WALES is an ALL AGES PLAYGROUND
The 75th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain, Wimbledon, The Abergavenny Food Festival, The Royal Ascot, the Bestival, & Braemar Highland Gathering, these are just some of the events we are anticipating in 2016...
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EXPLORE WATERFALL COUNTRY >>> Wales is an all ages playground, never ceasing to amaze. Wales has proved itself as the hidden jem of adventure, history, food & wine, and so much more inbetween. Scroll below or click to learn more on how you can make Wales an incredible add-on for any traveller to Great Britain!
Wales may be a small place, but don’t underestimate this modern country, for it carries a great heritage.
The diverse excitement and enthusiasm that characterizes the people of Wales embrace proves true with a long list of festivals, celebrations, anniversaries, sporting events, food & drink, art & literature celebrations.
Wales is also host to a range of experiences we are sure you could not find anywhere else. Here is a country that uses their country as a playground of inspiration, action and adventure, complimented with outstanding food and hospitality, amongst a choice of several easy getaway points, hub & spoke opportunities, and a variety of accommodation offerings.
The all – ages accessibility combined with the unique and intense variety of tourist offerings in Wales are crucial elements to this unique little country.
With South Wales just a 2 hour drive away from Heathrow International Airport, North Wales just 2 and a half hours ferry from Dublin, and an hours drive from Manchester, Wales is easily accessible to any Canadian travelling to the UK.
Once there, travellers can enjoy the ease of getting around. Wales is only a 4 1/2 hour drive from North to South, and a highlight in and of itself. Routes such as the A466 along the Wye Valley, and the A4086, A498, and A4085 around Snowdonia, are particularly breathtaking examples of the many beautiful drives to discover. Whether travelling by coach, guided van, or private car, travelling through Wales is an experience all its own.
Why We Love Wales
An easy, exciting add-on to England, Ireland & Scotland, Wales adds such value for a variety of interests. Take the M4 from Heathrow across the Severn Bridge: a two hour drive into Wales for a day adventure or more! Combine Stonehenge, Salisbury Cathedral, & Bath, or the Lake District, Manchester, Liverpool & York, on your journey to Wales as a breathtaking complement to your English Itinerary.
The same advantage also is available for those interested in travelling to Ireland. Two and a half hours by ferry from Anglesey’s Holyhead to Dublin is all it takes to complement an Irish adventure. Ferries to Wexford & Cork are also readily available to travellers (*although they take much longer to cross!). It’s also easy to get up to Scotland with the extensive and breathtaking system of rail and road networks.
Travel seniors easily to the top of Snowden Mountain, travel little ones as young as seven on active adventures such as underground trampolining, coasteering, and castle roaming with family friendly battle re-enacments.
Excellent Hub & Spoke
Stay in one spot for up to two weeks at a time, while easily finding exciting daily adventures for a plethora of different travel interests around the country.
WHO SHOULD TAKE ADVANTAGE OF WALES
Several interests would be best suited with a visit to Wales. There’s such a wide variety of opportunity here for so many niche interests. To narrow it down, we’ve picked the most prominent areas of opportunity and created several themes where Wales would relate best:
Nature & Garden
History & Fantasy
Art & Literature
If you know what your clients would be interested in most click on a theme and discover the incredible opportunities available to you and your travellers.
The Best of Wales RIGHT NOW
Celtic Manor Resort – NATO, new lodges, renovations, and convention centre
The five star Celtic Manor Resort, based in the beautiful Usk Valley, has had an exciting year. The resort was the high profile host venue of the NATO summit in September, welcoming the world’s most powerful people, and has also been introducing new facilities and renovations. Earlier this year, the Celtic Manor launched its new luxury Hunter Lodges, featuring a log cabin design, open plan living spaces with high windows and ceilings, four spacious bedrooms, a sauna and outdoor decking with a covered Jacuzzi.
The property also underwent a six month 2.4 million dollar refurbishment project of its Manor House bedrooms. The rooms now have a contemporary look, with new beds, carpets, handmade furniture and marble effect bathrooms. They’ll also be very cosy this winter, thank to the new double glazing and brand new boiler house! It that weren't enough, the Celtic Manor Resort has also unveiled plans for a new Wales International Convention Centre. Scheduled for completion in 2018, the new centre will include a state-of-the-art auditorium for around 4,000 delegates – making it the largest facility of its kind in Wales and the South West of England.
There’s always a lively family feel to Abersoch, one of the best watersports centres. It’s at its most vibrant during the August Regatta which, apart from all the serious sailing stuff, features raft-racing, crab-catching and sandcastle-building contests. visitsnowdonia.info
It’s impossible to pick our prettiest beach, but this is Pembrokeshire's gem, backed by dunes and pine trees, there's always crops up. There is something almost Caribbean about Barafundle, which is all the better for being a half-mile (0.8 km) walk from the nearest car park. visitpembrokeshire.com
Huge and picturesque, Barmouth beach is always popular but never overcrowded. Barmouth itself is a proper British seaside resort, complete with trampolines, ice creams, arcade games, donkey rides and a vintage railway. visitsnowdonia.info
Benllech, Isle of Anglesey
This small holiday town is set on a crescent-shaped bay, with fine sand that stretches for miles. It’s also blissfully easy to get to, even for pushchairs and wheelchairs. visitanglesey.co.uk
The Wales Coast Path
It’s the longest continuous coastal path in the world. Along its 870 mile (1,400 km) length there are hundreds of harbours, coves, inlets – and, of course, beaches. Lots of them. Everyone has their own favourite. So which’ll it be for you?
There’s nothing flashy about the village – it’s just a cluster of houses wedged between two headlands, with waves lapping at their toes. The coastal footpath leads you through clouds of wild flowers that are alive with butterflies in summer. discoverceredigion.co.uk
Cefn Sidan, Carmarthenshire
This whopping eight-mile (12 km) beach has plenty of room for everyone, and young nature detectives can climb the dunes to track down grasshoppers and other mini beasts. It’s all part of Pembrey Country Park, which has play areas and an equestrian centre, dry ski slope and toboggan run. discovercarmarthenshire.com
Only locals are allowed to drive to this perfect little harbour hamlet. But never mind – it’s a lovely short walk along the beach, or through Nefyn’s famously beautiful golf course, to reach it. It’s an idyllic cove and natural harbour, with the added bonus of a cracking pub, the Ty Coch Inn, which has just been voted the world’s best beach bar. visitsnowdonia.info
Rhossili, Gower Peninsula
Well, we had to mention our cover star, didn’t we? Rhossili’s three-mile (4.8 km) golden sands come with a genuine shipwreck, and if you time the tides right, there’s a fabulous walk out to the promontory known as Worm’s Head. visitswanseabay.com
Vale of Glamorgan
The Glamorgan Heritage Coast’s multi-layered cliffs occasionally drop down into sandy bays. This is a favourite with surfers and families, and there’s a great clifftop walk to the ruins of Dunraven Castle. visitthevale.com
We’re cheating a bit here, since there’s not one fantastic beach in Tenby, but three. The Rough Guide to Wales describes this pretty little town as ‘everything a seaside resort should be’ and it was recently voted one of the UK’s top five beach destinations by Tripadvisor. visitpembrokeshire.com
Rhossili Bay Gower
The City of Cardiff
Over the past 10 years, Cardiff has undergone a huge regeneration and has now claimed its place as one of the UK’s most modern, vibrant cities.
In its city centre, Cardiff Castle has over 2,000 years of history and is a favourite filming location for television and film companies. To give visitors an insight into this exciting world, Cariff Castle has launched a new Film Location Tour led by expert guides, taking visitors into the Black Tower, the 15th century Undercroft (often used for Welsh banquet nights). The library, keep, wartime shelters and even areas of the castle not normally open to the public, can all be discovered.
A more recent addition to Cardiff’s charms is the Cardiff International White Water (CIWW) an on-demand white water facilitiy and indoor surf centre located just a few miles from Cardiff’s city hailed as Wales' best visitor experience! Suitable for everyone, the centre offers white water rafting, river boarding, hot dogging, canoeing, kayaking and a simulated surf machine. Last autumn, the centre has also introduced an exciting high ropes attraction were visitors navigate a course high above the rain waters!
The City of Swansea
The vibrant city of Swansea - the second largest population in Wales - boasts a colorful and rich tapestry of exciting activities, cultural events & festivals, perfectly matched with delicious foods and complimentary markets. Indeed, it is in Swansea that you will find the the Swansea Indoor Market, the award winning largest indoor market in Wales, carrying activities dating back over centuries, steeped in tradition and family run produce.
The coastal city also is home to one of the oldest museums in Wales - the Swansea Museum - which is easy to find along their 5 mile stretch of beach dotted with popular surf spots, promenades, maritime quarters, pools, and bustling marina. It is also in this quarter you will find the Dylan Thomas Center, celebrating the life and work of the famous author who was born, raised, and inspired by the very city you are exploring.
From the inspiration of Dylan Thomas, Swansea boasts some lively festivals and events celebrating art, performance and literature throughout thier summers. Exciting festivals such as St. Davids Week are a must to explore and celebrate.
Another big winner in Swansea will have to be their Leisure Complex, voted one of the top ten best attractions in the whole of the UK.
Events in Wales 2018
Some of our favorite upcoming events in Wales include:
Events and festivals throughout Wales are vibrant and varied - from the extraordinary to the just plain out of the ordinary! Festivals are a great way of engaging your travellers in an experience they couldn't get anywhere else. And in Wales especially - there are opportunities that quickly become bucket list activities in and of themselves.
Exciting Accommodation in Wales
-Brecon Castle Hotel
Alternative & long stays
-Central Falls Holiday Park: Great Cottage & Caravan Facility
-Flat Holm Cottage:On Flat Holm Island stylish 3 bedroom self-catering cottage
-Ty Newydd Country Hotel: Hirwaun, with nearby distillery
-Fforest Farm: Cardigan
-Llancayo Windmill in Monmouthshire countryside
-Cathedral 73 Luxury Boutique: Cardiff
A few of our favourites
-North Wales – Lauriston Court
-Snowdonia – Ty Gwyn Hotel, & Snowdonia Hotel
-Cardiff – Cardiff Angel Hotel
-Newport: Llys Meddyg
SAMPLE ITINERARIES TO WALES
- ACTIVE ADVENTURE
- FOODIE ENTHUSIAST
- NATURE & GARDEN
- FAMILY & FRIENDS CASTLE FANTASIES
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Wales, for your Active Adventurers
Wales is the founder of coasteering, capital of mountain biking, and home to some of the most epic ziplining operations in the world. This is Waterfall country, a host to over 50 Islands, nature reserves, two national parks, incredible mountain ranges and ancient ruins. What the active community in Wales provides the active adventurer is extraordinarily unique, varied, and thrilling. And how little we active holiday makers know about it!
In a time when Canadians of Millenials & Gen Y find themselves attracted to New Zealand, craving the chance to say they climbed mountains, and jumped off gorges, while connecting with a like minded english-speaking community interested in a thrilling, active, and exciting place will find Wales an accessible and more affordable alternative.
Many Canadians of all walks of life are willing to embrace the adventurous & unique opportunities countries like Wales can offer. Luckily, many of these adventures especially in Wales are accessible to all. Seniors can easily experience the top of Mount Snowden, just as children as young as seven can explore the underground trampolines and coasteering opportunities.
Areas of Interest for the Active Adventurer
-Cardigan & Pembrokeshire
-Snowdonia National Park
Can’t Miss Festivals & Events
Man V Horse, Real Ale Wobble, Blog Snorkelling Championships, the Welsh Open Stone Skimming
When to Travel
Travel in the late spring & summer months for the most daylight hours, opportunities and events.
Sample 10 Day Itinerary
When it comes to putting a sample itinerary together for active Wales, there is no avoiding jam-packing a ten day trip with a variety of options, opportunities, and adventures, again, it would be difficult to do it all, there’s just so much opportunity in such a small place!
We start our tour travelling from London, across the Severn Bridge, and into Cardiff to explore the International Sports Village of Cardiff (currently the largest regeneration project running in the UK – upon completion, we can expect an indoor snow facility for skiing and snowboarding as well as hotel accommodation!). The village is home to an Olympic Standard Swimming pool, ice rink, and the International White Water Centre, providing white water rafting courses, kayaking, and indoor surfing instruction. For those willing to stay dry the village is complete with an air trail: a high ropes course across the white water river. This is a great way ease our travellers in to the sports in white water & surfing up ahead on the itinerary. The sports village is located within a 5 min drive to a multitude of bars and restaurants in the nearby Mermaid Quay area which makes for a great introduction to Wales and the welcoming communities of the Welsh Capital.
Days 2 & 3
Active adventurers will then head north for the real adventure to begin in Brecon Beacons, home to the mountain range and National Park. The six peaks that comprise Brecon Beacons includes the popular ridge walk of Beacons Horseshoe, as well as many other fine walking, hill walking, climbing, gorge walking, caving, horse riding, and mountain biking experiences.
Hill-Walkers, Explorers, Ramblers, & Canyoning climbers will want to journey to the Western edge of the Brecon Beacons, where three rivers intertwine: The Mellte, Hepste, and Nedd Fachan – through steep gorges, incredible caves and spell binding cascades of falling water. Hike the Four Falls Walk – enter through the biggest cave entrance, into the caverns below, follow the Blue Pool as it turns into a lovely woodland stream, to the fall of the White Meadow falls: popular to kayakers and canyoning groups, follow the three hour walk to the Sgwd yr Eira, or “Waterfall of Snow” and walk behind it’s mesmerizing cascades.
For accommodation, the Afan Lodge Hotel nearby offers our travellers a relaxing Alpine retreat for the end of the day.
Another great accommodation in Brecon Beacons – the Ty Newydd Country Hotel in Hirwaun, complete with their own whiskey distillery.
Day 4 & 5
After a few days adventuring through the mountains of Brecon Beacons, we journey on to Swansea the second largest city in Wales. Along the way, a trip to the National Showcaves Centre in Abercraf – the underground cave complex complete with dinosaur park is an absolute must on our list. Home to 16 km of tunnels and underground caves including the Cathedral Cave. Travellers can discover beautiful rock formations such as the rare straw stalactites, an array of underground lakes, and large hanging domes. The Bone cave is especially interesting for historians, after 42 human skeletons dating back to the Bronze Age were discovered in these chambers, amongst a plethora of ancient Roman artifacts, revealing the profound struggle to survive in the early stages of history.
Then, to Swansea to visit the 360 Beach & Watersports Club. This is Swansea’s hub for beachsports, watersports and outdoor activity in the Swansea Bay Area. They offer an variety of support, training, and free events such as beach boot camp, well being sessions, health walks, and the option to join a club for the day such as the Nordic Walking Club.
Then we take off to Swansea’s Sport and Leisure Complex. Not only is this the largest indoor waterpark Wales can offer, it is also a leader in waterpark innovation.The nick-named Swansea’s LC happens to be THE top visited attraction in Wales six years running. The MasterBlaster, a white knuckle roller coaster waterslide, their state-of-the-art wave pool, a lazy river, the Aqua Slide, the Aqua Tube, the LC Lagoon and Volcano Ride are all thrilling new adventures for all ages to enjoy. Travellers joining the LC on Fridays will also enjoy the LC’s Adrenaline Night – and with their high powered technology, you can only imagine what Fridays are like! An incredible cutting edge indoor climbing facility is also available on site to our travellers which makes excellent training grounds if you’re preparing for Snowdonia’s more challenging climbs (but we’ll get there later on in the itinerary).
A visit to the Rhossili Bay Gower Peninsula will end our journey from Swansea. When the tide is right the peninsula won’t just be perfect for sunsets, but will make way for 3 miles of golden sand beaches, a genuine shipwreck, and a huge expanse to the promontory known as Worm’s Head. This is the ideal surfing capital of Wales, and it is the first place in Britain to be designated as an area of outstanding natural beauty. This spot hosts a variety of surfing and campground and cottage opportunities for a longer stay.
Today we continue on to the REAL adventure - coasteering Pembrokeshire and exploring the Pembrokeshire’s Coast National Park Trail. This thrilling sport will challenge adventurers to scale the coast without the support of boats and other equipment. This means scrambling, swimming, jumping, caving, and other activities are required to get around the phenomenal coastline. This would be music to the ears of scramblers, climbers, and boulderers of Canada.
Celtic Quest Coasteering will take us around Cardigan Bay to the King’s Head. An exhilarating adventure – acessible to all over the age of 8, Celtic Quest encourages the disabled, blind, deaf, and non swimmers to join the experience. BIG cliff jumps and scramble climbing will take you to the finish in Blue Lagoon where the Red Bull cliff diving World Series location was held in both 2013 and 2014.
Our accommodation tonight? A state of the art Campsite for all seasons, Fforest was voted by the Times as the “Coolest Camping in Britain”. Just outside of Pembroke National park, and a ten minute drive from Cardigan Castle, this is the ultimate accommodation experience for any active adventurer to try. Fforest offers four types of tented accommodations, as well as modern crog lofts (based on traditional Welsh cottages) showing that camping can be achieved for every style, including boutique! Breakfasts and communal barbecue dinners are routine here, while plenty of opprtunities for full day adventures, half day, families, land, river & sea activities are on every day!
After exploring the coastline of Pembroke, after your active adventurer has had their fill of fishing, coasteering, white water kayaking, and island hopping, we say our farewells and embark on our next adventure: Snowdonia.
On the way a stop in Abersoch – a lively village, and popular coastal seaside resort, this is a tourist centre specialising in sailing, windsurfing, jet skiing, and surfing. Abersoch is well known as a water sport capital of the world, and has been hosting Wakestock since the year 2000. Adventurists can watch the Big Air competition held every July. Surrounded with bars, & restaurants, boat trips and surf lessons, there is plenty of fun to be had in this coastal town, on the brink of Snowdonia’s mountain range and national park.
In the same afternoon, adventurers can find themselves hiking the mountains of Snowdonia and take advantage of some incredible sights, including the Devil’s Appendix, Rangers Path, and the Highest Falls in Wales: Pistill y Llyn. For more information on hiking and hillwalking Snowdonia, read up on our post about Hiking Snowdonia.
Day 8 – 9
Adventurers can delve deeper into Welsh adventure, upon arrival in the historic mining town of Blaenau Ffestiniog, lying in the heart of Snowdonia National Park. There are several major opportunities including visiting the Slate Mines, child friendly pot holing, walking the caves and quarries, enjoying award winning campground facilities, fishing, kayaking, and hill walking guides, as well as a few out of the ordinary experiences: Bounce Below, Zip World, and Antur Stiniog. Bounce Below is a giant underground trampoline complex. But unlike any ordinary underground trampoline experience, these are set within the deep caverns of a historic and disused slate cavern. The trampolines are hung within two vast chambers at varying levels, linked together by walkways and slides, the biggest being a 60 foot drop. (*must be 120 kg must be at minimum 7 no max age.)
Apart of the same complex as Bounce Below, Zip World Titan contains the ultimate adrenaline rush. Opened in June 2014, ZipWorld Titan is the newest member to the pre existing Zip World Velocity, also located in Snowdonia. Combined, Zip World is the largest Zip zone in Europe, and Europe’s only 4 person zip line. Zip World Velocity is the longest zip line in the northern hemisphere, and the fastest zip line in the world, where riders can expect to exceed 100 mph, at 500 ft.
Another stop in this adrenaline infused region, is to the community of Antur Stiniog, a not for profit social enterprise established to develop the potential of the outdoor sector in a sustainable and innovative way for the benefit of their community. In true Welsh fashion, Antur Stiniog is a warm and welcoming place with an intricate network of bike trails for every level, plus bike rentals and a full uplift service for the entire day. They also offer training, and guiding, climbing, fishing, caving, and paddling trips through the ancient mountains of Snowdonia. Two days at least would be needed in Blaenau because of the variety of accommodations offered are too good to miss: Cottages, Guest houses, even a chance at the Old Quarry Hospital – there are accommodations available for every type of stay.
The last and final stop we’d like to mention, although there are plenty more that could be elaborated on, is Llanrwst Conwy, just outside Snowdonia, on the coast of North Wales. There is a beautiful hike along the coast at Low Tide for those who wish to take it easy on their last day before their trip to Manchester the following morning for their transfer home. But for those who crave one last experience in altitude, a visit to Tree Top Adventure might be in order- a thrilling high level adventure course 50 feet and higher in the air above the Conwy Valley with high and low development courses available for all types of groups.
For those with a luxurious taste can treat themselves to a stay at the Mansion on a Rock overnight before the journey home, a 5 star grade guest house. There are also a number of high quality Caravan & Camping Sites, as well as self catering, holiday accommodation, and bed & breakdast accommodation
For the Equestrian
Our first special interest tour to Wales back in 1994 was an equestrian based tour program, and Brecon Beacons is the place to do it. Here, 5 riding centres covering over 805 square km work together to provide a range of options for our visitors – one ride even fits in a few pub stop overs!
For the Mountain Biker
The Gethin Woods above Merthyr Tydfil is often called the Welsh Whistler, and is home to Bike Park Wales. This cutting edge facility offers a wide range of tailor made trails for all levels of rider, with tailor made expert advice always on hand, training groups, courses, and carrot cake to boot! Rent a bike with a $6000USD value.
Afan Forest Park is another leading mountain biking facility in the area, with over 100km of trails across a steep narrow valley nicknamed “Little Switzerland”. A simple £1 for your parking gives you direct access to the entire park. Head over to the Afan Bike Shed to get a bike hire, repairs, tours and tuition.
AN ADVENTURE MAP FOR YOUR BEARINGS
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