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North Wales - The Adventure Capital of Europe?
The Natural Beauty of North Wales
North Wales has received some incredibly good press this year. Not only was it bestowed the impressive title the 'Adventure Capital of Europe' in the Summer, this October saw Lonely Planet rank North Wales as the 4th best region to visit in the world.
Due to this remarkable press, many might be wondering what makes the wild and rugged landscape of Wales so exciting. Often in past, Wales has faced some rather mundane stereotypes. If you're native to the UK, you've probably heard about the rainy Welsh weather, or how there's 'more sheep than there are residents' here.
There may be some truth to this, we won't deny it. But anyone who lives here or has visited knows of the natural beauty that North Wales possesses. It's a diverse and spectacular environment, with coastal, mountainous and countryside landscapes waiting to be explored.
Snowdonia Mountain Adventures
There are plenty of ways to explore North Wales and create your own adventures. If you prefer to avoid tour buses and guides, there's plenty for you to discover on your own in the Snowdonia National Park.
It's home to the highest mountain in Wales, Snowdon, which stands at 3,560ft. For those who can't get enough of mountain climbing, there are seven additional mountains within the Snowdon Massif group.
Despite Snowdon being the tallest mountain in Wales, its a great climb even for beginners. There are defined, well-walked paths all the way to its summit. For those who are unable to make the trek, the Snowdon Mountain Railway takes visitors up to the summit each day. This scenic train ride takes about 45 minutes and gives you the opportunity to get out and look out over the peak (and take some fantastic photographs!).
Snowdonia National Park
What makes this region truly adventurous is not only its natural landscape, but the local and rather unique activities which are very likely to impress even the most experienced thrill seekers.
Ever considered ziplining through the air at over 100pmh, or spending a day jumping around on giant trampolines in a cave? In North Wales, these incredibly unique opportunities are possible.
Surfing on artificial lagoons, riding segways through Welsh woodland and boat rides along the scenic coastal towns are just a few more of the exciting activities to try here.
If you're looking for a day out that is truly unique, you'll have to try Zip World's incredibly popular 'Bounce Below'.
You'll journey down by train deep into the atmospherically and colourfully lit Welsh slate mine (which was once a working Victorian mine). Once you've made the slightly claustrophobic journey into the main area of the cave, you'll be greeted by 3 giant trampolines and a series of 60ft slides.
Many might be quick to assume that trampolines are reserved for children - to which they couldn't be more wrong. In fact, a vast majority of the customers are adults ready to relive their youth in a very unique way.
It might take a while to get your footing, but it won't be long until your jumping and flipping around like a true gymnast.
Recent refurbishments have given way to four more slides which are the height of not one, but two double decker buses! There are also six more levels to explore and bounce around in.
You can found Bounce Below in Blaenau Ffestiniog, a historic town in the county of Gwynedd. It's host to a few more activities, and you'll find quite a few hotels near Zip World. Finding accommodation close by means you have more time to explore!
For safety reasons, only children that are 7 years and above can enter the cave. Prices for the activity range from £20-25 for the day.
For children under the age of 7, there's a designated 'Junior Bounce' area in the cave (Ages 3-6).
Zip World Velocity
This activity is one for the true thrill seekers. This zip line is the longest in Europe...and the fastest in the world. You'll be travelling at speeds of over 100mph over Bethesda's quarry lake.
To make sure you're prepared for the Big Zipper, you'll begin your adventure by zip lining on the 'Little Zipper'. You'll be suspended from a height of over 500ft, allowing you to have gorgeous surrounding views of the lake and mountan ranges - if you can keep your eyes open!
You'll be very securely strapped into a straight, flat position. If you're someone who is cautious of heights or extreme activities, it's very likely you've been thinking about the safety of the whole activity. The wire itself has a breaking strength of 27 tons - so you won't need to have any unnecessary fears of it snapping halfway though!
The nature of the activity means everyone can enjoy it, even those who are disabled. It's an exhilarating experience which is certain to leave you feeling a little bit like superman. It's £60 to experience the Velocity, and you'll leave with some fantastic memories.
What you'll be zip lining across:
If Zip World's Velocity zipline seems all a bit too extreme for you, Dragon Raiders offers some fantastic outdoor activities.
Situated in the Llyn Peninsula, this woodland activity park hosts a range activities including paintball and segway rides.
Their paintball park features four unique and themed games zones which are set in over 30 acres of forest. Try the 'Battle Flag' zone, where the aim is to capture the flag and return to your base unscathed. It's a lot more difficult than it sounds!
The "Rebel Base" zone is the essential choice for sci-fi fans. You'll be tasked with attacking the rebel base and finding the special microchip in order to save the planet from a 'Deathstar' invasion. There's massive craters and secret trenches along the way to hide and plan your assault in. Watch out for the storm troopers! Its £15 for a half day of paintball, or £30 for a full one.
Segways are becoming increasingly popular, and its a fantastic way to explore the natural Welsh landscape. Dragon Raiders have designated 30 acres of woodland for segway exploration. You've got the option of taking it slow with the forest treks, or if you're feeling confident, you can go off-road on one of their rally treks. Its priced at £30 for a 60 minute segway trek.
If you enjoy exploring the seas - you'll likely want to visit Rib Ride. Situated on the scenic coast of Anglesey, they offer a number of boat rides around various locations within the area.
For those looking to spot some Welsh wildlife, they've got some dedicated tours available. The Puffin and Seals tour takes guests past Puffin Island. As you might have guessed, this small uninhabited island is home to a colony of puffins. If you're lucky, you may even see the returning colony of seals.
The Castles and Islands trip is also highly recommended. You'll have a fantastic view of Caernarfon Castle, before moving onto the historic Fort Belan and the sand dunes of Newborough. You might even get the chance to spot some Harbour Porpoises and seals along the way.
Have you ever considered trying your hand at surfing? It can be quite somewhat daunting as a beginner to simply throw yourself straight into a sea full of unpredictable waves - so Surf Snowdonia have come up with a very useful way of dealing with this.
They've built a lagoon which produces artificial waves, which is host to a number of activities. You can test your balance with paddle boarding or test your agility with their crash and splash assault course. There's monkey bars, giant spinning balls and a rope bridge to maintain your strength and balance on.
Prices for the incredibly fun crash and splash range from £10 - £25, and wetsuits are provided.
If you'd rather just try some traditional surfing, they also offer courses and lessons for both adults and children.
Ffestiniog, Blaenau Ffestiniog
Zip World Velocity
Gwynfryn Lodge, Criccieth, Gwynedd
Porth Daniel, Menai Bridge, Anglesey
Conway Road, Dolgarrog, Conwy