A large-scale expansion of How Stean Gorge has moved a step forward, after the popular attraction received a £66,000 EU grant to be put towards the work.
The £175,000, 1,000 sq ft extension will include floor-to-ceiling glass walls looking out into the gorge canopy and a cantilevered glass floor enabling visitors to see down into the depths of the ravine.
The new facility, due for completion in April next year, will be used for weddings, corporate and educational away-day sessions as well as special events and private dining.
Owner Stan Beer said: “We’re really proud to have designed a space that has a real wow factor and makes the most of this incredibly special place.
“The fantastic new extension will help position How Stean to expand into new markets, increase bookings and encourage longer visitor stays, which will all boost the long-term sustainability and profitability of this rural business.”
The extension, designed by Nidderdale architectural designer James Robinson, will also create two new jobs, taking the workforce at the gorge to 12.
The 20m-deep, 1km-long limestone gorge, which was acquired by owners Stan and Ann Beer and Keith Boardall in 2007, has been developed from a walk-through cave and footpath into a full outdoor pursuits centre with a campsite, two bunkbarns and community Post Office.
The centre offers adventure activities such as canoeing, gorge scrambling, abseiling and caving to corporate groups, families, as well as stag and hen parties, and has one of only two high-wire ‘via ferrata’ climbing courses in England.
Previous European Structural Fund awards enabled the centre to develop new shower facilities and a water treatment plant; a new vehicle bridge spanning the gorge; as well as an online booking facility, creating two new jobs in 2011.