Review: Bear Grylls Adventure
Shark diving, swinging across a 65ft high rope course, archery and interactive skydiving – all on the outskirts of Birmingham. Read our verdict on Bear Grylls Adventure.
He’s scaled Everest, explored the Alaskan wilderness with Barak Obaama, crossed the Artic Circle in an inflatable boat and climbed Mount Ama Dablam in the Himalayas to name a few – so you think you can give Bear Grylls a run for his money? Then you’re going to want to book a day out at Bear Grylls Adventure at Birmingham’s NEC. Opened in 2018 after £20million cash injection from Merlin Entertainment (of Warwick Castle and LEGOLAND fame) the centre offers six activities for adrenaline junkies aged eight years and over – archery, shark diving, interactive skydiving, climbing walls, shooting, high ropes, plus a Royal Marines-inspired assault course included with all tickets. Activities can be booked individually (from £20), but if you really want to get pulses racing, you can save up to 25% with a Summer of Adventure pass (valid until Oct, from £85).
Bear Grylls Adventure is located next door to the NEC in its own building with a separate entrance (conveniently opposite Resorts World with an extensive list of bars and restaurants). There’s a real buzz as you approach the building – think ominous adventure music that you get at a theme park, an abandoned jeep, glass cages of giant hissing cockroaches and tarantulas (look away if you’re of a sensitive disposition) and the huge 65ft high rope course towering over you. Inside, there’s a food court where you can refuel on hot dogs and pizzas, a reasonably priced gift shop, as well the free assault course (for both kids and adults) that you can attack whilst you wait between activities. We visited on a Thursday in the summer holidays and the assault course was completely overrun with 12 year olds, although staff said it’s worth a go when it quietens down. Most groups were families with kids of all ages and despite being quite busy there was plenty of room to space out and it felt Covid-safe (masks weren’t compulsory either but all staff wore them).
On our visit we tried archery and the high ropes. First up, archery, which is £20 (or £25 if you turn up on the day). Bear Grylls Adventure is working with Archery GB on encouraging more people of all ages to take up the sport – and it seemed pretty popular on my visit. We received a full briefing on health and safety (top tip: make sure you listen carefully, I woke up the next day covered in bruises after not wearing my arm guard correctly, doh!) then it’s on to firing the arrows. Groups are small and spaced out across two arenas with an instructor to each group. If you’re no Katniss Everdeen, don’t worry, the instructors go at your pace and incorporate games into the 45 minute session so even if you’re not nailing the bullseye you’re still having fun.
Then we moved on to the high ropes adventure – 60 minutes roaming 36 obstacles from 65ft above ground (£32 in advance, £40 on the day). Our session was the last at 4pm and we ended up with the whole course to ourselves. Again, there was a safety briefing followed by a harness check before heading outside to the split level course complete with planks, ropes, steps and rolling logs. Even the first obstacle made my legs turn to jelly – something about the sheer drop of the first level not being broken up by any view was quite terrifying – so if you’re scared of heights maybe give this one a miss. If you do make it to the top, there are some pretty spectacular views of Birmingham, not to mention a huge sense of achievement (I now go by Tarzan, thank you very much).
NEED TO KNOW
Give yourself plenty of time to get there as you need to arrive 30 minutes before your first activity – these guys are prompt and won’t wait! Visitors should also double check what to wear for each activity but the general gist is comfortable active wear, trainers and a waterproof if taking part in the high ropes.
Good for: Families with kids aged eight and over, friends, couples and adrenaline junkies. This is a really fun day out that you’ll be talking about for a good while after.
Not for: If you’re seriously afraid of heights give the high ropes a miss, but there are plenty of other things you can do instead (just maybe not the rock climbing wall!)
The damage: It’s not the cheapest day out, but worth it for the memories (and the gravity defying photo if you test drive the iFly). Prices start at £20 for archery, climbing or shooting with iFly at £52 and shark diving coming in at £120. There’s also passes for multiple activities which starts at £85.
Bear Grylls Adventure, National Exhibition Centre, B40 1NT
www.beargryllsadventure.com 0121 725 2616
To learn more about starting archery with Archery GB visit www.startarchery.co.uk