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Thrills and chills of the countryside in urban London

Go-Ape adventure park

Experience the thrills and chills of the countryside in urban London

Are you an “Adrenaline-junkie” or are you more of “a relax around nature” kind of person? Or maybe you’re just like me and require a bit of both in life? One minute I’m sitting in a park watching ducks swim across a serene lake and the next - I’m plummeting to my feet from 15 metres in the sky on a 79 metres long zipwire. I had the most exciting day at Alexandra Palace filled with plenty of “thrills” and “chills” to last a lifetime. Here’s how you can have one too with fun-filled activities for all the family to enjoy!

Two photos, a girl sitting in a train carriage, and the exterior view of a building

To start a nice chilled journey

I woke up early to get the most out of my day and took a Great Northern train from Moorgate to Alexandra Palace. It’s always cheaper to book off-peak tickets directly and from up to 12 weeks in advance. The train ride was really calming, because I knew I didn’t have to worry about parking and could instead just sit back and enjoy the ride. I also really appreciated the fact that I could use the charging port to make sure my phone had the longest battery life possible, so I could go on to capture the best memories from my day out.

I also loved the luxury of having FREE Wifi on board the train, because it meant I could research the best and safest techniques for ice-skating - which was my very first activity of the day.

First Thrill stop -  Alexandra Palace Ice Rink

I arrived at Alexandra Palace station, which was only a 15 minute walk from the ice rink. (Note that there was some construction work in place and so the walk required a bit of steep hill hiking and took a bit longer than expected, so it’s worth getting there early before your designated slot).

The session cost £10.50, which included the time on the ice and the skates for hire. I first went to pick up some skates in my shoe size and bought myself a £1 locker token at reception to store all of my belongings. I’m not the best ice-skater and I did have a fear of falling, but I really wanted to challenge myself at something I’m not good at in the name of self-growth! The first 5 minutes on the ice is when I began to question every life choice I’ve ever had made up till that point. I was one of those people who was clutching onto the barrier of the rink, holding on for dear life and saying my prayers under my breath. I felt like Bambi on ice for the first time.

Two photos of a girl ice skating

After taking a full 360 around the rink, I began to get used to the process and felt a bit more daring, so I somehow managed to make my way to the middle of the ice! I also gave myself mini milestone tasks in my head such as reaching certain circles on the floor in order to mark my progress and keep moving forward. During a weekday, there were a lot of professional skaters doing tricks and speeding along the tracks, so I was advised to keep on the outer layer to avoid any collisions with more experienced skaters. When I asked the instructor for the best technique he told me to bend my knees and form a ‘V’ shape with my feet and to lift them off the ground - a bit like waddling like a penguin, instead of sliding to avoid getting disbalanced. I felt a bit ridiculous waddling like this in my modest poncho, but actually the other skaters were really supportive. One kind stranger came up to me to compliment my outfit and said I looked cute, which was really sweet and honestly made my day! It helped get my confidence back up - we love to see women supporting other women!

By the time I knew it, the two hour session had flown by and thankfully I managed to leave unscathed without a single fall (which is a new personal record for me!)

Time for Lunch

I did feel rather tired from moving my feet so much, so I decided to take a rest break at the cafe outside of the rink, located in Alexandra Palace. The staff were really helpful and friendly in guiding me to vegetarian options. I opted for a falafel and hummus sandwich, which tasted really fresh and was a cooling meal on such a hot day. If I had a bit more time I would have also bought one of their pink iced Belgian buns at the bakery, because it looked scrumptious and I have a very big sweet-tooth to please.

As a Muslim, by 1:00pm I needed to pray so I asked the staff at ‘Visitor Services’ for a quiet place to sit and reflect and she very kindly gave me a private spot to do so. I was also impressed that they had a portable charging vending machine available at reception, which was perfect for ensuring I had enough charge for my next adventure which was ‘Go Ape’.

A girl pointing to the Go-Ape sign and a view of the Go-Ape adventure park

The ultimate thrill GO APE!

‘Go Ape’ is an outdoor Adventure park which involves high ropes, ziplines and swings and it happens to be only a 2 minute walk from Alexandra Palace. [Note that with the construction work this walk may take a little longer]. This theme park is not to be confused with a children’s playground. Of course they had activities for children such as the ‘Treetop Adventure’ for 4-6 year olds and the ‘Treetop Adventure Plus’ for those aged 6-10, but the activity I opted for was the ‘Treetop Challenge’ for 18+ from £39 and it was no easy feat!  You have to be at least 1.4m (4'7") to legally participate and even I, as a certified member of the short-person club at a “whopping” 5’2’, struggled with some of the leaps due to my smallish legs.

Three photos of a girl at Go-Ape adventure park

Closeup of a girl at the Go-Ape adventure park on the Tarzan swingThe course itself runs for roughly 2 hours and it’s perfect for young adventurers and thrill-seekers, who aren’t afraid of heights. It involves 23 daring crossings that test your agility and nerve, as well as 2 exhilarating zip wires, offering breathtaking views from heights of up to 15m above the floor. Booking online also gets you the best price, so I would definitely recommend planning your trip in advance. You can also order yourself a waterproof lapel to store your phone, which was very helpful in taking photos and videos when up on the high climbing platforms.

I’m not usually too scared of heights and I have completed many ziplines in my lifetime, but even I have to admit I was a little afraid when climbing some of these wobbly paths in the sky and taking the initial step off the platform for the zip wires. I also didn’t anticipate how much of it would involve clipping and unclipping the continuous belay and sometimes it was tricky to independently move the trolley across the wire, but the staff were very helpful at guiding us and ensuring we were safe at all times.

My favourite part of it all was the Tarzan swing we did at the end, which as exactly as the name describes, involved me swinging from a great height into a net and then climbing that net to get to a high platform.

I would recommend wearing trainers or sport plimsolls so that they won’t fall off when you’re high up (avoid sandals, flip flops, Crocs, slip-off or high heel shoes that could trip you up or fall off). In terms of clothes, I would wear something that you don’t mind getting a little grubby, especially on a rainy day. Also gloves are recommended (which I sadly forgot to put on while I was there, so don’t make the same mistake I did because I did get a few rope burns and my nails had dirt inside them by the time I was done). I would also pack yourself a water bottle because you definitely do get thirsty from the walk and the heat in the summer.

Close up of a girl with flamingo boats in the background

Close up of coffee and a cake

Chilled Tea Time and Boating

After that, I had to rest and recover with another chill activity, so I took a 3 minute walk to the Alexandra Palace Boating Lake, where I had some very much needed afternoon tea at the Lakeside cafe. I also ordered myself a vegan banana bread which was absolutely delicious! They also had ice cream and pizza available there too. I decided to sit outside in the shade to cool off, with a stunning view of the lake. Boating costs £8.95 for a single adult, and for Under 18s it is £5.95 and a Group of 4 max (consists of at least one child) costs £24.95 and children aged 2 and under go for free. The design of the boats vary from swans, to unicorns, flamingoes and dragons - whatever creature picks your fancy. The ride lasts half an hour and provides a sensational experience for all the family.

Photos of a girl at a skate park

The final thrill Skate park

My final activity of the day was to visit the skate park which was only 2 mins away hidden gem. Although I am just a beginner skater, I enjoyed being surrounded by other more advanced skaters on the go. It is a great place to perfect your skills and ollies, with ramps, 2 fun boxes and 2 grinds. The skatepark is open every day and is locked at dusk.

A girl at a train station with a train arrived at the platform

Chill Journey Home

Overall, it was a fantastic day out with lots of fun thrills and chills along the way. By the end of the day I was so swamped and tired out, that it was great to be able to take a well-deserved nap on the journey home, when I took the Great Northern train back to London. It was a memorable experience and I hope to go on more trips like this one, when adventure is only a short train ride away!