Axe falls on Go Ape

020312 Go pae site at beecraigs park.
020312 Go pae site at beecraigs park.

THE storm-ravaged Go Ape high ropes course at Beecraigs is being permanently closed, after the damage was judged too severe to repair.

Scenes of devastation are all that is left of the Go Ape adventure course at Beecraigs Country Park.

The popular Linlithgow tree top facility will now close as damage caused by 100mph freak winds in January took down 95 trees, wreaking havoc and making it unsafe.

It would take up to three years for nature to stabilise the site, forcing the company to shut down.

It was hoped the 370 hectare course would reopen for Easter after it closed in November for the winter, but the damage has proved too extensive. The majority of the course was blown over, the reception cabin damaged, and swathes of nearby trees destabilised if not destroyed.

Course manager Stewart Deards said: “Following the storm damage, the decision has been taken to close and remove Go Ape Beecraigs. The trees that remain will now be facing wind directions that they have not grown with and therefore are susceptible to further storm damage.

‘‘It will take them at least three years to stabilise again by growing new root systems.”

The Beecraigs Go Ape featured the company’s biggest Tarzan swing and their longest zip wire at 275 metres, and proved popular since opening in 2010.

Martin Brown (43) from Blackness is an account manager at Arco Ltd in Linlithgow, and he was one of many who used the course.

He said: “We went about a year ago. The sales manager in the company was leaving and it was a team bonding exercise for all the managers. It was fantastic. You’re full of apprehension but then you get that adrenalin. We work for a safety company and we were really impressed with the safety and construction of it.”

But it is the safety of the high wire course that has now forced Go Ape to pull out of the country park.

Jerome Mayhew, managing director at Go Ape, expressed sadness at the decision adding: “Having spent the last few weeks clearing up the damage it has become obvious that we cannot construct an adequate replacement course that maintains our high standards. We are now actively looking at alternative local sites because we know how popular the course was with locals and visitors alike.”

Course manager Stewart Deards and another full time staff member have been relocated within Go Ape, and a further three members of staff are now working at the Aberfoyle course. Three of the part time staff members, two of whom are students, are now looking elsewhere.

Robert De Bold, executive councillor for the environment, said the council would be happy to work with the company in the future adding: “We understand that it has been a difficult decision for Go Ape, particularly as the facility was so popular with local people and visitors to West Lothian. The council has enjoyed the opportunity of working with Go Ape and would be happy to work together again should an alternative site in West Lothian be identified for development in the future.”

A council spokesperson added they were keen to consider options for the space at Beecraigs.

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