The day of my visit to Zip World Tower – in Rhigos near Aberdare, and the newest site of Wales’ Zip World franchise – I was terrified. I had done Go Ape before – but nothing like a long zip wire, high up in the Welsh mountains. Upon arrival and check-in, though, we met with the helpful, attentive staff, before what felt like a magical mystery ride up to the top of a mountain in a minibus.
This only added to my nerves as I realised just how high up the zip wire was – still, once off the bus, we could see an incredible view of the mountains and reservoir. The first zip line takes you down the Rhigos mountain and across the Llyn Fawr reservoir, offering stunning views of the Cynon Valley.
Scared as I was, I decided to go first and get it over with. Phoenix is the world’s fastest seated zip line, with four parallel lines in two separate zip zones; the staff check you’re secure, open up the gates, count down to one, and then you’re off
I did not look down. In fact, I basically just screamed blue murder the whole way. You can reach up to 70 mph on this zip line – the longer of the two included in the Phoenix experience – and it feels like it. From there, it’s a short walk (including some stairs to climb) to the next, shorter zip line. I felt more relaxed now I knew what to expect; the experience is over fairly quickly, but is incredibly fun.
Zip World staff allowed me a sneak peek at the Tower Coaster, which will have just opened by the time you read this: the only ride of its kind in Europe, it boasts a side-by-side kart, making it possible for two people to ride at once.
With fantastic views across the Brecon Beacons going over the Llyn Reservoir, Zip World Tower is the fourth Zip World site to open, and the first in south Wales. Based at the old Tower Colliery coal mining site, they have retained most of its original buildings and structures, wanting to pay tribute to the important history of the site. (It was at one point the oldest continuously working deep-coal mine in the UK, and in the late 90s and early 00s was the only coal mine run by a co-operative of workers.) They plan to expand the site, too, and are collaborating with a local artist for a large mural in the main area as a tribute to the site’s history.
The cafe was lovely, if a bit pricey, and all told we had tons of fun, accompanied by screams and laughter. Everything was so well organised and clean, and the staff’s ability to be both reassuring and funny leave you completely at ease. Not only did the experience have me smiling the whole day, it gave me a sense of normality – something definitely needed after the last year. I will definitely return
Zip World, Rhigos, Rhondda Cynon Taf. Tickets: £50 per person. Info: here
words SARAH BOWDIDGE
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