Every part of my body aches, my backside groans when I sit, my arms grumble when I lift them, and the most painful part of me is my cheeks. Unless I am smiling my face is aching…
I have had the most amazing weekend.
It has involved climbing Snowdon, learning to Quad bike and wake board, shooting arrows at bunnies made out of cork and enhancing my archery skills. Plus a game of bowling, a wee bit of Prosecco, a terrifying two hours scaling tree tops , followed by a climb up a pole a 106 feet tall and then leaping it off it.
Not to stop there, I have also sat in a swing that flies 80 feet high and at breathtaking speed. I finished my weekend wine tasting, eating a sumptuous Sunday Roast and sampling some of Wales most delectable cheeses.
It has been incredible, jam-packed, exhausting, and so much fun.
This weekend, my walking partner and I travelled to Snowdonia to sample some of the attractions of the area and to have a weekend training for our big climb in Morrocco which is happening in just under 4 weeks.
The five hours in the car disappeared as we cackled and gossiped about life, starting as we meant to go on, with stupid goofy grins spread across our faces.
We arrived, at six o clock prompt on Friday evening, at Hendre Barns, in Pwllheli. Our home for the next two nights. It was a beautiful old farmhouse, converted into self catering cottages and bed and breakfast rooms, set amongst sprawling agriculture, with mountains as a backdrop.
Beautiful barely covers it.
Sheep lined the path as we slow approached our destination and Emma, our hostess was waiting to greet us to show us our room.
Two soft beds sat on a sea of cream carpets, egyptian bedding waiting to lull us to sleep. A whirlpool bath and walk in shower offered relaxation and a bit of serenity and outside our window all we could see was view after view. The sun was slowly setting behind the hills and all felt right with the world.
The night was passed in a traditional Welsh pub, where we consumed an overload of carbs in preparation for the next days activities. It is fair to say that as the alarm sang out at 6am the next day, we both regretted the second bottle of Prosecco that was ordered from the bar.
But we had a mountain to climb.
At 7.15 I stood in the foothills of Snowdon, backpack firmly secured, water in hand, and Nurofen at the ready….just in case.
By 10.15 we were proudly stood (or in my case – sat) on the summit of Snowdon. Not a cloud in the sky, although the wind was howling round our ears. The panoramic view was intense, the beauty of it magnified by the fact that we had climbed a whole mountain to see it.
But there was no rest for the wicked, we had places to see, quad bikes to ride.
A speedy descent was made down the mountain, like mountain sheep we skipped, the words from the Sound of Music persistently refusing to leave our head.
We reached the car, paused to reflect for a moment on the magnitude of what we had just walked up. Then had a quick shoe change and off we went….
The Attractions of Snowdonia
Snowdonia is an adventure seekers playground. Everywhere you look there are signs for zip wires, biking, riding, climbing. It was the perfect place for my friend and I, who live and die by the motto…
Feel the fear and do it anyway.
Glasfryn Parc Activity Centre
Our first stop was Glasfryn Parc Activity Centre. After filling our tummies with the best chilli made from local produce, we pulled on our overalls and threw ourselves onto a quad bike. The oldest women by a good twenty years, we showed the youngsters how it was done, by driving slowly and steadily, taking each turn with caution. Until of course we found our nerve and started finally finding the throttle and speeding through trees and flying through mud pools.
50 minutes later we declared ourselves queens of the quads and stripped off our overalls into something a little more comfortable….
Because no trip to North Wales is complete without a dip in the lake in April.
Wakeboarding, fun for the whole family. Honestly, everyone should try it.
The scariest bit was getting in the water, I repeat, I was in North Wales, and it was April. I edged myself in, landing with a gentle plop, then grabbed onto the handle and surfed around the lake. Even plopping back into the lake on a regular basis made me laugh till my sides ached, watching my teammate Sara tumble and glide through the water made me laugh even more.
Finally when the chill in our bones meant that play had to stop, we dried off, peeled ourselves out of the wetsuits daintily, and headed onto the archery field for a spot of shooting.
Lets just say it was a good job we were near an Asda to sort out our tea, our wild game hunting skills needed a little to be desired.
Glasfryn is a great place for any age. Other activities include go karting, skating, kayaking, bowling, and there is a soft play for the little ones. The prices are refreshing low, you pay for your time on the activity and can jump from one piece of fun to the next. If the activities don’t float your boat, you can take solace in the bar, the freshly stocked farm shop or enjoy dinner in the restaurant. The staff are incredible, young chaps who made slightly older ladies feel safe and secure, and they tolerated our incessant giggling.
We returned back to Hendre Barns, exhausted in the most wonderful way.
Sleep welcomed us with open arms and we snored gently together until 6am the next day when we were up and at it again.
Emma, the owner of Hendre Barns, cooked us a slap up breakfast to fuel us for the day. We compared notes on where we were sorest. Our feet ached from the hike up Snowdon, my thighs had a persistent grumble from gripping onto the bike, and my arms trembled when they remembered clinging onto the cable for the wake board.
We naively thought Sunday’s activities would be more sedate.
How stupid we were.
Full of bacon and bravado from the previous day, we watched as ‘Declan’ our guide for the day stood on balance beam and explained how we would spend the morning navigating beams, zip wires and rope bridges. His confident manner assured us we would be fine and I leapt onto the first platform with gusto and excitement.
I stepped onto the beam….
Then, I felt the fear….
The beam seemed ridiculously small under my enormous feet, the earth seemed miles away. The small rope that was my safety measure for the day suddenly looked insubstantial in my hand. For someone who loves thrill seeking, I was overwhelmed by terror.
My legs shook, my arms trembled, the vertigo that lurks inside my head came out singing and dancing.
Somehow I made it around all the obstacles, across ropes so small an ant would have struggled. Declan saved me at least twice, mainly because I didn’t listen to the rules, but he saved me all the same…
As I reached the last platform I let out a little sob when I realised I had reached the end without falling. Then I let out a bigger sob when I realised the only way to the floor was to jump off the platform on the Powerfan Plummet. Basically, I jumped with an elastic rope on my back and fell to the floor, ungracefully. I was so scared I had to have a little push from Declan to help my descent, I was so happy when I hit the ground that I spent five minutes kissing soil.
I thought it was all over…
Until Declan told me it wasn’t so….
That was merely the warm up – the next step was to climb a 106 foot pole and jump off it again. What I thought was fear before, was not even close to what I felt climbing up that pole.
But I did it….
Here is the proof….
After that experience, hopping on the 80 foot swing and flying through the sky was an easy experience….
Tree Top adventure offers a course for little ones, and bigger ones, it is terrifying for women aged between 37 and 43, but the younger kids on the course seemed to hop around it. However if you are a woman of a certain age, it does feel flipping fantastic to complete the course alive!
Just in case you think Snowdonia is all about leaping off logs, and biking and shooting arrows Robin Hood style. There is also a decadent side.
The final stop on our Attractions of Snowdonia tour was Bodnant Welsh Food Centre. A stunning centre celebrating the very best of Welsh food, with a top class restaurant on site, a dairy, a beautiful wine cellar, and a butchers, bakery, and cooking school.
The perfect place to rest our weary bones, and enjoy some serious culinary indulgence.
Bodnant was glorious, Chris at the Wine Cellar talked us through wines, and allowed us to sample some stunning ones. We left laden with our new delights. The food was as locally sourced as possible and we enjoyed a Sunday roast that was as good as we had ever had before. We snacked on cheese in the shop and added beetroot bread and bacon jam to our luggage as we brought a bit of Wales home with us.
We sampled Ice Cream from the dairy, wandered around the centre soaking in some Welsh history, and relaxed in the peaceful ambience that is Bodnant.
It was the perfect end to the perfect day….
This was my first trip to North Wales, and it won’t be my last. Now I understand the range of activities on hand for families and have experienced some of the tremendous fun to be had, I simply cannot wait to bundle my small people into the car to head back and have some more adventures. Thank you to Attractions of Snowdonia for organising our trip, and to Emma at Hendre Barns for looking after us so splendidly in such beautiful accommodation. To Jonathon of Glasfryn, more thanks for tolerating our screams and chuckles and letting us play all afternoon, and to the chaps, Theo, Declan and Chris at TreeTop Adventure – thanks for keeping us safe and getting me back on the ground. And of course to my wonderful yes friend Sara, thanks for sharing my adventures and I only won by a tiny bit…..
As I said – a simply amazing weekend!