New Via Ferrata and Zip Wire plan announced by South Lakes tourism business (From The Westmorland Gazette)
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New Via Ferrata and Zip Wire plan announced by South Lakes tourism business
A CLIMBING centre plans to open a unique indoor attraction to lure more adrenaline-seekers to South Lakeland.
The national award-winning Lakeland Climbing Centre in Kendal, is working on plans for an indoor via ferrata, a first for the UK, which involves steel rungs and ladders for climbers, complete with a zip wire descent.
It would represent a year-round wet-weather climbing activity in a county where rock climbing can often be weather dependent.
The new development at the centre on the Lakeland Business Park, will also include extra aerial activities and an upgrade of the centre’s 82ft climbing wall which is the tallest in the country.
It is expected to be up and running by next year.
Via Ferrata takes its name from the Latin for Iron Way and involves steel rungs and ladders being bolted to rocks. They were first installed in the Alps and Dolomites during the First World War to help troops with no climbing experience move quickly through mountains.
Andrea King, the Kendal Wall's office and events manager, said: “Plans are coming together for our unique indoor via ferrata and we are now projecting it will be up and running for summer 2014.
“This will be a fantastic, unique and adventurous activity for locals, tourists and climbers to use and will, once again, generate increased visitors to Kendal and the Lake District.”
The Lakeland Climbing Centre won the Silver Award in the Small Visitor Attraction of the Year category of the prestigious national VisitEngland Awards for Excellence 2012.
The company said it was the only climbing Centre ever to be recognised as a tourist attraction as well as an elite sport’s venue.
There are similar indoor via ferratas in Europe which are popular with professional climbers wanting to avoid bad weather or test themselves ahead of trips to places like Switzerland, where there are as many as 50 outdoor via ferrata.
The Kendal centre has spent almost £500,000 on its facilities and already specialises in indoor and outdoor climbing. It is a member of the Association of Mountain Instructors and the Association of British Climbing Walls.
Robert Aide, of the British Mountaineering Council, said: “I’m aware of many high ropes courses in the UK but not an indoor via ferrata.
“Via ferrata is a popular sport in Europe and a lot of people from the UK go across to try them. If we have a facility in this country where people can be properly trained up to get them up and running before they go out to Europe, it would be extremely useful.”
Andrea Runkee, Cumbria Tourism’s Adventure Capital Project Manager said: "The Lakeland Climbing Centre is a truly world class product, which regularly hosts the British Climbing and Bouldering Teams.
"The proposed enhancement of the site offers an entirely new indoor experience for visitors, which is a vital part of ensuring that people keep coming to the area. It also yet again reinforces the fact that the Lake District Cumbria is the UK’s Adventure Capital, able to offer a wide range of both indoor and outdoor adventure activity for every age and ability."
Honister Slate Mine opened the UK's first outdoors Via Ferrata in 2007.