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Volunteering at Scouts is changing to help us reach more young people

Volunteering is changing to help us reach more young people

Volunteering is changing at Scouts. Read more

Discover what this means

High Ropes

Face your fears as you navigate obstacles in midair (while attached to a rope to keep you safe).

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What to expect

High ropes courses are all about moving across platforms, obstacles, bridges, and even swings in midair. There are often different routes to choose from, so people can choose their own adventure (and level of challenge).

Each course is different – some are inside, while others are in the great outdoors. Depending on the centre, they may be freestanding or connected to trees or landscape features.

Most high ropes courses have either a belay or clip on clip off system, so people can take leaps of faith without worrying about that will happen if they misjudge the gaps.

Fun facts

We think that the first modern high ropes courses were designed by a French Naval Officer called Georges Hérbert. He wanted to use them to train sailors using obstacles similar to the ones they’d find on ships, which explains the ropes, climbing, and balancing.

Handy hints

  • Check the rules before you go. Make sure you’re aware of age restrictions and adult to young people ratios. Some centres’ courses will have age limits, and they may need a higher ratio of adults to young people than you’d usually plan for too.
  • Grab some extra hair bobbles. People with long hair will probably need to tie it back. Take a few extra hair ties, just in case anyone forgets.
  • Dress for the occasion. It’s a good idea to bring some extra layers to keep you warm, especially if people will need to take it in turns watching others while they wait for their turn. Don’t rely on big coats, though – you’ll probably need to take them off to fit into a harness, and you’ll need to be able to move freely to climb.
  • Take it at your own pace. Some people don’t like heights – it’s OK if they feel nervous, anxious, or afraid. Chat to them to see how they’d like to approach the challenge. Perhaps they’d like to watch someone else give it a go so they know what to expect, or maybe they’d like to stick close to a leader or a more confident friend? People should always be able to take a break if they need it, and no one should feel rushed or pressured into doing anything they don’t want to do.


You must always:
Be safe outdoors:
  • Check the weather forecast
High ropes:
  • Check the definitions for high ropes in POR 9.12.5 and follow the relevant rules for delivering the activity
Joint activities with other organisations:
This activity can be led by you or someone else in Scouts
You can go to a centre or use an activity leader who is not part of Scouting:
You must find a suitable provider who meets the following requirements:
  • The centre/instructor should hold one of these:
    • Adventure Mark - centre
  • The provider must have public liability insurance.


High Ropes


For lots of people, a high ropes course is a fun way to be active. Did anyone find any of the obstacles tricky? Perhaps some made it really hard to balance, needed people to be really strong to hang on, or needed people to be quick and agile. Did people have to use different skills (and different parts of their bodies) on different obstacles? Did people enjoy being active on a high ropes course?

Tackling high ropes also needed people to be courageous. For a lot of people, having their feet off the ground is out of their comfort zone – even when a rope’s there to keep them safe. Was anyone surprised by how courageous they were? Remember that courage looks different for everyone – some people may have faced their fears by completing the whole course, while others might have been just as courageous by putting the harness on and giving it a go. What would people say to reassure someone who was worried about trying high ropes?  

Many outdoor centres have facilities that cater for people with additional needs and experienced instructors to help everyone achieve their goals. Get in touch with your local provider to chat through the needs of people in your group – make sure you give them plenty of notice.

All Scout activities should be inclusive and accessible.

If people enjoyed the high ropes, you could keep an eye out for other, different, courses. Some centres also have puzzles or team games you can play on the course to add to the challenge.