Literally, ‘road with iron’, via ferrata is a mountain route equipped with iron rungs and affixed cables. Developed by the Italians during World War I for the purpose of quickly moving men and equipment over the Dolomites, it has now become a popular adventure activity in parts of Europe and the United States.

On a recent trip to the Lake District, I got a small sample of what those Italian troops experienced.  England’s only via ferrata is at the Honister slate mine. It’s an old miner’s route. It’s also the quickest and scariest route to the summit of Fleetwith Pike.

After a few minutes of gut-wrenching vertigo, I realized that the rungs weren’t coming out, and the cable would save me if I fell. After that, I quite enjoyed clinging to the side of a mountain.  That said, I didn’t have a rifle strapped to my back, or eighty pounds of assorted gear.


Your humble blog editor clinging on for dear life.