Guest Post by Lifeseeker
The nearest thing to flying
This time last year, Dave and I woke to sun and the sound of surf from the back of the van. We’d slept amongst the sand dunes of Rhosneigr, our temporary base before heading over to Snowdonia’s Zip World to ride Velocity, the longest zip line in Europe and the fastest in the world.
I’d been given a voucher from a good friend for my 40th birthday and was giddily bouncing all the way to Bethesda. That is until they called to say it wasn’t running that day…
Twelve months and another road trip later, this time to explore the luscious Conwy valley, we woke to a flock of friendly chickens on their morning stroll around Ewr Glas campsite.
The morning mist loitered over River Conwy, yet the sky had cleared since the heavy downpours of the day before.
“Woop woop” we chirped as we packed the van and repeated a phrase that had stuck and now seemed to have adopted a Borat-style accent,
“Today, we go flying!”
Following a mini stop in Betws Y Coed and an ethically sourced lunch at The Alpine Coffee Shop, we arrived at a particularly rocky entrance to Zip World. As we passed the gate and as if on cue, two flying humans shot above our heads by zip line, disappearing as fast as they came into sight.
Our childlike smiles turned into face wide grins.
“Yippee, that’ll be us in a bit.”
We joined a mix of zippers and spectators dotted around reception and after checking in explored the quarry edge. Here we could see the zippers in full action, packaged like red bugs in a rug on their home stretch back to base.
It was a strangely quiet atmosphere on the ground. Perhaps it was a subconscious nervousness? After all, most of these spectators were assumedly parents of the riders.
The zip sounds like passing aircraft. Beginning as a low-pitched hum from what seems like no particular direction, then rapidly rising to a full volume ‘shooooosh’ as the riders glide in and out of sight.
I felt a few nerves on the drive up, now I was just excited. Dave was only ever excited, now perched next to me sorting gadgets to film his GoPro spectacular.
At last, our time arrived. We joined a thorough safety briefing, followed by a personal weigh-in, kit allocation and sign up to receive a video. And of course, we took the obligatory ‘ahhh’ photo.
A short walk to the Little Zipper gave us an intro to the Big Zip process. A chance to experience the horizontal harness and practice speed control for landing.
“Weeeeeeeee” we sang as we glided smoothly and effortlessly above the trees, the strength of the wind on our face indicating our speed (apparently up to 40mph on this one).
We were greeted at the end by the hands of our ride crew and lowered smoothly to the ground. What an incredible feeling. It knocked any Go Ape zip line out of the park.
And this was only the trial run.
Having passed the Little Zipper test, we bundled into the back of a really cool 4×4 ex-army troop carrier, like red minions on a mission.
Decked out in flying suit and harness complete with helmet and goggles, it felt like we’ joined a ‘mission impossible’ as we embarked on a 10-minute climb to the top.
The truck rattled, yet surefootedly around the quarry edge. Adrenalin started to kick in as we climbed through stunning Welsh landscape and watched the base move further from sight.
One final corner and we were at the Big Top.
“This is it guys.” I cheered as I jumped off the truck.
What a glorious view.
Butterflies danced in my stomach as we peeked over the barrier and down to an azure blue lagoon. I adjusted my kit one last time as we entered the launch pad.
Dave angled the GoPro and I grinned back as the ride crew radioed our IDs and weights back to base. A welcome final check for a ride with potential speeds of 119mph.
“We go flying now” we shrieked from our hanging cocoons ready for the off.
But hold on, my goggles were steaming up! Was I about to miss seeing this awesome experience? Aaarghhh. This was normal they assured me and all would ‘become clear’ as the wind forced through the vents after launch. Phew.
A final check of the mechanics and the head guy yelled,
“OK, enjoy guys in 3 – 2 – 1”
Launch was quick and before I knew it I was approaching the steepest drop, the one point where my stomach did somersaults. The harness felt solid and with hands held back to my sides, I marvelled at a panoramic view which stretched as far as my head could turn.
We flew like superheroes, five hundred feet over the piercing blue water of the quarry, enjoying breath-taking views over Bethesda and towards Anglesey.
Our speed shoots kept us in control, although I must admit I wanted more.
It was pure bliss, a feeling that no photo or video can describe.
It’s not every day you put your life in the hands of a pulley on a metal wire that disappears into ‘nowhere’. It’s not every day we get to experience this awesome opportunity.
Check out Dave’s video for a brief insight into our flight (a mash-up of his GoPro and the personalised Zip World footage).
Thanks Zip World for creating the nearest thing to flying. This is definitely one way to play smart and live well.
I fancy the Fforest coaster next.
Founder of Life Seeker. Lover of all things creative, amazing places, inspiring activities, interesting people, good food and fresh air.