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Last updated: 20/02/2024


International Women's Day - Meet Jo McLaren

To celebrate International Women's Day on Sunday 8th March 2024 we are getting to know some of the amazing women that are a part of the Go Ape Tribe. This time it's Jo McLaren, one of our Operation's Managers and all round adventurer!

Jo has been a part of our tribe since 2007 and plays a huge role in providing awesome experiences for our customers and team. 

how long have you workeD for Go Ape?

I started working at Go Ape in 2007. I was Site Manager at Buxton for 3 years, then an Area Manager from 2010-2019, and now an Operations Manager; supporting sites operationally to deliver our amazing experiences to our customers! Always looking to provide new and exciting adventure trips for all our co-owners to participate in….

Jo McLaren scrambling in the peak district in international womens day blog

What does adventure mean to you?

Adventure to me is about creating new experiences, bringing people together, having fun and pushing yourself a bit, physically but also mentally too. It's about using our natural environment to create the next adventure...

Who inspired you to be adventurous?

Firstly, my Mum, she’s made me the person that I am today. She’s an incredible independent, strong, and confident lady!

Secondly, when I was around 18, I lived in North Wales, I was with a bunch of people who ended up being good climbers - some of them became professionals. One of them in particular, a friend called Tim Emmet was so positive, so optimistic, and just encouraged me in his words "to get amongst it" and make everyday count, it's about living not existing! This is a way of living I have stook too ever since!

Jo McLaren and her sons in the outdoors in international women's day blog

"Adventure to me is about creating new experiences, bringing people together, having fun and pushing yourself a bit, physically but also mentally too"

What has it been like becoming a mum and share Your adventures with your children?

I love it, even though I’m driven crazy on a regular basis! I’ve got 3 boys and ever since they’ve been able to walk, I’ve had them out on the hill and having fun outdoors. Our home backs onto the same forest that, Go Ape Buxton is in, and it has been a great place for them to play, have freedom and start their journey of exploration…

We have a campervan, so I make the most of every opportunity - getting out exploring, whether that be in the UK or Oversees, they love being outside and roaming free. I don’t force it on them, I just open their eyes to the big world out there, giving them the opportunity and experiences, testing them individually outside their comfort zones.

It’s the building blocks to make them good kids, builds their resilience and confidence in their own abilities and hopefully encourages them to seek out their own adventures!

You’ve been on some amazing adventures, are there any standout stories or experiences?

I've been lucky to visit a lot of amazing places, but I think it’s not always about the place, it’s about the people too and the cultures. We have just recently returned from a Go Ape trip to Nepal…what a place! The scenery was breath-taking, the culture was so vibrant, and the Nepalese were the most amazing friendly people I think I have ever experienced! What’s not to love!

One of my favourite rock-climbing trips was in the Dolomites in Italy, climbing these huge rock towers. When I was there though, we got caught in an electrical storm up in the mountains, had to abseil down 8 pitches, about 250m without getting struck by lightning!

how do you function in a situation like that?

Every time I’ve been in a high-pressure situation like that with an additional danger element I go into a calm mode. For example, in Tanzania I had a group with me, and we were robbed at gunpoint. In that surreal moment when you don’t know the outcome, I seem to remain quite calm. That’s helped me to get confident in my own ability, and the great thing is that it has a knock-on effect of helping other people around you to stay calm too.

are there any barriers to entry which prevent women from taking part in adventurous activities?

Perception! I think that many women lack confidence in male dominated sports, but thankfully that’s changing. When this view shifts then hopefully it will be a thing of the past.

Start your next adventure at Go Ape


Jo McLaren and her son on via ferrata for international womens day blog