Maybe it’s inspiration from the Monkey Forest next door, where 140 Barbary macaques run unfettered, scrambling through trees and doing their monkey thing, but the Aerial Extreme ropes course in Trentham Gardens stands apart from run-of-the-mill versions — with its location, its professional and high-spirited staff and its pure thrills.
Unlike other ropes courses where you clip and unclip at each segment, here you are clipped in to a safety wire by staffers and then toggle around, pulling your apparatus with you. The minimum height is 1.4m, and the difficulty level makes it a fun activity for adventurous younger kids, tweens, teens and adults.
Here, the top 5 reasons why you should visit.
1. The setting is beautiful
These days high ropes courses are springing up in every industrial estate and brownfield site. Those can be fun, but they lack treetop vistas. At Aerial Extreme Staffordshire, you test yourself on a course in the canopy, in a sun-dappled fringe of wood with hills rolling down toward the Trentham Estate.
2. The monkeys will inspire you…or vice versa
A visit here combines perfectly with the Monkey Forest; it’s only a few hundred yards up a path from the entrance. It would be a shame to do one without the other.
TIP: Go early to the Monkey Forest; the queues can be impressive. We did a first-thing visit to Aerial Extreme and saw the monkeys afterward. There are picnic grounds and a cafe (queues here as well), so bring your own lunch if you fancy it.
3. The staff makes it even more fun
These folks don’t just give your safety briefing and make sure your harness is properly clipped on. Everyone who goes there seems to rave about them (check out their TripAdvisor reviews). They have a cheerful patter. They tell jokes. (Our two tweens loved the stories told by James, our charismatic ginger guide.) These folks also coax nervous climbers along, not wanting to let them give up. They appear to really love it all, which makes you love it all the more.
4. There’s an easy “test yourself” short course to do first
This Aerial Extreme has 2 courses. The first one is a shorter course — a warm-up for confident visitors and confidence builder for more tentative ones before the much more challenging and longer course. Taken together, they advise allowing for 90 minutes to do both.
5. The 2nd course is truly challenging
It’s not just clambering over giant spider webs and walking along logs. You have to step between narrow swinging rods, loose-rope walk while avoiding hanging buoys, Tarzan over open space. I got off on my rhythm on one segment and thought I might end up doing the splits between to wiggly foot holds. The ground looked a long way down.
Later, my daughter and husband accused me and my daughter’s friend of “cheating” when we used the side rails of a rope ladder to walk between suspended platforms. In their minds, we should have pendulum’ed from one to the next like they had, using what I can only call overhead rope stubs. In my mind, we were innovating.
6. It ends with a bang.
Or rather, a scream.
When was the last time you were really pleasantly scared? I know my answer: when the staffer at Aerial Extreme told me to step off the platform at his count of three. I did not want to lose face in front of him. I did not want to embarrass myself (the children had done it as if stepping off a curb). I knew from watching the previous “climbers” that I would be safe. But I still couldn’t help myself when I was unclipped from the course safety wire and clipped onto the Air Fan that would lower me swiftly but safely to the ground; I did what my daughter predicted. I shrieked. Out of fear, excitement and enjoyment of the thrill.
We walked away on unsteady legs, all shaking with the adrenalin, wondering when we can do it again.
7. You can make an entire day of it on Trentham Estate
There is Aerial Extreme, the Monkey Forest, the Trentham Gardens (read my review) and the shopping and dining area outside the garden entrance, with everything from stylish restaurants to ice cream vendors. Go early, take advantage of the entire complex straight through to afternoon, then leave before the exit traffic starts.
Do several activities at a discounted price!
Enjoy Staffordshire’s Family Fun Packages provide up to 62% discounts on hotels and attractions, including Aerial Extreme, Trentham Gardens, Trentham Monkey Forest, the Snowdome and more. From £160 a family of four can take part in any 3 of 10 adventure activities and get overnight accommodation in a family room plus breakfast at a choice of family-friendly hotels and inns. These breaks are valid for children under the age of 12 years old. Find out more about Enjoy Staffordshire’s Family Fun Packages here.
The South Entrance, The Trentham Estate
Stone Road, Trentham
Jenography received a complimentary booking for 4 to Aerial Extreme via a Family Fun Package. All opinions are my own.