Llechwedd Slate Caverns, Blaenau Ffestiniog, Gwynedd
Deep below in the caverns of Snowdonia’s epic historical mines, you’ll find a surprise awaiting the latest adventure seeker…
Enter the world’s first 18-hole adventure golf course in a cave… 500ft below the earth’s surface! Inspired by hundreds of years of slate mining history, this attraction is equally as unique in the sense that it can only be reached by Europe’s steepest cable railway – and is pioneered by industry disruptors, Zip World, and Greenspan Projects Ltd.
Set over four levels, the course features 18 unique holes in total, originating from creative concepts dreamt up by Greenspan’s design team. The course takes visitors on a journey through the cave’s history as they battle each other through a series of interactive challenges. Coupled with immersive special FX, bright and immersive atmospheric lighting displays, rope nets and a slide to eventually exit the attraction, the course is one of a kind and an extremely unique project for Greenspan.
The Zip World caverns have been inaccessible for almost 200 years, so, naturally, Zip World saw an opportunity to create a unique attraction within the depths of these historical slate mines to draw upon the fascinating heritage and history of the site.
Building the dream
Zip World’s co-founder and CEO, Sean Taylor, explained why the new installation is a perfect fit.
“Blaenau Ffestiniog is steeped in history, with the culture of slate mining. It’s literally the town that roofed the world. It’s such an iconic setting, so when we do things, they must be good enough for this site; they must have a wow factor and they must be world-class.
“Also, it’s one of the wettest places in the UK. So, the new adventure golf course provides something that is always open, no matter the time of year. It’s always dry and it’s always the same temperature. People can now come and play 18 holes of adventure golf underground, all year round, and stay dry.”
It was, however, a new direction for Zip World:
“We are an adventure tourism business, combining things like swings, parachute simulators, coasters. Golf is not what we were used to doing. But we always had this hunch that the public would love doing an adventure golf experience underground.”
As with all of Greenspan’s projects, the idea of bringing something special to the forefront was extremely exciting – and this space in particular made for some pretty imaginative concepts.
Rod Morton, Greenspan’s Managing Director, said: “From the outset, we knew that Zip World were market leaders globally for innovative and one-of-a-kind projects. So, the bar was set high. To start with, we utilised our standard approach with the creative team working up the concept, getting approval for that, agreeing on a budget, then achieving project sign-off and moving into the construction phase.
“The key from here was creating a fully detailed 3D model of the project. We had the cavern surveyed and from this, we could create our 3D model that showed exactly how the attraction would look. This allowed the Zip World team to fully immerse themselves in the design and make any changes required before construction began.”
And that they did: “The fact that the course tells a story is really important, firstly for the community here,” says Taylor. “Generations of people from this area have worked underground, and people have lost their lives here too. It’s also important for me as a local lad; I was born and bred seven miles away from Blaenau Ffestiniog. There’s a huge community buy-in for it.
“Also, there’s already an existing Deep Mine tour, which goes into the history of the quarry. We’ve kept that, it was important that that wasn’t changing. In fact, we’ve enhanced that experience with this new addition.”
Choosing the perfect partners
For such a complex project, Zip World needed to choose the right partners. Speaking about how Greenspan Projects was selected to work on the underground adventure golf course, Taylor says:
“We have known Greenspan for a while, and we knew they would be the right partner for us. Projects like this are not straightforward, so you need to have that flexibility; you need to be able to think outside the box to be able to change things along the way. Greenspan can do all that. They are also nice guys to work with. Our guys got on very well with them, and they worked well as part of the team.”
Launching a world’s first adventure
Since opening this attraction, Zip World welcomed over 600 visitors during its’ first weekend alone. Now a highly sought after adventure and a firm favourite addition to an already amazing portfolio, the sky is the limit with this adventure golf course… or shall we say… the cavern ceiling?
Find out more about the course and how to book tickets by visiting Zip World’s official website here.
If you’d like to read more about the project within our latest Blooloop article featuring Zip World and Greenspan, click here.
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