Honister slate mine is located in Cumbria, in the English Lake District. It was reopened in 1997 by Mark Weir and now, in addition to being a working mine, it is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the Lake District, with numerous activities for its visitors.
The Romans mined the area for slate in small quantities, but mass mining did not begin until the late 18th century. Some of the mining skills of those days can still be seen today in tourist demonstrations.
One of the most popular things to do at Honister is the ascent of the Via Ferrata – Italian words which mean “iron road”. It is the only one of its kind in the UK and allows the average person to climb all the way to the top of the Honister Slate Mine. The system was originally built in Victorian times as a transportation system: due to the steepness of the rock face, all normal transport methods were unsuitable. The newly renovated ascent consists of ladders, bridges and well-fixed cables to which you’re firmly attached with modern safety harnesses as you climb.
At the Honister slate mine, anyone over 10 years old can take part in this exhilarating activity which allows them to climb 650 meters up to the top of Fleetwith Pike. All the groups are accompanied by a knowledgeable via ferrata guide who ensures everything is safe and secure. The expedition is a great adventure for everyone in the family, with an exciting zig-zag route which disappears up the cliff face, burrows through shafts and tunnels, teeters along narrow bridges, and requires you to climb steep ladders on sheer rock faces.
You really have to experience this to realise how much of an undertaking it must have been for the constructors of the via ferrata in Victorian times without today’s modern machinery. Reaching the top of the slate mine is an extraordinary experience as you look over the stunning scenery and surrounding mountains of the Lake District.
Prices for this unique activity at the Honister Slate mine are around £25 for adults and £20 for children under 16, though family tickets can also be purchased for £85. And once you’ve braved the via ferrata, there are plenty of other exciting activities to experience such as an underground tour, slate mining demonstrations and beautiful walking routes. There’s also a café and a gift shop on site which sells products from name plaques to decorative memorabilia.
A more sedate activity, but equally popular, is a trip on the Windermere “Steamers”. Windermere is the largest natural lake in England; it is part of the Lake District National Park in Cumbria. The cruisers which travel along Windermere have existed in one form or another since the 19th century, when the influx of tourists and increased popularity of the Lake District as a holiday destination created a demand for lake trips.
Certainly the Lake and its surroundings are just as beautiful now as they were then! No doubt that’s the reason why Lake Windermere and its cruisers are still one of the most enduring and appealing attractions in the Lake District.
The original boats were powered by steam, so the modern cruisers are still often referred to as steamers, even though today they all have diesel engines. A boat trip along Lake Windermere provides lots of chances to explore the area around the lake, from the little port of Lakeside near Newby Bridge in the South, to the bustling activity of busy Bowness, and charming Ambleside at the head of the Lake. And there is a wide variety of boats to choose from, including the vintage “Steamers” which can carry up to 350 passengers. (Although, if taking a cruise isn’t your thing, you can rent your own boat and go on a journey of your own making from all of the main landing stages.) lake garda beach club