Honister Slate Mine
Tel:- 017687 77230
Situated at the top of Honister Pass, on the road from Borrowdale to Buttermere, Honister Slate Mine is one of the most unique attractions in the Lake District. It is a working slate mine that is also a visitor attraction, comprising a small visitor centre and slate showroom, coupled with the opportunity to take a tour underground to see how the Westmorland Green Slate is extracted and worked.
Honister is also famous for it's "Via Ferrata", comprising of steel cables anchored into the side of the mountain to which a safety harness can be attached, allowing visitors to traverse the rock face. There are actually two "Via Ferrata" options, the original "Classic", and for true adrenaline junkies, the "Xtreme".
An All day pass package is available, covering a mine tour, lunch, and "Via Ferrata" experience.
There is also a cafe, gift shop and slate showroom, and at the rear of the slate workshops a rather wonderful stone garden, built by the mine's owner, the late Mark Weir, and demonstrating the versatility of slate.
These tours take you into tunnels in the mountain, which are wet and rocky underfoot. You need to be properly dressed in warm clothing and stout, waterproof footwear. All other necessary equipment will be provided by Honister on arrival.
There are four fully guided mine tours a day, each one lasting approximately an hour and a half. These should be booked in advance by calling 01768 777714.
In addition there are three separate tours aimed at those with an interest in mining, ecology or industrial history. These are led by experts in their respective fields and offer a new insight into the impact that the mines have had on the local landscape and it's people. For details and dates of these special tours, click here
Kimberley and Honister Tours
These are the basic mine tours, and offer an insight into how slate has been mined throughout the ages, and also telling the story of how the mine was resurrected in the 1990's. The Kimberley is mainly on the flat, and is perfect for a rainy day. The Honister a little more demanding, and more subject to the prevailing weather conditions. There is a minimum height restriction of 1m 30cm, or 4 ft. 3 and a bit inches in old money, on the Honister tour.
To discuss which mine tour would be best for you and your party, and to book your tour, call 01768 777714.
Discover Honister Tour
The Discover Honister tour runs every day at 2.00 pm, subject to the prevailing weather conditions, and takes approx 1.5 hours. There is a minimum height restriction of 1 metre 30 cm (4 ft 3 and a bit inches) and a minimum age restriction of 10 years old.
The tour combines a visit into the mine followed by a crossing of the "Infinity Bridge" to view the Via Ferrata routes. This is ideal for those who want a little more adventure and excitement than that provided by the basic mine tours, but who are not sure whether they are ready for the excitement of the Via Ferrata.
All day Pass
The best way to enjoy all that Honister has to offer is to buy an all day pass. This provides a mine tour, lunch, time for a browse around the gift shop, and an adrenaline fuelled experience on the Via Ferrata. For details of prices and to book, call 01768 777714.
Via Ferrata is Italian for "Iron Road". It consists of a steel cable which is fixed to the mountain side to which a safety harness can be secured. This enables the wearer of the harness to traverse the mountain, following routes that would normally only be accessible to the most experienced of climbers. Iron rungs, carved steps, ladders and bridges can be added to the route, creating a uniquely heart stopping, yet relatively safe experience for those who want to experience the thrill of climbing the mountain, but have neither the skill, nor the experience to do so unaided.
What you do need is an understanding of the dangers, (it's safe if you follow the instructions from the guide) a good head for heights, an appreciation of the basic technique of traversing the route, trust in the equipment and a desire to do something totally different.
You also need to be prepared for all weather conditions, and wear waterproofs and strong footwear. All other necessary equipment will be provided by Honister on arrival.
Via Ferrata needs to be booked in advance. Also, you need to arrive 30 minutes before your designated departure time to be kitted out and briefed on safety. Failure to do so may result in your places being re-allocated.
On both routes there is a minimum age of 10 years, and a minimum height 1m 30cm (4ft, 3 and a bit inches).
A copy of the Via Ferrata terms and conditions can be obtained here ....
A copy of the Honister Via Ferrata risk assessment can be obtained here ...
Via Ferrata Classic
The least challenging of the two routes, Via Ferrata Classic follows the original miner's route to the top of Fleetwith Pike, 2,126 ft (648 m) above sea level. It runs at 12 noon every day from April to October, and 9 am each day from November to March, and takes 2 - 2.5 hours. During holiday times other time slots may be introduced according to demand.
Via Ferrata Xtreme
Via Ferrate Classic, and then some! Although the principle is the same, the Xtreme version of the Via Ferrata requires a higher level of physical fitness and nerves of steel. But if you fancy climbing vertical ladders overlooking a 1,000 ft drop, or climbing rope bridges that are seemingly in mid air, then this is for you.
Reaching the top of the mountain also involves crossing a vertical sided ravine, and overcoming a 60ft high vertical cargo net. Roughly 3 hours after setting out your sense of achievement at reaching the summit will only be tempered by the realisation that you need to walk back to the mine. A zip wire was planned for this purpose, but failed to get planning permission.
Via Ferrata Xtreme runs at 9 am and 3 pm every day from April to October, and 12 noon each day from November to March, and takes 2.5 - 3 hours. During holiday times other time slots may be introduced according to demand.