Via Ferrata – one epic adventure!

Want to know all about Via Ferrata? Read on to find out more about what a Via Ferrata is and why it’s one of the most fun adrenaline activities ever! 

What is a Via Ferrata?

Via Ferrata (‘iron path’ in Italian) has to be the most exciting high wire adventure worldwide! Think somewhere in between scrambling and rock-climbing, with added twists and challenges. Taking on a unique climbing route, participants scale cliffs, traverse across rock faces using metal steps, wobble across suspension bridges and fly through the air on zip wires. Those new to climbing, as well as full-on thrill-seekers, get to climb high and enjoy places normally out of reach, taking in stunning views and feeling alive with adrenaline. Secured to a steel cable which is built into the rock, you get to safely push your limits.

Where are Via Ferratas?

Tracing back to WW1, Italian soldiers built Via Ferrata routes in the Alps to enable troops to cross mountains. With many of the protected routes in the Dolomites having been restored and made accessible to travellers, Via Ferrata has become an increasingly popular adrenaline activity. Thousands of routes have been built across Europe and now Via Ferratas are found worldwide. Check out some of the most extreme ones on Wanderlust!

Via Ferrata in the UK

Via Ferrata Cornwall offers the first full Via Ferrata in South England. Other Via Ferratas in the UK include those at Honister in the Lake District and Vertical Descents in Scotland.

Why do a Via Ferrata?

Completing a Via Ferrata is an exciting achievement! Are there easier ways to get an adrenaline rush? Yes. But if you want to take control of your adventure and do something under your own steam, then this is for you! Via Ferrata is unique and the mix of climbing, high wire bridges and zip wires make this an adventure like no other. It also gives you a great feeling of freedom, being able to safely reach places that’d otherwise be too dangerous. Up in the air and surrounded by beauty is the perfect place to switch off and find your matrix moment! The best of both worlds, it offers the fun of scrambling but more safety, and the heights of rock climbing but more uniqueness.

How does Via Ferrata work?

Once you’ve put your climbing gear on, you clip into the safety cable which is bolted into the rock face and runs across the entire route. This will be your safety line throughout your whole journey, giving you complete freedom to stretch yourself, go for big moves or just have fun letting go! Via Ferrata routes can take you in all directions, traversing sideways, climbing upwards and everything in between.

How safe is a Via Ferrata? 

As with all sports, there is an element of risk with Via Ferrata. Traditional Via Ferratas are self-led, which means that you’ll need to ensure your equipment is suitable and fitted properly. You’ll also need to check that the weather conditions are safe (with no lightening forecasted!). At Via Ferrata Cornwall, we’ve undertaken rigorous risk assessments to ensure your utmost safety. You can also be assured that equipment is of the highest quality and you’re supported by our experienced and qualified guides. This makes this the perfect introduction to Via Ferrata before you consider doing them on your own in Europe or elsewhere.  

How difficult is Via Ferrata?

The great news is that for many Via Ferrata adventures, no experience is needed. Routes are graded by taking into account the exposure and the ability and strength needed.

Alpine Trek has details of the Hüsler and Schall Via Ferrata scales, with A being the easiest and F being the most difficult. Levels of ability and equipment needed vary with the categories and before undertaking any Via Ferrata, you’ll need to find out its level and make sure you’re prepared.

Here’s an overview:

Table showing the difficulty levels of Via Ferrata

Our course at Via Ferrata Cornwall is difficult to categorise, because the safety system is a continual rail system more frequently used in adventure parks. However, if we were to categorise it in terms of the physical movement, we would define it as a category B-C. In future years we’ll be developing ‘Via Ferrata Extreme’, so conquerors of our Full Classic route – watch this space!

What kit do I need? 

If you’re embarking on a traditional, open access Via Ferrata course, then you’ll need a climbing harness, carabiners and a lanyard to secure your harness to the cable. The lanyard consists of two carabiners on the end of stretchy leashes, attached together. The end of the lanyard which attaches to your harness contains a shock absorber, in case you fall. You’ll also need a helmet and gloves, which will prevent your hands from getting scratched or cut from the rocks. If you’re undertaking very difficult routes, you might want some climbing rope and a belay device too for extra security. 

Our routes at Via Ferrata Cornwall are different to those at a traditional Via Ferrata course, so our kit, harness and safety systems are different too. With the traditional kit, you’re in full control and can experience a fall, though with our system, this is limited to 1-2m maximum. Helmets, harnesses and gloves are all provided, so this is one less thing for you to have to think about!  

In the future we plan to introduce the traditional kit, so you can pick up those techniques too.

Why do Via Ferrata with us?

If after reading all about Via Ferrata you want to give it a go, then here are some reasons to choose us!

Perfect for all abilities

Our routes allow you to make use of the metal rungs or natural rock crevices, so are perfect for both beginners and pros!

Suitable for kids and adults

Looking for a family day out? Adventuresome children aged 8+ can enjoy our Adventure Zone and those aged 10+ can tackle the Full Classic. Likewise, thrill-seeking adult pros will have just as much fun as they forgo the built-in footholds and test their climbing abilities. Got younger ones? We also have a café with wild play areas for kids aged 3+ and nature trails nearby! From the café you can also watch and take pictures of your family and friends on the high wire bridge!

You can choose your challenge

If you’re unsure about the kind of challenge you or your children want, then you can try our Adventure Zone and upgrade to the Full Classic route on the day! We also have natural opt out points along the route and staff are always ready to help.

Escape the crowds & enjoy nature

Our beautiful and remote site near Falmouth is the perfect place to escape the busyness. You’ll be venturing across historic quarry walls which are home to many plant species, looking down into the pristine water below and enjoying stunning views over Falmouth bay and the Lizard peninsula. We release small groups onto routes at intervals, so the routes never become overly busy.

A safe way to conquer your fears!

We’ll kit you out with a helmet and harness and you’ll be permanently attached to the safety cable. Therefore you can’t fall far (1 to 2m maximum) and our instructors will always be around to help if needed. Get ready to scale 20m high cliffs, brave our 70m long high wire bridge and dare to let go!

All kit is provided

We provide top quality kit that goes through regular safety checks, so all you need to bring is yourself! You can also leave valuables in our locker room.

Friendly instructors on hand

Traditional Via Ferratas are self-led, so you simply rock up with your own kit and get cracking. If it’s your first time though, there are many benefits to having experienced people around! You can get a feel for the sport knowing that you’re completely safe and we check that all your safety equipment is fitted properly. We also run through techniques with you and you’ll always be supported by an instructor, who will let you progress at your own pace and help where needed!

Award-winning!

We’re a finalist in the 2020 Cornwall Tourism Awards and have received outstanding feedback on the activity and our instructors.

Enjoy multiple zip rides

If time allows, you might be able to enjoy multiple rides on one of Cornwall’s most scenic zip wires! After conquering the iron path and high wire bridge, our zip-line is the perfect reward!

A great way to practice

Thinking about trying a Via Ferrata by yourself one day? As well as our Via Ferrata being a full and unique adventure in itself, giving you the chance to experience the beauty and rich quarrying heritage of Cornwall, this is a great way to get to grips with the sport before taking on self-guided routes. It’s equally great if you’ve already been somewhere further afield and gained experience: “My partner and I were a wee bit dubious about trying this out as we had previously done the real thing in the Dolomites, the home of VF. The experience was far better than we anticipated and we really enjoyed it, Harry our ‘leader/guide’ was great working with a very mixed bag, everyone got something out of it. We would definitely go back again.” – Bridget

5* reviews

Don’t just take our word for it – check out our Trip advisor reviews!

Delicious cake with amazing views

Why not round off your adventure at our Café, which is run in partnership with The Cornish Barista. We’re big on using locally sourced ingredients and serve lunch, drinks and cakes with vegan options.

Combine with other activities

We have a 60 acre site full of other activities, so you can make a day of it! Why not combine with coasteering, watersports, climbing or archery? Everything is conveniently on-site and you can mix and match to make a day to remember!

You’ll be making a difference

All profits from Via Ferrata Cornwall go to our charity BF Adventure, which supports Cornwall’s vulnerable children in need. This makes this the most rewarding adrenaline rush in Cornwall!

Considering trying it?

Check out our own routes and if you have any questions, please do email us – we’d love to help!

More Via Ferrata advice, groups and fan clubs

Check out some of these Via Ferrata groups and fan clubs:

Whether you have an adventure with us or elsewhere, we wish you an amazing time!