Honister Crag, left, site of the via ferrata. Photo: Alan Faulkner CC-BY-ND-2.0

Honister Crag, left, site of the via ferrata. Photo: Alan Faulkner CC-BY-ND-2.0

Lake District planners have approved an extension to England’s first via ferrata, which has been at the centre of a conservation controversy.

Honister Slate Mine will now be able to offer what it has dubbed its Via Ferrata Xtreme at the site on crags below the summit of Fleetwith Pike in the Lake District.

The mine’s owners were faced with a bill of £28,000 after a successful prosecution over damage to a site of special scientific interest by an extension to the facilities and visitors using it.

The via ferrata, which uses a system of fixed rungs, ladders and bridges to enable non-climbers to tackle technical routes, was the brainchild of the mine’s late owner Mark Weir, who died in a helicopter crash last year.

Today, the company used social media to announce the decision of Lake District National Park Authority planners to grant permission for the extension.

On Facebook and Twitter, Honister Slate Mine, now run by Mr Weir’s partner Jan, said: “Wahey, Wahoo! The LDNP planning have agreed our NEW Via Ferrata & The Low wood Hotel – A fantastic day for the Lake District!”

The Low Wood mention refers to plans to build a new conference centre on the shores of Windermere.

The Honister decision drew support from broadcaster and writer Eric Robson, Cumbria Tourism, Adventure Capital UK and numerous other individuals.

Honister Slate Mine advertises its new Xtreme route as more eco-friendly and with more thrills. It says it has more exposure, vertical climbs, rope bridges and cliff-edge ladders.

The route will cost adults £39.50 per visit, and a family of two adults and two children aged 10 or over £135.

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