Bear Grylls Adventure is the Home of Earth’s Greatest Challenges – allowing individuals to test the limits whilst taking on some of the world’s most incredible mental and physical challenges – inspired by Bear’s love of adventure. The aim is to help discover courage, tenacity and conquer fears, as individuals push themselves, keep their nerve and dig deep, leaving empowerment and proudness for themselves and their team.
About Bear Grylls
Bear, born Edward Michael Grylls, has experienced some of the toughest terrains and adventures the world has to offer. The British adventurer, writer and television presenter is widely known and was appointed the youngest-ever Chief Scout at age 35. In 1998 he achieved his dream of climbing Mount Everest, and was also the youngest British man to climb the Ama Dablam, a mountain once said to be unclimbable. Needless to say, the explorer has done some pretty extreme things to survive, including wrapping a urine-soaked t-shirt around his head to stay cool in the desert. Bear says that he has been lucky to have these experiences and that when your greatest fears are laid bare, you have to keep your nerve and dig deep.
Bear Grylls Adventure
Bear Grylls Adventure is located at the NEC near Birmingham. It is easily accessible and there is a designated car park which is a short walk away (or 5 minutes away from Birmingham International Train Station). Merlin Annual Pass Holders received 25% off for Standard and Premium and 50% off for VIP MAP Holders when booked in advanced. You can bring up to 10 friends at the discounted rate with your pass too!
Bear Grylls Adventure Ticket Types
There are three different ticket types: Basecamp, Basecamp + an activity (Dive, Climb, High Ropes or iFly) or Go All (which is Basecamp and all the activities). Basecamp includes a Survival Maze, Escape Room, Assault Course and Target Archery plus FREE digital photographs.
Bear Grylls Adventure What to Wear
Apart from the high ropes all the activities are indoors. It is recommended that you wear long sleeves but also note that it can get very hot. In fact in hindsight bringing along a water bottle would have been a great idea. There are water fountains around and I was given a cup of water by one of the members of staff when they could see I had become a bit overheated. Footwear with laces is a must. We didn’t think it would matter that much as I only have trainers without laces and thought it just meant shoes that usually easily slip off – no my no-lace footwear came off a couple of times!
Again it is advised that you wear active wear but I had decided that my jeans would be fine – no really leggings would have been a much better option. All jewellery, watches, phones etc needed to be left in the complimentary lockers – so it wasn’t even like I needed my pockets.
The Bear Grylls Adventure website suggests that if you have long hair and are doing the high ropes then to tie your hair back – I suggest that you will also need it for the archery too. Lastly I think it goes without saying that if you have opted to do the dive or cage snorkeling then you will require swimwear and a towel. Other than that all equipment required was provided – including ear plugs for the iFly.
My Experience of Bear Grylls Adventure
Firstly Bear Grylls Adventure is recommended for those ages 15 and over but can be accessed for those ages 11 and over. We took our 15 year old and just turned 11 year old who both have experienced lots of adventurous tasks and took the whole thing in their stride and just had fun. In fact they were even really sensitive to me when I wasn’t coping quite so well with it all! We located Bear Grylls Adventure carpark and the main building with ease, likewise booking in was easy, we filled in our waivers, emptied our things into lockers, and waited where we had been told until I guide Aaron arrived with the next instruction.
Bear Grylls Adventure: Basecamp
Our adventure started with Basecamp as Aaron explained the purpose of the Survival Maze (as well as safety instructions including what to do if something went wrong, or we just didn’t feel comfortable). We were in a group with other people and we got to know what some other people’s fears were. Aaron told us that we all innately are born with two fears – that of falling and that of loud sounds. We were then taken around the maze together facing fears that we may not even knew we had. I won’t spoil anything and I know my fears and I did cry! I was so close to calling out Aaron’s name and saying I couldn’t do it (I had read you could skip bits out) but took a deep breath and kept going. Then there were other parts of the maze where I feel I was braver than others when I tried something that they didn’t! It really made me realise how we really do all have different strengths.
Next the group of 16 was split into two eights and we tackled the Escape Room. This was quite a quick activity for a breakout room really and we epically failed. I am not sure if that is because previously we have only done the room as a family and that part of it was due to the fact that we did not know half the group. Also Aaron said they are working on altering something to make it clearer (again I will not say what as not to spoil it).
The Assault Course did not even look that long but was exhausting! With balance, jumping, climbing, scrambling, high walls, poles and monkey bars! But don’t worry there was a way to get around if you really couldn’t do them and there was no mud involved! I have to say that I have a fear of heights but not once was this touched on – so that is something! One obstacle was so great though that I only managed it with help from the team! This of course was also the part where I did find my trainers coming off a couple of times.
My favourite part of Basecamp has to be the Targets Archery. By this point I was pretty exhausted both mentally and physically. There felt like a lot of information on safety and how to do things (both for right handed people and left like myself). Once out there I just didn’t seem to be able to “get” how to put the arrow into the bow properly! But the instructor was very patient and good – and soon not only could I load them myself but I got GOLD!
Bear Grylls Adventure: iFly
For our activity we opted for iFly Indoor Sky Diving. Following in the footsteps of celebrity Ryan Thomas we took the leap to feel the rush of freefall. Whilst we waited we could see what it was, and what kind of thing would happen, before being taken off by a highly skilled instructor – who kitted us out and explained positions (and made sure we knew how to do them) and signals. It was rather basic and I was pleased about that with only 4 instructions to remember (hand signals as you cannot hear in the wind tunnel!) – relax, straight legs, look up, and get me out of here!!!
iFly is one of the fastest growing worldwide sports and the boys seemed to take to it with ease. The instructor was really good and it was reassuring to see that I didn’t have to jump or look down – so my fear of heights wasn’t going to be an issue. In fact he gets you to stand into position and flips you over and holds on to you until you are ready. Both my sons and husband really enjoyed it. Unfortunately it wasn’t for me. At least I can say I have tried it but I just panicked in there and felt I couldn’t breathe. As you can see in the video the instructor did not hesitate to react to my signal and got me straight out of there. He checked I was ok, again later to see if I wanted to try again and then spoke to me at the end.
Things that surprised me about the iFly was that it was not at all cold, it was very noisy (which is obvious now I come to think about it) and not once was I worried about falling!
Conclusions and Other Information
We were parked for four hours at a cost of £5. We had to validate a token at The Bear Grylls Adventure, pay at the machine and then use the token to get out of the carpark. There is also a restaurant inside the Bear Grylls Adventure and plenty of places to eat and drink nearby. On the way out is a souvenir shop – however they do not stock magnets. Do note that whilst you do not have to be really active to take part in the Bear Grylls Adventure there is an element of being able to get about and to expect a bit of bashing about of your body – which may result in being a bit tender afterwards.
We had a great time and it was a wonderful experience for the boys – especially as they got to try new things. I think they would definitely like to come back again to experience iFly again and to take on the other activities. Personally I do not feel that Bear Grylls Adventure pushes fears too much – more a brief touch on them for those that do not realise they have them. What I really learned was that sometime the fear is all in your head – and if you allow yourself you will see that there was never anything to be scared of in the first place.
National Exhibition Center, Halls, Marston Green, Birmingham B40 1PA
We were invited along as Merlin Annual Pass Ambassadors. All opinions are honest and my own.