Monday, 25 March 2013

Sponsored Walk for the Bardsey Island Trust

On the 4th of May, two local young people, Nina and Nils will set out from Llanbedrog to spend three days walking the Llyn Peninsula Coastal Path to raise money for maintenance and repairs to the beautiful listed buildings of Bardsey Island. They're taking their mum, Megan, along because someone's got to make the sandwiches and put up the tent. If you would like to sponsor them please go to

Friday, 22 March 2013

Welsh 3000s Challenge

An amazing weekend of highs and... more highs! This challenge trek will see you crossing the breadth of rugged and exciting Snowdonia and summiting the 15 highest peaks in Wales. Each one of them over 3000ft, and grouped into three distinct ranges of hills; the Snowdon Massif, the Glyders, and the Carneddau. The challenge begins on Friday the 7th of June.

We begin day one on the Snowdon Massif starting with the mighty Crib Goch before going on to Crib y Ddysgl and of course Wales highest peak Yr Wyddfa - not a bad start to any mountain challenge. Then it’s down and across to the Glyderau range where we literally rise up to the challenge of Elidir Fawr, Y Garn, Glyder Fawr and Castell y Gwynt before making our back to the accommodation for a hot meal and a good nights rest - you’re going to need it!

Day 2 begins with a short drive transfer from our accommodation around to the third range of hills on our challenge - Carneddau. First though there’s the unfinished business of the Glyderau range and we begin with the ascent of Tryfan before tackling the Carneddau range proper. Our path now takes on to Pen yr Ole Wen, Carnedd Dafydd, Carnedd Llewelyn, Yr Elen, Foel Grach, Garnedd Uchaf (yes, we do all 15 peaks over 3000ft) and finally Foel-fras - Congratulations, you’ve just completed one of the toughest and arguably the most spectacular hill walks in the United Kingdom. Now for a big feed and a stiff drink.

Day 1 - 7th June 2013
Arrival at Bunkhouse in Snowdonia by 20:00

Day 2 - 8th June 2013
Breakfast 06:00
Prepare lunches & pack gear
Depart bunkhouse by car – 07:00
Start walking – 07:30
Our walk is planned to take approx. 13 hours for the full day. And will be strenuous, so make sure you pack plenty of food!
Return to bunkhouse for 21:00

Day 3 - 9th June 2013
Prepare lunches & pack gear
Breakfast 07:00
Depart bunkhouse – 08:00—early start! Transfer to Ogwen Cottage—for start of Carnedds route
Trek lasts approximately 10 hrs, and will see us ending in the small village of Abergwyngregyn
Finish walking by 18:00, return by minibus to bunkhouse. High Fives all round before heading home.

Cost: £50 registration Fee & minimum sponsorship.

If you are looking for a challenge...

Looking for a Challenge? Feel that one mountain just isn't enough? How about having a go at the Prostate Cancer Research Centre 3 Peaks Challenge?

Pen y Fan

The cumulative effect of 2864m (9397 ft.) of ascent and about 35km (20miles) of hill walking plus 180 miles of driving on Welsh rural roads makes this a demanding and arduous Challenge. Completing the challenge successfully will require participants to have confidence in their physical fitness as well as experience and knowledge to safely navigate both ascent and descent routes on each of the mountains. We will however deploy highly experienced Mountain Leaders on each of the 3 Peaks to provide help or support where required.

Cadair Idris

Participants will have to plan their arrival at the start point for Pen Y Fan in the Brecon Beacons and the onward driving routes to Cadair Idris and then to Llanberis. The typical average driving time (without any major hold-ups) from Cardiff to Pen Y Fan is about 1 hour and it´s sensible to allow 2.5 hours to reach Cadair Idris and a further 1.5 hours to arrive at llanberis.


You will either provide your own transport (and driver) to complete the course or if you prefer you can opt to use one of the mini-buses (including an experienced driver) we provide at an additional cost of just £25. Teams or individuals may take part in this challenge event but those participating on their own or without a driver may want to make use of the mini - bus service.

Everyone taking part in the PCRC Welsh 3 Peaks Challenge will be provided with a comprehensive Information and Support Pack including durable laminated (all weather) mapping for each of the 3 peaks to aid navigation for ascent and descent routes.

About Prostate Cancer Research Centre

The Prostate Cancer Research Centre researches the causes of and treatment for prostate cancer and the Centre needs to raise funds to continue with this research to help improve the survival rates and quality of life for men affected by prostate cancer. Our research focusses on three key areas: understanding development and progression of the disease; identifying men who will benefit from treatment; and the actual treatment of the disease. (Registered No: 802545)

For more information, see 

Monday, 4 March 2013

Great Images of the Island Race Now Available

For the second year, the Island Race (Anglesey Half Marathon) was a great success yesterday, Sunday the 3rd of March. The start was the crossing of one of North Wales' most iconic landmarks, the Telford Suspension Bridge. The bridge was closed to vehicles for the event, as was much of the course. Most of the runners thought this quite exceptional, which bodes well for next year. You can see a video below and purchase a series of individual photos here. Unfortunately Peter didn't compete!

Event Images by Mel Parry: Finishers: 1hr 20mins - 1hr 30mins &emdash; 0009_06_06b_006

Friday, 1 March 2013

Hurrah for Private Enterprise

Mike Smart, the gentleman who set up Treksmart (geddit?) has launched an innovative Walking Festival in May at Llangollen. Details can be seen on
Other walk leaders are Sarah Jones and Chris Grier. The walks can be booked online and paid for by credit card or Pay pal.

It's a wind up!

Another great gadget that I have come across is a shower proof radio that you can power by the sun or you can wind it up. What makes it specially handy for walkers is the integrated high power torch and the ability to charge up other devices using the hand crank. You wouldn't want to carry this up a mountain, but if you were a camper I can see that it would be very useful. See

Ramblers Launches a Library of Walks

The Ramblers have launched a new online library of walking routes as part of a new look website for the charity. There are 1000 walks online with OS mapping and GPX data together with route cards. The site aims to be a one stop shop for all things walking.

For example, this is an illustration of the GPX data available for the Aber Falls Walk. Information available for walkers is getting more plentiful every day, and this is good news.

Life Boats kept busy in 2012

The latest RNLI statistics reveal that the charity and its volunteers were busy in Wales in 2012. Lifeboat crews across Wales spent 10,993 hours at sea in 2012 rescuing 925 people. The busiest station in Wales was Trearddur Bay with 65 launches. They rescued 73 people during the year, a 35% increase on the previous year. Meanwhile, it was the volunteer RNLI crew at Rhyl who rescued the most people in Wales with 80 people saved. To learn more visit

Photos courtesy of the RNLI

Calling all old Gaffers

When I was in Holyhead last summer doing preparatory work for the Cruise Project, I came across a sailing event organised by the Old Gaffers Association. No, not a bunch of pensioners, but an organisation dedicated to promoting gaff rig (a type of old sailing boat) which was in danger of disappearing when the group was founded in 1963. A Gaff Rig is where the main sail has 4 sides rather than the triangles you see on most modem boats. The 'gaff is the wooden pole across the top of the sail. It's a pretty old type of rig, and early in the 20th century it was largely replaced by the triangular Bermudan rig, which was thought more efficient. 

You will get a chance to see these marvellous boats in 2013 because they are to sail along the Welsh coast in May to celebrate their 50th Anniversary. Gosh, is it really 50 years since 1963 and the Beatles and all that? To celebrate this landmark in the history of the preservation of traditional gaff rig these lovely boats will be out on parade! Members will be sailing their boats round Britain all summer long and they will be joined by Old Gaffers from the Netherlands, Belgium and France.

Some members will complete the Round Britain Challenge which is a 4 month long circumnavigation of Britain, calling at many Ports, whilst others accompany the Round Britain fleet on part of its way in their area in the form of a Relay carrying tokens from area to area.

The association's main website is at, and the page dedicated to their 50th anniversary celebrations is at

Snowdon 500

Over the past 5 years participants taking part in the Snowdon 500 Challenge have raised £750,000 for prostate cancer research and helped to make a huge contribution to research projects being carried out at the Prostate Cancer Research Centre.

Register now to take part in the Snowdon 500 Challenge choosing to climb Mt Snowdon (at 1085m the highest mountain in England & Wales) on either Saturday 18th May 2013 or Sunday 19th May 2013. In order to take part you must register in advance and pay a non refundable registration fee of £30. The registration fee will go towards the costs and expenses of staging the event and ensure that all sponsorship funds raised by participants will go directly to the Prostate Cancer Research Centre. You can register now by completing the on-line registration form and pay your £30 registration fee securely by debit / credit card. Places will be strictly limited to 500.

Quite apart from the personal satisfaction of successfully completing the challenge and supporting a very worthy cause you will be able to spend a day or two in the spectacular mountain scenery of North Wales and at the same time enjoy the company of like-minded people from all parts of the UK who will also be participating in this unique charity challenge event. This event is challenging but safe as we will have a team of highly experienced safety marshals deployed on the mountain to keep everyone on the right path and ensure everyone gets to the finish line safely.

Smart Walking Sticks

We like to keep up with the latest gadgets and recently came across this one. It's a GPS enabled walking stick, initially aimed at elderly people, designed to help them get around. The stick can be loaded with pre-programmed route and guide its user with a visual arrow, or by vibrating when a turn is needed.

The stick also has safety features for the infirm and can send a distress call by 3G if the cane is suddenly dropped, or if the user falls. I don't wish to seem ageist, but my old Mum, 94 in August, would find it hard to get used to and impossible to programme. However, I can see distinct possibilities for the walking market-a beacon distress device, a GPS unit, a health monitor and a walking stick combined. Maybe next Christmas!

Greetings on St David's Day

Greetings to you all on St David's Day, Friday the 1st of March. This is the first day of spring and we are all looking forward to the spring and the summer and a much better trading year than last - better weather and more customers. We celebrate March the 1st because that was the day on which St David died (curious but it's true). The historical authorities can't seem to agree on the year in which St David was born or died (maybe 490 to 590), but it is thought that he lived for 100 years - largely due to his healthy lifestyle and drinking nothing but water, which doesn't bode very well for me!

St David was a pivotal figure in the early Welsh church and crucial in maintaining the separate identity of the Celtic church. He founded St David's cathedral / monastery which was said to be "filled with angels as Christ received his soul." His last words to his followers "Be Joyful and keep your faith and your creed. Do the little things that you have seen me do and heard about. I will walk the path that our fathers have trod before us." This phrase "Do the little things in life" is well known in Welsh "Gwnewch y pethau bychain mewn bywyd".

Big Event for the Outdoors on Tuesday

We have organised the Outdoor North Wales Forum at Llanrwst on Tuesday the 5th of March. We have done this now for several years and every year it gets bigger and bigger and the quality of the speakers goes up and up. All the details can be seen on the website

Our keynote speakers this year are Ed Parsons of Google, who is going to acquaint us with the cutting edge of mapping technology and all things geo-spatial. Rory Fegan of Pearl-Fisher is going to unveil the new North Wales Adventure brand identity after lunch and there are a host of other superb speakers.

We have 200 people attending and it's going to be a great day.

Discovering Britain (and Wales!)

New walking websites are appearing all the time, and a particularly good one called Discovering Britain, has just come online from the Royal Geographical Society. It explores different places, explaining how forces of nature, people, and the economy shaped the landscape. Several of the walks have significant interest for lovers of military history, particularly those about the defensive positioning of cities, fortifications and battle sites. These are self guided walks with loads of information and can be downloaded free from the website.

As yet there are no walks in North Wales, but due to our efforts there soon will be! We regularly review walking websites and always make sure that North Wales is well represented.

Looking forward to 2020

In the years when I took my 3 children to hotels for holidays, Llandrindod Wells and the Metropole Hotel was a favourite. It was a great place from which to explore Wales and I found the Victorian architecture and their Victorian themed festivals enchanting. I returned last week to meet all the "higher ups" from Visit Wales, Cardiff for the launch of the draft Welsh Government Strategy for Tourism 2013 - 2020. The minister has yet to give her approval but I can reveal that the overarching theme is the partnership approach. Hopefully this means that the Welsh Government will be working alongside us to tackle the strategic challenges that we still face. There is an admission that innovation is going to be vital and the next time that I am told off for breaking the mould or rocking the boat I am going to quote the words of this document "doing things differently is a pre-requisite for further success".

We are also promised an annual action plan and a focus on key overseas markets which are taken to be Germany and the USA, and, surprisingly, Ireland. In the early years of our business I made many attempts to do business in Ireland. After all, it is the place next door and it has good ferry links and it looked like a rich country. However, I soon realised that the airport links from Ireland to the Rest Of The World were brilliant as the Celtic Tiger had built airport after airport. The Irish and the Welsh countryside and climate are remarkably similar, and there was simply no tradition of going to Wales as a destination for holidays. I attended a number of Visit Wales promotional visits and the Outdoor Ireland exhibition in Dublin. I even did a deal with a local Irish newspaper to sponsor a reader offer of a walking weekend in Beddgelert at the Royal Goat. Nothing seemed to sell, even when the Irish had money. Now they clearly haven't (following the property crash, the banking collapse and the virtual bankruptcy of the Irish Government) it is going to be even more difficult.

However, we will be working in partnership with Visit Wales and we are working on a scheme to bring German walking tour operators to Wales this spring.