Adrenaline junkies are well and truly spoilt when it comes to finding adventure in the UK. Zip World North Wales has everything you could want and more. Search for whatever you want; longest zip wire in Wales, longest zip wire in the UK, fastest zip wire in the WORLD and you’re going to get the same answer. Zip World! The zip line makes up just one part of zip world and I’m going to share with you everything you need to know about visiting!
Zip World Wales
Zip World is actually spread out across 3 different North Wales locations. You have Zip World Penrhyn Quarry (Bethesda, Bangor), Zip World Fforest (Betws-y-Coed) and Zip World Slate Caverns (Blaenau Ffestiniog). The furthest driving distance between locations (Penrhyn Quarry to the Slate Caverns) is almost 50 minutes! We did 2 of the locations on one day but you’d be pushed to do all 3.
Zip World Penrhyn Quarry
Zip World Penrhyn Quarry is the location of the fastest zip wire in the world, Velocity 2! It’s 1555 metres long (that’s almost a MILE) and the absolute fastest people can reach is 120mph, but the average is 100mph.
The experience lasts around 2 hours in total. It is recommended to book in advance as it can fill up during peak times. We arrived early but were then able to jump on to an earlier slot as there were empty spaces.
What to wear at Zip World – I wore knee length shorts, trainers and a hoodie and I was fine. Just make sure you dress for the weather as there is a lot of hanging around, outside in the elements! There are lockers that you can hire for £1 (non returnable), or you can leave bags with a spectator or you are given the chance to leave stuff in the car before you begin.
Everyone is given an all in one jump suit and the harness has a pocket on the front which you can put a car key or a phone etc inside (at your own risk of course. I had my iPod in it, but bear in mind that when you are being attached to the zip wire you’ll be laying on the pocket). You can also take glasses and sunglasses on Velocity 2, I wish I had known this before because I probably would have worn sunglasses. You are just given a different pair of safety googles that fit over the top.
You have the option to rent a head camera (more on this later), but we were asked if any of us had our own. If you have a Garmin, you can use their mount on the helmet. The standard Go Pro mount doesn’t fit in this mount though and chest straps or wrist straps don’t work due to the harness set up.
Riding The Fastest Zip Line In The World
When you visit Zip World Penrhyn Quarry, you go on 2 zip lines. The first one isn’t as long or fast as Velocity 2 and is reached by a short walk from the car park. It kinda gives you a feel for the line, the riding position and the set up etc. Riders go down in groups of 4 and they do try and do their best to keep families and friends together. Me, my mum and sis went down as just a 3 because it was a slower day. The smaller actually has a harsher stop than the bigger one and several people in the group were worried that Velocity 2 would end up ‘hurting’ them but it was fine.
At the end of the first zip line, the group boards an old army looking quarry truck for the 20 minute ride up to the top of Velocity 2. It’s a VERY bumpy ride and seat belts are a must.
You are given a few minutes at the top to check out the view and take pictures. You can see across to Angelsey and Puffin Island on a clear day. The set up for Velocity 2 is the same as the smaller zip. You lay on your front on a bed while they connect you to the line. Everyone is cross checked for safety. The bed is then lowered and you are hanging under the line until you are released. It does get a little uncomfortable trying to hold your head up so long during this time I just relaxed!
A count to 3 then has the group of ‘4’ all released at the same time. Unfortunately you can’t do any superman poses on the way down, they say that this could cause drag and you may not reach the end of the line. There are a couple of positions, the most common being reaching back and holding onto the sides of the harness, otherwise they have you cross your arms if you can’t quite reach.
The zip line is so fast that it does make the skin on your face flap around a bit! If you don’t like heights, the experience may not be for you, as you are up HIGH. The lake in the bottom of the quarry is SO blue it’s unreal! It has a similar feel to sky diving, where even though you are travelling at such a high speed, it almost feels like you aren’t moving at all as you aren’t passing by objects! It’s only when you reach the end and the ground starts coming at you really fast, that you get a sense of how fast you are going! It’s all over in about 60 seconds!
Once you come to a stop, you grab hold of a pole that steadies you as the line is lowered to the point where you can then stand up. At the end of Velocity 2, you can then make your way back to the base without having to wait for the rest of the groups. This could take a while unless you’re the first group down, as it does take a while to get everyone connected and then detached from the zip line. Back at base you take off your gear and are free to then go!
Videos and Photos of Velocity 2
As mentioned, when you go through the booking process, you can choose to purchase a head camera. You are free to control the recording for up to an hour of footage, however the staff will always ensure that it’s recording during their checks so you at least get footage going down the zip lines.
The jumpsuits have a tag attached to them. At the top of Velocity 2, you can scan your tag and then it records you going down the line from various angles and it takes still photos of you too. You can watch and see these for free before deciding to purchase. In my opinion this video is better value for money compared to the head cam footage, it’s more montage style (although it does look more like an advert for Zip World), rather than the ‘raw’ footage from the head camera.
Head cam footage has to be downloaded onto a mobile device WHILE AT ZIP WORLD. So you have to make sure that you have enough battery and memory on the device to download it all. The ‘jumpsuit tag’ photos are printed and you also get a code for a digital download too. This, along with the video footage can be downloaded from a website in your own time. Currently if you have an Apple device you’ll need to download the footage to a computer before you can then transfer it onto the device (Android works fine).
Zip World Bounce Below at the Llechwedd Slate Caverns
Zip World’s Bounce Below is another unique experience! It’s a series of trampoline nets and tube slides underground, INSIDE A CAVE. At the time of writing, the only other place in the world offering something similar is in Japan! It’s a bit like a giant game of snakes and ladders, up the stairs and down the slides!
I went on a weekday in June and there were only 6 of us in the hour long time slot. I didn’t prebook but again it’s advised during peak times. When we turned up we received 10% discount on all Zip World locations (both at the Slate Caverns and the Fforest) because we had already booked a Zip World experience. I’m not sure if this discount works for multiple online bookings in advance, that’s something you’d have to look into.
Words of advice.
It’s a fun experience but I highly HIGHLY recommend trying to visit in an off peak time. I can’t imagine how it would be with adults and kids all bouncing around at the same times on the nets. Even with a couple of us, if you caught someone’s ‘off bounce’ a little wrong, you then wouldn’t quite bounce right or it would knock you off balance.
The nets are made of quite thick rope. It’s advised that you wear long trousers and long sleeves in case you fall over. A couple that were in our group said that when they came before they only had t-shirts on and it did scratch up their arms when they fell onto the nets.
The caves are a constant 10c year round. I ended up getting really hot and took my coat off, I could have taken my hoodie off too but I left it on for protection, but I was a sweaty mess! Everyone is given a hair net and a helmet too. My parents paid £5 each to spectate and were given helmets as well (minus the hair nets!), they said they did get a bit cold watching us.
You don’t have to stay for the whole 1 hour time slot, you are free to leave earlier. I was exhausted after around 30 minutes but I stuck it out for the whole hour just to get my money’s worth. There are no toilets in the caves, but there is a vending machine with drinks in. You can take phones and cameras into Bounce Below but you have to have zip up pockets and they are taken in at your own risk.
Another experience at this Zip World location is the ‘Caverns’ via ferreta climbing course with zip lines, bridges, monkey bars etc! This isn’t completely unique, there’s a similar style course called Go Below in Betws-y-Coed. The Caverns experience is 3 hours long and they do say there’s no toilet breaks so you need to be able to hold on! There’s also the Titan zip lines where you sit up rather than lay on your front and go down head first like Velocity!
When you arrive at Llechwedd Slate Caverns, there is another company operating from the same location that offers off road quarry tours and tours of the slate mines. Their information desk is the first desk you’ll see. Walk by this and follow the red Zip World signs to the right, where you’ll then come to another check in area.
Zip World Fforest
The third Zip World Wales location is the Fforest (yes with 2 f’s!) just outside of Betws-y-Coed. The Fforest has 6 different experiences to choose from and they are all paid for individually. As you can imagine, if you want to do everything (including the Caverns and the Quarry) you’re going to be spending a lot of money, very quickly.
We did Penrhyn Quarry and the Fforest on the same day. The 2 locations were around 30 minutes apart.
Some of the activities are like those offered at the Caverns, only they are up in the tree tops. There’s a high ropes climbing course, zip lines and bounce nets. On top of these you’ll then find a giant swing, a 100ft ‘free fall’ tower and then what we went for, the Fforest Coaster.
The Zip World alpine coaster is just over 1km long and you reach speeds of 25mph! I am a huge fan of alpine coasters and the Zip World Fforest Coaster is the best one I’ve been on yet! For those that don’t know what an alpine coaster is, it’s a single sled attached to a roller coaster track. Riders can then control their speed with a simple push lever. Push it forward to go, pull it back to slow down. Children can ride with an adult and both people wear seatbelts to keep them secure!
The Fforest Coaster package gives you 3 runs. It may sound like a lot but if you’ve not been on one before, you’ll find that you’ll get more confidence with each turn. The first go you’ll probably brake a little more often and go a bit slower. As you trust the sled you’ll pick up a little more speed. The faster you go, the more thrilling it is!
You wear a wristband with 3 tick boxes which gets marked at the start of every run. No bags are allowed on the Fforest Coaster, you either have to leave them in the car, with a spectator or in a £1 unrefundable locker.
There are cafe facilities at all Zip World Wales locations.
Zip World North Wales Prices
Velocity 2 from £65 (Head camera hire £19)
Bounce Below £25
Fforest Coaster from £19
Experiences cost more at the weekends and during peak seasons. For example, Velocity 2 is £65 in off peak times, but during the summer holidays and at weekends, it goes up to £89.
To find out more and book online, visit the Zip World website.
Zip World: Where To Stay
Although there are good trains and bus connections to towns and villages within North Wales, you’ll need a car to get between the Zip World sites. A good central location to stay is in Betws-y-Coed. It’s right in the middle of all 3 sites. There are B&B’s, hotels and shops and restaurants. I stayed at a holiday cottage rental, just outside of Betws-y-Coed in Penmachno. Llandudno, is a nice large town on the coast with lots of accommodation options and other attractions, just 30 minutes away from Zip World Penrhyn Quarry.
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