There’s plenty of wilderness in Wales to drop yourself into. We pick out some of the best.
By Amy Watts, Georgia Roberts and Mair Llewellyn
DRAGON ACTIVITY GUIDES
St David’s, Pembrokeshire
The west Wales-based adventure activity providers are once again providing all the fun that an adrenaline junkie could desire. Owners Alun and Bramble are two friends and outdoor enthusiasts dedicated to giving people an exhilarating, unforgettable experience in their favourite playground, the Pembrokeshire coastline. As well as guiding visitors out of their comfort zones and into the ice-cold sea, their team of expert instructors are also on hand to give out personal recommendations and help make the most of your stay in their home county.
Dragon also run speciality packages which let you live out Castaway – abandoning modern life on a two-day expedition to challenge your resourcefulness – and you can sample some famous local produce and freshly caught seafood at their BBQs. An opportunity to explore the stunning Welsh coast with the help of expert locals.
Info: 01437 720077 / www.dragonactivityguides.co.uk
CARDIGAN BAY WATERSPORTS
New Quay, Cardigan Bay
New Quay, on the southern tip of Cardigan Bay, is not just a stunning seaside town but also one of the best places in the UK to see bottlenose dolphins in the wild – they’re viewable from the pier as they jump around in the water, but a succession of boat trips will take you closer to the magnificent creatures. If you’re interested in going further into the water though, Cardigan Bay Watersports has plentiful options. Sailing, kayaking, windsurfing and paddleboarding are just some of the activities on offer, with the beautiful beach of New Quay a beautiful backdrop to your sunny day out.
Adventure Parc Snowdonia, until Mon 30 Sept
Set against a backdrop of mountains and forests it may be, but this is the world’s first man-made surf lagoon – one catering for the beginner, intermediate, or advanced wave rider looking to have some fun this summer. Child lessons are structured to encourage a healthy lifestyle and to become confident, considerate surfers. On top of that, the Surf Snowdonia complex is increasing in size, with an indoor section brimming with activities like artificial caving and wall climbing for the rough-and-tumble hungry amongst you.
Tickets: £35-£250 (wetsuit hire: £6) / from £12 (for indoor section)
WORLD BOG SNORKELLING CHAMPIONSHIPS
Waen Rhyd bog, Llanwrtyd Wells, Sun 25 Aug
In its spiritual home at Llanwrtyd Wells, the Bog Snorkelling Championships are easily one of the bizarrest and best things to happen in Wales. Competitive and popular, the 34th year of this tradition sees hundreds of snorkellers racing to the finish line in muddy waters, many in fancy dress. Swimming a total of 120 yards, competitors will attempt to beat the world record of one minute 22.56 seconds – currently held by Kirsty Johnson, who says a massive sense of humour is required for the competition. If you’re not too keen on getting muddy, spectating is free, with plenty of food and drink and entertainment available.
Entry: £15/spectators free
Love skiing but not so keen on the cold weather? There are a few options dotted around Wales – most notably in Pembrey near Llanelli, Pontypool, and the Fairwater area of Cardiff. All offer skiing lessons and a variety of family-friendly activity, or just the opportunity to enjoy the slopes on your own and keep your skiing skills ice-fresh ahead of a winter trip to the Alps.
Brecon Beacons National Park
One of the most scenic places in Wales, Llangorse Lake offers a multitude of activities on top of its stunning views. Once there, you can go on a simple boat trip out on the lake, fish, waterski or hike. It’s the largest natural lake in south Wales, and the only lake in the country to feature a crannog (a fortified dwelling constructed in a lake). With options of pitching up your caravan and dog-friendly locations, this location has plenty to offer for a spectacular day out.
If you’re looking for something new and fun to unleash your inner Lewis Hamilton, there’s plentiful option. The 500m go-kart track on Cardiff’s Newport Road has electronic timing and is fully indoors, whilst Supakart in Newport is much the same. Skidz in Swansea is a tad smaller and a members-only venue, but has a challenging track, whilst the biggest is probably the South Wales Karting Centre, which is outdoors but provides over 1000m of track. In each place there’s a mix of family and semi-competitive packages, learner and experienced, to mix and match the best possible day out.
Whether you’re ticking another box on your bucket list, raising money for charity or perhaps looking for an extreme method for tackling your fear of heights, Wales’ National Skydiving Club in Swansea is there to give you that rush of adrenaline. A team of qualified experts are trained and ready to guide you through your choice of activity: a tandem jump from 12,000 feet with dual controls so you can help your instructor lead the way, the ground rush skydive which drops you from 7,000, as well as options to treasure the memories with camera flyers on hand to capture your beautiful, windswept faces.
Info: 01792 207035 / www.skydiveswansea.co.uk
Those in search of a completely unique, rip-roaring ride and pump of adrenaline should probably head to north Wales and try out Zip World’s ever-expanding selection of out-there adventures. Turning heads since the launch of Velocity in 2013 – the fastest zip line in the world, with views over Penrhyn Quarry – their offering has now expanded to include two other locations. Ride the Fforest Coaster, fly through the forest on a giant swing, plummet 100ft at Zip World Fforest or head underground to find your way through the former slate mines and discover an entire sub-terrestrial playground.
CARDIFF SAILING CENTRE
Queen Alexandra Road, Cardiff
Cardiff Bay isn’t just for theatre shows and chain restaurants – it’s also home to the Cardiff Sailing Centre, dedicated to introducing city folk to the exhilarating world of water sports. Challenge yourself to a sailing course, try your hand at windsurfing or even have a go at fishing. Land-based activities such as archery and Laserblast are also available for those who aren’t so fond of the water.
Info: 029 2087 7977 / www.cbwac.com
GOOD DAY OUT
Various locations in the Brecon Beacons
A day out with a difference: take a walk with a donkey, go for a pig-nic or meet a hedgehog with Good Day Out, a Brecon-based organisation which provides unique experiences for animal lovers and donates a portion of the proceeds to good causes throughout the UK. Started by founder Julia Blazer with the hope of showcasing the breathtaking rural area and providing an income for locals, these experiences are a unique way to discover the local landscape and are ideal for family days out, team-building exercises or a well-deserved treat for a loved-one.
Info: 01874 749092 / www.gooddayout.co.uk
BOULDERS CLIMBING CENTRE
St Catherine’s Park, Cardiff
If you’re bored of the gym and up for a new challenge, Boulders has the answer with a range of different climbing activities. Whether you’re a complete newbie or a seasoned climber looking to push yourself, there’s something your local climbing centre can offer. There are classes and coaching sessions for those looking to improve their skills, weekly social clubs to get to know your fellow climbing enthusiasts and even some outdoor taster days if you fancy putting those skills to the test out in the real world.
Info: 029 2048 4880 / www.bouldersuk.com
CARDIFF INTERNATIONAL WHITE WATER
Watkiss Way, Cardiff
The UK’s first Olympic standard white water rafting facility promises a day of thrills, challenges and action-packed fun with a line-up of adrenaline-fuelling activities for all ages and abilities. Throw yourself into white water rafting, try your hand at kayaking, test out your balance with paddle boarding and channel your inner surfer on the indoor wave. If you take a liking to watersports, you can even sign up for their many courses to further improve your skills. Family taster sessions are also available if you’d like the test the waters first.