People visiting the popular Mid Wales coastal resort of New Quay for school half term break in February are in for a treat, as dolphin spotting trips are set to begin earlier this year – weather permitting.
New Quay Boat Trips, run by Winston Evans and his son Jonathan, will be welcoming passenger onboard its Dreamcatcher boat for one hour trips from New Quay pier throughout the day from February 11.
The company usually begins its trips on April 1 but has brought them forward this year due to the high demand from customers.
As the Dreamcatcher only carries 12 passengers, passengers are advised to book in advance online at https://newquayboattrips.co.uk/ or by calling 01545 560 800.
“Our new boat allows us to run all year round when weather permits,” said Jonathan. “In New Quay, we are seeing an increase in visitors in the shoulder months which means that people don’t just come to visit us in the summer when the sun shining, but throughout the year which is what we have wanted for a long time.
“All the efforts of the tourism industry and Visit Wales are now paying off.”
Dreamcatcher was built in 2018 specifically to offer all round viewing without a wheelhouse at the front or the back, so that passengers can look over the side of the boat all around.
''A dolphin spotting boat trip offers a fun, educational experience for all ages,” added Jonathan, who was a newspaper photographer in London for 20 years before returning home to New Quay in 2011. “We are a family business which has sailed from New Quay for more than 65 years.
“Our boats sail exclusively within the Cardigan Bay Special Area of Conservation, home to hundreds of bottlenose dolphins and Atlantic grey seals.''
Dreamcatcher sails south along the coast passing Birds Rock, The Caves, Cwmtydu and Seals Bay. Passengers have a chance to see some of the many seabirds that nest and feed from the cliffs, and other marine life including Atlantic grey seals, the Harbour Porpoise and Bottlenose Dolphins.
The boat is also available for private charters for up to 12 passengers, with prices ranging from £160 for one hour to £500 for four hours.
“If you get 10 friends together, they can have a private boat to themselves for less than joining a trip with other people on it,” said Jonathan. “Private charters are popular with our Welsh customers who have family and friends visiting, as it's a great way to show off the place where they live.
“It’s also great treat for special occasions, like birthdays and anniversary celebrations or, dare I say it, St Valentine's Day on February 14.
“People can enjoy the Dreamcatcher on an individual basis too. With a limit of 12 passengers and having 16 metres of deck space, which is yours to walk all around, this half term is a great time to investigate what our coast has to offer.”
Winston started to crew for his father back in the late 1950s and went on to become the youngest coxswain in the UK for the RNLI, serving for more than 40 years.
The company is a member of MWT Cymru, which represents more than 600 tourism and hospitality businesses in Powys, Ceredigion and Southern Snowdonia.
MWT Cymru is a membership organisation that promotes the region through its Visit Mid Wales marketing and publicity activity, provides specialist business support and represents the Mid Wales tourism sector at a regional, national and UK level.
A Mid Wales-based museum’s temporary exhibition focuses on the effective end of peat harvesting operations on the Bord na Mona railway network in Ireland, the largest narrow gauge industrial railway ever to operate in the British Isles.
These lines and the power stations that they served are closing in response to the need to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. In the wake of the COP26 Conference in Glasgow last November, the need to minimise global warming is widely understood.
The exhibition at the Narrow Gauge Railway Museum, located at Tywyn Wharf Station, Tywyn, also tells the story of the three former Bord na Mona steam locomotives. These include No. LM43 which now operates on Talyllyn Railway as locomotive No.7 ‘Tom Rolt’ in its rebuilt form.
Some of the narrow-gauge peat railways that used to operate in England and Scotland are also featured in the exhibition which acknowledges the dependence of the heritage railway industry on coal and other fossil fuels.
Some of the challenges currently being faced, together with the steps being taken to offset and reduce their environmental impact, are also set out. People who provided information and photographs to make this exhibition possible are acknowledged
The museum is open daily when trains are running on Talyllyn Railway. Admission is free, although donations are encouraged. For opening times and more information, visit www.ngrm.org.uk and www.talyllyn.co.uk .
A silver-lead mine in Mid Wales which dates back more than 250 years is launching a new visitor attraction in time for the February half term school holiday.
The brand-new Kindling’s Treasure Trail at The Silver Mountain Experience, near Ponterwyd, Aberystwyth challenges children to find all the treasure with the chance of winning a treat.
Steeped in mining history, The Silver Mountain Experience is open throughout the winter season, offering visitors unique tours that explore the history of the site, both above and below ground.
Visitors can take a journey into the history of the mine and get a glimpse into the gruelling world of mining back in Victorian times on the ‘A Miner’s Life’ guided tour.
Families with young explorers will love the adventurous ‘A Dragon’s Tale’ guided tour where they join a quest to find the friendly resident dragon hidden within the mines.
Alongside the tours, there are a variety of different surface attractions which are included within the price of the tickets. Children can run wild in Woo Hoo Woods, go gem panning, den building and dig for fossils.
For those wanting to explore the site’s history further, the newly updated mining museum or the Miner’s Trail is packed full of fascinating facts and history about the site and Welsh mining.
The Silver Mountain Experience is also home to Ultimate Xscape, two thrilling escape room experiences. With only 60 minutes on the clock, visitors try and escape from a highly themed, immersive experience.
Choose between working out the identity of Jack The Ripper or stealing the world’s biggest diamond in Diamond Heist! Head to www.ultimatexscape.co.uk to find out more and book a slot.
The Miner’s Rest Café, with its roaring fire, serve a delicious range of snacks, cakes, lunches, hot drinks and more. Visitors can also try one of the new Ultimate Xscape Table Top Games which are free to those eating and drinking in the café.
The café, which is open to customers not visiting any of the attractions, also offers pre-booked afternoon teas.
Head to www.silvermountainexperience.co.uk for all the information needed to plan a visit and to pre-book tickets. The Silver Mountain Experience is closed on certain Mondays throughout the winter season, apart from during half term.
The Miner’s Life tour.
Welcome to the Dragon’s Tale.
Gem panning at The Silver Mountain Experience.
A new exhibition entitled ‘Moving On, Looking Forward’ opens at Ceredigion Museum in Aberystwyth Saturday (January 29) focused on looking ahead to the new year positively.
The exhibition will display works by The Picturemakers / Y Llunwyr, a group of Mid Wales and Ceredigion-based artists. It offers a fresh take on recent times by encouraging the public to enter the 2022 with a sense of hope after another challenging winter.
‘Moving On, Looking Forward’ features new work and gives people who cherish Ceredigion the opportunity to see it represented in art through a variety of creative methods.
The exhibition will also appeal to people looking for something to do in Aberystwyth, as we move towards spring and provide an opportunity to think positively about the future.
The Picturemakers / Y Llunwyr is a group of artists who meet regularly to discuss their artwork and develop their creativity. Based in and around Aberystwyth, Felinfach, Llandrindod Wells, Pantydwr, Pennant and Rhayader, they have held more than 40 exhibitions since 2006.
The group comprises Jane Burnham, Lindsay Davies, Rosemary Fahimi, Philip Huckin, Kim James-Williams, Mike Laxton, Greteli Morton, Joanna Munro-Hunt, Patrick Owen, Catherine Smedley, Shelley Upton, Moira Vincentelli and Ann Williams.
Moving meetings online in 2020, The Picturemakers have discussed the importance of staying creative, setting artistic challenges for each other to inspire fresh approaches to their subjects and materials, whilst bringing more unity to their work as a group.
These challenges were often a fun distraction from the pandemic, with one involving members producing a self-portrait in the style of their favourite artist.
The Picturemakers said: “Our art practice has been an anchor in turbulent waters and we feel optimistic about the year ahead. The artwork that we produced during and after the lockdowns can be viewed as a creative thread which links different seasons and experiences.
“The philosophy of The Picturemakers is to support, challenge, question and celebrate. Some of the work people will see in the exhibition is work in progress, part of our ongoing journeys to find out, experiment, look at the world and keep moving. We hope that the public enjoys the exhibition as much as we enjoyed making it.”
‘Moving On, Looking Forward’ follows the hugely popular ‘Human Threads’ exhibition, which displayed historic quilts from the museum’s collection alongside a digital quilt consisting of reflections by the community in Ceredigion.
Ceredigion Museum is open from Thursday to Saturday, 11am until 4pm.
A fundraising appeal to raise £7,500 to re-erect a sculpture of a pilgrim on the hilltop above the ruins of the famous Strata Florida Abbey in the Cambrian Mountains is within £700 of hitting its target.
The Pilgrim, or Y Pererin in the Welsh language, was created by artist Glenn Morris and erected on Penlan, the hill overlooking Strata Florida Abbey, near Pontrhydfendigaid, in 2012.
Sadly, the sculpture collapsed in high winds in 2019 and now lays forlorn on the hilltop, located between Devil’s Bridge and Tregaron.
This sculpture, created as part of a temporary exhibition, has become a popular and iconic part of the Welsh landscape, with strong connections to Welsh culture, language and identity.
Following its collapse, the sculpture is now missing from the skyline of Strata Florida and the fundraising appeal aims to rebuild a new stronger, permanent Pilgrim to stand the tests of time.
Planning permission for the new sculpture has already been secured and Glenn Morris is eager to begin the project.
The World Monuments Fund has offered to provide match funding if the community raises £7,500 by February 3. Anyone wishing to contribute to the fundraising target can donate online at https://localgiving.org/appeal/pilgrim/ .
An extra fundraising event for the Pilgrim appeal is being held on February 18. A 3.5 mile walk along a mixture of logging roads, farmlands and through ancient forest to reach the 12th century Cistercian abbey ruins of Strata Florida will be followed by a guided exhibition tour and Welsh tea.
This pilgrimage will be led by Guided Pilgrimage, a not-for-profit company providing a range of Celtic pilgrimage experiences in West Wales.
Strata Florida was a thriving community 900 years ago. Today, the conserved ruins of the old abbey church and part of the cloisters are in the care of Cadw, the Welsh Government's heritage agency, and can be visited by the public from Easter to late autumn.
The remains are only a small fraction of what was once a much larger abbey, stretching over an area of 126 acres where the rest survives below ground as a well-preserved archaeology.
The Pilgrim/ Y Pererin sculpture before it collapsed.
The forlorn sculpture.
Regional tourism trade organisation, MWT Cymru, and award-winning training provider, Cambrian Training Company, are joining forces to deliver skills training to tourism and hospitality businesses across Mid Wales.
A programme of practical skills workshops, curated by Cambrian Training Company, will be delivered online to members of MWT Cymru throughout 2022 to help tackle a skills and staffing crisis across the tourism and hospitality industry.
The first online event to launch the workshop series will take place on February 8, coinciding with National Apprenticeship Week (February 7 – 13).
Businesses will hear from speakers at Cambrian Training Company about the benefits of apprenticeships, a selection of the apprenticeships on offer and how to recruit an apprentice, followed by a question and answer session.
Cambrian Training Company was established in Welshpool in 1995 as a subsidiary of Mid Wales Tourism to deliver vocational skills that supported the development of the region’s tourism sector.
It is now and independent company, with offices across Wales, and the leading provider of apprenticeships to the country’s hospitality industry.
MWT Cymru, also known as Mid Wales Tourism, is a membership organisation that represents more than 600 tourism and hospitality businesses across Powys, Ceredigion and Southern Snowdonia.
MWT Cymru is a membership organisation that promotes the region through its Visit Mid Wales marketing and PR activity, as well as providing specialist business support. It also represents the Mid Wales tourism sector at a regional, national and UK level.
Arwyn Watkins, OBE, managing director of Cambrian Training Company, said: “We have always remembered our roots with Mid Wales Tourism and we are delighted to be working with MWT Cymru to deliver these workshops for their members, free of charge.
“This is an important way for us to help support the Welsh tourism industry to find new ways of building their businesses, supporting local communities and enhancing the skill set of those employed in this vital industry for the Welsh economy. We must keep training and skills at the forefront.”
Val Hawkins, chief executive of MWT Cymru, said: “We share Cambrian Training Company’s concern about the staffing crisis affecting the tourism and hospitality industry.
“With investment in skills and training being so important, we encourage all our businesses to sign up for these skills workshops and look longer-term at the benefits of providing apprenticeship opportunities.
“Supporting the tourism industry in Mid Wales is at the heart of what we do and we are very pleased to bring the expertise of Cambrian Training Company to our members.”
All online events and skills workshops will be publicised on MWT Cymru’s trade event calendar on www.mwtcymru.co.uk for businesses to sign up.
Arwyn Watkins, OBE, managing director of Cambrian Training Company, speaking at the 2021 Mid Wales Tourism & Hospitality Conference.
Val Hawkins, MWT Cymru chief executive
Welsh snacks manufacturer Trailhead Fine Foods is teaming up with a sporting events company to promote its award-winning beef jerky to runners, cyclists and others who enjoy outdoor sports.
The Welshpool-based company, which makes the high protein snacks under the Get Jerky brand name, has agreed to sponsor a series of running and cycling events, together with a couple of talks, organised by Adrenaline Sporting Events throughout 2022.
The eight-event series begins with the first Welshpool 10k run on Sunday, March 27, which was originally planned for 2020 but was cancelled due to the pandemic.
The other events are Brynkinalt Running Festival at Brynkinalt Hall Estate, Chirk on Sunday, May 8. Oswestry Midnight Ride on Saturday, June 18, Pedal the Borders on Sunday, July 17, the Valley Burner Mountain Bike Festival at Penybont, near Oswestry on July 23 and 24, Pedal Pushes for ladies only on Sunday, September 11, Oswestry 10k Run on Sunday, October 16 and Shropshire Santa Run on Sunday, December 4.
Olympic cycling gold medallist Ed Clancy, OBE, will also be speaking at a talk and workshop organised by Adrenaline Sporting Events at Aico, Oswestry on February 3.
To sign up for an event, visit https://www.adrenalinesportingevents.co.uk/ . Charities supported by the events include The Movement Centre, Hope House, Lingen Davies and Midlands Air Ambulance Charity.
Staff from Trailhead Fine Foods will attend the events with Get Jerky samples and special offers on the snacks, which can also be ordered via trailheadfinefoods.co.uk .
Sales director Emma Morris believes the link up with Adrenaline Sporting Events makes perfect sense, as Get Jerky snacks are aligned with outdoor activities.
“Get Jerky is the ideal pre, mid and post-race snack for runners and cyclists as well as anybody enjoying outdoor activities, as it’s low in fat, salt and sugar but high in energy-rich protein and gluten free,” she said.
“We are proud of our roots in Welshpool, where we manufacture our handmade, artisan beef jerky snacks in eight flavours, using responsibly sourced PGI Welsh Beef and secret recipes.
“It’s great to be supporting a series of sporting events in Wales and the border region this year that support local charities, kicking off with the Welshpool 10k.”
Adrenaline Sporting Events is run by Alan Lewis from Pant, near Oswestry, a former triathlete who represented Great Britain at the World Championships.
“I am thrilled to be working with the team at Trailhead Fine Foods for 2022,” he said. “A big part of our events is the nutrition and fuelling aspect and we look forward to our participants being able to enjoy Get Jerky, a quality product ideal for our sector with its high protein content.
“We like to engage with our sponsors by encouraging their staff to get involved in the events to benefit their health and wellbeing.
“We have a wide spread of events for 2022, ranging from trail and road running to mountain and road biking. Great Britain long distance runner Andrew Davies, who lives near Welshpool, may also be taking part in the Welshpool 10k.
“We get runners of all standards, ranging from Andrew to those running a 10k for the first time, participating in our events.”
Alan Lewis (right) from Adrenaline Sporting Events with David Richards, Trailhead Fine Foods’ marketing manager, at Powis Castle.
However, due to inflation of material prices, the amount of work still outstanding and some unplanned complexities, funds have been depleted and the completion date is set to be delayed until extra funds are raised.
Corris Railway Society has a policy of not spending money that it does not already have and only dips into its general funds to complete particularly time sensitive projects.
During 2021, great progress was made on the locomotive by Alan Keef Ltd at Ross on Wye, with both boiler and cab placed on the frames for checking and any necessary modifications.
The rolling chassis, with the wheels and motion operated by compressed air, has already been completed and many other components are ready for fitting.
There is much work still to be done, however, including manufacturing the saddle tank and making and fitting cab and boiler fittings. The re-creation of a complex steam locomotive dating from 1878, albeit a small one, has proved costly and time consuming.
Work will resume when the locomotive construction fund has recovered. In the meantime, supporters are being asked to continue backing the railway with standing orders and generous contributions.
Donations can be made on The Falcon Locomotive section of the railway’s website www.corris.co.uk or cheques payable to Corris Railway can be sent to Peter Guest, 38 Underwood Close, Callow Hill, Reddich, B97 5YS.
John Simms, the railway’s press officer, said: “The project has been temporarily suspended to allow replenishment of the fund specifically dedicated to the construction of the locomotive, whilst other parts of the revival of the Corris Railway continue.
“Apart from the cab roof and the water tank, all the large, visible components for Number 10 have been produced but many smaller components are needed to complete the engine and have it hauling trains in the Dulas Valley.
“Many of these are one-offs and, as a result, expensive. For example, various control valves need to be provided at a total cost of £7,000. If anyone would like to make a contribution, large or small, this can be done via the Falcon Locomotive section of our website.”
Corris Railway is a member of MWT Cymru, an independent organisation which represents more than 600 tourism and hospitality businesses across Powys, Ceredigion and Southern Snowdonia.
Corris Railway’s new locomotive Number 10 under construction.
Meanwhile, learners studying art and design at NPTC Group Colleges in Newtown have been using visual arts to communicate the climate crisis and to raise public awareness of the issue. The students have produced pieces of work inspired by the climate crisis and aimed at promoting action. Their work will be exhibited at Oriel Davies Gallery later this month.
Kerala Irwin, the One Planet Generation Project’s youth engagement officer, said: “I’m excited to have the opportunity to talk to young people about their views on climate issues and listen to what they have to say.
“Most young people I’ve spoken to are already aware and concerned about the impacts of climate change. I’m hoping this project will give them a space to come together, not only to talk about this but to get them involved in planning for a sustainable future.”
As part of the engagement process, a new youth forum, the One Planet Generation Assembly, will be launched in the new year. The search is now on to find young people who are passionate about protecting the planet, interested in meeting like-minded people, sharing ideas on how Newtown can reduce its ecological footprint and establishing a platform to have their voices heard.
They are being asked to visit the project’s webpage - https://opennewtown.org.uk/one-planet-generation/ for ways to get in touch.
Young people are also encouraged to look out for upcoming events and ways to join via the webpage and Open Newtown’s social media accounts.
The project will also be running a programme of nature-based activities in and around Newtown to create opportunities for local children to connect with, understand and appreciate the natural environment and their place within it.
These sessions will allow children to learn and play in the outdoors, encouraging positive engagement with nature for their physical and mental wellbeing.
The project is part of a series nature-based partnership projects, co-ordinated by Open Newtown and funded by Welsh Government, centred around wellbeing and resilience of people and businesses in the town.
These new projects are supported by the Welsh Government Rural Communities - Rural Development Programme 2014-2020, which is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Welsh Government until June 2023.
“Steps to Protect the Planet” community art project.
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