summer holidays Motiva are also offering a whole host of family and children’s activities – to find out e-mail

Explore Gloucestershire

24 June 2011

NB: Since this review Motiva is now owned by Forest of Dean Adventure Tower & Ropes.

For further information.


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