Zip World is the brainchild of former Royal Marine Sean Taylor, a native of the Conwy Valley. For Sean, zip lines are the closest thing to skydiving without jumping out of an aircraft. His winning formula is to take heritage industrial sites and transform them into adrenaline-rush playgrounds for thrill seekers. Its success has been instrumental in turning North Wales into the adventure playground of Europe.
Set over three sites in close proximity, the Zip World collection in North Wales comprises a range of activities: the world's fastest and Europe's longest zip line, Velocity 2 at Penrhyn Quarry, Bethesda; Titan 2, Europe’s first four-person zip line, and the underground Bounce Below trampolines at Slate Caverns above Blaenau Ffestiniog; and finally Fforest, the UK’s only alpine coaster through the trees.
In South Wales, Zip World Tower, based in Rhondda Cynon Taf, is home to the Phoenix and Tower Flyer zip line rides, Tower Coaster and the Tower Climber.
Zip World Penrhyn Quarry
Penrhyn Quarry was the largest in the world at one time, and slate was mined there for over two centuries. Now it’s home to Zip World Penrhyn Quarry and it's all about speed. The world's fastest, and Europe's longest zip line, Velocity 2 features four parallel lines spanning almost a mile over the beautiful deep blue water of the lake.
Your heart pounds heavily as the red army truck winds its way up high to the launch site, carrying its cargo of anxious astronauts, to the launch point high over the quarry. The views across Snowdonia to Anglesey are stunning, but there’s barely time to gather your thoughts before you’re securely strapped onto the zip wire and away, cutting through the air. You'll experience soaring at 500ft above ground and speeds of over 100 mph. You'll get to the bottom and probably want to do it all over again.
Perfect for people wanting to try out zip-lining without the intensity of Velocity 2, the Quarry Flyer is a shorter adventure with two zip lines to fly along.
Quarry Karts in the same location is the UK's first mountain kart track, with gravity fuelled three-wheelers you navigate through chicanes, tunnels and a variety of other obstacles at up to 40 mph.
And to relax while having a cuppa and a cake, there’s Blondin Restaurant, where you can watch fellow adventurers zipping high above you as watch from the terrace. Serving a range of locally sourced food and drink, there are views that are hard to beat.
You really need to check out the exhilaration for yourself.
Zip World Llechwedd Slate Caverns
There are a lot of different things to do at Zip World Llechwedd Slate Caverns for all ages to enjoy. Based around the Llechwedd slate mines, you can explore the area's industrial heritage on a Deep Mine Tour, or discover how the slate caverns have been turned into an adventurer's underground paradise.
Of course, there's a zip-line or two. For a more genteel aerial experience than Velocity, though still hugely exciting, there’s Titan 2, Europe’s first four-person zip line. Part of the experience includes a guided tour of the slate caverns above Blaenau Ffestiniog. BIG RED is a shorter, 30m zip line, ideal for ages 5 and over to try out zip lining.
If you've had enough of flying through the air, it's time to head deep underground. Bounce Below is an extraordinary subterranean cathedral of psychedelic lights and trampolines connected by nylon slides and ladders. There's also the thrilling Caverns course of zip wires interspersed with rope bridges, balance beams, tunnels and pulsating stretches of via ferrata, familiar to climbers.
The newest caverns attraction is underground adventure golf. Play 18 holes in caverns 500ft below the earth, surrounded by psychedelic lights, over gradually harder obstacles.
Zip World Fforest
Back above ground and into the woods is Zip World Fforest, a range of canopy pursuits for all ages, including the UK’s only alpine coaster whizzing amongst the trees. Check out the views from Treetop Nets, Europe’s largest net walkway 60ft up in the forest, or challenge yourself to Zip Safari 2 – 21 ziplines and various wobbly obstacles, including surfboards, hanging 60ft above the ground. There are alternative routes around the scariest parts so you can decide how brave to be on the day.
Mini adventurers in the family can try out Tree Hoppers, an introductory assault course with two different routes depending on how brave your young one feels on the day.
If you are feeling very brave, feel the fear and experience the world’s first tandem drop experience, Plummet 2, from a 100ft high tower. Skyride 2 is Europe’s highest giant swing, and finally, there's the exhilarating 1km Fforest Coaster ride through the forest. The first part of the experience is lovely and relaxing, lying back watching the sky through the forest's canopy as you're hauled up to the starting point. Then you let the brakes off at the top - and it's an intense, breathtaking ride back down to the bottom.
And there’s plenty of locally-sourced refreshments to enjoy as you catch your breath before embarking on the next big adventure.