So for my first travel blog post I sat for a while and thought about all of the different adventures I’ve been on so far and realised how hard it is to choose one favourite to begin to write about…
So after HOURS of trying to decide, I finally went with the Via Ferrata Xtreme at Honister Slate mine (based in Keswick in the Lake District). For anyone that isn’t familiar with what the Via Ferrata adventure is all about, I have attached their official Youtube video for you to view below…
As you can gather from the video – it is most certainly not for the faint hearted! I actually booked this activity for my partners 22nd birthday after a friend recommended it to us and it 100% delivered!
What to expect on the day…
We booked in for the 9:00am start and drove up the night before (setting a bed up in the back of our transit van because we were feeling too lazy to pitch a tent). On arrival the weather was muggy but after setting off up the slate mine the clouds began to clear and luckily it became perfect climbing weather! We were gathered together for a safety briefing and to put on our safety and climbing gear and then we were picked up by a bus that drove us nearby to the starting point. We walked with the rest of the group (there we around 10 of us in total) to where we would begin and suddenly it all became much more terrifying!
As promised there was no shortage of breath-taking views and picture perfect landscapes and most definitely no shortage of the extreme ‘mountain edge exposure, vertical climbs and cliff edge ladders’ that they described on their website. Never the less you felt safe in the hands of the knowledgeable instructors at all times and they had a great up-beat and positive energy about them, often having a good laugh and joke with the group.
I also fell victim to one of their ‘jokes’ when they told us on the bus that the had seat-belts specially fitted and that we needed to reach underneath our seats to find them and put them on – embarrassingly of course there were no seat-belts and I was the only one to believe this, spending a good few minutes searching for mine at the front of the bus until my partner explained it was a joke and that everyone was laughing at me. What can I say, I’m VERY gullible!
Once on the course you seemed to forget about how you were literally hanging of the edge of a cliff because there was just so much beauty to take in around you. We travelled around on lots of ladders and metal handles until we reached my favourite but most stomach churning section – Burma Bridge
This was basically a tight rope bridge over a big open drop on the cliff and you walked along it one by one until reaching the other side. I was a little hesitant as I have a minor fear of heights but I waited until reaching the middle to have a little secret weep to myself and realised that even if I turned back now I’d still have to walk half way along the bridge back to safety, so I might as well carry on forwards and reach the other side! The instructors again had a laugh with individuals that were confident on the bridge by kicking the rope to leave them swinging in the air and it was quite funny to see big grown men clinging on for dear life!
You finish off the course with a climb up a cargo net which definitely tricks the mind a little – although your brain knows that you are fastened on and can’t fall off, the net is so flimsy and hard to climb that it just feels as if you could let go and fall to your death at any minute! But we made it and by this time everyone was feeling like they had been put through their paces.
A lovely touch to completing the Via Ferrata is that you then finish off by walking through a section of the mine, back out and up to the summit of Fleetwith Pike to take in the beautiful scenery of the Lake District’s Buttermere, Crummock and Loweswater, perfectly framed by Alfred Wainwright`s favourite Fells. This last section makes the day feel truly worthwhile and you can get lots of group and individual pictures that the instructors are happy to take. They also filled us in on some interesting facts about the surrounding area before heading on the walk back down and meeting up back in the cafe for the most well-deserved cup of tea of our lives!
As Honister slate mine is still a working mine, me and my partner finished off by taking a look around at how the slate was being used and purchased the cutest picture of two little sheep on the mountains that had been made entirely of slate. It looks beautiful hung up in our living room!
So to sum this post up – it was an all around amazing day/experience and we will definitely be back for another adventure in the future. If you are an adrenaline junkie that enjoys being put through their paces, get booking! And if for some reason you still need some more persuasion to book, it will only set you back £45!!