We’re a Cornwall Tourism Award winner!
We are over the moon to be a Cornwall Tourism Award winner for 2020, having been awarded Bronze in the New Business category!
In 2020, amidst the pandemic, we were launched by BF Adventure, a charity providing critical support to Cornwall’s most vulnerable children in need. To meet the growing demand for its services, BF Adventure set out to increase its income source. How? By building the first full Via Ferrata in the South of England – an epic high wire adventure like no other!
Doing this in an ex quarry was (and is) a first in the UK, but the staff at BF Adventure were up for this exciting challenge.
The activity is proving to be hugely popular and it’s a real privilege to be able to help people have fun and enjoy something truly uplifting and positive in the midst of the pandemic.
What is a Via Ferrata?
You can read all about Via Ferrata in our blog post, but in a nutshell, it’s a protected climbing route with metal steps, suspension bridges and zip wires – the perfect outdoor activity for adventure lovers! So much more than just an adrenaline rush, the activity allows participants to have fun, conquer fears and push their limits in a completely safe environment, clipped into a safety cable at all times.
The challenges we faced
Building a brand new adventure course is always a challenge, but particularly in the middle of a pandemic! After months of landscaping, drilling and hanging off cliff edges we had our routes, spanning across two quarries and reaching 25m up our cliff faces. With hundreds of metal rungs built into the rock, a 70m long high wire bridge and a zip wire stretching over the water, we then had the excitement of opening to the public.
There were difficulties given the government guidelines and tier systems, but we adapted our processes and became AA Covid Confident accredited.
We officially opened to the public on July 26th and since then we’ve welcomed families, groups of friends, companies, school and youth groups, teens enrolled on the National Citizen Service programme and the young people supported at BF Adventure.
We’ve been rewarded by the smiles and laughter from participants as they put the lockdown blues behind them and embraced the fun of scaling cliff faces, wobbling across high wire bridges and leaping off the quarry wall on our zip wire.
Our 2020 highlights
- Being able to give people fun times to remember, especially those working hard through the pandemic. We offered discounts to key workers, in particular NHS staff and will do so again.
- Hosting Corporate Away Days to reward teams and help staff re-integrate following furlough and home working. Harbour Lights Fish & Chips loved it so much that we got to enjoy their company twice!
- Our Halloween event was one to remember as participants braved the routes in the dark, using nothing but torches and collecting ghoulish treats along the way.
- Welcoming schools and seeing the pupils learn and stretch themselves after being restricted during lockdown.
- Watching the young people supported by BF Adventure building their confidence on the Via Ferrata and developing their skills.
- Reaching 1,500 participants by the end of October!
- Welcoming the team at The Cornish Barista onto our site as we set up our café, which serves delicious food made with locally sourced ingredients.
Our Trip Advisor page has lots of reviews, but here are some of our favourites:
“Let me open by saying I have a great fear of heights. I thought I would end up observing my friends having ‘fun’. However the instructors and staff are amazing, exceptionally friendly and they put me at ease. I never felt pressured. So I thought why not give it a go. I am so glad I did. The courses are so well thought out – they ease you into the climbing whilst providing total confidence in the safety equipment, instructors and your own ability to do the course. I never thought I would do this and if I can anyone can. Such a great time with great people. Please give this a go, it’s a real bright spot in what could be considered a dark year. I can’t wait to go back and can’t recommend this highly enough.” – Thealey
“I brought 2 groups and it was brilliant! The children had the best day – facing some fears, pushing themselves and experiencing a massive sense of achievement. When their parents came to pick them up they were buzzing with excitement! The instructors were calm and encouraging, ensuring all the children were able to achieve their own goals. I can’t wait to return with another group!” – Louise Gall, Year 5 Teacher, Marlborough School
“We visited Via Ferrata twice in a fortnight because our team so enjoyed the experience. The location is amazing and we were so well looked after by the friendly instructors. Just the right level of thrill and adrenalin rushes to make it suitable for all. I heartedly recommend Via Ferrata for team building days. We will be back!” – Pete Fraser, Harbour Lights and Frasers Fish and Chips
When we get feedback like this, it’s worth all the effort!
What this means for the charity
Under Covid-19, the core operations of BF Adventure were turned on their head. The charity re-engineered its offer from group activities to giving 1:1 support to vulnerable home bound young people in acute need. This, plus the introduction of the Via Ferrata course allowed the charity to keep its workforce.
100% of the profits from Via Ferrata Cornwall support BF Adventure’s charity work and the income generated is currently contributing towards helping 60-80 disadvantaged young people to access vital 1:1 support each week.
The challenges these children and young people face, which include poverty, isolation, physical disabilities and mental health problems to name a few, have been compounded by the pandemic. With so many of these people unsafe at home, the Via Ferrata is providing crucial income to enable the continuation and development of BF Adventure’s programmes.
Here’s some feedback from one of the young people we’ve been privileged enough to support:
“I was homeless before I came to BF Adventure. Everyone was really nice and friendly and they helped me to find somewhere to stay. Through the programme I have become much more confident and I have learnt how to deal with problems. After the course my instructor helped me to find a volunteer position with a local garage and I will soon start an apprenticeship with them.”
More stories of the young people we help can be found on BF Adventure’s Social Impact Report.
Opening for Easter
Covid-permitting, we hope to re-open for Easter and will be running some discounts for key workers during this time.
We can also accommodate birthday and stag and hen parties, and our activity vouchers make great gifts too!
Other activities launched
We’re creating wild play areas for children aged 3+ near our café and we’re also working with Cornwall Wildlife Trust to develop nature trails! Perfect for the whole family to enjoy, these trails will take you through forest, grassland and wet woodland areas as you check out our bug zones and learn amazing facts! We encourage wildlife on our site, which is home to squirrels, birds, frogs and five full hives of bees. We also planted 400 trees last year.
Finally, we’ll be offering camping, so you can get back to nature and relax on our remote site away from the crowds! Our facilities will keep you comfortable and include a toilet block with hot showers, a washing-up area and our café. In line with our sustainability commitments, much of our site’s electricity is provided by solar panels and a wind turbine.
Adventure Holiday Club
We also run an adventure Holiday Club during the school holidays! If your children are aged 6-13 and love the outdoors, this is the perfect childcare for them! You can drop them off with us for a half or full day and we also offer wraparound care. Activities include climbing, coasteering in our quarry, watersports and archery.
“He loves it! Always coming home with stories about kayaking, the zip wire and babbling on about outdoorsy things. He has now decided he wants to be just like the instructors when he grows up. A truly inspiring place to send children!”
Business challenge event
We have an exciting business challenge event scheduled for September 10th! Local businesses will get to join us for a very fun day of team-building, adventurous activities and networking opportunities. As well as trying our Via Ferrata Adventure Zone, they’ll compete in krypton-factor style challenges in their teams to win our trophy! We promote all businesses involved, so it’s also a great way to spread awareness about your brand. In addition, 100% of the profits will go towards BF Adventure’s charitable programmes, making this the most fun way to tick your CSR box. If you’re interested, then get in touch!
In the future, we plan on running regular night time Via Ferrata sessions, as well as building ‘Via Ferrata extreme’, a level up from our Full Classic route!
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We want to say a huge thank you to all who have supported us – and in particular this goes to:
- Our funders: Resonance Ltd and Business Investment for Growth (the Productivity Programme).
- Classic Cottages, who have very generously provided input into our marketing strategy and design work.
- Caroline Kearsley Photography for donating her time and talent to us – check out her photos!
- All those who supported our crowdfund campaign.
- Unfold Studio for going the extra mile with our branding and website.
Got questions? Get in touch!
If you’ve any questions then please do get in touch! You’ll get the fastest response by emailing us!