The Happy Ape

The Happy Ape

Happy Apes, is more then a ‘wellbeing’ experience or an adventure. It is an education in what it is to be free. To connect with the wild within you and learn what it takes to be happy. Exploring the self through play and adventure, connection and challenge in nature. Group and individual experiences utilising tree, rock, water and wood. Connect as a group and explore boundaries with structured play fighting or 'rough housing’.

Whatever, your fitness level or personal ability, Ben Atkinson, can table a sequence of rewilding unwinding and bonding activities suited to you, your family or your group.

Ben, your facilitator is a renown adventurer and activist. His award winning video ‘My own hands’ shows you the commitment of his practice.
Life and death commitment in every movement and moment, trains focus, calm and balance. The skills he honed in the trees allowed him to pull off a dramatic internationally reported direct action for Extinction Rebellion in 2019 climbing the side of Big Ben and evading the police for three hours

He invites you to meet your humanity as he really is stripped bare of pretension: relative to the apes, looking beneath the veneer of urban comforts you explore yourself from novel perspectives.

"I love introducing people to the heritage of their minds and bodies".

“this is the best thing I have ever done”

Ok - I want to share how happy my little boy is at 'Barefoot Ben's' (as my 5 yr old calls him) tree climbing group. He is a child that isn't easy to get to go to new things and doesn't often engage easily in groups however he loves to come along to Ben's sessions. On the first time we went I could see how happy he was then at the end Ben asked everyone if they had enjoyed themselves and Felix jumped up and said 'this is the best thing I have ever done' with a big smile on his face. I was almost in tears as it is very rare he is so enthusiastic about things.
Reviewed by Hatti - April, 2020
“I like climbing up high with bare feet”

It was really good, and I like climbing up high with bare feet and felt proud and happy. The pillow-fighting was exciting, and i was suprised when i won one. i like Ben he is kind and i liked watching him climb the tall tree.
Reviewed by Kirsty Williams and Milo - March, 2020
“a wonderful day”

We all had a wonderful day. Kai was so proud of himself he was able to be barefoot. He suffers from raynauds, but it didn't affect him today!
Reviewed by Laura - March, 2020

This is a three hour session available from Monday to Friday from 1pm with a minimum capacity of 1 person.

The pricing varies depending on how many people book a session and is great for families.
1 person £100
2 people £80 each
3 people £70 each
4 people £60 each
5 people or more £50 each

Why not include a discounted add-on to this activity booking:
Guided Meditation £10 each
Yoga £10 each
Cacao Ceremony £15 each
Axe Throwing £25 each
Massage £40 each

All activities are subject to availability.

Full Circle Experiences   Follow the 'Book now' links to book your place on The Happy  Ape
Alternatively, contact Katherine & Ben for more info:
E-mail  Call  015394 31213  or  07557 768 047

Frequently Asked Questions


What do I need to bring with me

As well your weather, appropriate clothing, you just need to bring a few snacks and an eco friendly bottle of water. We also encourage and open mind and a big sense of wahoo!

What kind of people is this suitable for

This is great as a bonding experience for families to do together. Its also fantastic for corporate group as a team building exercise. its fantastic for groups of friends looking for fun and adventure and its wonderful as a 1:1 therapy session. Ben has spent a lot of time mentoring young people and he finds that they especially benefit from being carefully guided into their wild and natural selves. If you not as agile, please do not worry, you will be considerately welcomed and appropriately facilitated.

Is it dangerous

There is always a risk when playing outside. However, the trees, rocks and water that we use are as familiar to Ben as his own family and he has coached people through jumping, climbing and exploring them hundreds of times. You will be told what to look out for and talked through how to avoid any accidents. Ben is a fully trained outdoor first aider and mountain leader.

Can we change the time of the experience

Yes. If you wish to request a private group a different time and date to the ones we have scheduled then please just make the request and we will try our best to fit you in.

What makes Ben so special


Cant I just do this by myself? Yes! Of course you can. But it's still worth coming along to benefit from the education and inspiration that Ben can provide. Ben has been climbing trees for 40 years. He has worked extensively with young people, mens groups, climate change activists and has lived in this area for over 20 years. He climbed Big Ben free solo to raise a awareness for climate change and the environment. He is very knowledgeable on country code, nature, science and psychotherapy. His sense of wonder and innocence at his natural playground is infectious. We recommend you try the Happy Ape at the start of your holiday and then you are all set up, motivated and inspired to explore and enjoy!

What is the minimum age range

If you book a private group to any of our activities, you are welcome to bring children of any age. Children can be carried in papooses by parents on the walks in the Lake District hills. If the groups are mixed then the minimum age for children is 5 for all activities except the packhorse picnic; then it s 8. This will prevent adults booking the mindfulness experiences and then feeling frustrated by the variables of young children.

Do you need to be fit

You need to be reasonably agile and fit to comfortable take part in Guided Walks and Packhorse Picnic. However, we will support the people who are not used to hiking or balancing or yoga and take regular rests and adjust accordingly for beginners. Please just call or email us and ask. We will do our very best to include everyone.

Will I be safe

All our experiences take place outdoors, and when required, practice safe social distancing. All our facilitators are trained in first aid and carry first aid kits. We never go up into the hills without a trained facilitator and we keep the groups small and intimate so that we can keep a careful eye on everybody taking part. Training and mindful regard is at the hearty of everything we do.

Whats the maximum group size

Maximuim of 10 participants for any Full Circle Experience.

What should I wear/bring

Comfortable and warm clothing and lots of layers. Please check the weather to see if you should bring waterproofs. Please wear sensible walking boots or trainers. Please bring your swimming costume, towel and water bottle in a small rucksack.


Were are the toilets

There are toilets at Rydal Hall and public toilets in Rothay Park in Ambleside.


How can I book

You can book through this website. Simply press the 'book now' button and you will be taken through to our booking platform where you can choose from a variety of Lake District Experiences. Alternatively, you can email us at or call us on 015394 31213  or 07557 768 047 and we will talk you through the various packages or option you can enjoy and get you booked in.

Can I book a private group session

Yes, all activities are available to book for private groups. Please click 'book now' to be taken through to the option for booking a private group.

Do I need to book in advance

Booking our experiences in advance of your Lake District holiday is essential as our activities sell out very quickly. Please choose your experience and wellness package as soon as you have your Lake District accommodation booked to avoid disappointment.

Can I book at the site

Yes, you can call us from your Full Circle Holidays or your other Lake District accommodation when you arrive to arrange a booking but it is much better to book online as early as possible to avoid missing out.

What is the cost

Prices are listed underneath each activity. its always cheaper to book in groups rather than as individuals. You may find that the price of your activity goes down as more people book. We will refund you and difference if this happens.

What if it rains

We will keep an eye on the weather forecast and customise the experience for any change in weather. We will expect the experience to go ahead in wet weather unless it is very wet and very windy. If we call off the experience then you will receive a full refund or you will be invited to reschedule. You will be expected to provide your own waterproofs for wet weather. We will provide indoor alternatives and warming and drying facilities. Getting wet is part of fully immersing yourself in the Lake District experience. Its exhilarating and we LOVE IT!

What if I need to cancel

You will be provided with a full refund if you cancel 4 weeks before your experience date. Otherwise, you will be invited to reschedule your experience date, choose another experience or use the booking funds as a deposit on one of our glamping facilities.

Can I book accommodation and how

Please see our accommodation section on this website to book a yurt or cabin. Also, ask us about availability in The Hermitage where we have a holiday flat.

Where can I park

If you have booked one of our cabins or yurts then you will already have free parking. You will also find parking in Rydal at Pelter Bridge and White Moss car park if you get there nice and early. Miller Bridge car park at Ambleside has also bee extended so get there nice and early and you should have no trouble parking there. Its just a short walk then to our meeting point. If the groups are small and located at The Hermitage then there may be free parking on enquiry at The Hermitage.

Can I arrive by public transport

Public transport is the best way to travel to avoid parking blues and to do your bit for our beloved planet and countryside. The bus will drop you right outside Rydal Hall or in Ambleside to walk to the meeting point. Rydal is just a lovely 1 mile walk from Ambleside.

Can I buy a gift voucher

There are buttons on the website to take you straight through to buy a gift voucher. Gift vouchers for our Experiences and Wellness packages or even a glamping retreat will make wonderful unique gift for loved ones.

Can I bring pets along

very well behaved and well trained dogs are welcome. If your dog is unsure around horses or many people then let us know and we will arrange a dog sitter for you.


Where can I get food

We will provide delicious and healthy food and snacks for the day. There are loads of amazing places to eat in Ambleside though we recommend that you prebook any restaurant. There is a teashop at Rydal Hall that sells food. If you bring your own food, please remember to leave no trace.

What else can I do in the area

Rydal is an amazing place where you can while away hours enjoying waterfalls, the lake, caves, woods and hills. You can also spend time in Grasmere and Ambleside, just a short walk or bus ride away and enjoy the unique shops, cafes and tourist attractions and walks.

Full Circle Activities

During your stay, why not treat yourself to a Full Circle adventure 'Experience' or a 'Wellness' session?
(also available to none-residents)

Packhorse Picnic, Adventure and Wellness Day
The Happy Ape
Meditate with Horses
Meditation and Breath Work in Nature
Calm Dogs Trust Training
Guided Walks
Foraging and Cookout Adventure
Breath Work and Wild Swimming
Axe Throwing
Cacao Ceremony
Tai Chi
Peregrine Falcon Connection
Wildlings - School Holiday Activities

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