Blog Wales

An Outdoor Adventure with Visit North Wales

There’s always part of me that’s jealous of the backpackers of today.

When I was travelling the world, brokering Financial Acquisitions on the week day and partying it up on the weekends, the countries I was visiting hadn’t quite developed a backpacker friendly infrastructure yet.

When I visited New Zealand the country had yet to catch onto the extreme sports trend that many people associate it with today. This was well before Peter Jackson put the stunning landscapes of the Kiwis on the map with his Lord of the Rings movies.

Although I missed out on diving off a bridge with a bungee clipped to my waist, my own Wales has recently made some huge steps forward in the world of Adventure Tourism.

I teamed up with Visit North Wales this week to get a much needed dose of adrenaline in my life and go on a little tour of Wales in the process.

Bounce Below

Smack bang in the middle of Snowdonia lies one of Wales’ most unique tourist attractions. Hidden away off the A470 near Talwaenydd, Bounce Below is the brainchild of Sean Taylor, an  ambitious business man who has made it his mission to put Wales firmly on the International tourism map. Set deep within a huge network of caverns and caves (that were once home to Victorian mines) these underground surroundings have been lit up with garish lights and rigged with industrial netting creating a massive trampoline that truly has to be seen to be believed.

As long as you don’t mind rubbing shoulders with dozens of kids, this recently refurbished attraction can provide a good few hours of unadulterated fun, just make sure you don’t eat before hand!


Zip World

Owned by the same entrepreneur, there are three Zip World locations spread out across Snowdonia. Their flagship zip line, a real feat of modern engineering, is the fastest in the world as well as the longest in Europe. You start the experience off by donning some pretty serious safety equipment and then it’s off and up to the Little Zipper – the smallest of the three zip lines that you can ride in the day.

By the time you make it up to the Big Zipper, you’ll be fast friends with the other members of your group and more than ready to race down the Big Zipper – zooming over the quarry lake at over 100mph.


Gorge Walking

When I arrived at my final adventure, more than a little windswept, I wasn’t sure quite what to expect from Gorge Walking. I’d neglected to research this last part of the day, imagining some kind of rope bridge river experience. I was greeted by a rather worrying sight when I pulled up in a remote car park: a group of grinning lads in wetsuits and bright red helmets. What had I got myself into? Soon I was zipped up in my own neoprene number and I was ready to walk some gorges.

The copious number of river systems that criss-cross Wales make for ‘perfect gorge walking’ – at least that’s what my instructor tells me as he virtually shoves me off a rock and into a 10-ft deep plunge pool.

Definitely not for the faint-hearted, Gorge Walking offers cheap thrills, just don’t expect to stay dry!

Blog England

May Day Bank Holiday with My Parents

Both of my parents should have retired a long time ago.

They got married incredibly young (my Dad was just 18 when he proposed) and have always cited their busy work lives as a driver behind their marital bliss.

Even at the ages of 60 and 62 they both still insist on pulling full time shifts. Dad used to be a mechanic, but the job proved to be too physical for him later in life. He now loves working down the local supermarket, talking to people all day and keeping active, stocking shelves. Mum’s been working as a receptionist at the same GPs for her entire working life, keeping order behind her desk and ensuring the most needy patients are seen first.

Bank Holidays tend to not mean much to people who live overseas for any great stretch of time, after all, it’s not like you can demand to have the May Day Bank Holiday off whilst you’re living in Dubai, just because everyone back home is taking it off. When I finally made it back to Blighty, after nearly 20 years spent abroad working, I had to remind myself (as well as my parents) all over again about the joys of Bank Holidays. These wonderful 3 or 4 day stints pop up throughout the year offering the British public a well earned break and a chance to indulge in extended weekend adventures.

When Bank Holidays come around, my parents usually like to indulge in a lie-in, get the papers and catch up on some television. However, since I returned to Conwy, I’ve insisted on them making the most of their time off. That’s how we found ourselves bundled into my car with a picnic hamper, rolling down the M6 on our way to glorious Devon.

Although Wales is full of great places to visit, not to mention some truly epic landscapes, my parents often have to be dragged kicking and screaming out of the country, even when we have the luxury of long weekends.

When I was a child they were always content with taking me to the beach and hiring a couple of deckchairs for the day. As much as I can still find huge nostalgic thrills from walking down our local waterfront, I don’t mind getting into the car and taking my parents out of their comfort zone.

Staunch patriots that my parents are, it takes a lot to convince them that there might be better beaches outside of Wales. However, they were pleasantly surprised by what we found on the gorgeous coast of North Devon.

With miles of coastal trails and paths to explores, there’s more than enough variety to appease even the most stubborn Welsh nationalist. After a day of breaking in and out of stunning moor land, my Dad was more than a little pleased to stumble across The Village Inn in the town of Lynton.

Lynton is one of those quintessential coastal towns that makes you feel like you’ve travelled back in time. There’s a functioning Cliff Railway system (the highest of it’s kind in the world) that hauls happy tourists up throughout the warmer months of the year and you can even a watch a movie in the adorable Lynton Cinema, a 68-seat capacity theatre that usually puts on two showings a day.

In addition to these charming diversions, there’s also the picturesque High Street that is home to some lovely cafes and souvenir shops.

After a long day of exploring Exmoor, it would have been nice to hole up in a pub for the evening and settle into a B&B for the evening, however this was May Bank Holiday and my parents were eager to get back to Conwy.

Within minutes of setting off from Lynton, the half pint of ale had taken effect and I spent the drive back to Wales listening to the soft rhythmic snores of my Mum and Dad.