Honister Slate Mine – Via Ferrata

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The access to this remote spot in the Lake District is an adventure in iteself and is best done by car up the tortuous and breathtaking Honister Pass.

The beautiful views of Borrowdale lie beneath you as you finally reach the top and arrive at Honister Slate Mine.

There is ample parking here and the less adventurous may like to spend their time in the cafe or perusing the gorgeous slate products on sale here.

Perhaps you may fancy a guided tour of the slate mine itself, which is a fascinating and unique experience.

What brought my friends and I here, however, was a more adrenalin charged experience.

During World Wars 1 and 2, Via Ferratas (iron ways) were used by soldiers and partisans to transport supplies and equipment over the Alps.

Iron rungs were hammered into the rock to form ladder type constructions which eased passage over the mountains. They were used extensively in Switzerland, Austria, Germany and Italy and are now used for leisure purposes.

Fleetwith Pike at 2126 feet, stands guard over the Borrowdale valley and has almost sheer sides facing Honister Pass.

The first Via Ferrata in the U.K. was installed here in 2007 and soon became very popular as a tourist attraction.

Participants are kitted out in protective headgear and harnesses and are then taken on a short walk up the mountain path from the Slate Mine to the starting point of the adventure on the mountainside.

Using a double clip system, you are attached safely to a steel cable which is pinned securely to the rock. What follows is both exhilarating and exciting!

Following the cable, you are led by an experienced guide along the mountain face path, climbing the iron rungs up sheer faces and even an overhang at one point. There is also a zip slide over a canyon to negotiate.

The adrenalin rush is completed by a walk up through an old miner's tunnel, to emerge at the tip of Fleetwith Pike with superb views over the tops of the Lake District hills. Wow!

New for 2012, there is now an 'extreme' version of the via ferrata on a second route which includes, vertical climbs, a net scramble and a 'skywalk' across a single cable, tightrope style, (still safely attached) across a 1000 foot drop.

To get some perspective of what you experience, Fleetwith Pike will take you 9 times higher than Blackpool's Big One ride, 7 times higher than Big Ben and twice as high as The Shard building in London.

All you need is a sense of adventure, a head for heights and reasonable fitness.

Most people can do this, with determination, and it is a lifetime experience not to be missed.

For further information visit website and watch the videos.

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