A major drive has been launched to promote a “hidden gem” of Welsh tourism that includes the world’s deepest hotel, beautiful ospreys and husky and go-kart racing.
The aim of the campaign to raise the profile of the Hiraethog area of North Wales is to boost the local economy by attracting more UK and international visitors whilst at the same time relieving pressure on the tourism hotspots in Eryri (Snowdonia).
The push is being mounted by North Wales Tourism, which represents the region’s tourism and hospitality industry, thanks to funding from the Clocaenog Wind Farm Fund.
The area encompasses more than 230 square miles, running from Betws y Coed in the west, including Denbigh, Ruthin and Corwen, and reaching within a mile or two of Llangollen in the east, with Mynydd Hiraethog (Hiraethog Mountain) or the Denbigh Moors at its heart.
According to North Wales Tourism Commercial Director Eirlys Jones, the majority of tourists currently by-pass Hiraethog and head for the traditional honeypots like Wales and England’s highest mountain, Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon), leading to queues of 45 minutes at the top at peak periods with visitors wanting selfies to show they’ve reached the summit.
It’s hoped the bilingual campaign will persuade many of them to stop off and explore Hiraethog instead – whether they’re coming into North Wales via the A5 or the A55.
As well as being featured on the www.gonorthwales.co.uk website, Hiraethog is being flagged up as a must-visit destination with blogs, newsletters and leaflets.
North Wales Tourism have also drawn up a range of itineraries – everything from a day visit to three days – pointing visitors in the right direction to find out what they’ve been missing.
Meanwhile, the attractions are being highlighted in a podcast, www.gonorthwales.co.uk/explore/regions/hiraethog , produced in conjunction with Heart FM and fronted by presenter Megan Lln who investigates what the area has to offer.
Among the newest attractions is the world’s deepest overnight glamping accommodation at Go Below Underground Adventures near Betws y Coed, where guests can bed down in heated log cabin or sleep in a “romantic grotto”.
Back at ground level, those with a need for speed can have a go at go-karting at the UK’s second longest track, at GYG Karting in Cerrigydrudion which has some of the fastest go karts in Wales.
Slightly slower, but just as exciting, is the opportunity to try husky sled dog rides at Mynydd Sleddog Adventures near Llansannan.
Just a few miles away is the Llyn Brenig where you can enjoy a host of water sports, do some fishing, walk or cycle around the lake and then refuel at the shoreside café before going to see the area’s latest inhabitants, a breeding pair of Ospreys, who arrived there from Scotland in 2021.
Nearby is the highest pub in Wales, the Bryntrillyn, also known as the Sportsman’s Arms, which is overlooked by the ruins of a once-magnificent wooden hunting lodge, Gwylfa Hiraethog, frequented in its heyday by luminaries likes of the legendary “Welsh wizard” himself, Prime Minister David Lloyd George.
Visitors en route to their break in North Wales or on the return journey home, can enjoy a pitstop at the farm shop and restaurant of the award-winning Rhug Estate alongside the A5 on the outskirts of Corwen.
Eirlys Jones said: “Unfortunately, most visitors to North Wales just aren’t aware of the delights Hiraethog has to offer and we’re on a mission to change that.
“It’s a really beautiful area with such a rich and diverse range of things to see and do and our strap line is ‘open sky, open space, open mind’ as the place to come for transformational experiences.
“It’s got something for everybody, including opportunities for an adrenaline rush with go-karting and dog sledding, some beautiful walks and wildlife and a fantastic range of accommodation with hotels, B&Bs and various caravan, camping and glamping sites, most of which are above ground but with one where you can literally enjoy a deep sleep.
“As part of the campaign, we’re also encouraging businesses to come together and collaborate, bringing communities together so we can create a sense of place and pride in the area.
“It’s about fostering a strong sense of local identity, celebrating the culture and heritage of Hiraethog.
“It is truly a gem that’s hidden in plain sight and our aim is to ensure that visitors discover the joys the area has to offer by stopping and staying and spending their money locally, helping to create employment and prosperity.
“Rather than have the visitors just heading for the well-known and often busy hotspots, we want to spread the love around and there’s plenty to love in Hiraethog.”