Surf Snowdonia – the first visions


With the granting of planning permission to Surf Snowdonia the race for the first commercial Wavegarden is now on. We caught up with Steve Davies MBE, Managing Director Conwy Adventure Leisure Ltd, the guys making this project happen. Steve kindly let us have a couple of exclusive CGI pics, and his visions and rationale behind the Welsh project.

“The recent granting of planning permission for the construction of an outdoor water sports centre on the site of the former aluminium factory at Dolgarrog in the Conwy Valley has set the scene for what is likely to be the world’s first commercially operational Wavegarden® surfing lake. In a comparatively short period of time we have developed a very comprehensive set of facilities, with surfing at its very heart.
“It is our intention, over time, to create an exciting, fun and spectacular surfing-themed adventure attraction, appealing to the broadest possible audience. With a purpose-built surfing lake as its signature attraction, this and other facilities will provide an enjoyable and compelling experience for day trippers, over-nighters, families, beginners and experts alike

“The combination of high quality facilities, spectacular scenery and easy access from major conurbations across the United Kingdom will make Surf Snowdonia a must-visit attraction. Getting up close to the outdoor action from the warmth of the indoor facilities will be one of the key attractions in enticing a broad, age-ranged audience.

“It may seem to some counterintuitive to build a surfing centre in the foothills of Snowdon, 8 miles from the North Wales Coast. But in many respects it makes sense. For starters we own the land – lots of it – which is a major pre-requisite for a Wavegarden lagoon.

“Second, we enjoy huge local and regional support and have been warmly welcomed to the area. People want this to succeed, and it is noteworthy that Wales has just been admitted as a member of the International Surfing Association in its own right so the timing of our project could not be better.
Surfing is a significantly popular sport – and growing – and participants already travel very long distances in anticipation of decent waves, so often to be disappointed. Wavegarden will provide guaranteed 6’ high waves, thus completely eliminating the risk of poor conditions. Therefore we believe people will travel for such guarantees. However, we have tested this theory considerably, and to assist us in our research we employed the UK’s foremost leisure and destination consultants, Colliers International. Their findings completely underpinned our own instincts.

“Key to our optimism is accessibility. Dolgarrog is only 7 miles from the main A55 North Wales arterial route, with the final run-in to our site only a 15 minute drive. This results in the driving times from Liverpool and Manchester city centres being only 1½ hours – a sufficiently short journey time to make an evening surfing session after work viable in the summer months.


“Our visitor audience analysis shows a catchment of circa 7 million potential clients out as far as Birmingham, but we actually anticipate visitors from much further afield. Moreover, we also believe that Wavegarden will be such an incredible visual experience in its own right that it will attract a significant audience who have no intention of getting wet but who simply want to watch the action close-up whilst enjoying a coffee, or even a meal. This must be good for bringing the sport to a very wide audience. Surfing is currently virtually inaccessible to members of the general public. They either see black dots on the horizon from the top of a beach, or see it on TV. For the first time, people will be able to watch a surfer actually travel past them from left to right and vice versa. Think of all the competitive opportunities too. We believe that Wavegarden will finally create an opportunity to make surfing a truly visual competitive sport in an Olympic context. Levelling the wave playing field for all competitors will create the right conditions to ensure judging consistency. And Surf Snowdonia stands ready to play its part as both a venue for such competition and to act as a training facility for national squads.”

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