From babies to the elderly, everyone likes a bouncy house. I know as I’ve enjoyed them with people of all ages. What about the idea of bouncing on special woven rope nets in an old slate mine suspended over a hundred feet in the air? Bounce Below may not be for everyone but we were super excited to check out this one of kind attraction. Bounce Below was located just down the street from where we were staying and also offers an extreme zip line attraction and mine tours as well. We were here to jump though and jump we did. Ella and Miles couldn’t stop talking about the place days before we arrived. Once we got there we were prepped on safety, suited up in our red protective jump suits, given our helmets and led through the caverns up to the initial jump entrance and let go to roam, jump, and slide. This place is amazing. Three levels of jumping nets, multiple slides (made from the same material as the nets) that lead you to different levels, a new separate one net room, and it’s all bottom lit with a rainbow of colors so you can see the cavern floors. At first we thought an hour wouldn’t be long enough but we were exhausted and ready for a snack and drinks…and then more jumping if we could’ve.
We all woke up psyched to take on the mountain today. We’d seen enough hikers around town to know that based on all their gear the mountain was going to be a challenging adventure for us. We packed out lunch and enough water for the day and set out to take on the mountain. The weather forecast for the day was overcast, chilly, and rainy. Not optimum conditions but this was Wales and everyone told us prepared to get wet so we did. Once at the base of the mountain we decided to take the more traveled trail that wound around the mountain and three lakes which was the easier and more scenic option for the kids. The first few miles were cake. The paths were well maintained crushed limestone or slate and the increases in elevation were minimal. This was our kind of mountain climbing. About an hour and half later the wind and rain picked up, the elevation increased and the trail was now made up of large stones. It was rough on the feet but manageable. At about 600+m above see level we realized that we would not be making it to the summit today. The weather was getting increasingly worse as the drizzle turned to rain and the terrain was getting more and more challenging. We had made it over half way to the top in two and a half hours and had seen scenery that will make for unforgettable memories. We made our way back down amazed to see people just starting their journeys in this weather as we enjoyed some warm drinks and snacks in the local cafe and waiting for the bus back to our car.
If you were a child in the mountains and countryside of the United Kingdom what would be the first things that we would want to go explore? Castles!!! We did some minimal research and found that there were a number of castles that were free to explore within about an hour or so from where we were staying. The closest being Dolwyddelan Castle which was minutes away and was small enough to explore quickly but exciting enough to evoke images of ancient times of people working inside and knights guarding the turrets above as we climbed to the top to explore. The kids got their first taste of a Welsh castle and wanted more. Unfortunately the remainder of the day found us searching for more castles but not finding any. At least we had a good time taking a long scenic drive but were ready for more and the next day we found it. After passing by Bewts-y-coed enough time, we decided to stop in.
After some much needed relaxation and rejuvenating, we were ready for to start seeing the sites of Northwestern Wales. We had no idea what a mecca the Bwets-y-Coed area was to hikers, bikers, and naturalists alike. We finally decided on a trek to Holy Head and the South Stack Lighthouse by choosing the closest attraction to the coast that we found on the tourist map. In addition to the Lighthouse, Holy Head also is the home to a system of ancient Hut Circles that once served as foundations for stone and plaster homes estimated to be built in 70AD. It’s open to the public and kids are free to roam and climb on them. The kids really enjoyed working off some energy running around the stone circles and finally taking a hike towards the coast and the Lighthouse. Our first stop was Ellin’s Tower, the information building where we talked to a park officer about our plans.
We were informed that the wind was pretty strong and it was actually strong enough to close off access to the Lighthouse the day before so we should approach with caution. We started on our trek down over 300 stairs to sea level and the Lighthouse and only got about fifty steps in and decided that it was not safe to go any further with the kids in fear of watching them get blown over the edge. So I did what any responsible adult would do and lead them to the top, grabbed the Go Pro and tried to make it on my own. As you can see by some video footage attached here, I didn’t get much further.
On our way out of the parking lot the kids noticed an other trail and a group of experienced hikers with lots of gear making their way up the mountainside rather than down to the Lighthouse. The kids quickly ran after them and I followed and we ended up and a peak at a small stone enclosure that looked out over the top of the Lighthouse and into the Irish Sea. Amazing views and a good sense of accomplishment after being defeated by the Lighthouse
We're excited to arrive at our cottage in Dolwyddelan,Wales. Everyone was looking forward to being in one place for a whole week. A place to do laundry, reorganize, and just relax.
The first 2 days we just laid low at the homestead watching movies, reading books, walking to town, and the kids loved running around the yard. Just normal everyday things. Best of all laundry! We are in desperate need of clean undies and socks.
Our cottage was very old world. The main living area had exposed beams, thick plaster walls, and a coal stove (which none of us could ever get lit). Just outside our backdoor was a bridge under the bridge was a waterfall. Yep a very loud raging stream and mini-waterfall.
We also got our first taste of the land of sheep in Dolwyddelan. Just outside our cottage there was a field of them. When you sat on the couch you could see them peering in at you, baa baa. As you hit the town another field you could just walk through. The kids were excited to be one with the sheep and would check out the pens daily.