Ultimate family thrills in Wales – without a theme park in sight

Forget the queues and expense of theme parks.  If you want unforgettable excitement for you and your children, head to Wales this summer.

Imagine the thrill of standing on the side of a mountain and experiencing a fighter jet blast past in close proximity. Machynlleth Loop, known as ‘Mach Loop’ is a set of grass covered valleys, situated between Dolgellau in the north, and Machynlleth in the south, which are regularly used for low-level flight training. To the south of the loop is an area called Tactical Training Area 7T, in which, at specified times, aircraft may roar past as low as 100 feet.  It doesn’t get more exciting than this, and it’s free… Find out when the jets will be flying by clicking the operational low-level flying training timetable here.  

Taking the plunge – the Blue Lagoon, Abereiddy, Pembrokshire

If low-flying jets aren’t exciting enough, then why not hurl yourself off a cliff instead?  Head towards Abereiddy’s Blue Lagoon just north of St David’s.  A few years back, Red Bull hosted the international cliff diving championships from this very spot.  The Blue Lagoon is a deep, former slate quarry right next to the sea.  When it fell out of use, one side was blasted away to link the lagoon to the sea.  For a high adrenaline kick, swim across the lagoon and clamber up the rocks to various platforms on the side of the quarry.  Stand with your toes over the edge like Tom Daley.  Take a deep breath… and jump (don’t dive!)  The height of the drop varies depending on whether the tide is in or out.  But it’s always a long way down! In the summer, there’s a great atmosphere in this area with walkers, campers, dogs, beach goers, coasteering groups, kayakers and wild swimmers.  Go independently or through an organised coasteering group like Celtic Quest.  Enjoy a wetsuited afternoon scrambling, swimming through caves, tumbling around in the waves and jumping from great heights.  It’s mostly adults who chicken out.  Kids 8+ love it and it does wonders to boost confidence.    Celtic Quest

Adrenalin rush – Zip World at Bethesda and Blaenau Ffestiniog


Still thrill seeking?  Trek to North Wales where zip and bouncing experiences will diminish the scariest theme park rides into waltzing teacups for toddlers.  Zip World Velocity is an adrenalin-fuelled attraction offering visitors a face-molding, high speed experience. Velocity is the ‘nearest thing to flying’, being the home of the longest zip lines in Europe and the fastest in the world (is 100 mph fast enough?) Velocity has two pairs of zip lines. The experience is introduced by the ‘Little Zipper’, with a maximum speed of around 45 mph followed by an off-road truck ride into the heart of the historic Penrhyn Quarry (once the world’s largest slate quarry).  You’re then hooked up to Zip World Velocity, with stunning views out towards Anglesey and even the Isle of Man on a clear day.  The descent down the Big Zipper over the quarry lake often reaches speeds in excess of 100mph. Or you could try Zip World Titan.  This is a mile long zip line and is the only 4-person zip line in Europe, where riders fly down all three zip lines in unison of teams of four, reaching speeds of up to 70mph over moor, mountain and mine. Children under 18 must be booked an accompanied by an adult at all times for Velocity and Titan. But there’s plenty of Zip World experiences nearby for the whole family, including a massive trampoline suspended inside an underground quarry – Zip World Cavens, Fforest Zip Safari, Zip World Junior Bounce, Fforest Junior Tree Trail, Fforest Treetopnets, Fforest Plummet, Fforest Sky Ride, www.zipworld.co.uk

Jet boating the rapids – St David’s, Pembrokeshire

            By now, you’ll really have caught the thrill-seeking bug.  Jet boats travel at great speed across the sea, whatever the conditions.  In Pembrokeshire, again from close to St David’s, there are some magnificent tidal rapids across the rocks between the Welsh coast and the island of Ramsey.  Jet boats zoom up the rapids and perform high speed donuts in the bluest of seas.  Venture Jet takes visitors close up to see the wildlife around this magnificent coast – seals, porpoises, whales, dolphins, sea birds and basking sharks –  and makes sorties into inaccessible sea caves.  Huge fun. Check out Venture Jet for more details. GoMunkee is launching later this year.  It aims to be the definitive what’s on listing for families in the UK, a digital signpost pointing to all things for kids and families to see and do.  Sign up for our inspiring newsletter now, and never miss a thing. © Annie Harrison, GoMunkee 2017