Sunday, 7 October 2018

Bear Grylls Adventure

Have you ever fancied testing your nerve? Facing your fears, and experiencing once in a life time opportunities? Well recently we had an opportunity to do just that by working with the awesome guys at Bear Grylls Adventure land in Birmingham. It was Liam's birthday the day before we went so I let him choose the main activity we did, for this reason Liam will be writing this post.

Bear Grylls Adventure was opened in the summer of 2018 and all the activities have been designed and signed off by the man himself. You have the opportunity to do 4 base camp activities which include a maze, room escape, marines assault course and archery. You can do these with any other main activity. The main activities are, Rock climbing, High Rope Climbing, indoor sky diving and snorkelling or scuba diving. All the activities are carried out in groups, led by a member of Bear's team. 

As it was a little birthday treat I chose to go scuba diving. It is something I have always wanted to do and when I found out that the diving would include sharks, sting rays and hundreds of fish, I knew my mind was made up. I was like a kid on Christmas eve during the build up to the journey down. I was stupidly excited and I ended up telling everyone I worked with about what I was going to do. 

The place is extremely easy to find, although there is no parking on site, there is a car park about 5 minutes away and with you parking ticket validation at Bear Grylls Adventure, the parking is pretty reasonable. We were there for just over 6 hours and parking came to £7.

Walking up to the building you hear music which add to the atmosphere of adventure and survival. With the high ropes to your right hand side you walk up a winding path and met with a helicopter hanging out of the building over the front door with a zip wire running to the ground leading to the high ropes. Walking through the door you are greeted by staff who show you to a locker and give you a wrist band to lock & unlock the locker. They also tell you what time your base camp starts and then you can explore. We had around half an hour to explore before our base camp started so we took this as an opportunity to look at the pool we would be diving into. The pool was a huge array of different colours and species of fish. Sting rays were swooping round the tank effortlessly, but, most impressively, huge black tip reef sharks were swimming around dominating the pool. I got talking to a worker there who explained that all the sharks they have, have been rescued. The centrepiece of the room is a giant tree with a plane stuck in it, which carried some significance later on in your base camp activities.

It was time to start the base camp activities, first up was the survival maze. I won't go into too much detail as I do not want to ruin the experience for anyone, however if you really want to know then feel free to interact with me on social media and I will divulge all. The maze is designed to test your nerve and make you face your fears. I personally did not think it would be too bad, it is just for entertainment right? While it is for entertainment it is the fear of the unknown that is the hardest to overcome. At the end of the maze you also have to undertake a bush tucker trial "I'm A Celebrity Style" As I've said, I won't go into too much detail as I don't want to ruin it so I will sum the maze up in a few words... Dark.... Wet... Small.... Meal Worms.

After this it was onto the room escape games, this is where the plane in the tree comes into the equation. You have to find the pilot on a map and the coordinates are you code to freedom. This game takes team work and communication, which sadly our team lacked as we were locked into the room. You have to decode instructions and also listen to information coming through on the radio for clues. After the first room you go down an escape shoot which is honestly, the most brutal slide I have ever been down. Coming out of the slide you reach another room and another puzzle, now I wish I could offer you help on this one but I was stumped There were flags with numbers on, a map and knots. Make of that what you will. The staff said that no many people escape the room and it has been designed to be extremely difficult.

After we left the escape room area it was onto the marines assault course. This is based loosely on a real marines training course but is obviously toned down. You start by doing a warm up and then set off in pairs... being competitive I made it my aim to finish first, I don't think the people in front of me knew they were in a race. You start by hopping between steps then climbing over and ducking under wooden beams. Crawling under netting you find your self having to climb up a steep(ish) hill with the aid of a rope to get onto the higher levels. The rest of the course is a mix of walls to climb over, poles to slide across and everyone's favourite punishment... monkey bars. Then there is a final sprint to the finish to do a fireman's pole. As you get down the staff ask how you found it and if you'd ever want to do it again... it seems I was the only person in my group who really enjoyed it and would of loved to go again. 

Last base camp activity was the archery. Jade had never done archery before so she was really excited, she is pretty good at things that require technique and skill. I have already tried archery in the past so I knew my skill was non existent. I'd have like to have spent longer doing this but we only really got to shoot 10 or so arrows each. The archery is done with traditional old wooden bow's which add to the outdoor's survival feel of the place which I thought was a great touch.

We then had about an hours break before we went scuba diving. We decided to check out the cafe as we both needed a drink. The prices were a little steep but the quality of the products look as though it could easily warrant the price being paid. The pizza's were £6 per pizza but they were cooked fresh in a wood fired oven so they were traditional pizza's unlike some other places that just buy frozen bases and put some cheese and tomato sauce on them.

Onto scuba diving, we had to go upstairs for this activity and we were greeting to a old rusted ship door which we passed through and into the briefing room. We were given a thorough talk from a qualified diver who explained what techniques were need to do in the practice pool before we were allowed into the open pool. These included, removing water from the mask, taking the mouth piece out under water and also dropping the mouth piece behind you and recovering it under water. Once the briefing was done we were over to the changing room to get into out scuba gear. Now, for those who haven't ever worn a wet suit before... they are literally the hardest things to get on ever. Once we were all changed and ready it was into the training pool. I could see Jade was panicking at this point, she's not a fan of feeling trapped or enclosed, and with how tight the suit was coupled with the mask blocking you from breathing out your nose it was not an ideal situation for her. We both got in the water and we were suited up. We took our first dip under the water and our first breaths as a scuba diver. Jade shortly after this had to leave the pool as she could feel her breathing going out of control. She was devastated that should could not do it, however it meant she could go back down stairs and grab some pretty cool photos. I won't pretend that scuba diving is easy, or that I wasn't nervous. All your life you've been told that you cannot breath underwater then all of a sudden you have to breath underwater. You become conscious of breathing and you have to think about how to breath. It took me a few attempts to get down into the pool, one because I could not get my breathing to a point where i felt comfortable and two because I could not get my ears to pop. The pool is around 4 metres deep but you can feel the difference in the pressure. The diving instructors take you round the pool and you can an experience the marine life up close, rays rubbing themselves against you, fish swimming between your feet and sharks swimming over head. It is a whole different world down there, all you can hear is the noise you your respirator and you breath in and out. Walking around feels like your in zero gravity and everything is just so peaceful. At points throughout the adventure you can just kneel on the bottom of the tank and really take in how beautiful the world around you is and something I took away was how we, as humans are killing marine life by over fishing and polluting and how we, as humans are solely responsible for the conservation of these beautiful creatures and underwater worlds. At the end of the dive you are taken back to the briefing room for a final speech, you obtain a PADI certificate which is your first step towards being a fully qualified diver and also you can be put in touch with local diving clubs if you enjoyed your experience.

At the end of our day I expected to be tired but it was the exact opposite, I will on a huge adrenaline buzz that lasted for hours. I still get the same excitement when I talk about it to people now. All the instructors we had were outstanding, patient and knowledgeable. I am already looking to plan my next trip where I would be more that willing to pay the maximum price and do all the activities in one day.

If you want to know more about my experience or the maze then get in touch 
Twitter & Instagram @LiamBurton92

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