Adventure travel is a strange term and it seems that in recent years it’s been expanded to mean anything from bike rides to trying questionable curry. But in Wales the true and original meaning still applies; amazing experiences that will surprise, maybe even scare a little bit but certainly never disappoint. A few months ago I visited Wales for the first time and adventure dominated my schedule. Of everything I experienced in this shockingly beautiful country, these truly adventurous activities were amongst my favorite.
At first the adventure sport of coasteering seems like the bad result of a drunken wager gone wild. But it’s not and even more surprising, it’s insanely popular and a lot of fun. Coasteering is defined as “a physical activity that includes movement along the intertidal zone of a rocky coastline on foot or by swimming, without the aid of boats, surf boards or other craft. It can include swimming, climbing, scrambling, jumping and diving.” It sounds great in the middle of a hot summer, but I was there in March when the water temperatures were anything but encouraging. Located along the Irish Sea, the beauty of Anglesey can’t be denied though and I soon found myself lost in the beauty of the craggy landscapes surrounding me. The extreme experience was just as advertised and not even my two wet suits could fully keep the freezing waters at bay. In spite of the conditions though it was fun, a lot of fun and diving along the coast, swimming across the white-capped waves and pushing myself in ways I didn’t know I could was as personally gratifying as anything I have ever done. Ultimately, that’s the real thrill of adventure travel; pushing one’s comfort zones in ways you didn’t know possible.
In itself, a zip-line isn’t all that unusual. You can find them in almost every corner of the world, but the one in northwest Wales is unlike any other you’ve ever seen. Built over the Penrhyn Slate Quarry, the Zip World Velocity is one of the longest and fastest zip-lines in the world. More than a mile in length, intrepid riders reach speeds of around 100mph as they fly through the air at 500 feet. Even though I’ve done plenty of zip-lines around the world, I couldn’t help but feel a little weak in the knees as I stood at the top of the quarry, peering across the improbably long line. Intellectually I know it was fine, but my mind still couldn’t help but race through the possibilities. All of that was forgotten as I finally flew through the air, the time vanishing in an instant as I felt like Superman soaring above beautiful Wales. Zip World has a couple of different zip-line options, but the Velocity is without a doubt the star of the show.
Ok, a bike ride
All right, I couldn’t help but throw in a bike ride on this list, but in Wales nothing is as simple as an easy jaunt on a bike. Snowdonia National Park is one of the world’s great parks, with beautiful forests and of course the famous mountain for which it’s named. The local bike company, Biecs Bewys in the village of Betws-y-Coed offers guests the chance to live out their mountain biking dreams with the ease of a tour. Biking is one of the best ways to really experience the beauty of Snowdonia, while at the same time navigating rocky paths and mountain trails. There are a variety of different bike routes for every level of rider, from the novice to the pro mountain biker. The novice course was enough for me though as I enjoyed the beautiful show put on by Mother Nature that chilly morning.
What are some of your favorite adventure sports to try when you travel?