Fancy skiing in France, rock climbing in Africa or skydiving in Thailand? All would be amazing holiday experiences, but if you haven’t got the cash to travel that far then why not do all three in one location closer to home? If you’re wondering where in the UK you can do this, the answer is at Xscape, an adventure centre in Milton Keynes. Flavour’s Annika Allen – with Leonard Foster in tow – checks the facilities out.
Our first activity was rock climbing, located within the Ellis Brigham Mountain Sports Store. From the ground looking up Vertical Chills’ two 13-foot-high towers didn’t appear to be a great challenge. As we hooked ourselves up and began to climb, we realised how wrong we were.
Our arms began to feel tired quickly and we realised how fit you actually have to be to undertake rock climbing. The wall’s many different grades of terrain are designed to suit all abilities from novice to expert, and thinking that it was easy, our rock climbing adventure began on the intermediate wall. It was fun but exhausting – make sure you bring some water with you. You’ll need it once you’ve finished.
Up to eight people can use the facility per session, and the placement of the stones allows individuals to hone their skills and techniques before graduating onto higher crags. It’s definitely something fun to do by yourself or with friends.
Our second stop for the day was SNO!zone – an indoor ski and snowboarding slope made up of real snow. We arrived there like we were going for a walk on a spring day in the park – without a hat, gloves, thick coat and wearing inappropriate trousers for the snow. Luckily you can rent kit there and purchase gloves. Once we were dressed we popped our personal belongings into a locker, grabbed our ski boots and skis, and then went to meet our instructor who gave us a useful briefing before we were allowed onto the snow.
Lessons and coaching are available for all experience levels, and as I witnessed a boy that looked around five gliding down the slope, I was determined not to fall. There were seven of us taking the beginners’ class and first up we were taught how to walk in the snow: ‘Walk like a duck,’ said the instructor. Secondly, we were taught a simple skiing technique. ‘Lean slightly forward, bend your knees and think like a goal keeper’ were the instructions given as our teacher demonstrated – and then we all took turns doing this.
Next up we learnt how to get on and disembark a travelator and glide down to the bottom of the slope from there. It was really fun and if Leonard or I fell and in the ski clothes, we still felt really comfortable and warm. Our experience at SNO!zone left us both eager to take more lessons and who knows – instead of a beach holiday this year I may go skiing..
The last of the day’s activities saw us skydiving. Not out of a plane. In a wind tunnel indoors. First timers, groups or professional flyers are all welcome here. It’s simple and safe and there are instructors there to teach you the moves. You are led into a room where you are advised by a training video on what happens in the flight chamber. As air is circulated into the tunnel it is difficult to hear instructions so the video goes over hand signals that the instructor will give you.
Once the eight-minute video is finished, the instructor comes back into the room and checks you really do know the signals. We put on boiler suits, hats and ear plugs and headed up to the chamber. To enter the tunnel you simply stand in the open doorway and lean forward. You will feel your legs lifted from under you as you assume a horizontal flying position. The instructor is there to assist but once you have it under control will stand back and watch you have fun flying. You can pay to fly in the chamber from one minute to ten minutes. Prices are listed on their website.
Once I relaxed, I floated in that chamber like I was a butterfly and Leonard did so well that he had a professional skydiver enter the chamber with him and they did a turn together. An advance move for a novice. You can even purchase photographs and a DVD as a keepsake of your flight.
I can safely say you won’t be seeing me jumping out of a plane, but I will definitely be returning to AirKix to fly again very soon.
Vertical Chills Climbing Wall
Booking is essential! Please do not come without booking as you will be disappointed… Call 01908 237748 to reserve your wall time
For more information call 0871 222 5670 or book online at www.snozoneuk.com
AirKix contact details: 0845 331 65491 or www.airkix.com
For adventure, leisure, clothes and food, Xscape has everything you will need so why go anywhere else?
Xscape contact details
602 Marlborough Gate
Tel: 0871 200 3220