Via Farrata is an outdoor adventure course at Honister Slate Mine, Fleetwith Pike in the Lake District, not far from Keswick.
Via Ferrata Xtreme was introduced at Honister in 2012 to bring a much more challenging (and some say scary) Via Ferrata experience. You need to be reasonably fit and healthy for the Xtreme version, and it offers much more edge exposure, vertical climbs, cliff edge ladders, plus a ‘Burma bridge’ made of ropes which can be tricky in strong winds, and a cargo net crossing. Participants are kept safe throughout by friendly guides and carabiners to clip onto safety lines.
For this video for Honister we wanted to show what the course was like so that potential visitors could decide in advance if it was for them – this is a really effective way of getting those who are excited ready to book, and those who are too nervous can still enjoy the experience virtually. The best way to do this was to create a POV (point of view) sequence that would put the viewer in the shoes of an average participant. We sometimes get requests to make these types of films for social media look less formal or ‘produced’, and hence more genuine and reflective of real life. We therefore filmed the entire route with a helmet-mounted action camera. The main challenge here of course is that you can’t see what you are filming, and the performer / camera operator has to ‘pan and tilt’ to follow the action with their head and hope for the best!
As the lens was nice and wide, it produces a very immersive, first-person result. You experience setting off and descending on a metal ladder to begin the course, followed by a climb along the side of a gorge, with a carabiner keeping you clipped to a safety line. Metal hand and footholds in the rock are a big help here as the cliff face becomes steeper and steeper and you enter a gorge with a deep drop below. Next is the rope bridge which stretches far out across the gorge. Don’t worry, that’s the instructor you can see bouncing on it! You are then hooked onto a pully system in order to cross the bridge and reach another ladder on the other side. After a scramble up the huge cargo net, you reach the summit of Fleetwith Pike and one of the finest views the Lake District has to offer. Buttermere, Crummock and Loweswater are perfectly framed by Alfred Wainwright`s favourite Fells before your very eyes – weather dependent of course, but we were lucky!
The film went down very well and is still the most popular video search result for Via Ferrata on Google.