North Wales isn’t called the adventure capital of Europe for nothing. There’s an incredible array of things to do in North Wales so whatever your style of adventure, there’s plenty for you to do.
This week we've handed the pen of our blog to our friends from Adventure Tours UK, who carefully craft adventure holidays that combine the very best of these experiences with beautiful places to stay. They often even provide your transport, enabling you to enjoy every thrilling moment of your break.
So because they know a thing or two about adventure experiences, here’s their top 10 things to do in North Wales, all within less than an hour’s drive of The Forge:
You’re probably wondering what on earth this is... Well it’s the most ridiculously fun way to raft down a river! Your ‘bug’ is an individual raft that you lie on facing forwards. Using your hands as paddles, set off down the river navigating rapids, swerving rocks and even surfing a wave. It’s a fantastic way to experience the beautiful River Dee that runs right through the centre of Llangollen.
2) Climbing & abseiling
Sticking with things to do in and around Llangollen, the huge limestone escarpments that surround this pretty North Wales town are the perfect place to experience rock climbing. With so many crags to choose from, whether you’re a first time climber or an old hand, there are routes to suit your ability. There are loads of outdoor activity providers based in Llangollen town, so finding a qualified guide to show you the ropes (no pun intended!) is super easy.
What goes up must eventually come down… abseiling from these dramatic limestone cliffs is an unforgettable experience. The views from high above the Trevor Quarry are just stunning - always helpful to take your mind off things if you’re not the biggest fan of heights!
3) Canoe the world’s highest aqueduct
Unique to North Wales and its UNESCO World Heritage Site at the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, nowhere else in the world can you lay claim to paddling over the world’s highest aqueduct. This impressive feat of engineering was designed by Thomas Telford and completed in 1805. It’s also the longest aqueduct in Great Britain and it stands at a towering 38m.
Narrowboats and day boats still travel up and down the canal today, and it’s possible to walk across the aqueduct too. But the real adventure is to canoe or kayak over it, when you’ll be up close and personal with the narrow walls that hold the water high up in the sky. Would you dare look down?!
If you’re looking for things to do in North Wales that are a little less extreme, there are hiking opportunities almost everywhere you look. Snowdonia is the largest national park in Wales and boasts hundreds of miles of incredible hiking trails. Snowdonia’s routes vary from gentle rolling paths to precarious rocky scrambles, so whatever style of hiking you prefer you’ll have plenty of options to choose from.
Closer to The Forge there are other fantastic hiking routes, many of which are largely unknown. So you’re more likely to have the trails to yourself or find maybe only a local or two to share them with. The Berwyn range is bounded by Llangollen and Corwen. In fact from The Forge you’ll enjoy views to the south of these heather-clad hills, the highest of which is Cadair Berwyn standing at 832m.
To the north east are the Eglwysegs. This collection of smaller hills, the highest being Eglwyseg Mountain at 513m, form part of a stunning walk that encircles the whole town of Llangollen. This 33 mile long high level circular walk is definitely one any serious hikers should aim to do. It is possible to do in a day but if you want to really enjoy it, we would recommend splitting it across two or three days.
You’ll need OS Explorer Maps 255 for the Berwyns and OS Explorer Map 256 for the Eglwsegs. If you’re not confident in your navigation skills, it’s always worth considering hiring a local guide to help you get the most enjoyment, safely.
5) Mountain biking
From two feet to two wheels, the possibilities for off-road cycling in North Wales are endless.
Purpose-built mountain bike trail centres like OnePlanet Adventure in Llandegla and Coed-Y-Brenin near Dolgellau offer all year round, all-weather graded mountain bike trails, perfect for all the family to enjoy. Mountain bike trails are graded in a similar way to ski runs, with green for families, blue for beginners, red for intermediate riders and black for experienced riders confident on technical trails. Both of these mountain bike centres also hire bikes, so you don’t even have to worry about bringing your own bike with you.
Llyn Brenig and Llyn Alwen are also quite close by and offer easy family trails around the reservoirs. Though with their remote location you’ll feel like you’re in a truly wild place!
For more experienced riders there are loads of wild riding options around North Wales. Llangollen offers some excellent, albeit steep (!) riding options and Snowdonia national park has a huge variety of wild trails. Local knowledge is always advisable when riding in remote locations, as well as excellent first aid skills, so we always recommend riding with a local guide. At Adventure Tours UK we offer a range of guided mountain biking breaks.
If you haven’t tried canyoning before, give it a go when you visit North Wales. There are several locations around but one of our favourites is Dolgarrog. Under the guidance of an experienced instructor you’ll climb, scramble, leap, swim and abseil your way along the river gorge. Slip sliding down the river and clambering over the rocks around it, it’s fantastic fun for everyone.
7) River Rafting
Join a small group of like-minded adventurers in an inflatable raft and set off paddling down the raging river. What could be more fun?! Well if there’s several of you, you can race each other’s rafts, adding an element of competitiveness to the art of hanging on tight and paddling for all your worth!
There are several places to raft around North Wales. For a true white water experience head to the Tryweryn River where you’ll have a blast, especially when the river levels are high. For a more gentle experience that’s still great fun but allows more time to look around and enjoy the natural surroundings, rafting on the River Dee in Llangollen is wonderful.
8) World’s fastest zipline
Tucked away in one of Snowdonia’s old slate mining towns, you’ll find the world famous ZipWorld. Home to Velocity2, this is the longest zipline in Europe and the fastest in the world!
It’s like no zipline you’ve ever seen before, sending you flying through the air head first at speeds of 100mph. You’ll hurtle over the aquamarine quarry lake below and the surrounding Carneddau mountains will pass by in a blur. It’s an incredible rush and we recommend every adrenaline junkie should definitely give it a go!
9) Foraging & bushcraft
The Forge isn’t just a wonderful glamping site where you can relax by the campfire and enjoy the views. They actually offer some incredible activities themselves, right here on site.
A big part of glamping is escaping back to nature and enjoying a simpler life. So what could be better than learning how to harvest that nature and turning it into a delicious meal? Learning to forage and confidently find edible plants along our hedgerows and fields is wonderfully satisfying. Possibly only surpassed by the satisfaction of learning how to light your own fire the proper way (no cheating with matches or a lighter!). With their very own bushcraft expert on hand to teach you, in no time at all you’ll be self sufficient in the great outdoors and rediscovering your inner bushmaster.
10) Surfing… in the mountains
Yes that’s right, we’ve got surfing right here in the mountains of North Wales! Adventure Parc Snowdonia opened the world’s first inland surf lagoon here in 2015 and it’s an awesome way to hone those surf skills.
With a perfect wave delivered every 90 seconds, there’s no more battling to get out back and then waiting for...ev..er… for that none existent set to come in. The wave is divided into beginner, intermediate and advanced zones so you can pick the size wave that’s right for your experience. And with professional instructors on hand to provide tuition, you’ll be hanging ten before you know it.
Our top ten things to do in North Wales is really just the tip of the iceberg. We’ve also got castles and hill forts galore to explore. Medieval gaols to discover. A whole coastline of adventures from coasteering to coastal walks, the world’s fastest passenger powerboat to puffin and dolphin spotting, and tours of the famous Halen Mon saltcote. Don’t forget to scale Snowdon while you’re here, or ride the forest-coaster, race the quarry karts, explore the slate caverns, ride the steam railways or enjoy a gin tasting at one of our many distilleries.
You get the picture… if you’re looking for things to do, North Wales is the place to be.
With so many things to do in North Wales, how will you choose what to do?
Or as we like to look at it: with all these incredible things to do, how many times will you be visiting North Wales?!
At Adventure Tours UK our job is to make your life super simple, so you can focus on having the best experiences with none of the hassle. That’s why we’ve carefully crafted a range of multi activity tours ranging from 4 to 8 days, as well as a range of fully guided hiking and mountain biking breaks.
So whatever you choose to do and however you choose to do it, we hope to see you in North Wales very soon.