A picture supplied by Honister Slate Mine which, it says, shows the start and finish point of the zip wire. Photo: Brian Sherwen Photography

A picture supplied by Honister Slate Mine which, it says, shows the start and finish point of the zip wire. Photo: Brian Sherwen Photography

The operators of a Lakeland mine at the centre of a controversial plan to install a zip wire on the side of a mountain said today they will carry on with the proposals despite the mine’s owner dying in a helicopter crash last month.

A Honister Slate Mine spokesperson said the company intended to press ahead with a revised application for the 1.2km wire slide.

And they announced it would be called the Zip Weir in honour of the mine’s late owner Mark Weir whose helicopter crashed on 8 March just a few hundred metres from the mine, between Borrowdale and Buttermere.

Following the 45-year-old businessman’s death, there was speculation the scheme would be mothballed, but the company said revised plans would be submitted to the Lake District National Park Authority. The original application was withdrawn after attracting opposition from conservationists, including the Friends of the Lake District.

A spokesperson for Mark Weir’s family said: “Since Mark died, many people have told us not to give up on the zip wire because they think it would be a tribute to him and they want to be the first down it.

“He would hate it if we gave up on his dream, which we know has excited so many local people and visitors to the mine. Mark’s passion was for the Cumbrian community to benefit from this, as it has from the mine being reopened, with visitors coming to stay in the area.”

“We know it will not be to everyone’s taste but we would hope they can see that this should be a national park for everyone’s enjoyment.

“Business development and innovation in the right places shouldn’t be mothballed just because it’s the Lake District. This quarry is the right place for a zip wire and the only place for one in the Lakes. We would hope people will see that it will represent everything Mark was – unique, daring, innovative, adventurous, fun, and a brilliant advertisement for the area and enjoying life.”

The spokesperson pointed out the area was already scarred by industry after centuries of slate mining. “Rusting relics of early 19th century mining infrastructure and shattered slate scar the cliff faces of Fleetwith Pike making the actual starting point for the zip wire a no-go areas for walkers,” the spokesperson said.

“It is hoped that environmental groups and national park planners will see the area is an industrial site and capable of hosting the new tourism experience.

“This will involve a 1,200m zip wire running from a concealed cliff-face called Black Star some distance below the summit of Fleetwith Pike all the way back down to the Honister Slate Mine buildings, for people to try.”

The Lancaster Aerial pulley system

The Lancaster Aerial pulley system

The company spokesperson said the new proposals include a detour around certain areas and routing people partially through the mine tunnels inside the mountain so they can reach the start site. “Anyone doing the zip weir would also have to walk to it – a climb of around 1,000ft,” the spokesperson added.

“The starting point of the wire would also be disguised in a small stone-clad column resembling a mountain-top cairn, while the line of the wire is likely to be barely visible against the fell face, and not from popular neighbouring peaks like Haystacks.”

The new plans will be discussed by the Lake District National Park Authority’s development control committee – possibly in May or June.

Before his death, Mr Weir said of the project: “It would help Honister address the ebb and flow of tourism and slate mining by retaining more staff for a longer period over the season, and providing something new and exciting for visitors to the Lakes to try.

“This is vitally important in such a rural corner of Cumbria like Borrowdale where new job opportunities for people across this valley are rare.”

In 1926, a cable-car-type operation called the Lancaster Aerial was built on a cliff-face of Fleetwith Pike

It was used to get heavy slate off the mountain side and down into the Honister factory buildings for processing.

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