A Lake District tourist attraction is in the running to be named the best in England.The Via Ferrata Experience at Honister Slate Mine has been shortlisted as the country's Best Tourism Experience in the national Enjoy England Awards 2012.Honister will compete against tourism experiences in Cheshire, Worcester, Yorkshire and Kent.Via Ferrata – meaning Iron Way in Latin – takes place high on the crags of the spectacular 2,126ft Fleetwith Pike, in the Borrowdale Valley near Keswick.
It involves people secured by harness and watched over by trained mountaineers edge along an historic cliff-edge miner's route-to-work using metal ladders, hand rungs and bridges to reach a stunning summit viewpoint over Buttermere and Crummock.Via Ferrata were established in the First World War to help troops with no climbing experience, get quickly through the mountains in the Alps and Italian Dolomites. There are Via Ferrata experiences in Switzerland and Austria, but Honister’s is the only one in England.Last summer it was named Best Tourism Experience in the Lake District at the Cumbria Tourism Awards.The Via Ferrata was introduced at Honister by the late mine owner Mark Weir, to help people who don’t climb, enjoy the drama and exposure of mountaineering.The path used also links back to the hardships of the original Victorian miners who used the same high altitude walkways as a route to get to and from work.
Honister has already received an accolade from national tourism body Visit England, which sent out an undercover tourism inspector to road-test the business on behalf of customers. It passed with flying colours and was praised for its excellent standards.They found:
Honister Slate Mine – the last working slate mine in England - is situated over 1,000ft up a mountain pass in the Lake District on the fourth highest road in England. It officially opened in 1643 but mining is believed to have taken place in early Roman Times.The mine and visitor centre, is also homage to all things slate in what was once one of the Lake District's traditional industries. In particular, you can see products made from the beautiful “Westmorland Green,” slate which is over 450 million years old and renowned for its high quality, hard-wearing distinctive “olive-green" colour.