Fun Family Days Out at  Parc Bryn Bach
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general

If you ever needed an excuse to try the incredible sport of SUP (stand up paddle boarding) which we have been developing at Parc Bryn Bach as part of our exciting Adventure Activity programme, then read on!
 
I have been in search of a winter SUP location for some time; looking for a chance to leave the grey damp and cold UK weather behind to paddle with some warmth on my back during the winter.  
 
Ibiza has never really registered with me as an adventure location, but a few months ago I was delivering a 3 Star BCU Kayaking Course and met a representative of Kayak Ibiza.  Over the 3 day course Lauren, one of the Ibiza Guides, persuaded me that I needed to visit the island to discover what it has to offer as a SUP adventure location. 
 
I decided to take the plunge and started to investigate flight and car hire options and was amazed at the low cost deals on offer; the return flight with my board cost just £45 and I booked 5 days car rental for £23.
 
After a two hour flight from Bristol, we made our final approach to the island and were flying so low that you could get a real picture of what Ibiza has to offer, I found myself already scouting out routes before the plane had even landed.
 
Stepping outside the airport was like stepping into another world after the cold of our British Winter, I had the sun on my back and quickly got rid of my winter skin, changing into my shorts, T shirt, flip flops and shades ready for the drive to the accommodation.
 
I had booked an apartment in Portinatx, which is situated on the north west tip of the island; I was initially worried that this would be too far north, as I was anticipating paddling in the south but I soon realized that you are only ever a 40 minute drive from any part of the island, which gives you 360 degree access to the stunning Ibiza coast line.  The accommodation was great and directly overlooked the bay of Portinatx, again at this time of year I only paid £65 for 4 night’s accommodation.
 
A short drive from Portinatx is Sant Jaun, a small village which dates back to the 16 century and has a church at its focal point, with a few cafés and restaurants where I had arranged to meet Lauren. We discussed the followings days paddling over a few ‘Café con leche’ (coffee with milk) which I grew very fond of during the trip.
 
That evening I was so excited about the thought of the next few days paddling that I decided to try and get a cheeky little hour at one of the bays I had spotted on my way to St Jaun.  Logistics on Ibiza is extremely easy with all the bays being well sign posted and providing easy access to the water’s edge.
  
Xyclar Bay is situated near to Portinatx and faces west with beautiful turquoise waters and a small cluster of islands which make for some interesting exploring. 
 
On this trip I had taken a Jobe 11 6" Expedition SUP board, which is ideal for coastal touring with storage on the back and front, it’s light and extremely maneuverable and able to cut through any chop for a smooth glide. 
 
The first thing I noticed on launching into the calm Mediterranean Sea was the clarity of the water; I had full visibility straight down for over 50 feet in some parts, which gave an incredible view of the sea life below.  It was literally like flying over another world, I had limited time to spend in the bay as the sun was starting to set, providing more amazing views, so as I paddled back to the beach I felt like the luckiest person on the island and was completely psyched for the next few days. 


SUP Ibiza 1 copy

Struggling to sleep that evening, I woke early and packed my paddling gear into the hire car and headed towards Ibiza town to meet up with Lauren for a coffee at Talamanca Bay, where my first taste of sea touring on Ibiza would begin. 
 
In season, Talamanca Bay is packed with tourists, but at this time of year its quiet with a few locals exercising and enjoying the early season sunshine.  The bay looks onto Ibiza Old Town, which is a stunning settlement from 654B.C.  The Carthaginians discovered Ibiza and founded Ibiza Town, making this one of the earliest towns in Europe.  They christened the town Ibossim, quite similar to its present day name, the town is encapsulated within city walls with narrow cobbled streets, a must to visit if you’re in Ibiza!
 
The journey we had planned was from Talamanca Bay to Sestanyol Bay, stopping there for lunch to enjoy a swim and a bite to eat.  I tagged onto an organized trip lead by Paulo, the owner of Kayak Ibiza, and Lauren who were accompanied by 10 Americans in sea kayaks; I was the only SUP on this trip and had a few strange looks when I was inflating my green machine on the beach. 
 
We headed out from the beach and I paddled out with Paulo, as this was my first opportunity to chat to him about the area, sea conditions and safety.  Paulo is originally from South America but has lived in Ibiza for many years and is extremely experienced with a wealth of knowledge on sea touring around the island and an in-depth knowledge from a geological and ecological perspective, and also happens to be a great guy!
 
The paddling was amazing, with rugged limestone cliffs revealing a mixture of limestone and igneous rock folding to form some amazing rock structures.  There were some small caves to play in and as expected, amazing visibility levels down to the sea bed.  The temperature was perfect for paddling with a warm 18-20 degrees with a gentle breeze, sea conditions were flat and calm in the bays with a little chop further afield, but nothing to affect the SUP. 

SUP Ibiza 2 copy


On returning to Talamanca Bay after a 4 hour adventure, I was treated to a sea food feast at one of the bay restaurants which was amazing and consisted of fresh fish caught that day!

At lunch we discussed the best plan of attack for the rest of the day as the wind had picked up slightly, owing to the thermic sea breeze which generally happens between 1pm and 4pm on the island.  One of the amazing things about this island is that there is always somewhere to shelter from prevailing conditions, which means you can always paddle.  We decided to head further south and paddle from Salinas, which is quite possibly one of the most iconic of all Ibiza beaches. 

Las Salinas is a long expanse of soft golden sand surrounded by a nature reserve including sand dunes, pine forests and spectacular salt flats.  The sea is particularly salty here, which makes it incredibly easy to stay afloat when swimming, with an old pirate look out point perched on the peninsular guarding the bay.  We headed out from the bay following the coastline south, this journey felt a little more remote as the height of the cliffs started to increase, which gave a real sense of remoteness and adventure.  Every turn brought breathtaking scenery and as the sun started to set I was treated to more spectacular views.

SUP Ibiza 3 copySUP Ibiza 4 copy

Over the next couple of days I was treated to some of the best touring routes that Ibiza has to offer courtesy of help and advice from Kayak Ibiza. I think one of the trip highlights for me was from Cala Salada out and around Ses Margalides Island.  This was a real treat for me, paddling solo with no sight of anyone or anything accept a multitude of cormorants diving around me and even sightings of dolphins in the distance.  
 
The clarity of the water is amazing and I was told by Paulo that this is due to the Sea Grass that surrounds the island, "Posidonia Oceanica" (commonly known as Neptune Grass) is a species that is endemic to the Mediterranean Sea and filtrates the salt water, producing crystal blue and turquoise seas around the island, a SUP dream!
 
After a 6 hour paddle I arrived back at the beach to sit in the shade and enjoy some fresh bread, olives and cheese, which I had purchased in one of the many Spanish villages that exist around the island. 


SUP Ibiza 5 copySUP Ibiza 6 copySUP Ibiza 7 copy

The Island is rich in history and has a plethora of hidden beaches which are only accessible by boat or SUP, and there are many hidden gems such as Moon Beach.

SUP Ibiza 8 copy

I also visited the infamous Benirras Beach, famous for its hippy colony and the magnificent drumming parties which take place there. Just around the corner from this beach is the impressive S'Orenga Caves which are completely inaccessible from the land, they provide a spectacular backdrop treating you to a blast of multi coloured reef which really stands out in the calm waters.
 
SUP Ibiza 9 copy
 
 
I was really impressed by Ibiza, not only the spectacular SUP options and the cleanliness of the island, but the extreme friendliness of the locals with nothing being too much trouble.  The Island is far more than a party island and during March and April it provides an excellent winter get away with warm weather and isolated paddling that gives a real sense of adventure. 
 
Every corner you turn on this amazing coastline gives breathtaking scenery, crystal clear waters and solitude.  The island has a very multi-cultural feel to it, with a definite hint of South America and Polynesia.  There are some great places to eat and the food I experienced was truly amazing. 
 
I would like to thank Lauren and Paulo from Kayak Ibiza for their kind hospitality; making me feel at home on the island and treating me to some of the best SUP touring I have ever experienced.  I will be returning to the island later this month for more paddling adventures and look forward to catching up with these guys. 
 
Parc Bryn Bach will be running some SUP adventures to Ibiza next year; dates and prices will be available shortly on our faceook page and website.  As well as SUP, there will also be additional guided activities on offer such as sea kayaking and walking, as the island has some amazing scenic walks. 
 
For more information visit our website at www.parcbrynbach.co.uk or our facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/parcbrynbach/


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Tree Planting Montage

The last couple of months have seen some very environmentally friendly changes taking place to the landscape at Parc Bryn Bach thanks to a grant from the Postcode Lottery.

Working in partnership with Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council, Groundwork Wales and Western Power, Aneurin Leisure have embarked on an ambitious tree planting project at Parc Bryn Bach to improve the biodiversity at the park, and provide sustainable habitats for a variety of local wildlife.

So far, the planting teams have braved all manner of weather conditions and worked with children from local schools at Bryn Bach Primary School and St Joseph R.C. Primary School as well as members of the public and a community group organised by Tai Calon.

In total 2000 native trees, consisting of a mixture of Hawthorn, Blackthorn, Hazel, Dog Rose, Holly, Field Maple and Crab Apple will be planted at various sites throughout Parc Bryn Bach’s 340 acres of parkland.  This mix was chosen as it will provide valuable shelter and nesting areas for birds and hedgehogs, along with sources of food for the birds and pollinating insects.

The grant from the Postcode Lottery has also enabled staff at Parc Bryn Bach to work with Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council to install two bee hives on one of the island’s at the centre of the lake, as well as a variety of bat and bird boxes, which will all contribute to improving the biodiversity of the country park and aid with local conservation efforts.

Anthony Hughes, Managing Director of Aneurin Leisure said of the project: “We are very grateful to the Postcode Lottery for the generous funding that we have received for this project and to Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council and Groundwork Wales for their invaluable support.”

Nadine Morgan, Biodiversity Officer for Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council said: I am thrilled to be part of the project which is striving to further enhance the biodiversity value of the park through activities such as installing bee hives, planting native trees and installing bird and bat boxes. The project has been fantastic at engaging the local schools in the tree planting, creating a valuable unique learning experience whilst also raising awareness about the importance of the local biodiversity and encouraging them to be more active outside.”

Hywel Tanner-Jones of Groundwork Wales added: "Groundwork Wales is excited to be a part of this partnership which has seen the planting of 2000 native trees at Parc Bryn Bach this winter.  Groundwork Wales has received a grant from Western Power to replant native trees in the communities of South Wales where we work, helping to make them Vibrant and Viable Places to live.

It has been great to work with so many young people from schools and the surrounding area who braved some very wet and windy conditions to get the trees planted.  Parc Bryn Bach is also an ideal location for a planting project of this scale as we know that the trees will be well maintained in the future."

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Easter eggs-2

 
Here are the opening times for our Aneurin Leisure venues over the Easter weekend.




Good Friday

Saturday 15th April

Easter Sunday

Easter Monday

Abertillery Sports Centre

Gym
9am – 4.30pm

Swimming Pool
1.30pm – 4pm

Open as normal

Gym
8.30am – 4pm

Swimming Pool
9am – 1pm
Closed

Bedwellty House & Park


Open as normal

Open as normal

Open as normal

Open as normal

Ebbw Vale Sports Centre

Gym & Sauna
8.30am – 4pm

Swimming Pool
10am – 3pm

Gym & Sauna
8.30am – 4pm

Swimming Pool
10am – 3pm

Gym & Sauna
8.30am – 4pm

Swimming Pool
10am – 3pm

Gym & Sauna
8.30am – 4pm

Swimming Pool
10am – 3pm

Learning Action Centres

 

Closed

Closed

Closed

Closed

Libraries



Closed

Closed

Closed

Closed

Parc Bryn Bach



Open as normal

Open as normal

Open as normal

Open as normal

The Met



Closed

Closed

Closed

Closed

Tredegar Sports Centre


Closed

Open as normal

Open as normal

Closed

 

For more information please contact:


·         Abertillery Sports Centre on 01495 357779

·         Bedwellty House & Park on 01495 353370

·         Ebbw Vale Sports Centre on 01495 357777

·         Parc Bryn Bach on 01495 355920

·         Tredegar Sports Centre on 01495 353395

 

 

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Swimming banner blog

The benefits of swimming are endless, and with the Summer holidays on the horizon, now is the perfect time to brush up on your skills.

Being able to swim can transform your holiday experience; enabling people of all ages to enjoy a variety of fun activities, such as spending time in the pool with friends and family, visiting water parks and even trying more adventurous experiences like scuba diving, surfing, kayaking or stand up paddle boarding, which could provide cherished memories for years to come.

At Aneurin Leisure we provide a range of swimming lessons for people of all ages and abilities.  Our Aqua Pathway swim school is a seamless journey from a baby’s first experience in the water with an adult, to children who are competent swimmers, confident and skilled enough to continue with aquatic activities for the rest of their lives. 

If you’re an adult looking to learn to swim, improve your skills or build up your confidence to get back in the water, our dedicated team of professional teachers can tailor lessons around you to achieve your specific goal.

Swimming is also an important skill which could someday save your life.  On average there are around 400 accidental drowning fatalities every year in the UK, most of which are due to accidental falls into water.  According to the National Safe Kids Campaign, drowning is the second leading cause of accidental deaths to children aged 1 – 14 years in the UK, which is why many national agencies encourage parents to teach their children to swim as early as possible.

In addition to providing parents with peace of mind, swimming is also a requirement of the National Curriculum, which states that by the end of Key Stage 2 all children should be able to swim 25 metres with clothes on, tread water for 30 seconds, demonstrate action for getting help and move into the Heat Escape Lessening Position H.E.L.P.

One parent said; “My son has been attending the swimming lessons at Ebbw Vale for two years now and has progressed really quickly through to Wave 4, he gets great instruction and isn’t far off swimming full widths in a number of strokes, it gives me great confidence before our holiday abroad.”

For more information on our range of swimming lessons and activities call our Customer Advisor Team on 01495 355958.

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Easter half term banner

There’s plenty to do this Easter with Aneurin Leisure; whether you’d like to get creative, discover adventure, enjoy a magical extravaganza or get sporty – we have something for everyone!

If you’re looking to improve your skills this half term, our three Sports Centres are the place to be!  All three venues will be hosting Netball Camps and Football Camps, with Ebbw Vale Sports Centre hosting the prestigious Cardiff City Football Camp on Wednesday 12th and Thursday 13th April, to book online simply visit www.cardiffcityfoundation.org.uk

The fun doesn’t end there though; each Sports Centre also has a range of fun activities and events to keep your children entertained.  Join us at Abertillery Sports Centre for StreetGames, sporting camps and a fabulous Roller Disco on 13th April from 4.30pm – 6pm, for more information call 01495 357779.  Try out the daily Junior Gym at Ebbw Vale Sports Centre or make a splash with Inflatable Fun on Tuesday 11th April from 10am – 2pm, for more information call 01495 357777.  Tredegar Sports Centre also has lots of fun on offer with Wheelie Wednesday, pool inflatables and an Easter Eggstavaganza party for children up to 12 years.  For more information on activities and events at our Sports Centres call 01495 355958 or visit www.bglife.co.uk.

Our six libraries across Blaenau Gwent have lots of fun activities throughout the Easter holidays, from face painting at Ebbw Vale on Friday 21st April to Easter Egg Hunts at Abertillery, Brynmawr, Blaina, Cwm, Ebbw Vale and Tredegar.  Ask at your local library for more information.

Join the madcap magical fun for all the family with Simon Sparkles Magical Eggstravaganza at The Met, Abertillery on Tuesday 11th April at 2pm.  Tickets are priced at £6.50 per person.  To book your tickets call our Box Office on 01495 355800 or book online at https://aneurinleisure.ticketsolve.com/#/shows

For the adventure seekers out there Parc Bryn Bach will be hosting five days of exciting Adventure Activities from 10th – 13th and 18th – 21st April.  Activities include canoeing, bush craft, climbing, archery, stand up paddle boarding, kayaking, caving, laser tag and gorge walking.  The activity days are suitable for ages 8 - 12 years and cost £15 per person and include expert tuition from our qualified instructors, transport to activity sites and all equipment.  For more information call 01495 355920 or visit www.parcbrynbach.co.uk

At Bedwellty House & Park we have a fun filled fortnight of activities for children of all ages, ranging from a whole host of Easter themed family fun days, workshops and Breakfast with the Easter Bunny from 10th – 14th April.  If you’re looking for something a bit different this Easter why not come along to our Beauty & the Beast themed Belle’s Princess Pamper Party on 18th April or enjoy our themed Mrs Potts Treat Tea (available until 29th April on selected days). There’ll be lots of messy fun to be had at our Peppa Pig Themed Play Day on 19th April and a great Beat Box Music Workshop for budding rappers on 20th April.  For more information call 01495 353370 or visit www.bedwelltyhouseandpark.co.uk

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