Great Days Out 2012
DAYS OUT 2012
North Wales and the Borders has something to suit every taste, every pocket and every generation. With castles, stately homes, gardens, family parks, art galleries, craft centres, museums and steam trains to name but a few, the only downside will be not having enough time to enjoy it all! You can potter around charming towns and villages, explore enchanting coves and rugged coastlines, and feel the sand beneath your feet on one of the many blue flag beaches this area has to offer. Then there’s the hundreds of attractions which help make this area one of the best holiday destinations in the UK. Yattar Yattar has compiled a Great Days Out Guide to highlight some of the best attractions so you can make the most of your time in this beautiful place.
If you’re in the mood for a little adventure then help is at hand. With stunning landscape being one of North Wales’ best features, visitors to the area will be spoilt for choice. Adventure Activities, a company based in Snowdonia, offers you the chance for a guided climb of Snowdon, the highest mountain in England and Wales, or explore the old underground caverns left by the slate quarrymen, or go canyoning with a wetsuit and swim, slide and jump down waterfalls! Try mountain biking on some of the most breath-taking routes in the country. Or try your hand at rock climbing before going back for a hot shower in their five-star barn conversion followed by a night in the village pub – perfect! Visit: www.outdooradventureactivities.com
And in Denbighshire you’ll find the Open Door Adventure centre. Visitors to this centre can opt for the accommodation package too which not only enables you to enjoy the many outdoor pursuits on offer but also Dolben Hall; a ten-bed mansion hall with excellent facilities. Owner David says: ‘We have our own natural limestone crag and caves, the centre also provide: full board accommodation, all rooms are spacious and well equipped. Our resident chef provides good wholesome food – the perfect end to the perfect adventure – and all equipment is provided for all activities for the duration of your stay.’
And what about a good old fashioned bike ride? No holiday is complete without one of these and at One Planet Adventure, situated in the majestic Llandegla Forest all your cycling dreams become a reality. With over 44 km of purpose-built mountain bike trails, people travel from all over the country to ride here. Advanced riders can sign up for a specialist course, or if it's a family trek you’re after then courses like the Family Skills Day or Guided Rides are for you – or you can just turn up and enjoy the great car-free trails in a fantastic woodland setting. And their bacon butties have actually won awards! Bike hire is available too, but make sure you get in touch first. Visit: www.oneplanetadventure.com
White water rafting
North Wales is blessed with some of the most beautiful waters in the UK. Whether it be water skiing in Anglesey, mackerel fishing in Colwyn bay or sailing in Llandudno, North Wales has your water sporting needs covered. Head up the tributaries and onto one of the famous rivers and you’ll find North Wales has come up trumps yet again. The National White Water Centre is set in the beautifully unspoilt environment of the Snowdonia National Park, and the magnificent Tryweryn River boasts some of the best natural rapids in the UK, and because the river is dam released, fantastic white water rapids are guaranteed all year round! The centre has been awarded Olympic Training Venue status, and so throughout the early season there is opportunity to talent spot and cheer on hopefuls for the big event in the summer. There are some fantastic events coming up this season, the first being the Sainsbury’s Sport Relief Mile on Sunday the 25th March. There will be all sorts of races on and off the water so book your place now at www.sportrelief.com. This is shortly followed by the return of the Annual Easter Egg Hunt – pepare your crew for some extreme Easter egg hunting with exhilarating white water, problem solving, secret messages to decipher and scrumptious eggs to find – the ultimate family rafting experience! Visit: www.ukrafting.co.uk
Anglesey on Horseback
Anglesey Riding Centre is the perfect accompaniment to a holiday horse ride. The centre enables lucky horse riding enthusiasts to experience not only beautiful countryside hacks but sand and sea too! It’s everyone’s dream, so why wait any longer to realise it? John Knock, owner at Anglesey Riding Centre says: ‘Our five miles of private bridleways will give you a fantastic, safe introduction to riding, and we’re sure that more experienced riders will find plenty here to challenge them too. We cater for all abilities, from the complete beginners to those who’ve been at it for years. We also have our indoor riding school, which is the perfect environment to hone your skills and get you ready to tackle whatever challenge you set your sights on, whatever the weather.’ Visit: www.angleseyridingcentre.co.uk
Based in North Wales, Plas Menai National Watersports Centre, offers a wealth of aquatic adventures. Describing the Centre, Sam Sheather explains: ‘Plas Menai enjoys a magnificent location on the Menai Strait, overlooking Anglesey in North Wales. The waters of the Strait are ideal for sailing, windsurfing, canoeing and powerboating, with easy access to the open sea and superb coastal scenery. Snowdonia National Park is only a stone’s throw away and provides canoeists and mountaineers with access to mountains, crags, rivers and lakes. Visitors can opt for one of our many highly acclaimed courses such as our Learn to Sail, Start Windsurfing or even a sea kayak expedition to the Outer Hebrides to name but a few. If you’ve still got some energy left at the end of the day’s activities, there’s plenty to see and do in the evening – visit the historic walled town of Caernarfon with its fantastic castle, take a drive around Snowdonia or discover the unspoilt island of Anglesey. There’s also a good selection of nightlife, with pubs and restaurants close by in Bangor and Caernarfon.’ Visit: www.plasmenai.co.uk
All kinds of adventures
Ty Nant Outdoors is newly set up but is run by a chap well experienced in outdoor adventure activities. Andy Turton has a degree in Sport Science to back up his 25 years of kayaking experience across six continents and unsurprisingly this is where Andy is most at home… on the water, kayaking or canoeing. Andy’s drive and enthusiasm are highly infectious: ‘Ty Nant Outdoors isn’t just your average outdoor adventure company. We are a source of fun and adventure, with a great hands-on, honest approach. By bringing together an eclectic mix of North Wales’s best coaches instructors and providers, Ty Nant Outdoors provides top coaching, awards and qualifications along with a whole load of great taster activities.’ With more than just the usual outdoor pursuits on offer, Ty Nant also offers visitors the chance to get stuck into gorge walking, high ropes, paintballing, quad biking, wilderness and survival skills plus stag and hen adventure weekends. Ty Nant even runs adventure holiday centres abroad!
Llechwedd Slate Caverns of Blaenau Ffestiniog is part of a living, working slate mine, active since 1836. Michael Bewick says: ‘We have two spectacular underground tours to explore the underground world of the Victorian Slate Miner. We take you deep inside the Welsh mountains, but the temperature in the mine is about 54F throughout the year, making the caverns ideal for your family day out come rain or shine. We also have a slate workshop, visitors can witness slate craft techniques that have barely changed since the 1800s.’ The cavern’s greatest appeal however has got to be its sheer beauty, with glistening underground lakes and breathtaking rock formations. Visit: www.llechwedd-slate-caverns.co.uk
Up the road on the banks of the River Dee in Chester you’ll find Chester Boats. They specialise in the age old art of river cruising and offer visitors the unique opportunity to see town and country from the watery side of the river bank! Owner Raquel Clarke says: ‘Cruise along the beautiful river Dee aboard one of our luxury showboats; Lady Diana or Mark Twain. From the moment you and your guests are welcomed aboard by our friendly staff to the moment you leave, we guarantee a smoothly organised event to remember.’ Cruises are available all year round from half hour daily cruises to special evening functions. Visit: www.chesterboat.co.uk
Welsh Mountain Zoo
Fancy a walk on the wildside? Why not pay a visit to the Welsh Mountain Zoo based in the beautiful mountains above Colwyn Bay. This conservation zoo has breathtaking scenery and beautiful gardens where you can spend a lovely day learning about many rare and endangered species from Britain and around the world including snow leopards, chimpanzees, red pandas and sumatran tigers.
Anglesey Sea Zoo
Fancy a trip beneath the waves? Anglesey Sea Zoo attracts the masses during the holiday season because visitors have a great time learning about the local sealife. Experience incredible invertebrates in the No Bone Zone, and see conservation in action at the lobster hatchery and the seahorse nursery. With over 150 species, all from around our coasts, Anglesey Sea Zoo says: ‘visitors will have a splashing time come rain or shine!’
For a water themed day out with a difference – at a UNESCO World Heritage site no less – make your way to Llangollen and sample a horse-drawn canal boat ride. The ‘Horse drawn boats of Llangollen’ are one of the oldest visitor attractions in North Wales. Started in 1884 by Captain Jones, using his pension from White Star line of ‘Titanic’ fame, he purchased two wooden lifeboats from Liverpool docks, a couple of horses and an old storage barn by the canal, and so started one of the earliest attractions of its kind. Llangollen Wharf is now operated by the Furniss family, and Steve and Steph Furniss are the second generation of the family to be involved. Steve Furniss says: ‘We feel very privileged to be part of the wharf’s history, and part of the oldest horse-drawn passenger boat company operating in the UK and probably the world! The horses are great animals to work with too and they all have their own individual characters.’ For your chance to sit merrily upon a painted barge while being pulled along the enchanting countryside by a heavy horse visit:
Animal Encounters at Pili Palas
For a little more animal adventure there is a plethora of wildlife parks and zoos in North Wales and beyond (see above). At Pili Palas Nature World you’ll see magical butterflies, birds, snakes, lizards, spiders, pets and meerkats to name but a few. Are you brave enough to stroke a tarantula; handle a giant hissing cockroach; pet a python or would you rather just cuddle some of their more fluffy inhabitants? Owner Steve Bull says: ‘After you’ve seen all the animals there’s plenty of opportunity for the kids to let off steam. There’s a soft-play area for toddlers, a giant bouncy castle, an exciting play-barn, an adventure playground and the play castle. Relax in our café, which serves delicious home-made food. If you’re lucky you may even get a table by the window where you can watch (or be watched by!) our meerkats in their brand new enclosure.’ If the weather’s good, why not bring a picnic to enjoy in the park? With a shop that specialises in gifts for bug-loving kids and plenty of pocket-money priced souvenirs, you’ll find the ideal thing to take home with you to remind you of a fabulous day out. Visit www.pilipalas.co.uk or call on 01248 712474.
Chester Zoo and Knowsley Safari Park
This zoo has been voted the number one zoo in the UK. A spokesperson for the zoo says: ‘Also, being one of the top 15 zoos in the world is no mean feat – it’s something Chester Zoo has achieved through innovation and respect for our animals and supporters alike.’ A visit here is well worth your time. Also, you could take time to visit Knowsley Safari Park, and for the chance to see exotic animals roaming free it’s worth the extra milage. Bursting to life with lions, tigers, elephants, giraffes, rhinos, baboons, meerkats and more. Knowsley is a wildlife reserve roaring with fun.
Pay a visit to GreenWood Forest Park, one of North Wales’ premier theme parks. Set in 17 magical acres of beautiful Gwynedd countryside, visitors can enjoy the scenery, and enjoy forest family fun. Jump aboard the world’s only people-powered roller coaster, zoom down the longest sledge run in Wales, embark on a jungle boat adventure or discover the big, bouncy Giant Jumper. And from June 2012, head inside the new Enchanted Wood Barn for a world of indoor play. In the Green Oak Café, choose from delicious hot and cold meals, as well as a great selection of Fairtrade and Red Tractor marked products.
Don’t miss their Easter Eggstravaganza from 31st March - 15th April. Keep a look out for GreenWood’s giant bunnies Harley and Heulwen whilst they help you on the Easter Egg Hunt on 7th and 8th. Watch live shows at the Forest Theatre throughout the break and enjoy events including a visit from North Wales’ Bird Trust who will be bringing along their wise owls on 3rd and 11th. Whatever the event, there’s always a new adventure at GreenWood. For times and dates of all events visit www.greenwoodforestpark.co.uk.
Glasfryn Activity Parc is an adventure park based on the Llyn Peninsula which offers visitors just about everything one could want for a fabulous holiday or adventure day out. Activities include go karting, cable wake-boarding, quad bikes, archery, course-fishing, ten-pin bowling, a children’s play area, a farm shop and cafe! If that’s not enough, Glasfryn also offers farmhouse accommodation and camping. Go to www.glasfryn.co.uk
Pro Adventure is situated on the banks of the river Dee, within walking distance of amazing climbs, awesome biking routes and great wild countryside. The unique location gives access to so many activities close by, and Pro Adventure’s instructors are all highly qualified and experienced, which helps give you a truly awesome adventure. Peter Carol at Pro Adventure says: ‘From beginner to expert we can give you the skills and qualifications to succeed on the river. Year on year we are teaching more people to kayak and canoe on the rivers and lakes of Wales. Our team of superb coaches will give you a fantastic time and help you learn all the skills you need. To quote a customer of ours: ‘I did a course with you three years ago, I had never been in a kayak before in my life! From that weekend onwards I have never looked back. I have been out in a kayak nearly every weekend since and loved every minute of it!’
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