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What are you really scared of?
I like to think that generally I’m pretty confident. I’m not scared of a lot of big stuff like being a single parent, being self-employed and the only breadwinner, driving massive motorhomes by myself, going on stage in front of hundreds of people and trying to be funny, zip wiring off the end of a pier across the sea – all of these I’m good with.
Stepping out onto a bridge made of planks though, high above the ground, with just a couple of carabiner clips to reassure me – THAT I am scared of.
It’s probably not surprising then that the weeks leading up to visiting Zip World in the Rhigos mountains in South Wales were a little on the anxious side. Especially not when you consider their brand new family attraction – Tower Climber.
Tower Climber is the newest addition to Zip World in South Wales, joining Tower Flyer, Tower Coaster and Phoenix – the fastest seated zip wire in the whole world. (We did this while we were there and LOVED it – definitely recommend.)
While I can get on board with zip wires, as you really just have to sit there, there is something about the high ropes and having to physically make yourself step out onto an obstacle that I find really tough. Still, I’m always up for a challenge, so I engaged the ‘act now think later’ part of my brain, said YES and off we went to the site of the old Tower Colliery for some wholesome family fun.
The Zip World Tower Climber is different from other high ropes courses. All the other high ropes I’ve ever seen have followed a linear course, with a one way route around them and a constant stream of people going through. What this means is that if you get stuck on one part of the course, you’re in trouble. There’s no time for steeling your nerves and thinking brave thoughts without holding up a queue of people behind you and if you really can’t do something then you can’t just skip it.
Tower Climber is different.
Rather than following a linear route, Tower Climber is 69 obstacles spread over several levels, with the option to try as much or as little of it as you feel happy with. You have 90 minutes, including getting kitted up, to explore the course, and each individual element has a colour code to let you know how difficult it is. If you just want to stick to the easy obstacles, (me), you can stay with blues, but if you want to challenge yourself you can have a go at a red or a black route.
We made it all the way up to the top level and I have to say that despite the fact that I only managed one plank bridge at the very top, it was worth it for the view alone out over the mountains. (You can even see Pen Y Fan in the distance, the site of 65% of all male Tinder profile pictures!)
Belle absolutely smashed it. On the top level she went the whole way across and then out along a metal beam that must only have been about four inches wide. Right at the end of the beam was a bell, which you had to lean out to ring.
As I watched, clinging to the bars of one of the wooden platforms, my knuckles white, I questioned whether if anything went wrong, if I’d be able to go and rescue her. I decided no, but that this was okay as there were staff on every level ready to help out. I’d have just gotten in the way I was sure. (I’ve put a few videos on Instagram and saved them as a ‘Zip World’ highlight if you want to see Belle walk to the end of the beam and me embarrass myself on a sledge.)
I joke, but genuinely we had a really fun time. I was scared, sure, but there is something liberating about being scared and doing it anyway. It’s also strangely empowering to be able to say ‘I’ve had a go but this rope net is where I draw the line.’
While I was on the other side of the plank bridge on the top level, wondering how I would ever get back again, a boy of about 12 came up to the steps, took one look, and went down again. I felt decidedly proud of myself in that moment for getting as far as I did.
If you’ve been too scared to do other high ropes courses, or worried that you’d get stuck and embarrass yourself, then I honestly think Tower Climber is the high ropes course for you. The design and layout means that really anyone can have a go, no matter how nervous you might feel. Let’s face it, if I can do it, renowned as I am in my family for my agility and physical prowess, (ha!) then surely anyone can? There’s even a ground level course for 3-8 year olds, so the youngest members of the family can join in too.
Zip World has 20 attractions across its sites in Wales, and this one in South Wales has plenty to keep you busy. Don’t expect a over commercialised day out where the main focus is a huge gift shop, branded pencils, and endless ice cream huts – the emphasis here is on the activities, being outside and embracing the history of the old colliery. There is a large cafe should you need it, but you won’t be overwhelmed by mountains of needless upselling like you can be at some family day out destinations.
If you’re anywhere near South Wales this summer, or even if you fancy a bit of a drive for something special, then we can massively recommend Zip World and Tower Climber. We had a brilliant time and I came away feeling like I’d not only had fun, but also faced some fears – I went to bed that night feeling tired, happy and just a little bit smug.
Find out more about Tower Climber and book your adventure now with the code JO10 for 10% off.