by Laura Gainor Monday 7th November 2022
There are some moments that just make you feel alive!
I remember standing on a small piece of metal, looking down at jagged rocks. I could feel my heart beating in my chest, but before I could think about it too long, I was flying. As my feet touched the ground on the other end of the zip line I could hear the “wooooo” of a what looked to be a mother in her mid-forties, flying along another line up and over to my right. The cavern was cold, but it’s like the temperature and the chattering of my teeth was reminding me that this was real. I needed that reminder because swinging around and zip lining in a mine was never something I pictured myself doing, but now it’s a memory I would consider trading my first child for (especially if they’re as annoying as I was in their teenager “I hate mom” phase).
I grew up rock climbing in New Hampshire (a state close to Boston, USA) so I’ve always had a cultivated sense of adventure, but even with all the crazy andrenaline inducing things I’ve tried, I’d never heard of anywhere you could go zip lining or trampolining in a mine before. So when we were given the opportunity to experience the Zip World Cavern adventure, of course I said yes! Zip World Cavern is a kind of rope course, deep underground in a huge Welsh mine. It's filled with zip lines, rope bridges and hair-raising sections of via-ferrata, where paricipants cling to the rockface hundreds of feet in the air, perched on tiny metal plates and wooden beams. I envisioned myself being a kind of female Indiana Jones on the course and spent the next week anticipating how cool it would be.
On the way to Zip World, we stopped at a small cafe to pick up some Welsh cakes and coffee and briefly ran into Sean Taylor, the owner of Zip World. This is a man with a lot of stories to tell! Hearing him talk with enthusiasm for the adventure and his amazing team made me feel even more excited to experience it.
The experience started with training. How can you give a group of ten people, in just 30 minutes, all the skills and confidence they need to tackle the cavern? They nailed it. Our instructor was amazing and you can tell the Zip World team are high calibre. When it was time to go on the main course, I felt a lot of things; I felt excitement, I felt cold, but mostly I felt safe and I know why. Throughout the training, our instructor created a feeling of safety in the group, and he was funny too. I felt like I got a bonus stand up comedy show with my ticket. He went through everything that could go wrong and made us all feel secure. I was able to embrace the experience and let go.
The meditative state I felt in the course was unexpected. I have a busy mind, but I was so focused on the next step that the chatter in my head melted away. It was a cold day when we went. Looking back I should’ve worn more layers, but once the adrenaline started pumping, the cold was more like a reminder I was alive then a problem to fix. It’s just you, the rocks and the ropes. After walking out of the mine there was a sense of calm that washed over me. It was like I’d just had the best yoga class of my life.
There are some moments that just make you feel alive. I was lucky enough to experience two hours worth of them. If you ever get the chance to go to Zip World and do the Cavern experience, don’t think about how high up you’ll be, think about how high you’ll feel afterwards, and go do it.