Wales has always been a land of the warriors, whether in battle against the Romans, the Vikings or the English. For centuries, its inhabitants have worked the harsh land to extract iron and coal through their mines. The current fight however, is against the decline of the mining industry. In response, Wales has seen the construction of a surf park featuring the highest artificial wave in the world. Surf Snowdonia has been built on the site of an abandoned aluminium rolling and casting works in Dolgarrog, a small town in the north of Wales.
This new initiative stems from the country’s invention of coasteering. This variant on trekking consists of travelling along the coast by diving, climbing, exploring caves and abseiling between the rocks. Wales has the perfect landscape for it, with its rough and wild coastline. The whole country is a paradise for adventure sports, thanks to its rugged hills and 15 peaks that are over 300 feet high (915 metres). This type of tourist activity employs over 8,200 people.
The whole country is a paradise for adventure sports, thanks to its rugged hills and 15 peaks that are over 300 feet high
“Adventure tourism is really booming here”, says Sean Taylor, managing director of Zip World, the longest zip-line in Europe and the fastest in the world. Up to four people at once can fly over the moors of the mining town of Blaenau Ffestiniog, in the Gwynedd area. In its underground slate mines you can also jump on giant trampolines and cross the caves, illuminated by multi-coloured lights, by networks of paths or by toboggan.
Open-air tourism is nothing new for Wales. Its nature parks have been popular destinations for decades for mountain biking and hiking enthusiasts. Snowdonia National Park, in the north of Wales, is the most popular. It contains the highest mountain in Wales, Snowdon, which is 1,085 metres high. Although you can reach the top by train, it has few similarities in comparison with the Alpes. Here and on the other 15 mountains that are over 900 metres high included in this park, there are lots of chances for swimming, rafting, abseiling, climbing and, of course, simply walking among the lakes and waterfalls.
Between Snowdonia and the Brecon Beacons National Park are the Cambrian Mountains, in the heart of the country. Its valleys are the perfect setting to birdwatch, take photographs or go snorkelling in the lakes. In the meantime, the activities on offer in Brecon Beacons are being expanded to include pony tours, canoeing and mountain biking, cave exploring, fishing, canyoning and paragliding. With such a wide range of activities, it’s no surprise that the government of Wales has called 2016 the ‘Year of Adventure’. You’d need more than a year to enjoy all the activities that Wales has to offer!