Charlie has always been a very adventurous kid and has loved climbing trees, walls and ziplines since he was very young. This October his dad decided to see exactly how adventurous he really was with a challenging day out at How Stean Gorge in the Yorkshire Dales, about an hour’s drive from York.
This beautiful natural setting, a deep ravine, is home to a whole host of exhilarating outdoor activities for adventure lovers, from gorge walking to caving, rock climbing and abseiling. On the day Rob and Charlie went, with a few of Rob’s old friends along for the ride, their original plan to walk through the gorge had to be cancelled as water levels were too high. Instead, they were offered the option to tackle a via ferrata, which they jumped at.
Via ferrata means iron road, and it’s a type of fixed climbing route used in mountainous areas, with ladders, walkways and cables attached to the rock. Think of them like Go Ape, but more difficult and on rock, rather than in the trees. They’re very popular especially in Italy, and there are several amazing routes in the Dolomites. In the UK there is only a handful of them, of which How Stean Gorge is one of the best.
After a safety briefing, during which the group is taught how to move around safely using clips, and fitted with the essential helmet, they set off down into the gorge led by a professional instructor.
From the very beginning Charlie led the way, never hesitating for a moment, and fearlessly moving along a physically demanding circuit at speed. It wasn’t just Rob and his friends that were amazed, the instructor was too that an eight-year old was handling it so well. In fact while the adults were a bit nervous at some sections Charlie would just be hanging around waiting for them to catch up, dangling from the cable over the gorge with his feet in the air!
The route took about an hour, during which you’re edging along rockfaces, walking over a fast-flowing river using steel cables, ziplining occasionally, squeezing under overhanging ledges, and climbing ladders firmly attached to the rock.
A via ferrata is tough-going, you need to be in decent physical shape for this, and also ready for some steep bits that can be quite scary. But if you’re used to activities like Go Ape, then you should be able to handle this without too much difficulty. And when you get to the end, the adrenaline boost is amazing.
Come in old clothes and trainers or walking boots, ready to get dirty. And if you’ve got loads of energy you can do a selection of activities at How Stean Gorge across a half or full day, so you could try abseiling down into the gorge from a bridge before walking through it, or combine the via ferrata with a bit of caving. The boys were exhausted just by this though, and Charlie slept all the way back to York.
How to finish the day and reward your efforts? A massive steak dinner, that’s how. Rob and Charlie gave their experience at How Stean Gorge a 10/10 for fun, safety and challenge. Have you ever been, or fancy giving something like this a go?