If you’ve ever dreamed of flying through the air at high speed, or wondered what it might be like to jump off a large metal platform and leave your fate in the hands of some rope and wires, then Zip World Titan is for you. Rough Guides editor Rachel Mills visited the disused quarry in North Wales to tackle the only four-person zip line in Europe.
Zip lining is for kids though, right?
Not at Zip World Titan. Hurtling along at 70mph, with a 500ft drop below, is definitely not for the faint-hearted. Saying that, it is a family-friendly activity, as you can descend together on four parallel lines, meaning competitive parents can race their kids (and is likely to win, as for once, heavier means faster). And if you’re brave enough, you can take a drive 45-minutes north to sister site Zip World Velocity where you soar headfirst at 100mph…
Where is it?
Zip World Titan opened in the summer of 2014 at Llechwedd Slate Caverns, just outside the mining town of Blaenau Ffestiniog in North Wales, around ten miles northeast of Porthmadog. There are directions on the website but on a cold and bleak day and with no phone signal or wifi, you can feel a long way from everywhere.
What should I expect?
Titan has three zip lines: Anarchy (890m), Bedlam (630m) and Chaos (450m). The longest of the three, Anarchy, is most susceptible to bad weather and closes for winter and in high winds.
Once you’ve signed the necessary release forms (anyone for a psychologically challenging activity?) you’re given a bright red boiler suit to wear and helped with your harness. After being weighed you’re ushered into a specialised off road vehicle which negotiates the loose scree of the steeply sided quarry while you slide about on benches in the back.
The vehicle drops you off at the highest zip line and you’re clipped onto one of the four parallel wires, seated in your harness with your feet off the ground, steadied behind a metal gate that is shortly going to fly open – not unlike a Grand National steed waiting for the starter pistol. If you don’t weigh much, you’re advised to tuck up as tight as possible for a quicker descent.
The stunning views across moorland and peaks serve to distract from the fear of falling and all in all it’s not as scary as you might think. It can be blustery up there and the howling wind doesn’t exactly allay any fears, but in fact being buffeted by lusty gusts of wind actually slows you down. The upside is that it means plenty of time to look around. Staff are there to catch you at the end and you take a short walk between the lines to start on the next – the final zip line, Chaos, takes you whizzing over the on-site buildings and back to the start.
What should I wear?
Think practical. Hiking boots or trainers and warm gloves are recommended. It’s an exposed site, and it’s colder than you might expect. Plastic glasses, a helmet and a wind and waterproof flying suit are provided. Be warned that it’s far from a glamorous activity!
Is it safe?
Yes! The founders of Zip World are leaders in their field and they’ve built more than one thousand installations in more than thirty countries. Over two years is spent in research and development for each Zip World project. State of the art, patented technology is involved in the safety equipment, which is regularly checked and maintained. Although there is a small chance of a 2012 Olympics Boris Johnson moment as occasionally people have to be rescued by staff if they lose momentum before the finish.
Is it easy?
Zip lining doesn’t require all that much physical effort; it’s more about building up the courage to actually take part. Staff ensure that you’re safely clipped in and all you have to do is walk a short distance in your harness, though this is heavier than you might expect.
What if the weather is bad?
Make sure that you check the ride status online before you turn up. It’s Wales, so inevitable bad weather can affect the schedule – in the event of this, staff will do all they can to rearrange your booking. All through winter (and in high winds) they close the highest zip line and amendments to weight restrictions are sometimes introduced. They’ll try to give you 24 hours notice, but if the site does close you don’t get a refund; however you can rebook your activity anytime in the next twelve months. Call 01248 601 444 (option 2 for Zip World Titan).