18 months on since the date of purchase Henry & I finally got around to getting away and going on our ultimate extreme underground adventure. Peering into the void and clinging on for dear life we journeyed into the deepest publicly accessible point in the UK through an abandoned slate mine, set within the mountains of Snowdonia.
WHAT IS GO BELOW?
Go Below is the ultimate underground adventure in which you face a series of exciting, terrifying and heart-racing challenges. With the choice of 3 adventures to undergo: medium, tough and extremely tough, you could try your hand at boating across a lake, zip-lining through caverns, climbing a waterfall, abseiling and even take a leap of faith and experience a freefall jump! It not only tests’ your nerve, it’s adrenaline pumping, eye-opening, insightful and exciting and to top it all off your guided by fully qualified and experienced instructors who are there every step of the way.
WHAT TO EXPECT?
Arriving at the Go Below Extreme base let’s just say I wasn’t so concerned at that point. In my mind I was kind of expecting something similar to Go Ape, just underground. Once I was all kitted out and heading through the beginning tunnel with only the thin beam of light coming from my head torch merely making out the the edge of the cliffs and the black nothingness, it slowly began to dawn on me that this was going to be drastically different to what I had imagined.
To some caving conjures up ideas of crawling through confined tunnels and small spaces – let’s just clarify, I wouldn’t have booked this adventure if it had involved claustrophobic spaces. Cwmorthin mine was the complete opposite, it was vast and open and you could easily walk through the majority tunnels which opened out into great chambers.
Like most things to do over a period of time they break or rot away which meant many bridges had decayed and fallen into the abyss. We’d regularly hit dark voids and somehow have to get to the other side. There were various ways of crossing: zipwire, bridges or via ferrata (cables permanently fixed to the rock). Clipping on and taking a short but quick run and jump was always fun and you’d soon hurtle along the wire.
Traverses on the other hand were far more nerve wracking. To begin you had small, narrow footholds to stand on, but as we delved deeper into the mine there were soon no ledges of any kind. I found myself cramming my feet into any tiny hole & clinging on to the rock surface for dear life as I crawled along. The most challenging section had to be the cork screw, I feel like the name says it all. Full of twists & turns, sheer drops and frightfully high.
Embedded deep within the mine is the also the worlds longest zip line. Sitting on what basically resembles a small, wooden swing seat you fly through the pitch black air, down the 130 meter line. As it’s so steep the zip line is manually controlled and if your not the first one out of your group to descend you will find your self pulling the line back up from the bottom and coiling it into the bucket for the next rider.
Aside from all the challenges, the activity is coupled with fascinating history. You are essentially entering a mine which has been left untouched since its working days: tools, wagons, wagon tracks, candles, work wear, utensils and pottery all remain inside the mine. It was an incredible insight into how the mine would have once functioned and to see the conditions the miners would have worked in. My rechargeable head light made me feel very grateful compared to the dim candle light that would have once been used to light the cave and area of work for the men.
We stopped for a quick bite to eat in the stone cabin which would have once been where the miners took their break. Adorned in newspaper cuttings, drawings and unique markings you could just imagine all the different conversations that would have been held within the historic four walls.
After exploring the underworld, you get the chance to take a leap of faith and launch yourself into the dark, cold air. With your heart in your throat and all your trust in the freefall device, in a 3, 2, 1 step off the platform. Once the brakes hit in and I landed, I looked back up making out the gloomy lit platform and sighed with relief but also sheer excitement.
I feel like that was the key to this adventure, there was always something terrifying along the way, but overcoming that fear was an incredible feeling!
WHERE TO STAY?
There are hundreds of idyllic houses and BNB’s located around North Wales. We stayed at the beautiful, quaint Little Thatched Barn in Rhiw, close to Aberdaron which had incredible views of the Llyn peninsula. In it’s rural location the barn was the perfect location to unwind and spend some quality, peaceful time together. The architecture and views were simply breath-taking and with the incredible weather we were lucky to have it felt magical. It gave us the chance to explore a new part of Wales we’d never seen before whilst fitting in alongside the local lifestyle.
Our host not only provided us with a homely, stylish and spectacular spot to relax he also gave us detailed directions about how to find the barn and passed on links and information about lots of different walks within the local area. It gave us the chance to explore a new part of Wales we’d never seen before whilst fitting in alongside the local lifestyle.
North Wales is a rugged and vast area of unspoiled landscape filled with spectacular mountain scenery, fascinating history, culture and long sandy beaches. It’s the perfect adventure playground with so many attractions that suit all ages, from zip lining through an abandoned quarry to a memorable steam train ride up Snowdon. Come along and find your adventure!
WHERE TO EAT & DRINK
With so many hidden places to eat and drink at in North Wales you’re spoilt for choice. A few I can recommend are.
- Ty Coch Inn (Porthdinllaen, near Morfa Nefyn)
Opening Hours: Monday – Thursday 11:00am – 10:00pm Friday & Saturday 11:00am – 11:00pm Sunday 11:00am – 5:00pm Food Served daily 12:00pm – 4:00pm
Quaint little pub located on the beach front with beautiful views across the Irish Sea
- The Ship Inn (Morfa Nefyn)
Opening Hours: Tuesday – Saturday 5:00pm – 9:00pm Sunday 12:00pm -3:00pm & 5:00pm – 8:30pm Monday 5:00pm – 8:30pm
- Y Gegin Faw (Aberdaron)
Opening Hours: Easter till end of October
We didn’t actually visit this cafe but it was highly recommended in the visitors book at the Little Thatched Barn,
- The Creel (Abersoch)
Opening Hours: Monday – Friday 12:00pm – 2:00pm & 5:00pm – 8:00pm Saturday 12:00pm – 9:00pm Sunday 12:00pm – 8:00pm