Riding the fastest zip line in the world – Velocity 2 at Penrhyn Quarry, Wales
Do you ever book tickets for something that seems so far away that you almost don’t think it will ever happen? That was us back in March 2020 when we took advantage of a 2 for 1 offer from Zip World, and snapped up our tickets. Our full time house sitting lifestyle was temporarily on pause due to lockdown, and with all businesses closed for the foreseeable future, it felt like something that wouldn’t happen for a very, very long time. And we were right! In March 2022, two years after we booked our tickets (and right before the voucher expiry date!), we finally managed to book in our visit to the fastest zip line in the world.
Being an anxious person I took it upon myself to read everything I could about what to expect when you ride the zip line. In the hopes that this will help another anxious person, or at least prove helpful to a non-anxious person, here’s everything you need to know about flying Velocity 2 at Zip World!
Choosing the best time to book
We visited at the beginning of March, the week after school half term in Wales, so we knew there was a strong chance that a lot of people who wanted to visit around that time would have done so the week before. We have a lot of freedom with our travelling lifestyle in that we can choose which day and time we visit new places, and if you also have that kind of freedom we recommend choosing the first available slot of the day for your visit. For us, this was 9am on a Tuesday and as a result we were two of an eight person group – the maximum being twenty-four. If you’re like me and prefer to be in as small a group as possible for an anxiety-inducing experience, it’s worth knowing that the number of tickets available updates on the Zip World website with every purchase, so you can look for a day with lots of availability and rest assured there’ll be less people in your group.
The reason we recommend getting there early in the day is simply to avoid crowds and waiting around as much as possible on the day. Even with our small group, from start to finish our visit took an hour and forty five minutes, with Zip World advising you to allow two hours. Gearing everyone up at reception takes time, not to mention there are only four zip lines running at any one time, so you will have to sit and wait for others to take their turn. Then there’s getting everyone into the trucks and making the slow ascent to the top, but more on that later.
Arriving on site and facilities
Our 9am slot meant we were instructed to arrive at 8.30am, to gear up and listen to a safety briefing. Upon arrival there were only two other customers on the site which was blissful! The quarry was serene and the sun was shining on the crystal blue waters below. We spent a few minutes taking pictures and spotting the launch building at the very top of the quarry before heading inside the reception building. We checked in and paid for our helmet camera footage, then waited for the rest of our group to arrive before heading through to gear up. There is a cafe upstairs with a viewing deck for spectators, and toilets if you have a nervous bladder and need a last-minute visit!
There are lockers provided for your valuables, though you can also keep small possessions on you either in the small pouch on the front of your harness or in a zipped-up pocket. We chose to keep our phones and wallets on us instead of trusting the harness pouch, just in case!!
In a small room just off reception, our group lined up to be weighed one by one. This is done so that all four people who will be on the zip lines together will arrive at the bottom side by side, at the same time – which is great if you’re flying as a family! The team at the top of the zip line will add small weights or flags to a harness on lighter people, and ensure that everyone’s weights are roughly the same before they head off.
After being weighed, the team of Zip World employees gave us our helmets and goggles, then helped us into our harnesses. The team conduct extensive checks to ensure everything is clipped in where it should be, before a different team member checks their work to be extra sure! The team then give you a brief run through of the schedule for your visit and lead you outside for a short two minute walk across the carpark to the first zip line.
The ‘taster’ zip line
We sat along benches in our group at the top of the small zip line while the Zip World team gave us another quick run through of how it all works. The process is straightforward – you lie down on what I can only describe as a padded gurney and rest your feet against the bar attached to your gear. This is to ensure you keep your legs straight on the way down, and prevent drag. The team clip your harness to the zip line and perform all their safety checks. The padded gurney is then lowered and you dangle there for a moment while they double check everything again. The team are all super friendly and do a great job of talking to you and making sure you’re feeling good! When all the safety checks are complete, and you have the green light from the team at the bottom of the zip line, the team count down from three in Welsh and you’re released!
This small zip line lasts 30 seconds, and we reached a speed of around 32mph. It’s a gentle descent and a great introduction for Velocity 2 as you glide over the water. A small barrier at the end gently slows you down (I was worried this was going to be a shock, but I barely felt it!) And you release your legs from the bar as a Zip World team member lowers you to the ground. Our group were in high spirits after this first ride, and we all took turns filming each other coming down to swap later!
Getting to Velocity 2
Weirdly, my least favourite part of our visit was riding in the truck from the small zip line to Velocity 2! After the adrenaline of the first zip line, sitting on a wooden bench in the back of a truck struggling to get up to 5mph gave my brain a chance to relax and almost doze off as we made our way up the steep edge of the quarry. It’s not a smooth ride, I’ll say that, but if you squint through the netting along the side of the truck it makes for stunning views as you ascend. Another reason to aim to visit in a smaller group – all eight of us fitted comfortably into half of one truck. I’m sure squeezing twenty-four people into one or two trucks would’ve slowed these old beasts down even more!
View from the top
Walking our now-tingling legs down the steps off the truck, we were greeted by the most gorgeous view! We were lucky enough to have absolutely beautiful weather for our visit, with the sun glinting off the water in the quarry below and a clear day meaning we could see for miles. The team allow you to pause here to take photos and admire the view all around before making your way inside the launch building. We didn’t hang about for too long after taking our pics, as it was a March day after all and no amount of sun could make up for the chill! As we were told by staff at reception – it’s 10 degrees colder at the top, so wrap up warm (or buy a snood, hat or gloves in the gift shop before you start, as they suggest… We chose to just bring our own!)
Flying Velocity 2
Inside the launch building, there are four markers on the floor where the first four people to go down the zip line stand while the team conduct their checks and give you your helmet camera, if you’ve chosen to have one. This room is quite large, with lots of benches and even a roaring fire (which I don’t think had been burning long enough to warm up the room at that time in the morning, but it was a lovely touch!) With only eight people in our group, we went in two sets of four. Chris and I chose to be in the last set, so we could watch others set off!
The process is the same as it is for the smaller zip line, in that you lie down while the team conduct their numerous checks and apply any weights to people in the group. This time though, dangling around while they do so is a little more intimidating! It is a long way down and you can just make out the landing area on the other side of the quarry below, 1.5km away. The team count down from three again, and you’re off! The initial drop is severe to say the least – this is so you can build up speed quickly, reaching 60mph within the first ten seconds. After the steep drop, the line levels out and it’s just a breezy ride to the end. The wind whistling past your ears make you realise just how fast you’re going – we reached a top speed of 90mph, though Zip World claim you can reach up to 125mph on Velocity 2! If the view from the launch building was stunning, it’s nothing compared to looking down on the quarry from directly above as you sail by. If you can get past the initial shock of travelling so fast, the rest of the flight is plain sailing and you’ll be able to enjoy one of the most unique views in Wales, as we did.
Leaving the site and final thoughts
At the end of Velocity 2, as with the small zip line, a gentle brake slows you down. Only this time a Zip World team member reaches out with a metal pole for you to grab before you’re lowered down again. This zip line is a lot higher off the ground than the first! The team member who “caught” me asked how it was, and I think I said ‘That was so quick!’ out of shock for how soon it seemed to be over! Once the team unclips you, it’s a short five minute walk back to the reception building to hand in your gear. At this point my energy levels crashed after all the pent up anxiety and adrenaline in anticipation of our visit!
We meandered through the gift shop, choosing to just take away the footage from our helmet cameras as a souvenir of our day. (I’m not sure to what occasion we would’ve worn t-shirts with ZIP WORLD on the front, but at least there’s something for everyone.) The camera footage is by no means a cinematic masterpiece, but in our opinion it IS worth it for a good souvenir of your visit. And to prove you’ve done it, which is the main reason why I bought my video and photos!!
Visiting Zip World isn’t exactly cheap, and we feel fortunate we could take advantage of their rare (or no longer existent) 2 for 1 ticket offer. At the end of your two hour session, you’ve been on zip lines for less than a minute and a half which makes the ticket price sound absolutely loopy. However, you’re paying for the dozens and dozens of staff on hand to ensure you have a smooth and safe ride, all the safety checks, the equipment, and last but not least a once in a lifetime experience! Unless you love it so much you go multiple times, but for this anxious person, flying Velocity 2 once was enough for me – though it has definitely opened my mind to thinking that I could take on more challenges like this in the future! And that’s worth every single penny.