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Honister via Ferrata gains planning approval

Posted 3 May 2012
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Honister via Ferrata gains planning approval
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A via ferrata in the Lake District is to be expanded after the Honister Slate Mine was granted permission by Lake District National Park (LDNP) planners.

Visitors can already use such a facility at the site on the side of Fleetwith Pike, but the company's plans to make it larger were a key aim after last year's disappointment when a zip wire proposal was blocked.

The firm has also been successful in its plan to construct a new hotel and conference centre on the shores of Windermere.

Posting on its Facebook page, the mine said: "Wahey, Wahoo! The LDNP planning have agreed our NEW Via Ferrata & The Low wood Hotel - A fantastic day for Honister! A fantastic day for the Lake District!"

A via ferrata is a means of climbing technical rockfaces without the need for a large amount of training or equipment.

While the latest news is a victory for Honister, the company has passed through a period of controversy and tragedy as its initiatives and activities have often divided opinion.

This has included being prosecuted by Natural England over environmental damage to a site of special scientific interest, as well as the death of owner Mark Weir early in 2011 when his helicopter crashed.

Attention was most keenly focused on the zip wire plans, with groups like Friends of the Lake District (FLD) opposed on the grounds that it could hamper those who wanted to go walking, being close to a path up from the Honister pass to Haystacks, Alfred Wainwright's favourite fell. However, FLD vice-president, Chris Bonnington supported the wire.

While there may have been fierce arguments over that issue, the via ferrata certainly has lots of fans - so many, in fact, that it was shortlisted last month for an award in the Enjoy England Awards 2012.

Spokesman for the mine company Ellis Butcher told the Westmorland Gazette: "We have probably had our worst 12 months in Honister's history but to come out the other side and to be in this position to win an award is a great honour and even being shortlisted is a great accolade for us."

So it seems that for all the history and controversy, the future of Honister will be one of various outdoor interests co-existing.ADNFCR-2803-ID-801355797-ADNFCR