Think Wales and the legends of King Arthur and Merlin immediately come to mind, along with stunning images of snow-capped mountains, dramatic waterfalls and tranquil lakes. The Welsh landscape is one that has inspired awe and immediately has a calming effect on most.
But change is a-coming, and it’s pumping things up for those who want to take up the nature challenge.
Alongside the tranquility and quietude that the Welsh highlands offer, especially the northern region, there has been a concentrated effort to promote adventure sports in the region, and quite successfully so. The natural terrain lends itself to some great zip lines and mountain trekking and biking trails. The now defunct slate caverns have also been converted into interesting sporting arenas. Here are some of the popular adventure sport options while touring the country.
Zip lining (above and below)
Zip World is a popular zip lining company in north Wales, and though it’s probably not the only one, it does boast of the fastest zip line in the world and the longest in Europe at the Penrhyn Quarry near Bethesda. It’s got two other locations on Blaenau Ffestiniog and Fforest Betws Y Coed. While the former has some interesting other options where you can zip line hundreds of feet underground as well as a deep mining tour for modern history buffs, the latter offers the Zip Safari — very a la Tarzan!
Now this is a very interesting concept which involves getting in touch with your inner child and simply bouncing on trampolines. But, mind you, not just any trampoline — these are either hundreds of feet underground or hoisted tens of feet above on treetops. Set on multiple levels, the many net trampolines test your balance and are great fun.
Biking is a huge pastime in Wales, and the meandering roads and mountain pathways make for great trails for biking enthusiasts — both amateurs and professionals. Driving through the countryside, it’s not unusual to find rigged up bikers cycling past, and not only that, there are popular trails in Coed y Brenin and Blaenau Ffestiniog.
This is where Edmund Hillary trained before summitting Mount Everest in 1953. Now, of course, there are many clubs that facilitate the sport, which includes sessions ranging from beginners to professionals. Depending on where you are, check out the local listings for your options.
Hiking and trekking
Snowdonia and the national park has some spectacularly picturesque trekking and hiking trails on offer. You can choose from those that just last an hour or two or even those that would take you a day, as you soak in the gurgling brooks, dashing waterfalls and dizzying heights. It all depends on your fancy. The most popular one, of course, is the 3-hour up to Mount Snowdon, the highest mountain in Wales, standing tall at 3,560 ft. In fact, Snowdon is known to be the busiest summit in the UK because of the number of visitors it sees all through the year.
This is something unique to the region. If you love surfing but the sea and its waves are too temperamental and uncertain for you, then this is your fix. The world’s first inland surf lagoon, wherein terrific surfing waves are created just for you over a 300m long, fresh water lagoon. Located in the Conwy Valley, Surf Snowdonia is just a few metres away from Conwy River and provides a most unusual and exhilarating experience for surfing enthusiasts to actually indulge in the sport surrounded by mountains all around!