***Safe Delivery of Gorge Walking and Canyoning post COVID -19***
WATO has developed guidance on Safe Delivery of Gorge Walking and Canyoning post COVID -19, for activity providers delivering Gorge Walking and Canyoning during and after the Coronavirus pandemic. The aim of this document is to enable organisations and their leaders to support the safe enjoyment of Gorge Walking and Canyoning as soon as is practicably possible, in line with Government guidelines. It is recommended that providers take a responsible and phased approach, taking appropriate actions now, and then slowly embracing more complex delivery arrangements over time. The approaches described here may need to be adapted going forward in accordance with changes to Government guidelines.
Gorge-Walking in ‘Waterfalls Country’ – Dinas / Sychryd and Mellte Gorges
“Organised groups can gain permission to operate in the area from Natural Resources Wales through agreement with a Concordat”
The land within ‘Waterfall Country’ is owned by Natural Resources Wales (NRW), the Brecon Beacons National Park Authority (BBNPA) and a number of private landowners. While much of the site is designated Open Access land, this only allows for general public access on foot, not commercial or otherwise organised activities. Private land may not be fenced or marked but there is no right of access to these areas.
Organised groups can gain permission to operate in the area from Natural Resources Wales either by:
- through agreement with a Concordat; or
- applying directly to NRW via their bureaucratic and costly ‘Woodlands and You‘ permitting scheme.
As much of the area in and around the gorges is legally protected for the high quality and rarity of its habitats, activity groups must follow simple Codes of Conduct to minimise the environmental impact of a visit. Compliance with these Codes is a requirement of being permitted to access the sites.
This Concordat and the accompanying Code of Conduct and guidelines were developed between representatives of Outdoor Activity Providers and BBNPA and NRW working collaboratively. This work took place from 2008, with Seminars in January 2009 and May 2010 and the finalised Concordat was one of the key factors in the launch of SWOAPG in July 2010.
Outdoor Providers wishing to use the Sychryd Gorge and the Lower Mellte for Gorge Walking are required to first join SWOAPG, then attend Code of Conduct training and finally sign-up to the Concordat to enable them to use the site with Landowner permission. For the Upper Mellte a separate Code of Conduct training must be attended, as well as an AALS licence or technical advisors statement.
This agreement and collaborative approach to environmentally sustainable use of a SSSI and SAC by Activity Providers was the first of its kind in the UK and has been a template for what can be achieved by working together.
Registered Gorge-Walking Providers
The following table lists the providers who are currently registered with us to use the Dinas / Sychryd and / or Mellte gorges (and have agreed to publish their information on this website – for contact details see our Full Members list):
NB providers are listed by default in random order. Last updated 1 June 2020.
|Business / organisation name||Gorges|
|Plas Pencelli Outdoor Education Centre||Sychryd|
|Tirabad Residential Educational Centre||Sychryd|
|Steve Rayner Outdoor Pursuits||Sychryd|
|Wye Canoes Ltd / Wye Adventures||Sychryd|
|Carmarthenshire Youth Support Service||Sychryd|
|Gower Activity Centres||Sychryd & Mellte|
|Parkwood Outdoors Dolygaer||Sychryd & Mellte|
|Black Mountain Activities||Sychryd & Mellte|
|Anturfit Ltd||Sychryd & Mellte|
|Way2go Adventures||Sychryd & Mellte|
|Blue Ocean Activities||Sychryd & Mellte|
|Mountain and River Activities Ltd||Sychryd & Mellte|
|Hampshire and Cass Foundation Mountain Centre||Sychryd & Mellte|
|School Camp Ltd||Sychryd & Mellte|
|Pro-Active Adventure Ltd||Sychryd|
|Princes Trust Cymru||Sychryd & Mellte|
|Blue Dot Adventure||Sychryd & Mellte|
|Miskin||Sychryd & Mellte|
|RipnRock Ltd||Sychryd & Mellte|
|Longtown Outdoor Learning Centre||Sychryd & Mellte|
|Newport Youth Service||Sychryd|
|Life Changing Activities||Sychryd & Mellte|
|Quest Adventure Activities Ltd||Sychryd & Mellte|
|Outdoors @ Hay||Sychryd|
|Positif Care||Sychryd & Mellte|
|Waterfall Ways Ltd||Sychryd|