A great day out for all the family!
Published: Monday 10th Nov 2014
Written by: Ginnie James
I enjoy walking, as mentioned in my last blog post, and this time of year is great for wrapping up warm and going for a ramble through the autumnal countryside. My little girl however needed a bit more entertainment than that during the half term holidays to distract her from the apparently very upsetting fact of not being able to go to school for 9 whole days! Although the beaches of West Wales are always favoured destinations at any time of the year we decided to stay more inland this time and re-discover some of the attractions of Mid Wales.
My favourite day was a road trip to a couple of places that I haven’t been to for ages but ones my little one is now old enough to really enjoy. My parents had made it up to us for a visit and we made our way to Machinations in the small village of Llanbrynmair near Machynlleth. At first glance, this WWII aircraft hangar does not look much but my daughter was delighted by what we found inside. The permanent automata exhibition she found fascinating and went round and round looking at each moving model at least three times. Then we moved onto the rabbit village where she could feed the rabbits hopping freely around their beautifully crafted model houses.
While the adults then refreshed with a cup of tea from the café (bit of theme developing here) she enjoyed some time in the play barn. Each of the three elements to machinations can be paid for separately so you can pick and choose what you want to experience. Carrying on along up into the southern area of the Snowdonia National Park, and not far from the Centre for Alternative Technology, we came to Corris Craft Centre and King Arthur’s Labyrinth.
The craft centre has 7 studios ranging from toys to candles to chocolate and there is a food shop featuring amongst other delicacies award winning local produce. After a wander round and a tasty lunch in another lovely café it was time for our booked journey into King Arthurs Labyrinth. You are greeted by your squire who takes you to get your hard hat(!) and then, after a safety briefing by a mystical bard, takes you to the entrance of the caves and delivers you to the hooded boatman. The boat takes you deep into the mountains, through the waterfall (don’t worry – you don’t get wet) where you dock in a large cavern.
Your boatman then guides you on your walk within the mountains where you come across different tableaus and listen to the story of King Arthur and his knights. It is dark and I was a bit worried that static models in a mountain, albeit very good ones atmospherically lit, would not be enough for her but she, along with Mum & Dad, was absolutely enthralled. We had paid a bit extra so that when we emerged from the mountain we could gain entry to the new attraction on the site of The Lost Legends of the Stone Circle. Again the attraction consists of static models which you hunt out among a maze of planting where you can listen to Celtic myths and legends either in English or Welsh. The whole concept really captured my daughter’s imagination and I was amazed at how she sat and listened to the stories.
Another wander around the craft shops and a final trip to the café finished off our day before the drive home. Not only is there all of that but the craft centre is also the home of Corris Mine Explorers. This gives you the rare opportunity to explore abandoned slate mines and you can choose from a number of trips that vary in length and physicality required. Definitely not for young children or the claustrophobic but I bet it’s a great experience that I really must try one day! These attractions are definitely provide a family-friendly day out but are also great just for lunch or some Christmas shopping!
Who else loves a Labyrinth? Where do you take your family for a day out in Mid Wales? Let me know!