Monday, 28 April 2014

Top runner using Bala Challenge route for training

Olly Campbell, from Hampshire, is using the Bala Challenge route to train for the mountain race Transvulcania which is a long distance mountain race, considered the hardest mountain ultra-marathon in the Canary Islands.

Last year Olly was placed in the first 30 British finishers in the Marathon de Sable, which consists of 6 marathons in 7 days through the desert of Morocco.

Olly commented that the Bala Challenge was ideal preparation for the Transvulcania and the 20 mile route is certainly a challenge.

The Bala Challenge will be held on 10 May and the challenge route is 20 miles and over 4,000 ft of ascent. But there is something for everyone with 14 miles and 8 mile routes and a guided walk with a local expert.

On Saturday 10th May, the Bala Challenge will celebrate its 10th Anniversary. Over 3,000 hikers of all ages and fitness levels will have completed one of the stunning walks around Llyn Tegid, raising over £50,000 for charities and local good causes.

This year’s Challenge promises to be the biggest and best ever and with a choice of four walks there is something to suit everyone. Join our local wildlife and history expert for a leisurely two hour guided walk or take on the might of the full 20 mile Challenge around the lake including a spur of the Aran Ridge. Want something in between? How about the 14 mile Lake Circuit hike, high up in the hills surrounding Llyn Tegid with stunning views over the Aran, Arenig and Berwyn mountain ranges. Alternatively, take the family on the 8 mile walk to Llanuwchllyn and get the steam train back.

The event is organised by the Rotary Club of Bala and Penllyn and is well marshalled and sign-posted with tea and cakes served at the railway station in Llanuwchllyn for those of you who might be flagging. Whether you’re raising money for charity, training for an endurance event, taking your dog for a walk (on a lead!) or simply enjoying the incredible scenery, the Bala Challenge has it all.
Entry forms can be downloaded from ; or simply pitch up on the day in your hiking gear and off you go. Please join us to celebrate our 10th Anniversary and remember – the sun always shines in Bala!
Contact details:

Thursday, 24 April 2014

GoBala for Trails and more in the Bala area

Visitors to the Bala & Penllyn area, southern Snowdonia, North Wales can now benefit from comprehensive trails information through a new bilingual website ( and associated leaflets. Thus visitors can enjoy the splendid scenery while learning about the rich local history and culture. The website was launched as part of the St David’s Day celebrations in Bala (see

A Trail is a walk, canoe route, cycle route, car tour, etc. Each Trail is described in a leaflet with summary, route description, map and interesting local information. The area benefits from an extensive network of paths - providing walks for everyone from families to seasoned mountain walkers. To walk around the largest natural lake in Wales (Llyn Tegid) is a highlight of the area and also the location for the canoe trail. Quiet roads are ideal for cycling and the mountain passes are challenging on a bike while motorists can enjoy the scenery. The area benefits from diverse and unique wildlife which are described in the Wildlife Guide illustrated by hand-drawn sketches from a local artist.

GoBala provides information on:

  • Walks 
  • All ability Trails
  • Trails for children, including a Treasure Hunt
  • Heritage Trails
  • Scenic Trails
  • Mountain Walks
  • Cycle Routes
  • Canoe Trails
  • Car Trails
  • Wildlife Guide

The leaflets and brochures can be downloaded from GoBala ( or collected from the Tourist Information Point in Bala. While tourist information for Bala including: where to stay, where to eat out and how to find the Tourist Information Point can be found at VisitBala (

Mae’r teithiau yn cynnwys, llwybrau cerdded, hwylio canŵ, reidio beic, cylchdaith mewn car ayyb.  Mae disgrifiad o bob taith mewn taflen gyda crynodeb, map a gwybodaeth leol diddorol.  Mae’r ardal yn gyfoethog o lwybrau cyhoeddus sy’n cynnig teithiau cerdded i bawb o deuluoedd i gerddwyr mynydd profiadol.  Mae cylchdaith Llyn Tegid, y llyn naturiol mwyaf yng Nghymru, yn un o uchafbwyntiau’r ardal, gellir cychwyn taith ganŵ yno hefyd.  Mae’r ffyrdd cefn gwlad yn dawel ac yn ddelfrydol ar gyfer reidio beic a’r bylchau mynyddig yn profi’n sialens i feicwyr  tra gall y rhai sy’n moduro fwynhau’r golygfeydd.  Mae’r ardal hefyd yn gartref i bob math o fywyd gwyllt, ceir disgrifiad o’r rhywogaethau yn ‘Bywyd Gwyllt’ sydd a lluniau gan arluniwr lleol.

Ceir gwybodaeth yn GoBala ar:

  • Teithiau Cerdded
  • Amlddefnydd
  • Addas i blant gan gynnwys Helfa Drysor
  • Teithiau Treftadaeth
  • Teithiau Golygfaol
  • Teithiau Mynyddig
  • Teithiau Beic
  • Teithiau Canŵ
  • Teithiau mewn Car
  • Manylion am Fywyd Gwyllt

Mae’r taflenni ar gael drwy eu lawr lwytho o GoBala ( neu o Ganolfan Twristiaeth y Bala.  Mae gwybodaeth am letya, bwyta a sut i ddod o hyd i Ganolfan Twristiaeth y Bala ar gael ar wefan VisitBala (  Dyfeisiwyd gwefan GoBala gan Gymdeithas Twristiaeth Bala a Phenllyn gyda cymorth gwirfoddol a swyddogol Cyngor Tref y Bala a Grŵp Busnesau y Bala.

Copyright © 2014 Bala & Penllyn Tourism Association, All rights reserved.

Bala & Penllyn Tourism Association
Bala, Gwynedd LL23 7YF
United Kingdom

Another job for Walking North Wales

Cadwyn Clwyd have recently commissioned Walking North Wales to carry out a project entitled Flintshire Digital Mapping. This involves the conversion of maps currently in leaflet and website form, essentially static maps, into a digital format. The model can be seen at This was a contract won in open competition against all other potential providers and is seen as markedly superior to any of the app solutions thus far developed. Much of the work involves walking all of the 27 Flintshire circular walk routes, a distance of some 160 miles, photographing places of interest an major turning points and updating the walk information. Much of this leg work is being done by sterling volunteers organised by the Ramblers Association. Our job has been to provide the equipment and to train the volunteers in the use of the kit. Once we have the information our job will be to use it to populate the website which is being created by James Gooding of Y-not Digital.

Ron Williams and the Flintshire volunteers set out along the route.
A new stile has appeared and needs adding to the text in Welsh and English.

What was once a wooded sunken lane has been transformed and this needs recording.

This was a former railway track, now hardly recognisable.
Every yard of the walk needs to be recorded on the GPS.

Spring at Bodnant Gardens

Following his TV interview yesterday Peter decided to head off to Bodnant Gardens on the A470 just out of Conwy to see the Spring blossom in all its glory and to explore the ever growing number of paths through this huge estate. He discovered that you can walk for miles and miles around the gardens and along the valley and waterfalls that make up this National Trust run estate. Before the Great War the family who owned this property developed all sorts of woodland walks with water cascades bridges and even a church to decorate the view. All manner of species were gathered from all over the world.

On entering the garden the visitor is struck by the abundance of colour.

The paths through the garden are beautifully maintained, and make for easy walking.

Azaleas and Rhododendrons (there is no botanical difference) are abundant. 

The laburnum arch will be at its prime in late May.

Native bluebells are abundant in the woods with their rich, almost purple colour.

Further into the woods we discovered a church.

In the dell the old paths are gradually being recreated. In 2015 another 25 acre section will be reopening.

Some stepping stones across the river if you are brave.

The house at the heart of the estate continues to be owned by the McLaren family.

This is the famous canal terrace.

This is a recent addition of an alpine rock garden.

The exit from the garden leads through to a large nursery and craft area owned by the Bodnant estate.

A fine advertisement for Azaleas.
Peter reckons that he walked 6 or 7 miles around the gardens and estate and felt justified in tucking into a fine lunch at the National Trust cafe which he pronounced exceptionally good.

This is one of the first books published by Northern Eye as part of a series of official guidebooks for the areas covered by the Wales Coast Path. It retails at £12.99 and faithfully records the path as it presently stands all the way from Bangor to Porthmadog. The ISBN number is  ISBN 978-1-908632-24-1. As Edge of Wales Walk this book covers much of the work that we have been doing over the last decade to promote the Llyn Peninsula as a walking destination of quality. It is well illustrated and refers to most places of interest along the coast path. Inevitably there are no in depth surveys of the buildings or the history or the wildlife of the area, but then again not everybody wants a lecture. So for example, pilgrims and herring occupy one page and all the wildlife is covered in 6 pages. The maps are largely 1 in 50,000, but as the signage is improving bit by bit these maps may be adequate if the guidance notes are carefully followed.

Of course, this book will quickly become dated as the coast path from Aberdaron to Penarfynydd is shortly to be much revised with a new all-coastal path being created. However it is accurate as of today and we recommend the book. If the rest of the books covering all areas of the Wales Coast Path are as good as this then they will greatly assist the promotion of this fantastic walk.

Peter on the TV

Peter standing on the banks of the Conwy with Carole Green of ITV Wales News.
This is a shot of Peter being interviewed by ITV news and Carole Green, the local reporter. The subject under discussion was the recent announcement by Walking North Wales that 3 walking holiday companies had joined together and agreed to provide luggage transfer and accommodation booking facilities all the way along the 320 miles of the Wales Coast Path in North Wales, all the way from Chester to Porthmadog.

Dewi Davies of TPNW was also interviewed along with a restaurant owner in Prestatyn. As ever there was not enough time for the full interview to be broadcast and so, inevitably, only part of the story was covered, but the publicity generated was very valuable. What Peter was trying to say was that the seamless transfer of luggage and the continuous booking of accommodation to requirement all the way along the coast of North Wales meant that the area now had a fully supported distance path putting it on a par with the best established trails in the land.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Where to Stay?

We are often asked by walkers to give recommendations on where to stay, and our answers always depend on location and budget and finding out exactly what it is that each walker is looking for. When we were asked to lead the recent Familiarisation Trip for European tour operators we had to decide for ourselves and we chose the following hotels. These had to be large enough to take the whole party and had to serve food in the evening. However we would have no hesitation in recommending all these places to walkers who want to explore these different areas.

Gales Restaurant with Rooms in Llangollen. These are mediaeval buildings which have been adapted over time to make magnificent bedrooms, a fine wine bar and an excellent restaurant right in the heart of this busy walking town.
The Pen y Gwryd Hotel at the base of Snowdon near Pen y Pass. This is a well established mountaineering hotel and is full of mementoes of the 1953 Everest Expedition for which this hotel served as a training base. The accommodation is old fashioned by modern standards, but the meals are excellent and the place oozes charm.

Abercelyn Country House Hotel has only 3 rooms in the main house, in addition to 3 cottages in the grounds. However each room is charming and the service absolutely brilliant, and with great views over Bala Lake. 

Craflwyn Hall near Beddgelert has recently been restored by the National Trust and is now run as a hotel by HF Holidays. Most people who stay are on a walking holiday or a course. The rooms are well appointed and the surrounding landscape and woodland is superb.
If you really want to treat yourselves, the Portmeirion Hotel has its own spa, as well as magnificent views down Cardigan Bay.
As an entire converted quarry village, Nant Gwrtheyrn is one of the more unusual locations for accommodation in North Wales.
The Bulkeley Hotel in Beaumaris was the final location of the trip, and rounded things off nicely with its stunning views of the Menai Straits.

Croeso i Gweithredwyr Teithiau Ewropeaidd!

Walking North Wales is coordinating efforts to attract more German and European walkers to North Wales. One of the main ways in which such walkers arrive is by way of tour operators in their native countries. In order to enlarge this business we carefully selected some prominent operators and showed them the best of what North Wales has to offer in terms of scenery, footpaths, guides and accommodation. They all arrived on Wednesday the 6th of March and returned home on Sunday the 30th. In the party were representatives of Gaeltacht (Germany), Bistum Limburg (Germany), Wikinger Reisen (Germany), Boundless (Germany), Travellers Wandelreizen (Netherlands), Anders Reizen (Belgium), WI-Resor AB (Sweden).

A right (mediaeval) Welsh Welcome at Chirk Castle.
Walking the aqueduct.
Mike Smart and David Shiel led the Panorama Walk.
On the way up to Castell Dinas Bran.
Tea on top of Caer Drewyn.

The Eisteddfod Stone above Corwen.
The Miner's Track - only 2 km to go to the top!
Llyn Dinas near Craflwyn.
The Portmeirion Estuary.

Friday, 11 April 2014

Conwy Wildlife Events 2014-15

The new Conwy Wildlife Events programme is now out! Click on the following link to find out the details of their events and don’t forget to book early.

"Come outside with us and be inspired by wildlife and natural places. It's a really great way re-charge those batteries.

Our events are great fun, some are aimed specifically at children, others aimed at grown-ups. Look inside the booklet below to find details of wild food foraging, beach combing, bat detecting, fungus forays, dolphin watching and many more exciting events. Do try and book early as they get booked up fast!"


Phone: 01492 575337

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Beginner's Guide to Hiding a Geocache

Some handy tips for those starting out in the wonderful world of geocaching.

Guided Tours by Celticos.

Our friend Alwyn Griffiths at Celticos has recently published a leaflet about the guided walks he offers in North Wales and Anglesey. I've copied a few of these below. If you would like more information, contact Alwyn on +44 (0)1248 671234, or email him using this contact form.

Village Life and Hill Farm Trail

This walk will take place on the foothills of Snowdonia and it will involve visiting small village away from the normal tourist trail with spectacular but unfamiliar panoramic scenery. This will allow you to experience village life in the area as it is today and an insight to how it was in the past.

We will then visit some remote hill farms, some of which are derelict and abandoned, while some are still functional today. We will be arranging to meet one of the local farmers for you to experience in close hand the hardship of this way of life both today and in the past.

The highlight of this walk will be meeting the world famous Welsh sheep dog and a demonstration of the skills and working partnership between the farmer and his dog.

The Contrasting Valleys Trail

The day involves visiting three main venues with a few brief extra stops at places of interest during the Contrasting Valleys Trail as this "walk & ride" located in the southern area of Snowdonia and the Llyn Peninsula.
Cwm Pennant - This walk combines panoramic scenery, introduction to culture and history, an introduction to the slate and hill farming industry.
Nant Gwrtheyrn - The fascinating location of Nant Gwrtheyrn is literally our next port of call; apart from the spectacular rugged scenery this village has a unique heritage and the facilities provided give an excellent interpretation of the centre.
Trefor Owen Clogs - The final visit of the day will be ideal if you having aching feet as Trefor and Rhiannon have kindly invited us to visit the Clog making workshop at Criccieth.

The "Salty" Mussel Trail

The 'salty' mussel trail combines walking with panoramic views of Snowdonia along the dramatic coastline of the Menai Straits on the Isle of Anglesey with a visit to two fascinating and unsuccessful business organisations. Menai Oysters and the Anglesey Sea Salt Company Ltd. 
The walk continues as we make our way back on to the mainline and visit the Whistlestop fine cuisine establishment on Bangor pier. Here you will have the opportunity to sample the Menai mussels in a special sauce with a hint of Anglesey salt cooked by Terry the friendly chef.

The Slate Trail

This walk has been created to offer an enjoyable, comprehensive and excellent insight into the Welsh slate industry which had the most prominent effect on the development and heritage of Snowdonia and its inhabitants.
Not only will you have a fascinating day with your guide but also you will experience some of the most dramatic contrasting scenery from the foothills of Snowdonia down to the coast on the Menai Strait.
We constantly monitor our walk & ride tours in order to maximise the customer satisfaction and experience so please visit our website for latest offers.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

New Trails in Blaenau

This is not strictly to do with walking, but we all remember Ceri Cunnington from the 2012 Outdoor North Wales Forum when he explained his ambitious project at Antur Stiniog in Blaenau Ffestiniog relating to mountain biking and how the local community could be involved in a tourism venture. I saw this item on the TV and thought that I would share it with you:

The project has come to fruition and the trails have been highly rated by enthusiasts. As I still value my front teeth, it may be some time before I try the trails myself!