Zip World Tower, situated in Hirwaun surrounded by the Welsh mountains of Rhigos is host to the world’s fastest seated four-person zip line.
Located at a former colliery site, it’s Zip World’s first site outside of North Wales, making it accessible to thrill seekers and families alike in close proximity to Cardiff via the M4. There’s now no need to travel for hours, adventure is now just on our doorstep.
This is certainly a place for adrenaline lovers with two four lined zips affectionately known as ‘Big zip’ and ‘Little Zip’ and even a smaller thrill for the younger crowd with the Big Red Zip and Tower coaster. Not only is it South Wales’s first but also some of the world’s first, this site boasts “Phoenix is a record-breaker, being the fastest seated zip line in the world, and Zip World’s steepest. You’ll travel at speeds up to 70 mph and with four lines situated side by side, can race friends and family to be the fastest”. You certainly wont be disappointed by experience other than to wish it could last longer.
The records don’t stop there, the tower coaster is only the second of its kind in the world and the longest, with the speed control in your hands able to reach up to 25mph.
If you’re not one for the zip lines or coaster there’s always Cegin Glo Bar and Bistro ‘coal kitchen’ with indoor and outdoor seating for you to watch friends and family come zipping back to ground level. The ways that Zip World have incorporated the heritage of the old Tower Colliery site into the decor is noteworthy, with a glass bar filled with Welsh coal.
So, what you can you expect?
When you arrive, you are greeted by friendly staff who invite you to ‘check in’ for your experience. It’s at this point they confirm your details and the booking time of your experience. You will be given wristbands for each of the activities that you have signed up for and additional bands if you’ve opted for their photography packages. If you want photos and videos of your experience, it’s well worth the £12.50, as you won’t be able to take photos while you are zipping or coasting!
The Tower Coaster is an industrial style toboggan rollercoaster that sees visitors soar around the historic and iconic Tower Colliery site along a one kilometre track and reaching speeds of up to 25mph.
Located in the former lamp room, you can see in the distance the tunnels, banked corners, dips and peaks that you will be riding on. You are fully in control of the cart and will be given full instructions. Basically, there is one lever that you push forward and back – simples! At first, it’s a little daunting if you have never been on anything similar, but it’s very safe and secure and the cart will stay on track no matter how quick you go into the corners. You get three goes as part of your booking, so why not speed it up a little bit as your confidence grows?
I don’t pretend to be an expert with the technology, but I was told that it prevents you from getting too close to other riders so there is no danger of crashing into people. This is where I offer you a little tip, if you do plan to go as fast as you can, tell the instructor and ask them to hold you back for an extra minute before setting you off. On our second go, we found ourselves catching up to another rider (slower), so it actually slowed us down to maintain a safe distance between the carts.
As the first rollercoaster of its kind in Europe and second in the world, we are pretty fortunate to have this in Wales.
Zip World Phoenix
It was then time to try the big one, Zip World’s steepest and fastest zip line. At the time of booking and then again at check in, you are reminded to dress appropriately, ideally in long trousers or shorts down to the knees… strictly no flip flops and of course reminded several times to tie up your laces!
You are invited to queue up 10 minutes before your booking time, at which point you will be then be given a full safety briefing. Zip World staff will then help you individually to put on the harnesses, and you will also be given goggles and a helmet. Extra precautions are in place for sanitising equipment before the next visitors. Your harness will then be checked several times by different people… and you will also be checked again before going on the zip line.
Once you have fully suited up, you will be taken to mini busses which will transport you to the top of the mountain. The Rhigos mountain range is absolutely beautiful, offering picturesque views across the Welsh valleys and Brecon. It was a bit overcast when we visited but it was still absolutely stunning…
When it’s your turn, Zip World staff will invite you to come forward to be attached the zip line. They will check your equipment several times and radio down to make sure the landing is clear. There is a dramatic countdown before the gates fling open which can be a bit unnerving, but the adrenaline that it adds is part of it.
Your experience will be over with more quickly than you think, but I guess that happens when travelling at speeds up to 70 mph. However, you will find yourselves seated very comfortably and securely, so in the brief moment when you glide down across the reservoir, you can take in the breathtaking landscapes.
After experiencing the big zip, there is then a short walk to the next tower of which you do have to climb up steps. Zip World are very accommodating so if you do have any mobility concerns, I’d recommend giving them a call.
The next zip line is shorter but again, it offers some spectacular views across Brecon. The other great thing about the experience is that they can operate 4 zip lines at a time, so whether you go as a couple or as a small group, you can race your friends, family or partner to the bottom.
As someone that has never been on a zip line before, I was given an overwhelming sense of reassurance by knowledgeable staff and the processes that they have in place. From start to finish, your mind will be put at rest and never be afraid to ask any questions.
Overall, a throughly enjoyable experience and something I would highly recommend. If you opt for the £12.50 photography packages, your images and video are emailed to you shortly after your experience, something which we found very efficient.
It’s nice to know that despite the modern and robust setup on offer, they haven’t forgotten about the colliery’s roots, creating a lasting legacy.