Iron Road in the Sky - first Via Ferrata in the Lake District

September 2007

Many of us who have enjoyed walking in other parts of Europe, will have come across a Via Ferrata. The term is italian and means iron road. (The plural is Vie Ferrate).

For those not familiar with the term used in the context of walking or climbing, a Via Ferrata is any combination of bridges, ladders or fixed cables used along a mountain route to make it more accessible.

They are graded - the lowest grade (1) being the least challenging and within the capabilities of most experienced hill-walkers (albeit those with good heads for height) whilst the highest grade (5) demands quite significant climbing skills.

The Dolomites has probably the greatest concentration of Vie Ferrate in Europe and it's here that they first appeared during the First World War as aids to the infantry who were frequently traversing the area.

Now they are used as a way of experiencing stunning (often very exposed) mountain scenery without having to carry a lot of equipment.

It now appears that plans are well advanced for the opening of a Via Ferrata in the Lake District.

It is planned to follow a route used by miners along Fleetwith Pike and is being developed by the owners of the Honister Slate Mine in Borrowdale.

If all goes according to plan, it will be open in May 2007.

Although only recently reported, there is some opposition to the plan which some see as yet another onslaught on the landscape.


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