For an action-packed holiday that will keep the kids happy, you can't beat North Wales
Learn to ride the waves in the lagoon at Surf Snowdonia
The warm evening sunshine glimmers on the water as my four wetsuit-clad kids laze on surfboards, chatting about their best wickets this season or their current playlist.
Then the familiar rumble starts up, and they swing into action, paddling with greater urgency as a wave surges behind them, tossing a couple of them under the water and propelling the other two to shore.
But this is not some exotic foreign beach beloved by watersports enthusiasts…the children are learning to surf in the world’s first inland surfing lagoon. And it’s right here in the UK.
North Wales is carving out a place for itself in the activity tourism world, with superlatives flying off the list of available sports. The world’s highest or longest, Europe’s first or fastest…it’s all here in what was once sleepy Snowdonia.
The mountain steam trains and cavern tours are still around but nowadays thrill seekers arrive in flocks to zip across the landscape in every way possible. And now it seems, to surf in safety too.
Freddie, Max, Harvey and Rosie get to grips with a surfboard
Surf Snowdonia opened last year in Dolgarrog, a village south of Conwy, and hopes for 80,000 visitors a year. I, for one, felt comforted that the kids – Freddie, seven, Rosie, 10, Max, 13, and Harvey, 15 – were learning away from the sea.
The lesson started with some dry-side instruction before they were set loose on the water. The lagoon is 985ft long and 360ft wide – the size of six football pitches – and waves are produced mechanically every three minutes, with beginners learning the ropes in the white water dregs.
But by the end my husband Tim and the older ones had managed to surf to the shore lying down – and Harvey had nailed it standing up. While there, Harvey, Max and Tim also had a go at Crash and Splash, a mini assault course set over water – think TV’s Total Wipeout.
The kids catch a wave
It culminates in ‘the blob’, a 33ft floating air-filled pillow which one or two people jump on from a platform, sending the person at the other end crashing into the water. Hilarious. We recovered with a fantastic meal in Surf Snowdonia’s restaurant, a light, airy space frequented by surfers and locals alike.
Tim and I had tasty Welsh mussels while the kids polished off burgers. The local Black Dragon cider went down well too.
Freddie gets roped into Zip World's Junior Tree Trail
Next day we stuck to dry land to experience Snowdonia’s famous zip courses. Zip World at Bethesda, near Bangor, is home to Velocity, the world’s fastest and Europe’s longest zip line plus Europe’s first four-man line.
But we opted for sister site Zip World Fforest in Betws-y-Coed. The eldest three loved their two-hour Zip Safari – 23 wires at heights up to 200ft over a third of a mile.
Freddie meanwhile. had a ball on the Junior Tree Trail, a high ropes course for younger children. Zip Safari is home to two more adrenalin-pumping record-breakers.
Skyride is Europe’s highest and first five-seater giant swing. Tim and I watched agog as the kids were harnessed in, hoisted 80ft up then unleashed.
It's long climb up parachute jump simulator Plummet but a short drop down
I doubt they noticed the incredible Conwy valley views as they lurched to and fro, screaming.
Plummet is a parachute simulator and – yes, you’ve guessed it – the world’s highest at 100ft.
Clambering up the tree to reach the ledge at the top looked nerve-racking enough, but then the fearless four then had to leap off. You’re harnessed up and attached by a cord. You feel like you’re freefalling but the technology ensures a gentle landing. It gave me goosebumps just watching.
Our home for the stay was gloriously traditional. Hendre Aled is a cluster of old farm cottages renovated as holiday lets by lovely owner Pauline Lloyd.
Peaceful Hendre Aled Cottage is in the Denbigh Moors
Ours was a pretty three-bedroomed mid-terrace. The tray of pastries on arrival made it feel even more homely. But the cottages’ real attraction is their location in the sprawling Denbigh Moors near Llansannan village.
Three quarters of a mile off the nearest rural lane, through fields of sheep and past herds of cows, it’s the perfect place to recover after adventures.
Nerves frayed, we decided to change pace. You can’t beat Great Orme Family Golf in Llandudno, the only full-sized nine-hole pitch and putt course in North Wales with stunning views over the bay.
We also tried the new sport of footgolf. Like traditional golf, you tee off and aim towards a putting green flag in the fewest shots possible – but while kicking a football. Golf, but with bigger balls.
We played at the Silver Birch Golf Course in Betws yn Rhos, south of Abergele. It’s easy to see why it’s taking off…it’s a fun game for all.
This year is designated Wales’ Year of Adventure. We only spent three days there but all agreed it could provide adventure any time for anyone.
TOP TIP Always take a warm top and a waterproof. The weather in the hills can change in an instant.
WHERE TO STAY A week at Hendre Aled in Cottage 2, which sleeps seven, costs from £290. Cottages for two and four, plus a farmhouse for 12, are also available. hendrealedcottages.co.uk, 07951 273073/07557 367462
GO SURF Surf Snowdonia’s surf lessons cost from £40 for adults, from £30 for children. Crash and Splash costs from £15 for adults and children over 12. Booking advised. surfsnowdonia.co.uk, 01492 353123
GO ZIP At Zip World Fforest the Zip Safari costs £40, minimum age nine. Junior Tree Trail for ages 4-8 costs £12.50. Pre-booking advised. Plummet and Skyride for over-sevens cost £10 each. No pre booking. zipworld.co.uk, 01248 601444
GO GOLF All-day pass at Great Orme Family Golf is £5 per adult, £3 per child. ormegolf.co.uk, 07990 517020. Footgolf at Silver Birch Golf Club is from £8 per adult, £5 per child plus £1 ball hire. silverbirchgolfclub.co.uk, 01492 680690
MORE INFO Check out visitwales.comRead the full article here