It’s just beyond any doubts good for you. It’s fulfilling, inspirational and can lift your heart when everything weighs heavy on it.
In the gloom of January 2020, getting through a miserable British winter was a big concern for most of us. We had no idea what was to come or that our homes would soon feel like prisons for months on end. And that lockdowns and restrictions would be in our lives for the long haul, and normal life would seem a distant dream. We are reaching the end of that dark, hard time at last. It has taken its toll on both waistlines and mental contentment.
It’s being recognised officially that there will be far-reaching repercussions for the wellbeing of our nation.
It’s good therefore to see that policies are being put in place to counteract the harms done. There was great news for The Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority working in partnership with Mind Pembrokeshire. They received over £300K to provide volunteering opportunities, and importantly, provide outdoor group activities in one of the most beautiful areas of the country.
Everywhere around Tenby is a lift for the heart, with so much beauty on offer.
Visiting Tenby and its surrounding areas spoils you with things to do and places to explore. But how about hopping in the car and driving just that bit further away for a grand day out? If 30-40mins travelling in the gorgeous countryside is no problem, then perhaps you’d love to see a wonderful area of outstanding natural beauty, albeit one that is semi-manmade.
In 1972 Llys-y-Fran reservoir opened in the foothills of the beautiful Preseli Hills, to supply the freshwater needs of Pembrokeshire. With a spectacular dam, the setting has become a magnet for outdoor pursuits, attracting thousands each year for the wide variety of watersports and activities offered.
The area is a haven for wildlife and nature. It is loved by locals for walking and hiking.
The building of the dam protected 350 acres of woodland and grassland, with the lake as its centrepiece. You can choose from six walking trails, from easy family walks to more challenging 6-mile hikes, just pick up a map in the Visitor Centre to plan your route.
In 2019 the site was granted £4m for redevelopment. Following delays due to Covid, has now opened again for visitors. It’s a great time to visit with a host of new and improved facilities and attractions. The lake itself offers fishing, sailing, kayaking, canoeing, paddleboarding and a new version of this fun sport, stand-up pedalboards with handlebars. For anyone who isn’t confident about paddleboarding, the security to be able to “hold on” will help! The experiences, including instructor-led sessions, can all be booked online.
The lake is perfect, deep, clean and of course without any tide. Safety is paramount and accounted for in every activity.
The site has much else to offer if getting wet and wild isn’t on your radar.
With over 14km of trails to explore, cycling is a great option here. Classed as one of the best places to get on your bike in Pembrokeshire, you can extend your skills. Llys-y-Fran also offers specially designed mountain biking trails, pump tracks and a pump skills area. You can hire bikes from £20 and electric bikes are available. There is also a repair shop and bike wash area.
Again, if all the watersport options, walking, hiking and cycling are not tempting, you will soon be able to try your hand at something different. Planned to open soon are knife and axe throwing challenges, plus archery. The 7m climbing wall is now completed and Llys-y-Fran is busy recruiting currently for a new crop of instructors for these skills.
Young visitors are fully catered for with their own beautifully designed adventure playground overlooking the lake, with a picnic area. And opening soon is a “Crazy Bugz” track with six-wheeled off-road buggies for the smaller adrenalin junkie.
If a gorgeous view and a lovely brew are what really takes your fancy, you’ll find the impressive Visitor Centre very appealing. It offers an immersive visitor experience room. There is a gift shop and great café, with a tasty, locally produced menu.
You’ll meet lovely staff and enjoy the expansive terrace overlooking the lakeside.
There is ample parking at the site. If a day here isn’t going to be enough, you’ll shortly be able to stay and take in all the facilities. A superb new full-service campsite is opening soon.
And Llys-y-Fran has one last little treat for a busy mind that needs some peaceful contemplation. Just a short stroll from the Visitor Centre, tucked in woodland, is the 11th century St Meilyr’s Church. This beautiful little chapel is always open to visitors and well worth a visit.
Oh, yes, just to add to the wonder of this amazing free to visit, and stunning local beauty spot, there is one more great reason for a visit here. Welsh Water own and care for 91 reservoirs and they are all not for profit and without any shareholders. Everything goes back into providing these havens for health and well-being, with all financial surpluses reinvested for the benefit of their customers. They are the only water authority in the country to do this.
Go and see it, go and enjoy it. It’s wonderful. It’s Great Out Doors For Mental Health