Zip World Velocity 2 is the fastest zipline in the world. And that right there is why I wanted to ride it. I mean, zip lines are the stuff of kid’s play parks, they epitomise play and speed and flight and fun. The idea of zooming down the fastest one in the world, travelling at over 100mph, feeling like I’m flying, definitely appeals.
All photos taken by me or my other half.
Velocity 2 has recently opened to replace Zip World Velocity, which I experienced back in November last year thanks to a voucher I received as a present. I loved it, and recommended it as one of my experience gift ideas at Christmas (which are also good any time of the year, naturally!). The new version of the experience has involved some work to build something even better, to allow more people to experience flight in North Wales. Zip World invited me over to see what I thought.
If you’d rather watch than read, there’s a video over on Splodz Blogz TV (also embedded at the bottom of this blog post).
The top of the Big Zipper.
Zip World Velocity 2
Marketed as a truly unique and exhilarating experience, Zip World say they are the fastest zip line in the world. The double zip line experience has been built over Penrhyn Quarry, where you can travel at speeds of over 100mph (conditions depending) while you take in the quote frankly breath taking views and most definitely feel the freedom of flight.
In all, over the two zip lines – the Little Zipper and Big Zipper – you travel 1555 metres in the air, head first in a full-body harness that takes all your weight and allows you to relax and enjoy the flight. The experience lasts around two hours from your check-in time.
Zip World have a number of sites in North Wales now, with Velocity 2 being based at Penrhyn Quarry, the only Zip World experience to run here. The site has been developed a lot in the last couple of years – there is now a rather nice restaurant (I had a fab breakfast here when I visited last time), although I would definitely have preferred a coffee shop with sandwiches, tea and cakes which seems rather lacking from the “proper meals” menu.
The Big Zipper landing site.
Getting Kitted Out
At the time on your ticket you head through to the gear room where you are set up in a harness ready for your experience. As mentioned above, the harness is pretty-much full body; at least at the front. This means that you lie down on your harness and it takes all your weight – this is a head-first zip line rather than a seated one. Before you get into your harness you put a boiler suit over the top of your clothing, and there is also a helmet and goggles to don before you head to the wires. Oh, and there is a pocket for your phone or compact camera in the harness which is a very thoughtful touch as the views from the top are seriously stunning and very much worthy of a photo or two.
View from the top.
On the original Velocity the experience included a video that Zip World made for you. However that’s been removed from the cost now and so if you want to have the photos and video they take you have to pay more. But you can wear your own GoPro or similar if you have the right attachment for your helmet (I have a head strap for mine), and so I took advantage of that and had mine rolling for the duration. The guys at the top of the Big Zipper even checked it was running for me before I flew.
Getting read for the Little Zipper.
The Little Zipper
We walked from the main building up to the launch for the first of the two zip lines – the Little Zipper – and this is where I noticed the first huge changes since my last visit. The launch is now in a large building, with covered space to sit and wait, and, most importantly, raised beds where the staff can get you ready to fly. Previously you had to lay on the floor and do a press up type movement to enable them to get your harness ready, but not anymore. Yay!
Flying down the Little Zipper.
The Little Zipper is the zip line that’s designed to get you ready for your main experience. It’s an opportunity for you to learn to trust the equipment, and try your nerves before you head up the mountain. I’m not afraid of heights and have no trouble sticking my head over the edge to see how far down it is (maybe this is my problem…), but I could absolutely see that this smaller-of-the-two zip lines was here to heighten the enjoyment of the biggun.
To give you an idea, when it’s your turn, you lie down face first on the raised bed so the staff can attach you to the cable and check (and double check) everything is all sorted and safe for your flight. When they are happy they lower the bed, leaving you hanging from the cable – this is a good opportunity to relax into your harness so you are comfortable. Once each if the four flyers is ready, the team count down from three and pull the safety line off and you head down the zip line, over the quarry lake, and down towards the landing zone. Leaving the station at the top isn’t sudden or abrupt, it’s smooth and calm, and your speed gradually increases as you make your way down. It’s a very pleasant and effortless flight, with the added exhilaration of the wind in your face and the view of the ground. At the end you hit a braking system to bring you to a quick but effortless halt, staff lower you to the ground and get you back on your feet again.
It’s not a small zip line by any stretch of the imagination, though. With flyers hitting speeds of around 30mph, it might be a nice gentle start, but you travel over that lake and into the landing zone at a fair pelt. It’s also an opportunity for your family and friends to see you fly, as you go right by the front of the building and viewing area; my other half was able to grab these snaps as I came by.
The Big Zipper
The Big Zipper experience starts when you get on the back of a quarry truck to drive the 10-15 minutes up to the top of the zip line. This is the main event of the Zip World Velocity 2 experience, and I love that you wind up the slate covered hill in a bumpy open vehicle, allowing views across the valley, it certainly adds to the feeling of anticipation for the flight down again.
The Little Zipper landing site and quarry trucks.
Once at the top there is time to take in the views (very important!) before heading into the fabulous new building and waiting your turn to fly back down the mountain. Back at the start when you are kitted out in your harness you are weighed and a number is written on your hand; it’s for the Big Zipper that this is used – the staff do some calculations based on your weight and the wind speed at the time to decide whether to add extra weight or add a wind break to your harness before you speed down the zip line to make sure you a) make it to the landing zone and b) don’t end your experience going way too fast. It was a very windy day so I ended up with a whole load of extra weight on my harness to make sure I made it to the bottom; I’m told it’s very unusual for someone to end up stuck mid-way – I am very pleased to say I didn’t see that happen while I was there.
The view from the Big Zipper.
The Big Zipper is a huge step up from the Little Zipper, for sure. I mean, it’s 1km long, and you can reach speeds of 100 miles an hour – which without doubt means you’re allowed to shout, scream, whoop, or giggle (like me…). The flight lasts around one minute, which is a whole load of time in the air – plenty of time to have a good look around, you really do feel like you’re flying. Just like the Little Zipper, you start off nice and smooth, speed increasing gradually as you head towards the landing zone. Smooth yes, but also very fast, with the rush of air in your face (hence the goggles) and the noise of the wind in your ears. It really is thrilling – easily as exciting as any roller coaster, and as adrenaline charged as indoor skydiving.
Me on the Big Zipper.
Watch the Video
As seems to now be the tradition with bucket list experiences, I’ve made a little vlog to go with the words here. It’s less than five minutes long so won’t take up too much of your day – don’t forget, if you like it, to do the thumbs up thing on YouTube to let me know. And if you like this kind of video alongside my blog posts, be sure to subscribe to Splodz Blogz TV as there’s another one coming very soon!
A Bucket List Experience?
There was a chap in our group who’d been bought the experience for his 70th birthday because when he was asked what was on his bucket list, he mentioned “that zip line in Wales”. And I can totally see why. It is certainly one of those things anyone who enjoys a bit of speed would enjoy. It absolutely gets the adrenaline pumping, but assuming you’re not afraid of heights, this is an experience that anyone can do without fear. It is fast and exciting, but you’re not thrown about or spun around.
Three – two – one – go!
I find that staff can make or break experiences like this; I’ve been on experiences in the past where the lethargy and lack of interest from those harnessing me up or giving me instruction has effectively ruined my day. But every person I came across at Zip World was just brilliant – friendly, knowledgeable, up-beat, exited for me. Yes there were serious safety checks to be done, and there was definitely an important air of professionalism all afternoon. But the enthusiasm of the staff I encountered definitely helped add to my enjoyment and delight.
I made a special trip to North Wales to take part in Velocity, and that experience meant I was very happy to make a second special trip to give Zip World Velocity 2 a go – an eight hour round trip both times. And it was so worth it. If you can spare the cash – it’s priced at from £65 per person for the double zip line experience – then you must go. I highly recommend it.
With huge thanks to Zip World for inviting me to try out the new iteration of Zip World Velocity. I honestly had such a good time, and will be back to try out the rest of your activities very soon.