Taking on the Via Ferrata Xtreme at Honister Slate Mine!
Located at the head of Honister Pass in the centre of the Lake District, Honister Slate Mine offers a range of indoor and outdoor adventures for a range of ages and abilities. Famous for being the last working slate mine in England, Honister is also home to the iconic Westmoorland Green Slate.
Having passed by the Slate Mine a few years ago whilst hiking the Coast to Coast Path, we had always said that we would like to return someday to have a go at the Via Ferrata. Having never experienced a via ferrata route previously, it wasn’t high on our list of priorities. But having gained much more experience of scrambling and traversing difficult mountain terrain whilst hiking the GR20 across Corsica, we thought maybe now was the right time to push the boundaries some more, get out of our comfort zone and try something a little more challenging!
3 years later and we finally got a ‘free’ weekend in our holiday calendar in which we could return to Honister to fulfill one of our personal challenges!
There’s no turning back! Being brave and crossing the Burma Bridge!
Getting out of our Comfort Zone!
Neither one of us has a particular penchant for heights. So, unlike Wayne who tends to keep his cool, I had been getting a little worked up the week prior to the date of our booking, to the point where my hands kept getting clammy at the mere thought of the Burma Bridge and I had visions that I’d end up whimping out.
Having bailed out on a forest canopy ‘Go Ape’ tree-top rope course several years ago, which is something I have always regretted, I didn’t want a repeat of the same. With much more confidence since discovering a love of hiking and outdoor activities, I knew I really wanted to go for it and face my fear of heights.
With the competitive streak in me taking hold, fuelled by the fact Wayne had recently passed his driving test, a personal goal of his for 2017, it meant that I simply had to ‘man-up’ and at least try! A few encouraging words from family and friends also did the job.
Feeling more confident with our safety gear on and checks done, we head off on the Honister bus to where the via ferrata begins.
After the initial safety talk from our instructor and demonstrations regarding clipping and unclipping ourselves onto the metal cable system, we were all set for our first via ferrata.
The early morning group who tackled the Via Ferrata Xtreme on Saturday 29th April 2017. (Including us!)
In a group of around 20, there’s always the thrill seekers who volunteer to go first. (Not us!) We stepped back a little to watch the first few eager volunteers clip themselves on and step down the metal rungs fixed into the side of the mountain. We then peered over the edge, holding our breaths for a moment, to see that all was fine!
Looking down onto the group manoeuvering their way around the side of the slate mine. The road looks a long way down!
Heading around the gully – the thrill seekers set off first!
We looked over the edge of the ridge to where they were now scaling the side of the mountain and instead of a wave of fear, excitement filled my veins. I was actually looking forward to getting going. It’s hard to describe, but just like the instructor had said, once you have your harness on there are two kinds of people. Those that are terrified and dread every step, or those that fear leaves them altogether in the knowledge that the safety equipment will do its job, and the thrill of what you’re doing takes over. Fortunately, we both fell into the latter category!
I was completely surprised that as soon as I clipped on I was looking forward to every step, rather than dreading it!
No more whimping out!
All smiles! Slowly, but surely making our way across the cliff face.
Heading down into the gully.
Taking a breather before tackling a trickier section.
Making our way around the gully towards the start of the Burma Bridge.
Looking through the gully to thrill seekers already walking across the Burma Bridge.
Psyching myself up for the gully section.
Double clipped on and ready to go!
The Via Ferrata Xtreme was introduced at Honister in 2012 to bring a much more challenging Via Ferrata experience.
This section is very physically demanding as you manoeuvre around the gully using upper body strength.
Fortunately there are lots of hand holds and you can rest whilst waiting for people in front to move on.
Wayne had the job of filming using the GoPro attached to his helmet as he followed on behind.
Still smiling, or is that gritted teeth!
Looking down onto the Burma Bridge.
Watching from afar, the Burma Bridge does look scary!
But… We had to go for it! The experience was both terrifying and amazing at the same time!
There was no doubt in his mind… Wayne follows on behind!
Making our way toward the scramble net. Now there’s no going back!
On a mission to bag Fleetwith Pike – via the extreme route!
Still making our way up!
Breathtaking views if you were brave enough to look down!
Reaching the cargo net for one final scramble.
Scrambling up the cargo net, the group keeps moving!
The TrekSnappy Team in action!
Whoop! We made it to the top!
Wayne enjoys his moment too!
Taking the last few steps to the summit of Fleetwith Pike… The via ferrata now complete!
Selfie-moment and a huge sigh of relief!
TrekSnappy’s first via ferrata completed – a job well done!
Standing on the summit of Fleetwith Pike. With clear weather it is one of the finest views the Lake District has to offer. Buttermere, Crummock and Loweswater, perfectly framed by Alfred Wainwright`s favourite fells, roll out before your eyes!
Is This For You?
We didn’t think it would ever be for us… But it just goes to show that with a bit of true grit attitude, you might actually enjoy something that you’ve never tried before! Life is all about experiences, right!
But don’t enter into it lightly. The Honister Via Ferrata Xtreme is tough and does test your physical and mental strength. It includes mountain edge exposure, vertical climbs, cliff edge ladders, plus a Burma Bridge and cargo net crossing. Hanging onto metal rungs on the side of a cliff, with a huge drop below, is not everyone’s cup of tea! But for us it was a truly amazing experience!
We fully recommend a visit to the slate mine and tackling the via ferrata for yourselves. The instructors are fantastic! First and foremost they make you feel comfortable, but more than that they make you believe in yourself, regardless of your physical strength. For us it was a personal challenge to get out of our comfort zones and a via ferrata was something new that we wanted to achieve.
It was both terrifying and amazing at the same time – but we realised it really is mind over matter, and at that moment in time, we were able to overcome our fear of heights.