Honister (Lake District)
© All images courtesy of Honister
The Honister Pass is famous for being one of the most beautiful mountain passes in the English Lake District. The pass is one of the highest in the region and also one of the steepest with gradients of up to 1-in-4 (25%).
At the head of the pass, you will find the Honister Slate Mine where they have been mining slate since 1728. Not only is the mine the last functioning slate mine in England, it is also an extremely popular tourist attraction. In addition to offering underground tours of the mine itself, people are able to experience a range of exhilarating high wire courses both inside and outside.
Famoulsy, Honister was the first to build a via ferrata course in the UK. Via ferrata, or Italian for iron path, is a protected climbing route which employs a steel cable for the length of the course. Using a simple harness, climbers can secure themselves with carabiners to the cable, thereby limiting any fall.
The Honister adventure centre was the brainchild of Mark Weir who bought the mine in 1997, reinstating the mining operation on a small scale after the mines had been abandoned in 1989. In addition to the via ferrata courses, Mark intended to build a zip wire from the top of Fleetwith Pike to the mine below.
Tragically, Mark was killed in a helicopter crash during the filming of the 2011 BBC series ‘Tales from the National Park’. However, this inspirational man’s vision lives on. Mark’s ideas have proved to be so popular that Honister was awarded winner of ‘Best Tourism Experience in The Lake District’ by Cumbria Tourism.
The Classic: The ‘Classic’ via ferrata is suitable for people over 10 years old and with a minimum height of 130 cm. No previous climbing experience is required and this fully supervised course will take approximately 2.5 hours to complete
The Extreme: A more extreme via ferrata experience, the ‘Extreme’ includes vertical climbs, cliff edge ladders, a Burma bridge and a Cargo net crossing. Participants need to be reasonably fit and should have some via ferrata experience
Climb The Mine: This underground via ferrata route passes through an unused section of the old slate mine. Located inside the heart of a Lake District mountain, ‘Climb the Mine’ is the only one of its type in England
Slate Mine Tour: Perfect for wet weather, the slate mine tour will be the highlight of any visit to Honister Slate Mine Pricing
Each experience is individually priced. For example the Classic via ferrata course is £40 whilst the Extreme course is usually £45. The mine tours are much cheaper starting at £14 for an adult. Full details of pricing can be found
here. Stay In Britain Tips
Despite Honister’s UK rainfall record, it is actually a great place to visit on a wet day. The underground activities make for a fantastic family day out. Parking is charged at £5 per day and there is an excellent café onsite.
The Honister Visitor Centre is right next door to the YHA Honister youth hostel, offering basic but comfortable accommodation for people wishing to spend more than one day at the centre.