Six Weird and Wonderful things to do in Wales
Think Wales and you probably imagine lush valleys and mountain ranges to explore, but the country has many other attractions just waiting to be explored. Here’s a selection of the weirdest ones we could find…
1. King Arthur's Labyrinth
Instead of exploring Snowdonia from above, why not see what lies beneath. King Arthur’s Labyrinth is hidden deep underground and, after donning a hard hat a boatman will sail you through a waterfall and then lead you through vast underground caverns and winding tunnels, while retelling the legends of King Arthur. The tales of dragon slaying, giants and titanic battles are brought to life with dramatic light and sound effects, so the kids will love it. It’s perfect for a wet day.
King Arthur's Labyrinth, Corris Craft Centre, Corris, Machynlleth, Powys, SY20 9RF
2. Segway Rides
For something completely different, why not have a go on an off-road Segway. These electric personal transport scooters effortlessly glide over surfaces at speeds of up to 12.5mph (though beginners will be on speed-limited units) and are accelerated by simply pressing down with your toes. Press down with your heel and they brake. The handlebars move side to side to steer (from side to side rather than twisting like a bicycle). It’s easy to get the hang of them and the way they move feels wonderful – it’s like vertical flying and unlike anything else. The whole family will love it and it’s an effortless way of seeing the countryside in a new way. We sampled Segway X2 Adventures in Criccieth and had great fun.
Cardiff Bay: www.cardiffbaysegway.com
Wales is a land of great beauty blessed with fabulous scenery. You may not know that it’s also where you can enjoy hurtling down a hill in a 10ft clear sphere. Zorbing is one for the adrenalin junkies and the experience of bounding down a hill as the ground swaps places with the sky is one of ultimate thrills. We had a go at it and it frightened us silly – it’s like being trapped in a spin dryer set to high speed. It’s a fantastic buzz. Various places in Wales offers zorbing. Try these:
Bala Lake: www.planet-zorb.com
4. Llechwedd Slate Cavern
At the Deep Mine, you’ll get to descend to almost 500 feet underground in the steepest mining cable railway in Europe and then be taken on a ghostly guide with Sion, your spooky 12-year-old mine worker. The ghoul guides you through 10 impressive underground chambers including one with a subterranean lake. At Llechwedd you can also ride on the Miner’s Tramway as it takes you half a mile into the mine and shows how back-breaking mining was in the days before heavy machinery took over. Above ground you’ll find zip wires and mountain bike trails, as well as the Cavern Café and the Miners Arms.
Llechwedd Slate Caverns, Blaenau Ffestiniog, Gwynedd LL41 3NB
5. Rhiwddolion abandoned village
Located near Betws-y-Coed, Rhiwddolion was once a thriving slate quarrying community with a school and chapel, but the decline in the quarrying industry saw it slowly decline and become depopulated. Today you’ll find the eerie derelict cottages and piles of stones marking this industy. You can enjoy a circular walk to the ruins from Pont-y-Pair Bridge in Betws-y-Coed and various routes are available taking you along the Sarn Helen Roman road. These can take anything from three to five hours to complete.
6. Pendine Sands museum
In the early 1900s Pendine Sands was home to car and motor cycle racing (the fine sand creating a surface smoother than many roads of the time) and between 1924 and 1927 there were four attempts at the land speed record. Malcolm Campbell set a world record of 146.16mph in Bluebird, beaten by Welsh hero J.G. Parry-Thomas in his car, Babs, which exceeded 150mph. Campbell then posted a speed of 174.22mph in February 1927, which Parry-Thomas attempted to beat a month later. Sadly he was killed in the attempt and the wreckage of his car buried near Pendine village. In 1969 permission was sought to dig it up and rebuild it. This labour of love took 15 years and today this incredible machine is the centrepiece of the Pendine Sands museum.
The Museum of Speed, Pendine, Carmarthenshire SA33 4NY
Thinking of visiting Wales?
Check out our pick of the top ten sights here.
Read all about the best Welsh mountain bike trails, here.
We've also got some great Welsh travel features in the May 2013 issue of MMM.