What do you do with a decommissioned slate mine in North Wales? Why, you transform it into an amazing adventure park of course!
Located deep underground in an old Welsh slate mine is Bounce Below, a brilliant subterranean playground in a unique historic location. Once upon a time the Llechwedd Slate Quarry produced thousands of tonnes of slate annually which was transported to Porthmadog and then shipped around the world.
Today, however, the Llechwedd caverns have been entirely reinvented offering adrenalin junkies the chance to jump around in the world’s largest underground trampoline park.
Zip World and Bounce Below
Zip World Llechwedd forms part of the Zip World group that combines thrilling adventures with Welsh history and heritage. They have locations at Zip World Forest in Betws-y-Coed, Zip World Penrhyn Quarry (home to the world’s fastest zip line), and Zip World Tower in Aberdare, but it’s only the Llechwedd caverns that have Bounce Below.
Bounce Below opened in 2014 and is the world’s first subterranean playground. It’s the brainchild of entrepreneur owner Sam Taylor who came across a similar set of nets suspended in the woods in France. The only difference with Bounce Below is that this unique experience takes place entirely underground in a cavern that’s twice the size of St Paul’s Cathedral.
Five hundred tonnes of rubble had to be removed from the 176 year old cavern before the enormous nets could be suspended. These huge nets – the highest at 180ft – hang over different levels and are linked together by slides, tunnels and stairs, all illuminated by bright neon lights.
Today, intrepid visitors can run, bounce and jump around on these giant trampolines for an hour at a time. And don’t worry, there are nets to stop kids – and big kids – bouncing out.
Bounce Below: What to expect
Make sure you arrive at Zip World Llechwedd in good time. We showed up hoping that they would have space available and we were lucky that they did. However, it’s well worth booking online and filling out all the required waiver forms before you arrive. Be aware that Zip World Llechwedd has a number of other equally thrilling adventures on offer so expect crowds, particularly if visiting during the school holidays.
Wannabe jumpers need to be in the Bounce Below meeting point at least 15 minutes before their allocated time in order to hear the safety briefing and get kitted out with a hard hat. Lockers are available for storing coats and bags or if you have someone in your group who doesn’t want to jump then your spectating adult can keep an eye on your belongings while watching you jump.
The safety briefing takes around 10 minutes during which jumpers are issued with blue hard hats and spectators are given yellow ones. You’re advised to remove all watches and jewellery (or put tape around rings). Long sleeve trousers and t-shirts are also advised to avoid any rope abrasions.
Going underground to Bounce Below
The walk to Bounce Below goes through old mining tunnels and takes about 5 minutes to reach the vast cavern. This is perhaps the best view of Bounce Below that you’ll get; myriad nets – like giant fishing nets – have been suspended across the cavern creating an Escher-like effect. Music plays, neon lights glow and it feels almost like you’re about to enter a club rather than a subterranean playground.
A netted walkway takes bouncers onto the first net where I quickly lost my balance! The nets are very bouncy and it takes a little while to find a good jumping rhythm. At least for me it did, the kids found their bouncing feet on these huge trampolines very quickly and aimed for every higher jumps.
We only stayed on the first net for a short while before the kids wanted to go and explore the enormous underground net adventure. Each level is connected by a series of slides and stairs. There are also a handful of netted tunnels linking the network of trampolines.
Mats – similar to those used on a traditional Helter Skelter slide – are available for use on the slides. For anyone who might be a little claustrophobic be aware that the enclosed slides are very dark. I avoided them all together, choosing to navigate the different levels via the stairs instead. However the kids loved sliding down the chutes.
The nets vary in size; some are large and perfect for seeing who can get from one side to the other in as few bounce as possible, others are smaller and ideal for taking a quick breather when you’re feeling tired. Because entry is timed and because of the sheer number of nets, Bounce Below never felt too busy. There was always somewhere to go where there weren’t many other people jumping – this is particularly good if you’re bouncing with younger kids.
It’s when you stop jumping that you realise that you really are in a huge cavern underground. The lights illuminate the room, providing a glimpse of this otherworldly space from the bottom of the cavern to the rugged ceiling and the sheer drops either side of nets.
Bouncers are given an hour-long time slot although you can choose to leave earlier if you like. We stayed for around 50 minutes after which everyone was feeling quite out of breath! We walked back to the main meeting point, returned our hard hats, signed out (they have a list to ensure that no-one gets left behind! Or rather, that no-one overstays their allocated time), and headed to the onsite cafe for a drink.
The Bounce Below experience is a truly unique adventure.
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Other activities at Zip World Llechwedd
Other activities at Zip World Llechwedd include the Zip World Caverns, an underground adventure zip line and adventure course; Titan 2, Europe’s first four-person zip line; the Deep Mine tour that takes you 500ft below ground on a historical tour of lLechwedd slate caverns; and Big Red, two side-by-side zip lines. They are currently building a new adventure, a subterranean golf course.
Where is Zip World Llechwedd located?
Zip World Llechwedd is located in the small Welsh town of Blaenau Ffestiniog, in the heart of Snowdonia National Park. It’s a fun stop on any Snowdonia itinerary.
What you need to know before you Bounce Below
- All levels are completely enclosed and strict supervision and adherence to safety is enforced.
- Tickets allow attendees one hour of jump time, which even a trained marathoner would find a substantial workout.
- The minimum age is 7 for Bounce Below. Ages 7-12: 1 participating adult required for every 7 participating children. Ages 13-17: 1 spectating adult required for every 7 participating children
- Approximately 35 people are allowed in each time slot so the area isn’t too crowded. We easily found a quiet spot for just your group.
- A full scale restaurant and pub are also located on the grounds.
- There are no bathrooms in the cave, you have to go back up to the ground level.