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How Stean Gorge's New Ultimate Experience

8th April 2014

Categories: News

Last week the team at How Stean Gorge launched their new ‘Ultimate Via Ferrata’ experience and Visit Harrogate were invited to hang out in the Gorge for an hour or two and try out the new features for ourselves.

The gorge itself is just beginning to come alive with the changing seasons with patches of daffodils in full bloom and the rich smell of wild garlic filling the air.  The official grand opening was carried out by Harrogate Mayor and regular good sport Michael Newby, who made his way to the middle of one of the more hair raising gorge crossings while carefully clutching a pair of scissors and cut the ribbon to great applause.

After sampling the delicious treats on offer in How Stean’s restaurant it was time for us to harness up and get in the gorge for ourselves.   Always the charismatic host, Stan Beer was there to guide us through first the safety introduction, and then the course itself.  The Via Ferrata builds in challenge so you can acclimatise to one feature, or concept before moving on to the next one.

Being big footed, the first nerve-racking thing I had to get the hang of was placing just part of my foot on a footrest, but a few links into the first traverse and I had the knack.  Then it was around protruding bits of rock and the foot rests were gone: instead it was tip-toes on rock and hanging on with one hand while moving my karabiner over to the next bit of guide-cable.  There is a lot to concentrate on while you are moving along the course, and this has the unexpected result of desensitising you to the height, which gradually increases as you go along until you find yourself 30 feet up – but by then any butterflies are gone.

When you’re not moving you can place all your weight in the harness and simply hang on the rock face and enjoy your surroundings.  It’s at these times when you really observe the unique nature of this wonderful place.  Not at the top looking down and not at the bottom looking up but suspended, right in the middle with open space around you.

The course gets quite challenging as you progress to the end, but it’s never insurmountable and Stan, Rory and the guides are always on hand to offer advice.  Each time you reach a new or different type of challenge, it is easier than you think at first glance and by the time you slide down the final crossing, a Tyrolean Traverse which suspends you completely from above as you pull yourself across the gorge, you don’t think twice before flinging yourself into the open air.  Two hours before, you might have been daunted by it, but now it is just the next thing and you are slightly disappointed when you realise there is nothing more to tackle.

Via Ferrata at How Stean Gorge is open to the public and you can book online here.

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