Deep inside a disused slate mine shaft in the middle of Snowdonia National Park in Wales is Bounce Below, one of the world’s most extraordinary playgrounds.
Despite how implausible it looks in photos, we can personally testify that Bounce Below is real. We can also say with confidence that it’s one of the most unique experiences we’ve ever encountered.
In this post, we’ll take you through our journey to the depths of Llechwedd Slate Caverns and to Zipworld’s Bounce Below.
We almost didn’t make it. I had decided to twin a visit to Liverpool, England (Related: posts on Liverpool) with this experience in Wales and had booked us a hotel near to where I thought the experience was based.
Upon arrival at our hotel, the receptionist delivered the bad news that we were in fact an hours drive away and that we would almost certainly miss our booking. I frantically called the organisers and asked them if there was anything they could do. They said they might be able to squeeze us on the last session of the day should there be two no-shows.
Driving through Snowdonia National Park
We set off immediately, desperately hoping that fortune would shine in our favour. To get there, we had to wind our way through the stunning landscape of Snowdonia National Park. The further we got in, the more spectacular and rugged it became. While we enjoyed the scenery, we were concerned that our efforts would be in vain and that we’d just have to turn back again. Upon arrival, we parked up and rushed through the rain-sodden car park to the reception to find out our fate.
Waiting in line was excruciating. It seemed like it was taking ages! When it came to be our turn, we nervously identified ourselves and were told… that two people had cancelled. What unbelievable luck!
The Nervousness Begins
The panic was over, for one of us at least. I had made the booking and had watched videos on YouTube by others who had already visited. Jade on the other hand didn’t have a clue what we were about to do and was now pretty nervous.
This photo demonstrates the our differing emotions.
Helmets and red jump-suits were donned and a liability waiver was signed, neither of which helped calm her nerves. After a short talk by one of the staff, we were ushered to an old and very tiny mining train for a five minute journey into the side of the mountain and into the cavern. The tunnel was dark and very claustrophobic. The train bumped its way through the murk to a large opening where it came to a halt. Here, we were asked to put on net shoe covers and were given more safety advice before we were led around the corner to see the experience for the first time.
A Network of Nets
Before us, lit atmospherically in a changing variety of colours, was a cavern twice the size of St Paul’s Cathedral in London. A complex web of bungy ropes stretched from corner to corner, cradling three levels of bouncy netting, each linked by tunnels and slides. After a few minutes, we were invited to enter the network for our hour of fun.
It was immediately clear why we were wearing so much safety equipment. It wasn’t long before were were flat on our backs and struggling to stand up. The nets were significantly more bouncy than I had anticipated and what with 20-30 others bouncing around on the same net, it was not a place for dignity or balance. Soon we were all in fits of laughter and falling about like toddlers.
Bounce Below is not a place for those with a fear of heights. The highest of the three nets is suspended 180 feet above the bottom of the cavern and, because it’s just netting between you and the bottom, you can see all the way down.
Ascending and Descending
Getting between the levels was a challenge. To get up, you had to climb through tight and sometimes steep net tunnels. Some parts were so tight and steep, we had to resort to getting on our hands and knees. Going down was not so strenuous, but it was still challenging.
The only way down was by slides. In essence, the slides were nothing more than holes in the floor of the nets with a tube of netting going all the way down to the net below. Here, we recommend covering your face while you descend as the nets are narrow and scraping your nose on them is almost a certainty.
Despite the challenging terrain, traversing the network was just as fun as simply bouncing around.
An hour is a long time when you’re spending that whole time either attempting to bounce as high as possible or trying to keep yourself from toppling over. We got tired pretty quickly and found we had to take regular rests, essentially turning the net into the world’s largest hammock.
Soon, the lights in the cavern flashed, signifying the end of our session. We’d had a fantastic time and were reluctant to leave, but we clambered back up the exit slope and back to Derek, the train that had brought us in. We slipped our shoe covers off and trundled back into the brightness of daylight, grinning from ear to ear.
Is Bounce Below as good as it sounds?
Would we take a stress-filled hour’s drive through the mountain-filled scenery of Snowdonia to do it all again? Absolutely! Our experience at Bounce Below was totally unique and one that couldn’t be replicated anywhere else on earth, so we look back on our afternoon underground with great fondness.
Bounce Below is one of those attractions that serves no other purpose other than to allow people to have nothing but fun for an hour, and for that reason, we heartily recommend it.
More Information about Bounce Below
Bounce Below is one of a number of adrenaline-inducing attractions organised by Zip World. Their headline attraction is Velocity, Europe’s longest zip line. You can find out more information about Velocity and the other zip lines here.
What do you think? Does an experience at ‘Bounce Below’ sound appealing?