My boyfriend; Mark had planned the mine tour, the Via Ferrata adventure and a stay at the Paradigm House (more about this later) as a surpise for my birthday. Just to confirm that the adventure part was alright with me, Mark showed me the web site for the Honister Slate Mine that includes some photos of the Via Ferrata as well. I was quite excited by the pictures and immediately signed up for it..! (Hint: if the photos of the Via Ferrata excite you and challenge you, the chances are very high that you will be able to finish it without problems). I consider myself physically fit except for a slightly weak knee. Since we had a choice of 3 days, we made sure that we DIDN'T go for a strenuous hike BEFORE I went for the Via Ferrata, to "save" my knee for the adventure. We also chose the least rainy and windy day possible (we prefer dry days for such adventure..!) . Upon our arrival, we were asked to sign a release form and given instructions along with safety harness and helmets, then taken up to the beginning point of the adventure. There were 5 of us in the group to begin with. A trained instructor/ guide leads the adventure, although in reality, he generally "follows" behind taking photos (since we were not allowed to take photos while climbing, for safety reasons.!) But, the point is he is there to help at a moment's notice. One of the women in the group decided it was too much for her and left the group. In case, you had over-estimated your nerves or your muscle strength, you get to know pretty quickly what your limits are and there is the option to leave (it's pretty early on in the adventure. so, don't count on being able to leave "anytime"). Besides, if you stay after the first hill, you are likely going to be fine. It seemed a little tricky at first, as I tried to understand what it involves. But after the first 20 minutes, I felt very much in the swing of things. And really started enjoying myself. For me the key was : Don't look down, Concentrate on the task at hand, and as the instructor says ALWAYS make sure that you are tied to the rope by atleast one of the two carabiners. And when it comes to the Burma Bridge, just concentrate on putting one foot in front of the other with your hands extended away from your body. The view from the top is gorgeous, we could see all the way to Scotland (it was smart to choose the least rainy day, wasnt it?).!
I got quite a few bumps and scratches on my knees and hands but it was a small price to pay for such a wonderful experience. One of the best things about such experiences is how simplified it makes life. Your entire attention gets devoted to the task at hand. It's liberating.! And as Uncle John; a rock-climbing instructor himself says, "Nothing ventured, nothing gained"..!!
We have heard about a possible addition of a zip line that will bring the adventurists back to the base, after they have reached the peak at a speed of 60 mph! We know what we are going to do again on our next trip to the Lake District..!
The mine tour afterwards was good as well. It gives the history of mining around the area in the past & the present and our guide had a witty sense of humor. Home made soups and sandwiches served in the cafe were a welcome treat..!
Side Note: The same group that owns Honister Slate Mine also, owns & manages a few cottages around the area. We stayed in one called the "Barn". It was an elegantly decorated cottage, one of those rare places which are warm & homey, yet, the furnishings look like pieces of art. The very wonderful Jan; our hostess, provided us with a refrigerator full of goodies. There was enough to serve us breakfast for 4 mornings and dinner for one evening. Check out "Discover Paradigm" for more info. Jan, you need to set up a separate listing for your fabulous cottages..!
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