We love it when people dream up crazy ideas and make them happen. There’s a lot of that going on in North Wales: visitor experiences that sound like they were made up in the pub, by nutters, and then – against all odds and sanity – brought brilliantly to life.
For instance, there’s the 100mph Zip World Velocity zip wire over a quarry lake at Bethesda, the longest and fastest in Europe, which we’ve already covered previously. Then the same people opened Zip World Titan, the largest zip zone in the world, with over 8km of zip lines set among the Llechwedd slate quarries at Blaenau Ffestiniog. There are three zip runs, each getting progressively quicker – and because there are four wires running parallel on each run, you can do it as a family (we loved that aspect of it – watching each other’s big grins on the way down).
Llechwedd Slate Caverns has run excellent underground tours for years, and it’s still one of the best places to soak up slate mining history. But now the zip wire people have come along and done something barking mad: installed a series of huge trampolines inside a vast underground chamber.
It’s called Bounce Below. Three trampolines, one above the other, in a space that’s like an alien cathedral, all connected with slides and ladders, and lit by psychedelic, multi-coloured lights. If this doesn’t give you enough of an adrenalin rush, they’ve also opened another fantastic underground attraction – Zip World Caverns.
Five huge underground slate caverns have been turned into an unique adventure playground. The caverns house thrilling zip lines interspersed with rope bridges, balance beams, tunnels and breath taking stretches of via ferrata: a mountain aid in which a harness is clipped to a cable running along a precipice. It’s an action packed, three-hour experience for adults and families with children aged 10 and over.
The Go Below Challenge experience near Betws-y-Coed is a fun and challenging day out for active families. Follow an underground trail through a former mine and test yourself as you climb and abseil rock faces and waterfalls, cross zip lines and traverses and pass deep blue lakes. It’s a thrilling personally guided underground adventure from Go Below Underground Adventures.
It’s something of a North Wales speciality, creating new experiences from old landscapes. Coed y Brenin was Britain’s first purpose-built mountain biking centre, and it’s still pushing the boundaries of what’s possible on two wheels. But as well as hardcore runs for experts, there are gentler family trails for novices and youngsters, and also challenging runs designed for three-wheel adaptive bikes (which are available for hire, along with regular bikes).
Surf Snowdonia is in the beautiful Conwy Valley, on the edge of the Snowdonia National Park. For Surf enthusiasts, families, people who just love the outdoors and the idea of trying out something new with their friends. With waves ranging from 2m to 0.5m for beginners, in a 300m long lagoon. Visitors who prefer not to get wet will be able to watch the action from the 50m viewing gallery in the café and restaurant area. You can even stay overnight at the on-site camping pods to talk about your adventures of the day under the stars.
Then there’s the National White Water Centre on the River Tryweryn, created when some bright spark realised that because you could control the flow of water from the dam that feeds this wild mountain river, it’d be ideal for white water rafting and kayaking, because its rapids can still thunder in the hot summer months.
The adventurer Bear Grylls has put his name to a couple of family adventure challenges here, too: pick from a Survival Challenge on the Llyn Peninsula, or a thrilling rib ride in Anglesey’s wildlife packed seas.
Of course, for a family adventure, you don’t need anything more than the simple grandeur of Snowdonia’s landscape. There are mountain challenges for all ages and abilities here, from gentle riverside ambles, to the sharp scramble up Tryfan, to the big one itself: Snowdon.
There are currently three ways to get to the summit of the highest mountain in Wales or England: walk, cycle (October to April) or train. But someone, somewhere in North Wales is doubtless dreaming up a crazy new way, possibly involving bungee elastic or giant catapults or rocket-powered llamas.
The above is courtesy of Visit Wales.
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