Page last updated at 12:01 GMT, Thursday, 22 April 2010 13:01 UK

Zip wire attraction for mountain in Lake District

Fleetwith Pike
The proposed zip wire would span the length of Fleetwith Pike

Plans are being devised to create a high altitude zip wire on a mountain in the Lake District.

The proposed Lancaster Aerial Flight at Honister Slate mine would replicate a similar construction that existed there more than 80 years ago.

The plans involve a 2,126ft (648m) high zip-wire cable running from the top of Fleetwith Pike down to the Honister Slate Mine Visitor Centre.

If approved the attraction could be open by later in the summer.

It is hoped that the plans, developed by mine owner Mark Weir, will be considered by the Lake District National Park Authority (LDNPA) in July.

A zip wire consists of a pulley suspended on a cable mounted on an incline.

Slate extraction

It allows a user, propelled by gravity, to traverse from the top to the bottom by holding on or attaching to the freely moving pulley.

Mr Weir said he was inspired after he looked into the history of the mine's industrial operations at the site.

From books and old photos he discovered that in 1926 a cable car type-operation, called the Lancaster Aerial, was built on a steep cliff-face of Fleetwith Pike.

The pulley system made the extraction of slate from the mountain and its transportation back to the factory quicker.

The original Lancaster Aerial was installed by White and Son of Widnes. It was in operation at the mine for over a quarter of a century before being dismantled in the 1950s.

The original mine
The original mine was dismantled in the 1950s

The mine currently leads groups of visitors to the summit of Fleetwith Pike on its Via Ferrata tourism experience - the only attraction of its type in the UK.

To reach the top participants are secured to the rock face using metal clips. They then hook these to a fixed cable bolted into the rocks running all the way up the mountainside to the summit.

The zip wire would then be used to descend the summit.

Mr Weir said: "The Lancaster Aerial Flight would help Honister address the ebb and flow of tourism by retaining more people for longer periods. This is vitally important in such a rural corner of Cumbria where new job opportunities across the valley are rare."

Slate mining has taken place at Honister since the 1700s.

The first slate mined at Honister was in the Roman era. Mr Weir re-opened the mine - the last working slate mine in England - in the mid-1990s. It has since diversified and branched out into tourism running mine tours into the 11 miles of underground tunnels inside Fleetwith Pike.



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