The Royal Welsh Agricultural Society showground at Llanelwedd is launching its new camping site for caravans and campers to use from May 28.
After being closed for more than year, the society has worked hard to maintain the showground to ensure that visitors can access the best possible experience when it reopens.
Nestled in the heart of Mid Wales, the campsite is within easy access of many footpaths and bridleways with breathtaking scenic views. With the Elan Valley to the north and the Brecon Beacons to the south, this location is perfect for those wanting to enjoy outdoor pursuits across Mid Wales.
With many eager to get back to exploring and tourism resurging post lockdown, the Llanelwedd camping site aims to play a role in offering first class facilities to those looking to stay on the world-famous showground.
From May 28, the camping site reopens with a number of options for visitors, from caravans with access to electricity, to grass pitches for those intending to camp and those who have pre-booked to those who want to turn up on the day.
The society will be launching its online booking website soon.
Focus Newtown Enterprise Hub is to host a second virtual conference on Thursday this week to provide support to industries impacted by COVID-19.
Collaboration is a key theme for this event, as the hub team chats to businesspeople who have adapted, overcome and utilised their ecosystems to build capacity and resilience.
The ‘Building your Business’ conference, which will run on Thursday, May 13 from 12 noon to 4.30pm, will feature award-winning speakers including Scott Davies, managing director of Hilltop Honey, Kelly Davies, co-founder of The Goodwash Company and Claire Copeman, co-founder of Adventure Tours UK.
Lucie Andrews, enterprise hub engagement co-ordinator, said: “As the light at the end of the tunnel gets brighter and we enter the summer months, it’s the perfect time to bring together inspirational entrepreneurs from the tourism, food and retail sectors.
“We’ve invited three business owners from across Wales, and some of the hardest hit sectors, to share their experiences and journeys with attendees, from starting a business with next to nothing, to overcoming one of their most challenging years to date.
“We really want people to come along, be part of the discussion, feel inspired and learn from their experiences.”
The aim of the conference is to support those in the tourism, food, retail and supply industries, although everyone is welcome as the topics will be applicable to a variety of businesses.
It’s ideal for existing and aspiring entrepreneurs in Mid Wales and beyond who are looking to build connections and get inspired.
Register for the conference by searching ‘Focus Newtown Enterprise Hub’ on Eventbrite.
Funded by the Welsh Government, Focus Newtown Enterprise Hub is an innovative space to incubate and accelerate new and growing businesses based at Royal Welsh Warehouse, Newtown.
Spring is one of the best times of the year to see rare wildlife and get up close to nature in the beautiful countryside of Mid Wales.
This unspoilt region in the heartland of Wales has an abundance of natural environments and some of the rarest species of birds and animals in the UK, including visiting ospreys, red kites, otters, beavers and even dolphins.
The UNESCO Dyfi Biosphere Wales - https://www.dyfibiosphere.wales/ - is one of the best places to see a diverse range of wildlife.
Otters swim in the rivers, beavers have recently been released, ospreys return every spring to breed, red kites grace the sky and dolphin pods are often spotted from the beach and on boat trips.
Nature reserves perfect for bird watching include Cors Dyfi and the Dyfi Osprey Project - https://www.dyfiospreyproject.com/ and the RSPB Ynys-hir reserve https://www.rspb.org.uk/reserves-and-events/reserves-a-z/ynys-hir/ which are all near Machynlleth.
For the last 50 years, RSPB Ynys-hir has been a wonderful home for wildlife and a haven for visitors who really want to get away from it all.
Located on the A487, Wales Coastal Way, in the village of Eglwys-fach, the reserve covers 850 hectares with a wide mix of habitats - mountain, lowland wet grassland, reedbed, bog, woodland and saltmarsh.
Springtime at this reserve is spectacular, with pied flycatchers, redstarts and wood warblers singing their hearts out whilst the woodland floor transforms into a beautiful carpet of bluebells. Watch the diving display flights of lapwings and the piping calls of redshanks on the Marian Mawr pools.
Cors Dyfi Reserve and Dyfi Osprey Project is the best place to see ospreys, otters, beavers, nightjars, warblers, increasingly rare hen harriers and even water buffalo, which are introduced to graze the marshes.
Ospreys spend their winters in West Africa, but since 2011 some of them have come to Cors Dyfi each spring to mate. Over the years, the osprey partners have raised one to three chicks successfully each year. Watch them live at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YtlCjc1D4Qo
In a double success story for Mid Wales, ospreys have also been nesting at Hafren Forest alongside Clywedog reservoir, near Llanidloes, since 2014. Watch them live in the nest at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cyciWNPFuWM
Nearby, along the Cardigan Bay coast, dolphins and porpoises often put on a display for spectators. For the best chance of seeing them, visit Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre in New Quay and take a boat trip.
New Quay is one of only two places in Great Britain where you can see bottlenose dolphins. Dolphin Survey Boat Trips - https://www.dolphinsurveyboattrips.co.uk/ -
provide an underwater microphone which allows passengers to listen to the dolphins in their natural habitat.
Further inland, at Forge, near Machynlleth, visitors are allowed to get up close and personal with birds of prey at the Falconry Experience Wales - https://raptorexperiencewales.co.uk/. Fly and handle Lakota the bald eagle or Moggie the white faced owl under professional supervision.
The falconry experience also includes falcons, hawks, American buzzards, a white tailed sea eagle and a fast paced demonstration of a falcon flying to a lure.
Falconry Experience Wales also organises Raptor Days with wildlife presenter and author Iolo Williams who introduces people to the raptors at various locations in Mid Wales. The first two days this summer are sold out, but spaces are available for July 24 and August 9. More details on the website.
To enjoy the spectacle of seeing more than 100 red kites feeding, travel to the Red Kite Feeding Station at Bwlch Nant yr Arian, between Llanidloes and Aberystwyth - naturalresources.wales/bwlchnantyrarian?lang=en
Bwlch Nant yr Arian became a red kite feeding station in 1999, as part of a programme to protect the small number of red kites in the area at that time. Nowadays, the red kites fly in from a 10-mile radius to be fed by the lake daily at 3pm and the spectacle can be watched from the lakeside viewing area.
For those seeking to build a holiday or short break around wildlife watching, visit - https://www.visitmidwales.co.uk/accommodation/ - to view the range of quality accommodation available in Mid Wales.
Red kites can be watched at Bwlch Nant yr Arian feeding station.
Ospreys at the Dyfi Osprey Project.
Bottle nose Dolphins in Cardigan Bay.
Image: Steve Hartley, Dolphin Survey Boat Trips.
Wildlife presenter Iolo Williams with Lakota the bald eagle at Falconry Experience Wales.
A beaver family has been released at the Cors Dyfi Reserve.
Olly joined the railway in 2019 and his achievements include leading a major piece of market research, helping to raise more than £140,000 as part of the W&LLR’s 2020 appeal made necessary by the Covid pandemic and increasing the railway’s social media presence by more than 25 per cent.
He also found time to write a book about the line to raise further funds and was elected to the railway’s board of trustees where he now takes the volunteer role of marketing and product manager.
“I’m blown away to have won the award,” said Olly. “Thank you so much to my brilliant colleagues for everything they have done to support me in the two years I’ve been at the W&L - bring on much more to come.
“I believe wholeheartedly in the ability of our movement to change lives if we work hard enough to get there. Heartfelt congratulations to the other two nominees too for being shortlisted.”
The railway’s members’ newsletter The Earl was also highly commended in the HRA Awards. Launched in 2014 as a more frequent addition to the quarterly Llanfair Railway Journal, The Earl is published approximately monthly as a digital PDF sent to a mailing list.
However new issues can be produced almost immediately when the railway has news it needs to rapidly pass on to its members. The newsletter also proved a very effective means for volunteers to keep in touch with the railway during the Covid-19 pandemic when many were prevented from attending the railway by lockdowns.
“Olly has made a significant contribution to the Welshpool & Llanfair over the last couple of years,” said W&LLR chairman Steve Clews. “We were delighted when he was elected to the board of trustees and more recently appointed product and marketing manager.”
The railway’s general manager James Brett said it was inspiring to see the range of achievements from railways across the UK after a very difficult year for the entire heritage rail sector.
“With such a high calibre of entrants, to be nominated in two categories and to win one award, is a testament to all the hard work and dedication our team has put in over the past 12 months,” he added.
The railway reopened for its 2021 operating season on May 1. Details of the line’s selection of one and two-hour round trips are now available on the website at www.wllr.org.uk and tickets can be pre-booked at https://wllr.digitickets.co.uk
Oliver Edwards, named Heritage Railway Association Young Volunteer of the Year.
The reopening of Talyllyn Railway in its 70th anniversary year has begun.
King’s Café at Wharf Station is open with heated outdoor seating under the main station canopy, as well as further covered space under a pair of marquees.
The shop and café in Tywyn and tearooms at Abergynolwyn are now open daily from 9am and 10am respectively
Daily passenger services have also restarted, with certain Covid restrictions in place to ensure the comfort and safety of the staff and passengers
Details of the timetable may be found on the railway’s website. All bookings must be made in advance through the website, which has full details of special Covid arrangements in place.
Under canopy dining tables for Kings Café on the platform at Wharf Station.
Marquees situated opposite the main station building at Wharf for patrons wishing to purchase take-away refreshments from Kings Café.
The picture has been chosen for the first year of the partnership with Oriel Davies Gallery in Newtown and two other venues, Carmarthenshire Museum in Abergwili, Carmarthen and Beacon Museum in Whitehaven.
The National Gallery Masterpiece Tour 2021-‘23 offers three non-London museums, galleries or art centres the opportunity to partner with the National Gallery for three years and to display one different major work from our collection each year.
For the first time in the tour’s history, the partner venues have been selected for a three-year period. The paintings for 2022 and ‘23 will be chosen jointly by the partners and the National Gallery.
Oriel Davies Gallery will display Chardin’s ‘The House of Cards’ alongside two new
commissions - a kinetic work by the artist Charlie Cook, which will examine the concept of the ‘fragility of human endeavour’ and the idea of playful persistence as shown in the loaned painting.
A recent Glasgow School of Art graduate, Cook uses cabinet making skills to create kinetic works that playfully explore balance. This will be shown alongside ‘Building a Future’, a collaboration between Oriel Davies, local communities and illustrator Alyn Smith.
A Cardiff‐based artist, Smith has been commissioned to create a set of 15,000 cards which will be completed by contributions from local communities and built in the gallery exploring the relationship between dreaming and reality through play.
Steffan Jones‐Hughes, Oriel Davies’ director, said: “We are delighted to have this opportunity to work with the National Gallery and show historical work from the collection as a starting point for a contemporary dialogue with artists and our audiences, making connections between the work and Newtown’s people and places.”
National Gallery director Dr Gabriele Finaldi said: “Caught somewhere between curiosity, determination and fragility, the boy in Chardin’s painting is engrossed in his house-of-cards construction.
“The host museums have conceived some highly original and intensely participatory approaches to how this picture will be displayed in the context of their spaces and collections and I much look forward to working closely with them to reach new audiences outside London.”
Ian Jones, Head of Leisure for Carmarthenshire County Council, said: “We are excited to be a National Gallery Masterpiece Tour partner and want to involve our communities in developing the exhibition as much as possible. The Creative Curators – open to anyone interested in taking part – will have the amazing opportunity to get up close to museum collections and curate the exhibition around the centrepiece from the National Gallery.
“The partnership with the National Gallery is enabling this opportunity to try out a new way of creating exhibitions, as part of their commitment to promoting understanding, knowledge and appreciation of Old Master paintings.”
Jean-Siméon Chardin’s ‘The House of Cards’.
© The National Gallery
Q. Please tell other members a bit about you and your business
A. John Lloyd of Aberllefenni Slate Mine and I formed Corris Caverns Limited with a view to developing the Braichgoch Slate Mine in Corris into a visitor attraction. We were well aware of the appeal of exploring underground slate workings but we were equally conscious that the story of slate mining was well told elsewhere. Eventually we decided to draw on the wealth of Welsh myths and legends as a theme using the underground workings as a dramatic backdrop.
We were able to capture the water running through the tunnel to create an underground river and we commissioned a specially designed boat from the boatyard in Ynyslas to carry visitors along the river, through the magic waterfall and into a time of myth and legend. So King Arthur’s Labyrinth was born and it welcomed its first visitors in the summer of 1993.
The Labyrinth is located adjacent to Corris Craft Centre which had been developed by the then Development Board for Rural Wales (DBRW) and we were able to rent one of the studios as the reception for our new venture. A couple of years later DBRW put the Craft Centre on the market and, thanks to a friendly bank manager, we were able to buy it. The Craft Centre now accommodates eight independent craft producers, the Dyfi Distillery, a café and a Welsh food shop, and the receptions for both the Labyrinth and Corris Mine Explorers.
Q. How has the industry changed from your perspective over the years?
A. I have been involved with tourism in Wales for almost 50 years and, as you might imagine there have been enormous changes over that time. In the 1970s there was real and justified concern about the quality of the tourism product on offer but over the years that has completely changed. Efforts by the industry and ever higher expectations by customers have ensured that Wales now has a first class tourism offering.
Competition has increased, not only from alternative destinations in the UK and abroad but also within Wales. Every year there are more visitor attractions vying for visitors’ attention, time and money. Every year, more traditional farm buildings become self-catering accommodation. Every year, more activities are offered. On balance this is a good thing but succeeding in business becomes more challenging year by year.
Tourism in Wales is now less seasonal and short breaks make up a greater part of the business but many jobs are still seasonal and are likely to remain so for the foreseeable future.
Q. What have been your biggest challenges over the years?
A. Covid has been one of the biggest challenges and there is no need for me to go into detail as we have all had a tough time over the last year. However, I would like to add that without the financial help from the Government our business would not have survived this far and with it the forty or so jobs supported by all the activities at the Craft Centre.
The operation of a business using former mine workings as a visitor attraction is a constant challenge. The safety of our visitors and employees has to be the top priority and this requires constant vigilance, inspection and maintenance.
The immense underground caverns and tunnels of the Labyrinth are cool, dark and damp. This creates a difficult atmosphere in which to operate electrical equipment and the increasingly complex digital sound and light controls which lie behind our underground presentations. Everything has to be carefully protected to avoid the disruption which can so easily be caused by the ‘gremlins’ lurking in the shadows.
One of our biggest challenges was to build additional craft studios at the Craft Centre in the early 2000s. In order to do this we had to obtain funding from Europe through WEFO and from Cyngor Gwynedd through the Local Regeneration Fund. This was not straight-forward for anybody but it was made more difficult by our being a commercial organisation. However, after several years of effort and with the active support of the European Funding department in Cyngor Gwynedd we were able to build an additional four studios at the Craft Centre which have been fully occupied ever since.
Q. What do you enjoy most about running your business?
A. Working with an enthusiastic and competent team to provide a destination which people enjoy visiting.
Q. Why do you think it's important to be a member of MWT?
A. MWT are an invaluable support and source of advice about everything to do with tourism in Mid Wales. If they don’t know the answer, they know someone who does.
Their websites and social media work are an essential element in the overall marketing of Mid Wales and we make full use of Guestlink to provide an on-line booking platform for the Labyrinth at a low cost.
One of the benefits in normal times is the opportunities that MWT offer for networking with other people in the business and, during the pandemic, it has been a channel for government advice and other help to deal with the abnormal circumstances we find ourselves in.
A key aspect of MWT work is the representational role they perform, passing on to government and others the views of the industry and the problems that it faces, the help that is needed and potential solutions to problems. This activity has never been more important than over the last year when the whole tourism industry has been fighting for survival.
MWT, working with their colleagues in the Wales Tourism Alliance, provides a strong voice for tourism in a way that is impossible for individual businesses.
Thank you, Ian.
Click here to visit King Arthur's Labyrinth' website
After receiving the award from David Peate, who was Powys High Sheriff at the time, she said: “The award is an absolute surprise. I still like to do things for Wales, but my tourism work was so long ago now. I was just being Welsh and promoting the country.”
Jonathan Jones, CBE, a good friend of Pam, said she reminded him constantly, when he was WTB chief executive that he should have done so much more for Mid Wales.
He explained that Pam did not begin providing Welsh teas at British and international tourism exhibitions until she was in her 60s, after raising three sons and running a farm and pony trekking centre in Rhayader.
“The tributes to Pam on social media are huge from people all around the world who still remember her,” said Mr Jones. “She was a legend in her own teatime.
“She really was a woman with strong views who did not suffer fools gladly and her main love was Mid Wales. She consistently thought we could all do far more than we were doing to support Mid Wales.
“Pam was also a great ambassador for Wales, Britain and tourism in general, and she will be sorely missed.”
Val Hawkins, MWT Cymru’s chief executive, said: “Pam made such a big contribution to the tourism industry which was recognised with the Lifetime Achievement Award.
“She was a lovely person with a sharp mind who always had Mid Wales very much in her heart. She will be missed greatly.”
Born near Rhayader in 1924, Pam moved with her parents to Cardiff where she was educated at Cardiff High School and Cardiff University. After a period teaching domestic science, she married and moved to Cowbridge where she brought up her three sons.
Her role as president of The Welsh Ski Council ensured that all her sons were excellent skiers, with one representing GB and another becoming a ski instructor.
Widowed in her early 50s, Pam bought Blaen Cwm Farm near Rhayader where she established the pony trekking business and was a founder member of the Pony Trekking Society of Wales.
Because of her public relations and cooking ability, she was recruited by both the WTB and the British BTA. When the travelling became too onerous, she opened a B&B in her mother's former home and supported her son, Clive's mountain biking business in Rhayader, attracting mountain bike groups from across the UK and Europe.
Throughout this time, Pam was a member and strong supporter of MWT Cymru and was instrumental in establishing Rhayader 2000, which brought local tourism related businesses together.
MWT Cymru is the regional destination marketing and membership organisation representing more than 600 tourism and hospitality businesses across Powys, Ceredigion and Meirionnydd district of Southern Snowdonia.
Pam Powell, MBE, receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award from David Peate at the inaugural Mid Wales Tourism Awards .
Press release from Ceredigion County Council:
With outdoor hospitality businesses now allowed to reopen in Wales, businesses in Ceredigion are encouraged to ensure that they are fully aware of the latest guidance.
From Saturday, 24 April 2021, six people can meet outdoors in Wales, and outdoor hospitality, including cafes, pubs and restaurants can reopen from Monday 26 April 2021 – alongside outdoor attractions, organised outdoor activities and wedding receptions for up to 30 people.
Welsh Government has also announced that Wales is on track for indoor hospitality reopening from Monday 17 May 2021, subject to confirmation.
In order to open outdoor hospitality more comfortably and safely, some venues may want to erect outdoor structures/shelters to provide some protection from the changeable Welsh weather.
To be considered ‘outdoors’, shelters, marquees and other structures cannot be ‘enclosed’ or ‘substantially enclosed’ to comply with the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (No.5) (Wales) Regulations 2020. If the structure has a roof, at least 50% of the area of their ‘walls’ or sides must be open at all times when in use.
This does not include any windows or doors within the structure. This ‘50% rule’ has been taken from smoke free premises legislation, so if you cannot smoke in a structure or building, it will also not be able to be used for outdoor hospitality when the sector reopens. Examples of suitable and unsuitable outdoor shelters can be seen in the attachment.
It is also important to site structures as far away from any permanent structures, e.g. walls or hedges as these may then accidentally form part of the perimeter of the structure as they act to enclose these sides.
As a guide, a structure should be at least 1.5 metres away from any materials or other structure that would act to enclose these sides. It is important to remember that not only must any outdoor shelter comply with the legislation on smoking, but also with laws relating to Planning, Building Control and the conditions for licensed premises e.g. the positioning of the structure means that your CCTV is not effective.
It is also advisable that businesses contact the Fire Officer to discuss any impact the structure/shelter may have on fire escape routes etc. For further information on this and how to calculate whether your structure can be used as an outdoor structure, please visit Welsh Government page regarding smoke-free law: https://gov.wales/smoke-free-law-guidance-changes-march-2021
UK Hospitality Cymru has also released the following mitigating guidance for re-opening outdoors in Wales for the hospitality (pubs, bars, cafés, restaurants and licensed venues) sector: www.ukhospitality.org.uk/page/WalesGuidance
This guidance has been produced in consultation with industry stakeholders and applies to hospitality businesses in Wales. Information relating to current alert levels and any transitional arrangements that may be in place can be found on the Welsh Government website: www.gov.wales/coronavirus. These may change at short notice so it is advised that the page is checked regularly.
Image: Examples of suitable and unsuitable outdoor shelters. Credit picture to Shared Regulatory Service, https://twitter.com/SRS_Wales/status/1384483236462563334
Online Link: https://www.ceredigion.gov.uk/resident/news/advice-for-businesses-reopening-outdoor-hospitality-venues/
Tourism leaders in Mid Wales have welcomed today’s Welsh Government’s decision to reopen indoor hospitality and the wider tourism sector on May 17.
First Minister Mark Drakeford announced the plans to lift lockdown restrictions on hospitality and tourism following a call from the Covid-19 Tourism Taskforce, set up by Welsh Government, to bring forward the reopening dates in line with England and Scotland. The taskforce represents the hospitality and tourism industry in Wales.
Today’s announcement means that people will be able to have a drink or meal inside a pub or restaurant in Wales for the first time in more than five months from May 17.
All tourist accommodation, indoor entertainment and attractions in Wales will also reopen on that date in time for the Spring Bank Holiday. Outdoor hospitality and tourism reopen on April 26.
Rowland Rees-Evans, chairman of MWT Cymru, which represents more than 600 tourism and hospitality businesses across Powys, Ceredigion and the Meirionnydd region of Gwynedd, warmly welcomed the announcement.
Earlier this week, he backed the taskforce’s letter to the First Minister and warned that the tourism and hospitality sector in Wales would lose out if the reopening dates were not in alignment with England.
“It’s very pleasing that the First Minister has listened to the hospitality and tourism industry and that we now have a roadmap so that we know exactly where we are. We now have the summer to look forward to and it shows that the vaccination programme is working.
“We all must continue to work together to ensure that we keep everyone safe.”
Taskforce member Steve Hughson, Mid Wales Regional Tourism Forum chair and chief executive of the Royal Welsh Agricultural Society (RWAS) at Llanelwedd, also welcomed the announcement.
“Taking account of all the data, which is moving quickly, the Taskforce felt the time was right to move to indoor hospitality as soon as we could after an assessment of the impact of reopening outdoor hospitality,” he said.
“We are delighted the First Minister has take scientific advice, looked at the data and moved quicker than the original time frame.”
Speaking on behalf of the RWAS, he added: “As a member of the Event Wales Industry Advisory Group, we continue to work very closely with the Welsh Government with regards to the events sector.
“We continue to push for test events and the safe reopening of the events sector which has been the worst affected during the pandemic as we have been unable to open in any form since March last year.”
Fellow taskforce member, Wales Tourism Alliance (WTA) chairman Andrew Campbell said he felt a deep sense of relief with the announcement.
“I would like to thank the First Minister and the Welsh Government for listening to our representations,” he added. “The announcement is very welcome and is just what is needed. I am delighted for tourism and hospitality businesses in Wales.
“Visitors to Wales will now have a number of options of where to go and it will certainly make destination management easier.”
Other taskforce members based in Mid Wales include Adrian Greason-Walker, WTA’s policy advisor who lives at Nantmel, near Rhayader and Anthony Rosser, Hospitality Cymru’s chair who is general manager and operations director of Lake Vyrnwy Hotel.
Rowland Rees-Evans, MWT Cymru’s chairman.
Steve Hughson, Mid Wales Regional Tourism Forum chair.
May 2021 April 2021 March 2021 February 2021 January 2021 December 2020 November 2020 October 2020 September 2020 August 2020 July 2020 June 2020 April 2020 March 2020 November 2019 September 2019 August 2019 July 2019 May 2019 April 2019 March 2019 February 2019 October 2018 September 2018 August 2018 July 2018 June 2018 May 2018 April 2018 March 2018 January 2018 November 2017 July 2017 June 2017 May 2017 April 2017