When one Cumbria Tourism team member was invited to visit Honister Slate Mine for a whistle stop tour of the adventures on offer little did she know the exhilaration she was letting herself in for when she eagerly accepted.
Driving along the Borrowdale valley to Seatoller, Rebecca from the PR team headed on up (and up) to the popular tourist attraction located at the head of Honister Pass, one of the country’s steepest mountain passes and where England’s last working slate mine provides the backdrop for some unique adventures both inside and outside a Lake District mountain.
Greeted by Guide and Marketing Manager at Honister Adam Hocking, who gave a quick introduction to the history of the slate mine which dates back an impressive 900 years, Rebecca was kitted with the essential harness, hard hat and torch before jumping into the Honister jeep and escorted by Adam to the mouth of the cave where ‘Climb the Mine’ would take place, her first experience of the day.
Tracing the steps of miners gone by through boundless, low level tunnels into magnificent caverns, the brief Climb the Mine tour involved traversing along some of the routes of the original underground mine workings and balancing along rope bridge crossings. Taking in the cool atmosphere of mining history in this underground secret world where one can imagine the life of an inhabitant slate worker, keen enthusiasts can climb up into the roof of the mine and emerge out onto spectacular views of England’s highest mountain passes.
Keen to move on to her next challenge Rebecca was then introduced to the Via Ferrata Classic, the original Award Winning experience and one of the first in the UK, which follows the original outdoor miners route up the precipitous outer incline of Fleetwith Pike. Not as challenging as the Via Ferrata Xtreme which gives more edge exposure and vertical climbs to the very top, the Classic – a graded 3a climbing route – takes you round high rock faces into Bull Ghyll and is a great way to get the adrenaline going for any novice climber.
The grand finale of the day was the Infinity Bridge which – suitably branded due to the fact that the other end escapes from view – is suspended 2,000 feet above the valley floor across a breathtaking gorge high up on the mountain.
The longest of this type of bridge in Britain, the Infinity Bridge is not for the faint hearted, particularly if there is a slight breeze in the air! After a case of fine balancing skills and concentration to avoid the notorious sway of the bridge, a few pit stops along the way to get the nerves in check and to take in the amazing views below, Rebecca finally reached the end of this exhilarating experience – but not without giving a huge sigh of relief!
Whether you’re a novice adventurer and want to step out of your comfort zone or slightly more experienced want something more challenging then Honister Slate Mine has something for everyone – so be prepared for lots of excitement in the heart of the Lake District.
For further information on Honister Slate Mine and the indoor and outdoor adventures click here.