It's not cheap but it feels like the future – and there’s no more exciting way to spend your rest day in Snowdonia.
From the moment you turn up and hear the Tie-Fighter drone of zipliners whizzing overhead it feels like the future we were promised as children. Situated in the middle of the vast Penrhyn Quarry in Bethesda, with a space-age glass-and-wood headquarters at its centre, Zip World even resembles a martian colony.
Europe's longest and the world's fastest zip line starts 1400ft up the shattered flank of Carnedd y Filiast and plunges to its dramatic conclusion a mile away and 700ft down. En route you travel at something over 100mph, at up to 500ft above slate and water, alternately whooping and wondering – and wishing it could go on forever.
In fact the whole experience lasts a couple of hours and consists of kitting up, a briefing, a ride on a smaller line (the 40mph, 400m Little Zipper) and bumpy truck ride up the mountain prior to the big one. For the time you're there you're in the company of a small gang of fellow riders, and closely attended by a series of happy, highly professional staff. It's a great balance of nervous anticipation, intense thrills and enjoyable camaraderie.
If you've never ridden a zip wire that didn't consist of a pole with a circular seat on the end and a slow ride into a tyre bumper, it's a bit like a horizontal sky-dive. Your bodyweight's supported beneath the wire in a sort of wearable canvas sling, and you hold your hands in a streamlined position against your back. Riding parallel with another jumper your only task is to hold your arms out as a kind of air brake as you come in to land, and to try not to freak out too much on the way down. Which isn't a total given, since even the 400m, 40mph Little Zipper feels pretty bloody exciting.
Your Big Zipper ride (or Velocity, we're not sure which is the proper name) begins after a 15-minute climb up quarry tracks in an open-back truck, and a nervous wait at its colder, breezier launch pad. You can see how it looks in the video below, but suffice to say your flight feels exquisitely Icarus-like; like something the human body should not be able to experience; like being strapped to the bottom of an airliner in the final stages of a disastrous emergency landing.
It's a mile's slide, which at a peak speed over 100mph doesn't take too long. And yet it feels like time dilates when you're on the ride – your brain stepping up its frame rate to try to compute all this space, speed and danger it suddenly seems to have found itself in.
You crash to a mechanically-braked halt at the wire's end and a man with a shepherd's crook reaches out to meet your dangling hand. The platform on which he's standing then rises up to meet you and that concludes the magic. You're back in the real world – a world which doesn't look like the opening credits of The Shining and in which people can't fly. It feels briefly a shame to be merely mortal.
Since its launch in 2013 Zip World has expanded to Bounce Below (cavern trampolining), Zip World Caverns (underground zip lining) and Titan (group zip lining) in Blaenau Ffestiniog, and a range of tree-based experiences at Zip World Fforest near Betws-y-Coed. Ride Velocity and you'll welcome Wales's continued zip-ification. Just imagine what they could do with the Snowdon Mountain Railway.
- Velocity costs £70 a ticket and is for people 10 years and older.