Staycation – it’s a new word for something people have been doing for years. The Isles of Great Britain have much to offer and if you accept the interchangeable weather is the price you pay for lush green views then you can find happiness in many a holiday close to home. This month’s blog is to give you some ideas on how to spend your time if you visit North Wales.
We headed off to Bala, in North Wales a 80% Welsh speaking area with residents of around 2000. Our Lodge on the Pen-Y-Garth lodge park was stunning with fantastic views over the mountains to watch the sun set and the stars rise. This park is clean tidy, dog friendly and supermarket vans can make the journey to deliver groceries.
Zip World – we opted for Bounce Below – trampolining in caves. This was very physical and when they say cover up and wear old clothes – Listen! We ended up with friction burns even though we were covered and scuffed trainers.
Two member of the group then went off to do quarry carting at another location by the same company – this consisted of single file 2 laps down a quarry, so no racing and you can’t take photos due to the amount of lost phones.
On the way back to the lodge we stopped at Coca Bala – no trip to the village would be complete without trying these infamous chocolate and none of the chocolate I purchased as gifts made it home, they were scrummy!
We set off to Rhiwagor Waterfall, hands down this was one of the best parts of our trip for the all of us. There are several walks you can follow as well as the climb up to the waterfall. Dogs must be kept on a lead here as there are roaming sheep, as with much of Wales. The water at the bottom of the falls is extremely cold and although we all got in and had some fun it is not recommended after heavy rain and if quite deep. We are all experienced swimmers and the group does comprise of a trained life guard.
On the way back to the lodge we stopped off at Llyn Celyn, this is only a short walk but has a great historical story. The valley was flooded in 1962 to create a reservoir to supply Liverpool industry with water. The sad part of the story is that the village at the bottom was lost to do this. There is a church and grave yard nearby where the dead of the village were relocated prior to the flooding.
From Bala, everything is about 1 hours drive away or less. We set off to Criccieth Beach. This was another firm highlight. Parking is very cheap all over Wales if not free, but do park in designated spaces for safety. From here you can see Criccieth Castle (Which can be visited for a small fee) the mountains, rock pools and an amazing view over the sea. Watersport activities are available to do from here. A quick fish and chip lunch and then off to our afternoon activity.
We had opted to do Canoeing along the Aqueduct at LLangollen. Having arrived at the venue we were met by our instructor Adam, who explained about the trip and kitted us out with buoyancy aids and equipment. Divided into groups we set off for an amazing afternoon paddling along the canal, the aqueduct is 137ft high and you are close to the edge but at no point did we feel in any danger and the views were fantastic. Adam kept us entertained and provided instruction through the whole experience. You can book to do this here : https://luxurygiftexperience.com/shop/details/aqueduct-trip-90-mins-in-canoe-or-kayak-24453 along with more great activities by the same provider.
Having enjoyed one beach we set off to see if Harlech was just as impressive. This beach is stunning but the way down is not for the faint hearted, it is a very steep and long climb down ( And back up!!) the sea was calm and the sand a lovely golden, however the best part of this beach is that there are few places in the world where you can see a castle, a train line, a mountain and the sea all in the one eyeline and the whole feel here is just breath taking.
No visit to Bala would be complete without venturing onto the Lake and having walked around it and driven passed it we decided to venture onto it by trying SUP (Stand Up Paddleboarding) from the local provider at the lake. We hired the boards but a trained instructor gave us a quick run through of technique and safety, he was also was great with the kids questions. We felt the value was really good here, the lake was busy but still plenty of space to move, in addition to the boards we hired wetsuits to stay dry-er and warm-er. Parking was again great value at this location.
There are plenty of well sign posted walks in the Snowdonia National Park and most are dog friendly. IT is important to remember that you there with permission of the farmers and to leave nothing but foot prints behind. This year over 700,000 people have opted to try and climb Snowdon, given that the kids and the dog weren’t keen on this idea we headed to a smaller Mountain close to Snowdon near Nant Gwynant ( This is also near the Copper Mines so that could be tacted onto this trip out). You can spend as long as you want climbing, make sure you have a full phone battery and proper footwear. We also go with a first pack as well as plenty of water. It is worth mentioning that the weather can change several times in an hour so prepare for wet and sunny and check for storms before you go.
After a night star gazing from the hot tub and relaxing with Prosecco we were up for a walk around Bala Village to visit the local butchers. Then to Valle Crucis Abbey this is a Cistercian abbey located in Llantysilio in Denbighshire. The rates to visit here are really low but booking online is advisable given current Covid guidance. As Horseshoe falls was nearby we went there too, given the other waterfalls we saw this wasn’t that impressive and although it is a nice enough walk we probably wouldn’t visit again. There is a lovely restaurant here though with great views over the water.
Our final experience of the trip was at the same location that we did the Canoe activity, a unique one that can only be done at one other place in the country – we did triple target practice. This is indoors and comprises of 30 mins Axe Throwing, 30 mins of Archery and 30 mins of Riffle shooting. Having arrived at the building we were greeted by Holly our instructor who explained that owners haven’t had the current premises for ong and that renovation’s and updates are being carried out. With that said we found the target area very safe, inviting and competitive. After a safety briefing and some Covid guidance we did practice and competitions scored by the instructor. The whole group regardless of height, age or ability found this great fun and got very involved. Our youngest ( age 12) was a dab hand at Axe throwing and thanks to this experience she has found something she would like to do again. It also provided us with much to chat and brag about on the journey home.
It is worth noting that at present time ( August 2021) Shops and supermarkets in Wales are still compulsory mask wearing venues.