As my study abroad experience has reached the halfway point, I cannot believe that I have already done so much. After my fourth week in Europe, I developed a nasty cold that set me back. I had to unfortunately cancel some trips and stay at the university to rest up. If I have learned anything from my past traveling experiences, it’s that you don’t take a chance with your health. If you are sick, you stay in bed and rest up!
Nonetheless, just as the severity of my illness came to a close, I was able to find the energy and travel up to The Lake District in northern England to do something I’ve been looking forward to since before I came – The Via Ferrata. The Lake District is comprised of mountains, valleys, and a lot of sheep! After a quick train ride, the rest of my trip was by bus. The road to get to the Honister Slate Mines was narrow, steep, and to elevate my anxiety, on the end of the mountain. When I finally made it to the Slate Mine, I geared up in my harness, helmet, and cable supporters. We took another bus up to the entrance of the mine and then the remaining of the trip was on foot.
For three hours, we climbed, scaled, and slipped our way up the mountain with just two clips keeping us from falling to the bottom. The day I went, it was raining, which did not make it any more easier when you just barely had enough room to place your foot on a slippery rock.
The group I was with was comprised of 12 people, me being the only foreign visitor. One by one, we made our way up the mountain. The entire step of the way we had to remain clipped onto the metal wires as you see above. Halfway through the adventure, my arms began to cramp up from all of the upper body strength needed, to save myself from falling.
Every step of the way up, the views became more and more beautiful. The tour guide was very informative on the safety precautions and helped us maneuver through some tough passes. After we completed the first pass, two people in my group decided to no longer continue, due to how intimidating the remainder of the trip was. The picture right above was probably the moment when I had the biggest adrenaline rush. As you can see, we barely had any foot room to walk alongside the cliff.
And then, after an hour and a half of climbing, we finally made it to the highlight of the rip, The Berma Bridge. If you are unfamiliar with that term, it is simply a bridge that is comprised of a single wire to walk on.
At certain moments on the bridge, people behind me lost their balance, which caused everyone to lose their balance. As I was standing about a 400ft gorge, I was balancing on one foot, trying not to fall off. That moment was a moment I will never forget, as if I was starring at my eminent death.
Finally, after three hours, we made it to the top of the mountain! At this point in the day, the clouds began to come in and we couldn’t see anything but white. The day we climbed it was around 40 degrees (F), so once we stopped moving, we could finally feel how cold it really was.
After the tour was done, I began the four hour trip back to my university. The journey took some frequent pauses do to sheep being in the road and blocking the way of the bus. Nonetheless, this experience was a once in a lifetime opportunity. I heard of this through a YouTube blogger and I knew I had to try it once I made it to the U.K. and I’m so glad I did it! My mother was not pleased that I did it, but I was please to tell her that I survived.