This article first appeared in our spring ’18 issue of MyGreenPod Magazine, The Conscious Revolution, distributed with the Guardian on 04 May 2018. Click here to subscribe to our digital edition and get each issue delivered straight to your inbox
One-third of the slate used in the Industrial Revolution came from within a mile of a small B&B in Blaenau Ffestiniog, inside Snowdonia National Park in North Wales. We drove a Tesla Model S to visit the Bryn Elltyd eco-guesthouse to find out more about how the area’s transformed to become a dream destination for green thrill-seekers.
The Tesla test drive – see what Jo Wood and Luisa Zissman thought of the Tesla Model S
Only a handful of the mines in the area are operational today; the slate industry was hit badly in the first world war and Blaenau Ffestiniog, which had relied on exports to Germany, was hit particularly badly. Following a recovery fuelled by the post-war demand for new houses, the outbreak of the second world war led to a severe drop in trade.
But the cavernous mines had other uses which, as well as bringing extra income and jobs to the area, have cemented Blaenau Ffestiniog’s reputation as an outdoor adventurer’s paradise.
The warren-like structures of the Manod (Cwt-y-Bugail) mine at Blaenau Ffestiniog are so expansive that treasures from the National Gallery and the Tate were hidden inside for safeguarding during the war. A few years ago, Zip World recognised the potential of these hidden gems and leased the caverns of a nearby mine, Llechwedd, in an extension of its adventure experiences in the area.
The slate caverns are now home to ‘the world’s greatest underground zip line and adventure course’; Titan, a four-line zipping experience that takes you down the mountain and Bounce Below, a trampoline experience inside the caverns.
There are more local hiking opportunities than you could shake an Ordnance Survey map at and Mount Snowdon – the highest mountain in England or Wales, with views all the way to Ireland and Scotland – is only half an hour away by car. Add to that the abundance of local waterfalls and kayaking, surfing, bouldering, cycling, rambling and climbing opportunities and you’ll see why this area is popular with families and fitness fanatics alike.