Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Autumn Thrills in Snowdonia - Day 4


Zip World Velocity



Snowdonia                                                                     Wales

Tuesday 20th October 2015

I woke up fresh as a daisy getting destroyed by sheep mess as I didn’t want to get out of bed. I had too though as today I was taking part in the long awaited Zip World Velocity. This was a zip line adventure which spanned across Penrhyn slate quarry reaching speeds of up to 100mph. This made me excited and eager to get going though so I quickly changed and headed down for an early breakfast; I wouldn’t eat much though as I didn’t know whether this would cause me to be queasy later on. Throughout breakfast I was constantly thinking of what I was doing today imagining the feeling of exhilaration and adventure. I then consulted my map and figured out a route through the mountain range to the quarry. It would take about 40 minutes to get there so we soon packed our essentials into the car and closed the door behind us.

It was then when I clapped eyes on the glorious sun rising through the clouds over the wondrous mountains. It was the first time we had a morning glow which definitely made the landscape that bit more beautiful. The sheep were scattered along the valley too like cotton balls as the birds were singing there hearts out in the background. We finally left the farm bypassing the stubborn sheep blocking our way and heading through Beddgelert towards the north east. From here on were the most scenic autumn roads I had ever seen. I was having a fantastic time driving through the scenery but then the autumn forest disappeared and opened out to a wondrous view of open valleys and mountains surrounding the land. We were both lost for words and wanted to pull into the first lay-by we came across. With luck we had found one and what a perfect spot we had parked up at.
 
Scenic Snowdonia

We were right next to the lake and as we walked to the waters edge, a sense of peace and freedom came flowing through our hearts with how quiet it was despite 2 ducks paddling away. We had to leave this beautiful spot though and good timing too as a group of kids in a van arrived. Yet again the higher we climbed the more breathtaking the views became and we soon stopped again to soak in all the marvelous sights we were witnessing. We took our leave once more as we were now heading north west and at this point the area had became vast with mountains all around us accompanied with bending roads and small lakes. 

Scenic Snowdonia
Scenic Snowdonia

A very long time passed heading north west until we approached the small village of Bethesda. We passed the small brown sign pointing to ‘Zip World Velocity’ but we still had plenty of time on our hands so we decided to visit the small village itself. We eventually parked up and took a slow walk to see what the village had to offer. It was a very peaceful village despite the heavy laden trucks passing though with slate from the mines nearby. However, the reason it was peaceful was because the majority of the shops in the area were up for sale gathering dust and all that was left were a couple of convenience shops and cafes. We were full of optimism about this place but it was the total opposite. We only stayed for a cup of coffee each as smudge was barking at people admiring her and then luckily enough it was time to head back to the car for the main attraction. Along the way we were following the constant signs towards the quarry and then we arrived at a huge slate sign with Zip World standing out from it. 

Bethesda

The first sight I had seen was 2 large cables spanning across the entire length of the monstrous slate quarry and even further. From here on I had a great big smile on my face with excitement knowing I would be flying down it soon. We sat for a long while at the car park watching on at everyone whizzing down the lines until I took a walk along the picnic area. This was very close to the cables above and once I arrived, there was a huge slate statue of a man with his fist up in the air. It was to commemorate the slate workers and it fitted in well with the area. Then I caught my eye on the vibrant blue lake at the bottom of the quarry. It looked spectacular with green shrubbery surrounding the lower section of the quarry.

Slate Man

It was finally time to take on this adventurous activity so after checking myself in, I was told to head around the back of the building to the fitting area where the instructor would be waiting for me. I quickly arrived to the sight of a small group of people who I would be sharing the experience with. We all had a quick briefing from the instructors about safety and how to get into our safety harnesses and overalls correctly. Then we were told that we had to be weighed to determine whether or not we required drag for the descent down the line. My weight was 77kg so the instructor wrote it down on a green wristband for the instructors at the starting points of the zip line high up the quarry. Anyway, we were all ready to head off so we followed the instructor along to the smaller zip line which was called ‘Little Zipper’.

Ready for Adventure

They said it was the little zipper but when we finally arrived at the starting point, it was a hell of a lot higher and longer than anything I had went down before. It spanned 420 metres quite close to the treetops and the lake below. I was dead excited to get going but I would be amongst the last to go down as everybody were in their couples. It was great though watching everybody getting strapped into the bindings looking a bit petrified and excited at the same time. The instructors at the bottom of the line were communicating with the ones at the top making sure everything was safe and clear for each person going down; then it was my turn.

Little Zipper Stats



I was psyching myself out when I was getting strapped in for the ride down ready for the fun to begin. The instructors counted down 3, 2, 1 GO! They unclipped the release and off I went. I was ecstatic once the speed went up flying above the treetops as well as watching the lake whiz by me. It was truly exhilarating but I could see the end in sight so I prepared to grab the instructors hand. I suddenly came upon a cross wire which jolted me back slowing me right down. I had made it as everyone was watching on waiting to head to the very top of the quarry. Once released, I rushed off towards the group heading for a red truck which would take us to the top.



Yet again I was the last to get on as I sat right at the back. It was great though as I had a great view from the back of the truck once it set off. We were definitely getting thrown around with the truck hitting every bump and hole in the makeshift track but it didn’t bother me as I enjoyed the experience anyway. All of a sudden, a pre-recorded tour guide was played over the speakers on the truck teaching us about the history of slate mining and the quarry itself. It was very loud as well, maybe a little too loud as my ears were definitely ringing. I was trying to concentrate on the breathtaking views of Northern Wales far into the horizon. The track began to zig zag up the quarry and at this point the tour guide was replaced by very loud music of a classic song called ‘Come fly with me’ which was quite fitting for what we were about to do.

Views to the Top
Views to the Top

A long time had passed and then finally we had reached the top and the first thing that hit me was the cold air hitting my face. Once everyone left the truck we followed the instructor to the raised ground overlooking an incredible 270 degree view of the Welsh land and mountains and at this point everyone was speechless. I looked on with admiration as we made our way to the starting point of the zip line. After another briefing, I was yet again the last one to get on as I watched on at everyone else going down. I could see how nervous some people were at the sight of the steep quarry and the long zip line above it; they didn’t call it the ‘Big Zipper’ for nothing I thought as people were screaming.

Big Zipper Stats
Adventure Awaits

A long while had passed hearing screaming until it was my turn to fly down. My goggles I was provided with started to steam up once I put them on and I was worried it was going to spoil the experience; thankfully they did clear up and I was raring to go. It felt quite weird how I never felt any sense of nerves dangling over a deadly drop and then I heard 3, 2, 1 GO! I was released once more and right from the get go I was gaining speed quickly. I was enjoying it to the max as I flew over the zig zag track I came up on and then I came upon the steeper drop of the quarry overlooking the lake. Nothing but thrilling could describe how I felt flying at speed over the lake and all I could say at the time was ‘WOOO! As I opened my mouth the rush of air inflated my cheeks which made me look like a flying squirrel. I was flying passed the lake and I could see my mother standing at the picnic area but I went by her at speed as I was now coming to the end. I was told beforehand to reach both my hands to the side in order for me to slow myself down; as soon as I did that I said to myself “I’m Batman’ thinking I was slowing down with my cape taking out the thug also known as the instructor. Anyway, I was immediately jolted back by the crosswire and then I had to grab a stick the instructor was holding. It was over with as I couldn’t get the feeling of exhilaration out of my head as I made my way back to the reception area.



I took the long walk down watching on at another group flying down the ‘Little Zipper’ almost tempted to join them. I eventually reached reception area where my mother and smudge were waiting for me and we had a quick chat about the experience before heading off to remove my overalls. It didn’t take long to leave the fitting room as I headed to reception to pick up my certificate and buy a t shirt. I also headed to the small hut outside where they produced the unique personalised slate picture. I had to wait ten minutes until I eventually received my slate. It looked incredible at the fact I had a picture of myself flying down the quarry on a piece of slate; definitely unique.

Slate Picture


We eventually headed back into the car after a brilliant day as I talked my mothers ear off about the whole experience. As we still had a lot of time left of our day, we decided to head to a place called Bangor. My mind was still working overtime with zip lines and feeling free as an eagle; but for now I was driving north west up towards Bangor. It wasn’t far from the quarry to be honest and we shortly arrived along the coast. I could immediately tell at this point that there was hardly anything of interest. It seemed as though it was abandoned as we continued along the coastal road. We did come across a brown sign pointing the way to a pier. We headed towards that direction and there it was as we came to a stop. To be honest the pier looked very beautiful and classic which spanned for half a mile across the river mouth of the Menai straight; so we got out the car and headed towards it.

Leaving the Adventure

However, when we stopped at the entrance there was a sign stating ‘No dogs were allowed’. Great we thought as my mother headed back to the car with smudge and told me to go on without them. So I did passing the entrance area of the pier and it was at this moment I thought it looked a lot like one o the piers at Blackpool. Spaced out along the pier were very small cylinder shaped shops and cafes. The rooftops were domes coloured in silver and as the sun was shining on the pier, it shined the domes blindingly. 

Bangor Pier

Bangor Pier

I continued walking along the pier noticing all the shops were closed all the way down to the end. There was hardly anyone to be seen either but a few families scattered along the pier along with 2 fishermen at the very end. To the south west of the pier was the sun still beaming down on the rooftops as well as making the water glitter like starlight as the wind blew towards the bay to the east; speaking of which I clapped my eyes on the huge Conwy Bay. It was glorious and as I looked further along the horizon, I could see Llandudno and the land around it. It was miles away and even further past that I could see hundreds of wind turbines spinning around with the wind. It was truly peaceful but I didn’t want to leave my mother in the car and not experience this so I headed back and tried to persuade her to go take a look but she wouldn’t.

Sun Setting at Bangor

It was getting quite late now so we all headed to the car and made our way back to our farmhouse 19 mile away. We drove along a different route to get back though and we were shocked with coming from a quiet beachfront to a thriving city full of big high street shops; we couldn’t believe it but what we could believe was the heavy traffic we were stuck in. It was weird to think we came from mountainous roads in the morning then to busy traffic in the late afternoon.

A long time passed as we finally left Bangor and quickly making our way to the farm and returning on the beautiful quiet mountain roads; I was enjoying the drive once more. Then the farm came in our sights and it was at this moment I thought what another great day we had as we slowly approached the farm. It also felt great when I finally turned the engine off looking on at the fantastic views of mountains along with pure silence. We entered into our home and suddenly relaxed from a very long exhilarating day with the wood burner flaring strong with warm flames. I finished the perfect day with another trip to the Jacuzzi for the next 45 minutes unwinding still feeling like an eagle flying down the quarry. When I returned back to the warm farmhouse, I headed off straight to bed; then as I drifted off to sleep, the heavens opened which sounded very calming as I truly felt relaxed.


Slate Statue
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