FREE IOL Wales events coming up…..

IOL Wales/Cymru would like to invite you to come along to some FREE events coming up in Spring and Summer.  
Details below. 

There are a series of FREE TO ATTEND IOL Wales/Cymru events coming up.

The events are free but you do need to book as places are limited.

NEW TO THE LIST – 10 May 2018 

Working with Diversity in the Outdoors – and Interactive Learning Event  (Book ONLINE

Venue: Atlantic College, St Donats, Vale of Glamorgan, CF61 1WF

Time: 19.00 to 21.00

An interacive learning event where attendees get to ask questions of a pannel of students from different cultures, backgrounds and ethnic groups. It’s a great chance to learn about how diversity can effect us in our delivery and provision of outrdoor learning, a reminder of the benefits of our programmes to such groups and also the chance for attendees to ask and probe a little bit deeper into the areas of diversity that may be sensitive to talk about. Attendees will be asked to submit questions they have in advance which the panel will prepare answers and facts to assist practitioners in their work.

Presenter – Tom Partridge

Tom is the Head of Atlantic Outdoors at UWC Atlantic College, an IB world school founded by Kurt Hahn and the brith of the UWC movement. The college is home to students from over 90 nationalities, a massive range of diverse backgrounds and groups. This event will be facilitated and contrubuited to by a small group of students.

The café bar will be open from 18:00 offering light refreshements and drinks

This workshop is free to everyone and not just IOL members – but you must book.

26 April 2018

Bike Ride Social (Book ONLINE)   

Venue  Nant Bwlch yr Haearn, Llanrwst Gwynedd, LL27 0JB

Time      18.00 tea and coffee and Nant B-H 18.30 Bike ride Some time late – pub

This is a chance to meet people and get some exercise.  Staff from Nant BH will be along to offer advice on routes and a place to refresh yourselves afterwards.

This session is free to everyone and not just IOL members – but you must book.


12 May 2018         

Fostering a Connection (Book ONLINE)   

Venue: Meet at Caban café, Brynrefail, Gwynedd, LL55 3NP and then Coed Dinorwig

Time: 11.00 to 13.30

The ‘Fostering a Connection’ course was designed by Lun Roberts (ER Outdoors), Jim Langley (Nature’s Work) and Joe Roberts (Natural Resources Wales) to meet the needs of outdoor providers wishing to engage their clients with the environment and to foster their connection to it.  The full course takes a day, costs £50 (£30 concessions) and includes a manual.  This taster is free and gives you an insight into the philosophy behind the course and a chance to try out some of the activities in the manual including quizzes, games, phone app testing, folk tales, bush craft and much more.  Connection takes place on many levels (intellectually, practically, emotionally, spiritually, through our senses, through our creativity, etc.) and the activities on offer reflect this diversity.  We are not trying to teach field studies or asking people to become walking encyclopaedias of flora and fauna. Instead we offer games and activities which can be fitted seamlessly into existing outdoor courses.

This taster session is free to everyone and not just IOL members – but you must book.

21 June 2018 

Working alongside choughs (Book ONLINE)

Venue  Green Room, Beacon Climbing Wall, Caernarfon, Gwynedd LL55 2BD

Time   18.00 to 20.00

Adrienne Stratford tells us that she is often referred to as the ‘mad chough lady’.  She has certainly dedicated a fair bit of her life to exploring the habits of these amazing birds.  Since 1991 and alongside Tony Cross she has been engaged in a long term study authorized by the British Ornithological Trust which has resulted in her knowing most of the chough populations in North and mid-Wales on a first name basis.  More recently she has been working with the North Wales Environmental Outdoor Charter Group to educate outdoor providers on how to minimize detrimental impact on the birds.  If you missed those session this is your chance to hear Adrienne speak about her work and findings and to ask questions.

This course is free to everyone and not just IOL members – but you must book.

13 July 2018 

Fire lighting through the ages followed by a Bar BQ (Book ONLINE)

Venue Meet at the southern end of the car park at Dinas Dinlle, Gwynedd, LL54 5TW and then on the beach

Time  18.00 to whenever feels right for you to leave

David Philips from Coastal Wanderer will demonstrate (and give you the opportunity to try out) fire making techniques from different periods of pre-history.  Then we’ll make use of said fire to cook food and sit around to tell stories.  Sausages, fish and tofu kebabs provided please bring a salad or a pudding to share.

This session is free to everyone and not just IOL members – but you must book. 

More Guidance on Public Changing; Tree Overhanging Sychryd; and Porth yr Ogof Information

A few more information messages – apologies if some of these are a little late…

Public Changing

Following our recent request / reminder that providers “make appropriate arrangements for clients to change discreetly”, we were asked for further guidance on what is considered acceptably ‘discreet’ – so here are some additional thoughts from Brecon Beacons National Park Authority, for areas where there are no changing facilities available (particularly in ‘Waterfalls Country’, but this guidance surely applies wherever we work):

“Providers should use vans as screens to the maximum extent; and manage their group so that horseplay or other unreasonable behaviour does not form part of the changing procedure – and certainly there must be no nakedness on display. As long as toileting is done elsewhere and sufficiently large towels are used for changing, then I guess we cant ask for much more given the lack of facilities. Clients should act as if their grandmother is watching!
Large Tree Hanging over Sychryd Gorge
We have been alerted to “a very large tree that looked like it was ready to fall, positioned right on top of the main cliff and overhang in the top of the Sychryd Gorge (by the main climbing area above the cascade falls). If it were to fall it would land on top of the path that many groups use.” NRW will be taking a look at it, but in the meantime please take appropriate precautions in this area (in addition to the ‘loose rock’ precautions notified recently).
Porth yr Ogof Cave Rescue / Risk Advice
A rescue of one of our members’ clients took place in February. They had got their leg stuck in a crack in a block. The leader spent a reasonable amount of time attempting to extract the limb before the rescue team were called in the interest of the student’s welfare, since the rescue team were more likely to have experience with trapped limbs. The team worked in a very professional and concise manner and freed the student relatively quickly though not easily. Many thanks and credit to the rescue team members. Those present were very impressed. The student is now fit and well and took part in the rest of the week’s activities.
This was an unusual incident and the student involved was quite small and thin in character. Many will recognise the block (see attached picture). The head level tube in the right wall of the main entrance (sometimes called the wormhole) leads to an exit point by a large block. Exit can be made right at the same level through a puddle to a standing area. Exit can also be made left into the by-pass passage. Its also possible to climb up and over the block straight ahead.
The danger now apparent is that when undertaking this manoeuvre, those with very slim limbs may let the right one enter the crack which is then vulnerable to being trapped. This will be something cave leaders may want to take into account as a now “foreseeable” event.

Porth yr Ogof Works Update

Following a recent meeting at Porth yr Ogof with the BBNPA Estate Warden, please find below an update of planned surface work in the vicinity of the cave.
1. Letterbox Aven destabilisation by water run-off from road
Water running off the road is carving a surface channel down to the fenced area at Entrance F above the Letterbox. With help from a SWOAPG Working Group, BBNPA plans to:
  • Open the drainage channel on the river side of the approach road to take most water off into the area above the main entrance closest to the car park
  • Close the drainage route under the stile to stop water finding its way to the River Right escape route
  • Create a raised open drain running diagonally from the point where water leaves the road on the Letterbox Aven side and take the remaining water from the road into the area of brambles adjacent to the road
  • Fill the existing channel that has been cut by water and tidy up this area
  • Once this is all complete, work will be undertaken to fill the voids between the large boulders at the top of letterbox aven to provide long term stability
2. Surface route between the first gate after the road leading to Entrances I & J and Resurgence
This route has become wider and muddier every year. Work will be undertaken with help from a SWOAPG Working Group to create a clear route which avoids the muddy areas and travels across the harder surfaces to enable this area to recover.
3. Escape Route River Right
Following the substantial rockfall here, the current recommendation is:
  • To remind everyone that this is an emergency exit only
  • The route is passable, but only with extreme care. The large rock perched in the slot on the climb up is not as stable as we would like and to pass it, group members are exposed to the drop on the river side of the route.  If Leaders are not happy to use this route then care should be taken to avoid being caught out by weather conditions which prevent crossing the river to leave the cave River Left
BBNPA will consider whether the perched rock can be removed. This will require consultation with the Landowner before undertaking any work here. In the meantime, the fallen tree blocking the bottom of the escape route will be removed.
4. Log Jam Dam in river
The log jam in the centre of the river in front of the main entrance will be removed with help from a SWOAPG Working Group. This dam is causing water to be diverted to the left in high water and it undermines the bank River Left, which is not a desirable situation. Other trees in the river will be removed at the same time where practicable.
5. Entrance D1
This is the entrance accessible form the back of the Maze consisting, from the inside, of a sandy crawl followed by a climb up through a slot between boulders to the surface. The slot is currently blocked by boulders, but more worryingly, there is a considerable amount of loose earth and very large boulders perched above it following the landslide. It is strongly recommended that Entrance D1 is avoided for the time being until a decision is made on whether to undertake remedial works here.
SWOAPG will be arranging a Working Party to help with these works, so if you or your colleagues are able to help, it would be greatly appreciated.


South West Wales: Coasteering Concordat & Parking Information

Coasteering Concordat Sign-Up & Site Briefing

Providers wishing to offer coasteering in South West Wales from 1 April must complete the annual sign-up to the Coasteering Concordat, via the Pembrokeshire Outdoor Charter Group (POCG) website. All information will be checked and you will need to provide an ALAA License number and an insurance document clearly showing £10,000,000 cover.

Once you have signed up to the concordat, you will also need to go through a site briefing with Paul Renfro (contact, who will explain the changes to sites this year and the site guides.

 This must all be done before using any of the venues.
Parking in Pembrokeshire
There will be a parking fee this year at Abereiddi both for providers and public (£4 / car, £4 / trailer and £10 / minibus). The top field will
again be used for parking and will have the same charges as the lower car park. 
There will be a drop-off / pick-up system in place that will be managed by the car park attendant. This will allow people to drop at the bottom car park and then park at the top. There is no longer a booking system in place for parking. This means that no spaces will be guaranteed, however no one will be turned away as parking in the top field is ample.
Other car parks around the National Park now require permits for commercial / trailer parking. Please check with the National Park or contact Paul Renfro for information and a map of car parks where fees apply.
Marine Code App
The POCG Marine Code app contains information on wildlife, geology and fun facts for the area; as well as information on restrictions and a live location feed. Available now from App and Play stores!

​Important Pre-Season Messages – Waterfalls Country & River Wye

To All Members

Two important messages for the start of the 2018 season:


Additional Guidance for Waterfalls Country (attached as a pdf)

“Waterfalls Country” is under increasing pressure from both tourism and outdoor activity. The landowners, Natural Resources Wales and Brecon Beacons National Park Authority, are keen to see the existing SWOAPG Concordat arrangements for Outdoor Activity Providers continue – but have asked us to emphasise the following key points to minimise our impact this year on local communities (in addition to the existing Code of Conduct guidance).

Let’s keep earning a welcome for responsible outdoor activity in this precious area!

·         Parking, Changing and Toileting: please continue to be extra-vigilant about your clients’ parking, toileting and changing arrangements – especially in Pontneddfechan and at Clyn Gwyn where facilities are extremely limited. No-one should be changing or toileting ‘in the fresh air’ in car parks, around Pontneddfechan Community Centre or at Clyn Gwyn layby. Please make appropriate arrangements for your clients to change discreetly and to use ‘proper’ toilet facilities (e.g. public toilets near the Angel, Pontneddfechan and at Cwm Porth; and BBNPA should be providing portable toilets at Gwaun Hepste car park from Easter).

·         We are also hoping to provide a toilet at Clyn Gwyn for providers’ use this season, but in the meantime please ensure that you offer toilet opportunities before or after travelling to this venue!

·         Cwm Porth Voluntary One-Way System for Providers: to ease traffic congestion at Cwm Porth, please could all Providers adopt a voluntary one-way system with effect from 1 April 2018 (especially with minibuses and at peak usage times): Turn right out of Cwm Porth Car Park! (see attached map).


River Wye Glasbury-Hay

·         Only a few of you requested a SWOAPG-led meeting to discuss the issue of charges for paddling through LLanthomas Fishery from 1 April – so rather than try to arrange a special meeting at short-notice before Easter, we’ll include discussion on this at our Emergency General Meeting on 19 April (6.30pm at Garwnant – register here).

·         We are aware of considerable evidence (e.g. being gathered by British Canoeing) that, despite Mr Maynard’s claims, there is a Public Right of Navigation on this stretch of the Wye. However, this could only be confirmed for certain through a court case (or new legislation) – so anyone using the river may still risk being accused of trespass (unless they comply with Mr Maynard’s payment scheme).

·         In the meantime, providers should therefore make their own decision whether to comply with Mr Maynard’s scheme (although we believe it would set an exceedingly unhelpful precedent for anyone to pay Mr Maynard for the privilege of passing through his property on the river), to avoid this stretch of river altogether, or to accept the risk of confrontation (in which case we recommend checking that your legal expenses insurance cover you against accusations of trespass).

·         We will continue to liaise with Powys County Council, Canoe Wales and British Canoeing as the situation develops.

SWOAPG Emergency General Meeting, Garwnant 19 April

The South Wales Outdoor Activity Providers Group is holding an Emergency General Meeting at Garwnant Visitor Centre, 6.30pm Thursday 19 April to:
  1. Inform and discuss with members the latest activity news in the Brecon Beacons and South Wales (including updates on Waterfalls Country and River Wye issues);
  2. Consider the introduction of membership fees, following the withdrawal of our core Visit Wales funding and the results of our recent Membership Survey; and
  3. Consider changing our legal structure to become a Company Limited by Guarantee.
The formal agenda and papers for the meeting (including a summary of our survey results and our proposed new Articles of Association) are attached.
All Members and Supporters are encouraged to come and make their voices heard.
If you plan to attend, please register here so we know who to expect. For further information, contact

Fwd: Charity Abseil Easter Monday 2nd April 2018 at Dinas Rock

To all Members:
Please see the message below about a Charity Abseil at Dinas Rock on Easter Monday, which will affect Providers who may have been planning to use Dinas Rock that day:
​This event “has been organised by Mrs Lowri Francis to raise money for a Defibrillator for the Glynneath Community and being run by C​all of the Wild. We will be setting up the main wall from 08.00 and hope to be complete by 16.00ish depending on numbers on the day. The main activity area will be around the far end of the car par near the rock table, the main wall and its base.​ S​hould anyone wish to participate then they should contact Lowri at for further details and a time slot. All clearances have been obtained and we have been given the go ahead by NRW. ​We apologise for any inconvenience this may have to other users it is for a good cause and helps the local community. ​Thank you in advance.”
Dave Thomas, Call of the Wild​

River Wye Glasbury-Hay: Operators’ Meeting?

We have received the following message from British Canoeing, following their annual meeting with River Wye Canoe Hire Operators:

“I met the hire companies yesterday and also spoke to Sian Barnes from Powys CC to get an update on the situation with Mr. Maynard at Glasbury. She met with Mr. Maynard earlier this week to get a better understanding of what his issues are. Basically they are:

He has an issue with the canoeing companies who operate for “hire and reward” on this section of river. He does not have an issue with private individuals, or voluntary groups such as clubs, scouts etc. paddling the river. He wants to address the balance of commercial use on this section of river as he seems to believe that the level of commercial canoeing is damaging his commercial interests. I think the meeting with Powys was just to establish facts not to negotiate or find a solution. We both agreed that the canoe hire operators need to be involved in this dialogue.”

If you believe it would be helpful for South Wales Outdoor Activity Providers Group to arrange a meeting for our Members / Other Operators to discuss how to approach Mr Maynard’s proposals to charge for access on the river through his property, please let us know at by Sunday 18th March.

SAFETY ALERT – Unstable rocks at Sychryd Cascade / Will’s Hole Cave Entrance

Some of our members have alerted us to a significant potential hazard halfway up the Sychryd 'cascade' climb / at the entrance to Will's Hole cave, next to the obvious, upright metal girder (see photos):
"We noticed that there were some loose rocks on the left directly above the big metal girder. We investigated a little and there are a pile of rocks/boulders that wobble when pushed that are all being held up by a small stack of rocks on the lower side. We agreed that they appear to pose a threat to gorge groups coming up the waterfall climb (similar in nature to the threat of rock fall on way into Porth yr Ogof) and to cavers as access could be blocked if they were to fall."
Pending further investigation, providers should make their own risk assessments and exercise extreme caution in this area – perhaps in particular avoid 'hanging around' with groups in this natural 'holding area' during the ascent.

Re: Canoeing Access from Glasbury to Hay-on-Wye – Landowner Proposes Navigation Charge!

To all Members:
Canoe Wales has just confirmed ( that “CW members have access to legal expenses cover to…defend any civil action relating to material property, owned by a third party or for which a third party is responsible, arising out of an alleged or actual negligent act or omission or any nuisance, trespass or criminal damage…which causes or could cause physical damage to such material property or pecuniary loss to a third party…In other words, our insurance covers all members for civil claims against them for trespass (which would include incidents where paddlers believe they are not trespassing, but others claim that they are!). Paddlers should still do whatever they can to minimise conflict if they are accused of trespassing, but can be reassured that our insurance cover is available to help them if needed.”
Providers using the Glasbury-to-Hay stretch of the Wye after Easter might wish to assure themselves that their own public liability insurance provides similar cover…