Exploring the New Forest Wildlife Park

A few weeks ago, after feeling slightly glum, Kieran surprised me with a trip to the New Forest Wildlife Park to lift my spirits. Despite loving the forest and visiting quite a few spots over the years on our woodland visits, I hadn’t heard of the park until Kieran went on a recent college trip there as part of his Conservation and Wildlife Management course.

We met lots of cute animals, from European Bison, a Red-Necked Wallaby and Wild Boar, but I have to say my favourite moments were being able to witness roe deer being fed and roaming freely in the park, as well as seeing some wolves prowl their grounds.

It was hard to get a good photo, but I enjoyed sharing the experience with Kieran, who was equally as captivated with these gorgeous creatures. 

We also got to see Munchkin, the park’s resident Eurasian Lynx, be fed and learn all about her habits from one of their rangers.

It wasn’t until I did a little reading up after my visit that I realised just how much this amazing wildlife park contributes towards the conservation of endangered animals that we spotted on our travels around the site.

This included a giant otter, which is currently on the IUCN endangered species Red List, making the park the first in the UK to send a captive-bred giant otter to an international breeding programme. This is as well as various other conservation projects, such as the rehabilitation of injured and orphaned native species of owls, deers and Scottish wildcats. 

The park also works closely alongside the RSPCA, vets and police to help rescue injured or abandoned wild animals. After finding out about all of the work the New Forest Wildlife Park does, all without external subsidisation, I was pleased our entry fee would be put to good use to allow the park to carry on doing the great job they do... and would happily visit again!



Living Life Adventurously with Go Ape! Moors Valley

It really doesn't take much to persuade me to spend time in the forest. So, when I received an email from Go Ape! inviting me over to their Moors Valley site for a go on their Tree Top Adventure course, I didn't give it a second thought. Even if the notion of climbing ladders, balancing on wires among the treetops and free-falling into rope nets did make a tad nervous. To clarify, "a tad nervous" could also mean "I ended up crying when crossing a rope net to get from one podium to another" on my second ever visit. But hey, in fairness, I did a 5K park run before that. This girl was tired!

This time around, which was my third visit at the lovely Moors Valley site, I was accompanied by Kieran's sister Rikki. This was while her fiancee Matt, and children Olivia and Charlie, took on the Tree Top Junior course which is suitable for little adventurers over one metre tall.

After combatting the entire course on my second visit, I was feeling pretty confident about taking to the treetops again and (hopefully) reassuring Rikki that it wasn't as scary as it seemed! Despite my nerves, I have to say that having my own fiancee Kieran, who's an instructor at Go Ape! himself, sort out my harness, remind us of the safety guidelines and show us the ropes made me feel more at ease.

That's not to say that my legs didn't start to shake a little after climbing the first rope ladder and preparing myself to walk across wooden steps joined with rope, climbing up nets and shifting one foot at a time to get across a thin metal wire (while gripping onto the one above my head for dear life). And this is just the warm up course after your introduction!

For me, all of the nerves and precarious wobbling over platforms is made completely worth it once you reach each zipwire at the end of each course, of which there are four (five if you include the intro site) where you're rewarded with the feeling of flying through the sky. This is followed by a not-so-graceful landing (unless you're a pro of course) into wood chip at the bottom. And yes, I did once lose a shoe. So, if there's one thing you learn from this blog post, it's to tie your damn shoes up properly.

Out of all of the courses, I have to say the final site was my favourite. I was disappointed in myself for not taking the site on during my first ever visit to GoApe! last year, so I've faced it head-on during my second and third go. There's nothing quite like the feeling of letting go of your fears and trusting your harness completely as you step off a towering platform and free fall into the Tarzan swing. I'm proud to say I still let out the most ridiculous scream.

So, whether you're looking to take on a challenge to overcome your fears like me, are a lover of adrenaline inducing activities or just love spending time in the forest, I couldn't recommend Go Ape! enough. For someone who was once petrified of heights and didn't think they'd overcome it, I'm glad I accepted their offer and gave it another go. Even if I did end up washing wood chip out of my hair for days.