Wednesday 18 June 2014

Zippedy doo daa!

Hazel and Dave take the zip
During our week's stay at Campbell’s Cottage, we noticed in the Guardian that a new attraction had just opened the week before at Llechwedd Slate Caverns near Blaenau Ffestiniog.  A company called Zip World has built a series of zip wires over the slate mines.

As it was only a short distance away from the cottage and I love doing new challenges, this was a great opportunity.  My partner, Dave, was not bothered but when we got there I was pleased that he decided to join in.  Unfortunately, the rain that began as drizzle when we left, changed to the heaviest downpour of our holiday and we spent a few minutes deciding whether to leave it for another time.  However, we were encouraged by the staff to ‘go for it’ and as we were both psyched up for this experience, we decided to do just that.

After we were introduced to the instructors, eight of us were kitted out with orange flying suits, harnesses, helmets, goggles and most importantly, the trolley. This piece of equipment would be attached to each of the three zip wires as we got to them. There were three levels, the first being the longest but slowest, the second the fastest and the last brought us back to earth.

After we boarded the bus which took us to the highest point, we walked with our instructors to the first of the zips.  Each run had four zip wires so you were not on your own. We decided amongst us who was going to be in the first four and then each chose a lane. We were hooked up and our straps tightened.  Not being a lover of heights, I felt quite apprehensive at this point!  A cry of “three, two, one” - then the gates opened and we were off into oblivion!

Wow! Initially, we couldn’t see a thing as we went headlong into cloud which was an incredible feeling but as we dropped lower and the clouds disappeared, the vista of Snowdonia became apparent and there was time to take in the whole panorama.  As there was a headwind, some of us didn’t quite make it to the end on the first run and I had to be rescued by means of a rope!  There was then a short walk to the second run which was shorter but much faster.  In fact, I was told that you went even faster if you rolled into a ball which I did but then a scary moment when I didn’t think I was going to stop but, of course, I did with the help of the brilliant mechanism.  The third zip was just as exciting and by then we felt confident enough to race each other. Dave even managed to get a movie with his iPhone! - see below.

After a short walk back to the cabin, we disposed of our gear and thence to the lovely café for a drink and hot food.

In all, I felt safe and secure and completely trusted the staff and instructors with what was a memorable experience. It wasn’t as scary as I thought, the camaraderie was great and I would definitely recommend it in any weather.

Whilst at Llechwedd, the slate caverns and accompanying workshops are well worth a visit and a new attraction called “Bounce Below“ which was featured on a recent episode of Countryfile, is soon to be opening.  There are also downhill mountain bike trails for the experienced.

Just to clarify that at Zip World Titan at Llechwedd there are three zips and you sit in a comfortable armchair position. You ride at about 50mph – 60mph and it is the largest zip zone in Europe.

This isn’t to be confused with the same company’s Zip World Velocity at Bethesda which is the one where you are lying in a prone position. This is the longest and fastest in Europe but only has one zip wire.

To avoid disappointment, we recommend booking in advance if you can. [Many thanks to Hazel and Dave for this contribution to the Campbell's Cottage blogspot]

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