Plas y Brenin and Mountain Training to Hold First-Ever Women in Mountain Training Conference

We’re proud to be hosting the inaugural Women in Mountain Training conference this October, as an important part of both Plas y Brenin and Mountain Training’s commitment to gender equality strategy to develop women in adventure activity leadership.

While the gender balance in outdoor education and leadership has improved, fewer women register and attend assessments for Mountain Training qualifications than men. The conference will aim to promote and support women within the adventure leadership sector. One of the driving elements of the conference is helping women build knowledge networks and explore the differences between men and women when building their careers and taking on leadership roles. A knowledge network enables women to go beyond their qualifications.

The ‘women-focused’ space will enable women, leaders and those from marginalised genders to explore new ideas, find solutions and share best practices to tackle those inequalities. The two-day free conference will feature workshops from inspirational women working in the outdoors. Themes include juggling parenthood, body inclusivity and building confidence and resilience.

Nicola Jasieniecka, Media and IT Development Officer at Mountain Training, comments: “Research undertaken by both Mountain Training and others shows women have different experiences to their male counterparts when undertaking Mountain Training qualifications and in their careers as leaders. Despite gender balance improving across all qualification levels, fewer women register, complete training and attend assessments for Mountain Training qualifications than men - a trend which becomes more pronounced in the higher qualification levels.

“With women and other marginalised groups still experiencing discrimination in society and the adventurous activity sphere, it is hoped the conference will allow women and leaders who identify as other marginalised genders to explore ideas, solutions and best practices which can be shared more; widely.”

Helen Barnard, Chief Instructor at Plas y Brenin, adds: “As the National Outdoor Centre, it is our role to set standards and drive change within the industry. We are incredibly proud to be the host venue for the conference.

“The face of the outdoors is changing, and as leading organisations in the outdoor industry, it is our responsibility to address inequalities and make sure we’re listening to concerns, acknowledging barriers and taking action to combat them.”

Saturday's optional sessions:

  • Knowing when you’re ready for assessment - Kath James
  • Turning qualifications into a successful career/business - Siân Brewer
  • Body inclusivity in adventure activities - Maddie Sweetman
  • Pack hacks and top tips for a woman-friendly kit - Jenny Dart

Sunday's optional sessions:

  • Mountains and parenthood: Having a family and an adventurous career - Mikaela Toczek
  • Building resilience, confidence and challenging imposter syndrome - Dr Rebecca Williams
  • Taking it to the next level – living and working through peri-menopause and menopause - Katherine Schirrmacher
  • Understanding leadership styles and developing your practice - Dr Samantha McElligott

The event is now sold out. More information can be found on Mountain Training's website.

Plas y Brenin Powers Up with New Electric Mountain Bike Courses

Getting to grips with Snowdonia's many mountain bike trails will now be easier with Plas y Brenin's new e-mountain bike courses starting in September.

The popularity of e-bikes has seen an upsurge in those looking to explore more technical and demanding tracks. Plas y Brenin's purpose-built bike centre includes a specialist workshop and on-site skills courses. So as well as heading out on amazing trails, participants will be able to practice on dedicated skills areas and wider tracks.

The E-Bike Essentials course will also provide riders with a dedicated action plan for their future riding journeys. Led by experienced instructor James Bruton, you can even try out the Specialized Turbo Levo e-mountain bike before committing to buying your e-bike.

Going beyond the essentials course is a two-day E-Bike Snowdonia experience, taking in several of North Wales's classic routes. This includes the stunning Gwydir forest, the breath-taking North Wales coastal routes, and the varied mountainous trails from the Plas y Brenin base. Access to the Martin, Penmachno and Coed y Brenin trail centres are nearby, including the Yr Wyddfa - one of the country's most iconic mountain bike routes.

James Bruton, senior instructor for the e-bike courses at Plas y Brenin, has over a decade of mountain bike leadership.

He said: "e-bikes offer an enhanced experience for all levels of riders, and we're pleased to be able to offer our new course for novices and existing riders alike. In addition, our dedicated workshop session will help new owners get to know their bikes, undertake safety and maintenance efficiently, and build confidence in their future riding."

For more information and to book the courses, please visit:

E-Bike Essentials -

E-Bike Snowdonia -

Mountain Training Trust and Plas y Brenin Welcome New Chair and Trustees to Advance the National Outdoor Centre

The Mountain Training Trust (MTT), operator of Sport England’s National Outdoor Centre, Plas y Brenin, is delighted to announce the appointment of a new Chair of Trustees, and three new Trustees.

Peter Ashman moves into the role of Chair after two and a half years as a Trustee on the MTT Board, taking over from Sara Mogel OBE, who stepped down this year after serving in the role for five years.

During his career, Peter spent 30 years in healthcare and scientific publishing and was CEO of the international health information and education company BMJ Publishing before retiring early in 2019. He also spent five years as Chair of the publishing trade association ALPSP, which represents the interests of not-for-profit scholarly publishers and which also produces its own training and events.

Passionate about the outdoors, Peter spends much of his free time walking in the Chiltern Hills and, occasionally, open water swimming – one of Plas y Brenin’s more recent programmes.

Joining him on the Board as Trustees are Ben Coates, Lisa Dickinson, and Matthew Tennant, replacing former Trustees Sara Walker and Rona Chester.

Ben Coates is currently Chief of Staff at the Equality and Human Rights Commission and a Trustee of Cardiff-based equalities charity, Diverse Cymru. Lisa Dickinson has led a wide range of people, cultural and IT change and transformation projects and programmes in the private sector, and is a #ShePaddles ambassador for British Canoeing as well as a qualified whitewater leader. With a career working in educational organisations and professional bodies, alongside various non-executive roles within charities, Matthew Tennant is currently Chair of the Trustee Board for OutdoorLads, a UK-wide charity running outdoor activities for the LGBTQ community.

The new roles commence in a pivotal year for the Centre as it begins to emerge from the Covid pandemic, which severely impacted outdoor education and the wider outdoor industry. Peter’s leadership, supported by the Trustees, will be instrumental in shaping the future of the Centre as it welcomes new partnerships, bolsters its offering, operates more sustainably and boosts participation in outdoor activities from all communities.

Commenting on his appointment, Peter Ashman said: “I’m delighted to be appointed as Chair of Mountain Training Trust, operating Sport England’s National Outdoor Centre at Plas y Brenin. The Board of Trustees and I look forward to supporting CEO Ruth Hall and her team through a very exciting period of growth, as we implement the strategy to offer world class outdoor training in our stunning location in North Wales and beyond. We will also work to encourage a greater number and wider variety of people to experience the benefits of being outdoors. Over the last two and a half years, there has been an enormous growth in the number of people exercising outdoors and the physical and mental health benefits are well documented.

“I look forward to working with Sport England, our wide range of stakeholders across the outdoor sector and many more like minded organisations which share our passion for the outdoors.

“I encourage anyone to come and visit us in North Wales and experience the benefits, thrill and hospitality which Plas y Brenin has to offer.”

Ruth Hall, CEO at Plas y Brenin, said: “Firstly, I wish to thank Sara Mogel for her tremendous help and support over the last five years. Her insights and direction have been invaluable and I will miss her guidance and leadership.

“At the same time, I’d like to warmly welcome Peter as incoming Chair and Ben, Lisa and Matt as Trustees. Peter’s experience and knowledge of both the corporate and non-profit sectors will equip him well for his new role as Chair. We look forward to his contributions towards shaping the future of Plas y Brenin. We’re delighted he is joined by three new members, all of which have fantastic and varied experience that we believe will create a strong Board, comprising a variety of backgrounds and perspectives that can only benefit the future of the Mountain Training Trust and Plas y Brenin as it cements its position as a leading provider of training in the outdoors.”

The Board of Trustees, all of whom are volunteers, oversee the activities of the charity (Mountain Training Trust and Plas y Brenin). The Board shapes the strategic development of the charity, providing creative, insight-led and constructive input.

The new Trustees

Ben Coates

Ben is a public servant with a range of experience in central government and the public sector. He is currently Chief of Staff at the Equality and Human Rights Commission and prior to that worked at the Foreign Office, leading their major international education programmes. He is also a Trustee of Cardiff-based equalities charity, Diverse Cymru, an executive coach and a mentor with the Social Mobility Foundation. Ben is a keen climber, hiker and runner, making the most of the stunning outdoors on his doorstep in Cardiff.

Commenting on his appointment, Ben said: "Plas y Brenin is a special place – it's impossible to spend any time there and not be energised and inspired to get outdoors. I'm thrilled to have an opportunity to contribute to its future as a Trustee. The outdoors should be for everyone, not just a privileged few, and I want to see more people having their own adventures. Plas y Brenin, as the National Outdoor Centre, equips climbers, mountaineers, paddlers, mountain bikers and more with the skills they need to thrive outdoors. It's a privilege to be part of this.”

Lisa Dickinson

Lisa has nearly 15 years of experience working in the private sector, leading a wide range of people, cultural and IT change and transformation projects and programmes including a focus on strategy definition as well as Diversity and Inclusion.

With a background in Scouting and Guiding, Lisa has always had an interest in spending time in the outdoors. Most recently, she focussed her efforts on whitewater kayaking. She went from hating water and not being able to swim to becoming a qualified whitewater leader in 2021 and has spent the last year helping support other women who want to build their confidence in whitewater as a #ShePaddles Ambassador for British Canoeing. She is now working towards her whitewater coach award. Outside of paddling, Lisa is also a keen climber and walker and has recently completed her Mountain Leader training.

Lisa has first-hand experience of courses at Plas y Brenin and is excited about the opportunity to use her corporate and outdoor experience to help the MTT further grow their mission of helping people get active in the outdoors.

Commenting on her appointment, Lisa said: “I discovered Plas y Brenin last year and have been on a few courses since and loved them, so PYB has grown close to my heart as an outdoor organisation. When I saw the opportunity come up to join the board I just had to apply. I’ve got a lot of experience in the private sector across HR, IT, change and transformation and felt that I could apply that to help PYB in the next stage of its growth and evolution.”

Matthew Tennant

Matt’s career to date has been in Education, working in both Higher and Professional Body organisations, alongside various non-executive roles within charities. He is currently Chair of the Trustee Board for OutdoorLads, a UK-wide charity running outdoor activities for the LGBTQ community.

Commenting on his appointment, Matt said: “I am very excited to be joining the MTT Trustee Board. I have a lifelong passion for outdoor activity and Education, and my love for the outdoors is mainly involved in hill walking, mountaineering and more recently Paddlesports. MTT and Plas y Brenin have a fantastic offering ranging from professionals wanting to improve their skill sets to widening participation in the outdoors. A particular interest of mine is around developing, implementing and monitoring strategies to improve diversity and inclusion, while increasing engagement of under-represented groups in outdoor activities.”

Mountain Leader: What is a Quality Mountain Day?

Quality Mountain Days (QMD) and how to log them on your Digital Logbook (DLog) can be a very confusing element of the Mountain Leader Scheme (ML), so let’s clear up what counts and what doesn’t as a QMD.


Ultimately the ML is an experience-based award which includes training and assessment. It is awarded by Mountain Training – a collection of awarding bodies for skills courses and qualifications in walking, climbing and mountaineering in the UK and Ireland.

As an aspiring Mountain Leader you are on a journey to build your experience with a large variety of mountain walks combined with quality reflection after your hikes. Before training you need to achieve a minimum of 20 QMDs – and before assessment a minimum of 40 in total. The aim of the QMD system is to give the Mountain Leader an understanding of their personal experience level and guidelines on how to best develop.

As Mountain Training say, “Such days [QMD’s] make a positive contribution towards a person’s development and maturity as an all-round mountaineer.”

Definition of a QMD

To develop as a mountaineer, Mountain Training highlights eight points of which some or all are fulfilled to count as a QMD:

  • the individual takes part in the planning and leadership
  • navigation skills are required away from marked paths
  • experience must be in terrain and weather comparable to that found in UK and Irish hills
  • knowledge is increased and skills practiced
  • attention is paid to safety
  • five hours or more journey time
  • adverse conditions may be encountered
  • ascent of a substantial peak would normally be included in the day

This list promotes ‘the exploration of new areas’ and encourages Mountain Leaders to seek out ‘physical and mental challenge’ through ‘conditions experienced’ and ‘the terrain covered’.

Mountainous areas

Your QMDs need to be within ‘mountainous country’ in a minimum of three different areas. ‘For the purpose of the Mountain Leader scheme, ‘mountainous country' 'may be defined as wild country which may contain unavoidable steep and rocky ground where walkers are dependent upon themselves for immediate help’. Under this definition, Snowdonia counts but the Yorkshire Dales do not while most of the Scottish Highlands count but Dartmoor does not and the Lake District counts but not the Peak District.

However, walks in ‘non-mountainous country’ are very valuable. Whilst not directly ticking off the QMDs, these walks broaden a Mountain Leaders experience and should be logged as other categories such as Quality Hill and Moorland days or Mountain Walk as appropriate. A full list of Mountainous areas can be found at the bottom of this blog.


There is also a requirement before assessment to do 8 nights camping including at last 4 wild camps. ‘Wild camping takes place in moorland or mountain terrain remote from roads and habitation’. This is a great way to link 2 or 3 QMDs together in more remote areas and gain invaluable experience. Be sure to read up on environmental considerations before heading off on your first wild camp.

 Close to the summit

The pursuit of QMDs can be seen as a fantastic opportunity to explore the mountainous areas of the UK. Is there an inspiring mountain you have always wanted to summit? Gather some information from guidebooks and online, clear a table, lay your map out and let your imagination take you on an adventure. From the top of that mountain, you may see your next inspiring objective. When you come down, you can reflect on your time in the mountains, gather your learning points and log it all on DLog. You can learn more about how to log your QMDs in the next blog. Happy Walking!

The quoted parts of this blog are from the Mountain Leader FAQ’s on Mountain Training’s website. If you want more information this is a fantastic resource.

In the United Kingdom and Ireland mountainous country includes:

  • Snowdonia
  • Brecon Beacons
  • Lake District
  • Mountains of Mourne
  • Scottish Highlands
  • Galloway Hills
  • Cork & Kerry Mountains
  • Galway & Mayo Mountains
  • Donegal Mountains
  • Dublin & Wicklow Mountains

Plas y Brenin Launches Open Water Swimming Offering and Becomes a NOWCA Listed Site

Following the rising popularity of open water swimming, Sport England’s National Outdoor Centre, Plas y Brenin, is offering a number of options to help people build their confidence and improve their swimming technique.

Starting this month, customers will be able to book coaching lessons delivered by Plas y Brenin staff or supervised swimming sessions in the fresh, clean waters of Llynnau Mymbyr, with the spectacular backdrop of the Snowdon Horseshoe at the Centre’s base in the heart of Snowdonia.

To cement its commitment to safe and responsible open water swimming, Plas y Brenin has joined the National Open Water Coaching Association (NOWCA) as one of its 40+ affiliated venues. NOWCA has a growing community of more than 35,000 open water swimmers who trust them to keep them safe every swim.

Open water swimming and the benefits of cold-water therapy have become increasing popular over the last few years. Around 3% of adult Brits have tried open water swimming for the first time since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to research by the Centre*.

Plas y Brenin’s fully qualified Open Water Swimming coaches will offer monthly coaching sessions for beginner and experienced levels from £35. The lesson covers how a wetsuit works (and how to put it on), safe water entry and acclimatisation, stroke technique, sighting and swimming in a straight line, and drafting. Beginner sessions will run on the second Sunday of the month at 9:30am – 12:00pm, starting 10 July until 11 September. Experienced sessions will run on the same days from 12:00pm – 3:30pm. Beginners must be able to swim 200m in a pool to take part.

The Centre will also be hosting supervised open water swimming sessions every Thursday evening between 21 July and 25 August for competent swimmers looking to enjoy the lake independently with the reassurance of a supervisor. To use this service, swimmers must be able to comfortably swim 400m and will be required to bring their own wetsuit, goggles, swimming cap and towel. Sessions will run 18:30 – 20:00 with a cost of £7.50 per person.

Dave Janes, Instructor and Open Water Swimming Coach at Plas y Brenin commented: “It’s great to see so many more people enjoying the freedom and benefits of open water swimming. Not only is the water in our lake clean and fresh, its situated against the beautiful backdrop of the Snowdon Horseshoe, offering stunning views as you swim. Swimmers using either our coaching sessions or supervised sessions can also rest assured they are in the safe hands of fully qualified coaches who can help them hone their skills safely and responsibly. As a national centre, we’re committed to offering the highest standards when it comes to safety and overall experience, which we’ve strengthened by joining NOWCA and ensuring we’re adhering to their robust safety systems.”

* Research conducted by Opinium with a nationally representative sample of 2,002 UK adults between 30 March - 1 April 2020. Extrapolated figures are based on an 18+ UK population of 52,673,433, according to 2020 ONS mid-year-estimates.


Working Together to Make the Outdoors More Inclusive

A recent survey of 4,000 adolescent girls and boys suggests girls are more likely to disengage from sport and exercise in their teens compared to boys. The survey of 11-18 year olds conducted by Women in Sport identified a number of barriers contributing to the drop off, including a lack of confidence, fewer perceived opportunities, periods, body image and feeling unsafe outdoors.

The study alludes to a huge missed opportunity to encourage more girls to stay active after Primary School, especially with girls that say they used to be sporty but have become gradually disengaged.

Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic we have seen an increase in the number of people taking up outdoor activities and spending more time outdoors, yet more needs to be done to empower girls to overcome avoidable barriers that prevent them continuing with sports and exercise.

As Sport England's National Outdoor Centre, we are aware of the role we have to play in making the outdoors more inclusive, accessible and diverse.

To this end, we recently joined forces with seven other leading outdoor institutions to commission comprehensive research to understand current levels of participation in outdoor activities. The insights informed a plan of action - starting with the group agreeing to a number of commitments designed to improve diversity within the sector, including:

  • Educating ourselves and our workforce – to gain greater insight from the lived experiences of those who are underrepresented
  • Improving the diversity of people – within all levels of our organisations and in the imagery used to promote walking, climbing and camping
  • Developing collaborative relationships – with community groups and individuals who can help us effect change and improve pathways for people to access walking, climbing and camping
  • Holding ourselves accountable – for our actions and setting targets to improve equity, diversity and inclusion

There is a long way to go - as identified in the Women in Sport report - but for our part, we have already started investing more time and resources welcoming diverse groups. We are running a pilot training scheme with the Muslim Scout Fellowship (MSF), which, if successful, will be rolled out on a wider scale. In partnership with Experience Community, we will be delivering residential weekends that will support people with disabilities to get outdoors and participate in activities which allow them to get to places they may have never been able to access before, following a successful first weekend last year. This coming weekend. we’re also hosting #ShePaddles - a specialist canoeing and kayaking event to encourage more women to try paddlesports in partnership with Canoe Wales. While we’re making progress, it’s clear there is a lot more to do - both collectively and as individual organisations. From hiring staff from different backgrounds to creating initiatives and offerings that will help make outdoor learning more welcoming and accessible, so that more people can experience the often life-changing benefits associated with outdoor learning.

* This post first appeared in Horizons Magazine.

Expert Paddlers Share Their Top Tips Ahead of #ShePaddles

During the last few years we’ve seen a steady increase in the number of people taking up paddlesports - be it canoeing, kayaking or stand up paddle boarding (SUP).

Since the first lockdown (March 2020), almost a third (32%) of Brits tried a new outdoor activity for the first time - with kayaking being near the top of the list, according to our research - and men and women were just as likely to try something new.

To celebrate and encourage more women and girls to get into paddlesports, we’re hosting our very first #ShePaddles event, together with Canoe Wales, at our base in the heart of Snowdonia. Taking place on 7th and 8th May, specialist paddlesport weekend for women is an initiative that aims to inspire and encourage more women and girls into paddlesports - from beginners to those looking to become professional paddlers.

Featuring a number of workshops from leading coaches including Lowri Davies, Lina Patel, Emily Evans and Lizzie Harrington as well as evening entertainment and gin tasting from Aber Falls, it promises to be a great way to learn new skills while building new friendships and paddling communities along the way. We hope to see you there and be a part of your journey. Tickets are £60 per day - or £110 for both days, you can book at

Ahead of the event, we asked some expert paddlers to share their top tips.

Emily Evans, SUP and Raft Racer and Paddling Coach

  1. Make sure that you acquire a board and paddle that suits your size, this will make your paddling experience the best it can be and make sure that you are not straining your body, leaving you feeling fresh to head out again and again.
  2. If or when you take the time to get some lessons then do some research into your centre/ club or coaches, make sure you know a bit about them, where and how they operate.
  3. It is important to dress appropriately, you are more likely to have a better experience in the colder months and definitely a safer one. Look into the different types of clothing that are suitable for the type of SUP activity you are going to be doing.
  4. Strength and stretching: Take some time to look after your paddling muscles, they will thank you for it. You can make your paddling experience better by working on some balance exercises and leg strength. Also work on keeping the strength and suppleness in your hands, arms and shoulders.
  5. Get familiar with the weather in your local paddling area, knowing this is crucial to staying safe. If you are coastal it might be worth taking a coastal navigation course to understand the tides and weathers in your area. If you are ever unsure, best not to head out and save it for a good calm day.

Sarah Keight (Paddling Coach and lecturer in Outdoor Leadership)

  1. Try to get comfortable with the water you will be paddling on. Practice falling out. Once you have fallen in, often people realise it is not that bad and they can then relax and try new techniques.
  2. It can take a while to find a paddling group that works for you. There are many paddlers that are active on social media that you could arrange to paddle with. However, confidence can take a long time to build and can be lost in a split second. Beforehand, try and encourage honesty and transparency to check everyone has similar expectations of the day, the abilities within the group and the environment you are going into. That way everyone can finish having had a positive experience. If you’re not happy doing something, do speak out.
  3. My energy levels can plummet when I am paddling, which can lead to unnecessary mistakes. Take some tasty snacks and have them to hand.

There's an overwhelming sense that a community of like-minded people to learn from and to share your journey with makes those first steps into this amazing, varied world of paddling safer and more positive, hope to see you there!

Plas y Brenin Climbing Wall Opens to the Public

It’s been a long and rocky road from the completion of the new Plas y Brenin climbing wall build, to its recent opening. Its completion coincided with the start of the global pandemic, which not only quashed any thoughts of opening, but also stopped play in terms of any real development of the facility generally, with all non-essential workers in a national lockdown.

As restrictions eased, we have been able to use the wall for our courses, and residential customers have had access to it in the evenings, but we are now pleased to be open daily to the general public.

Climbing Instructor Dave Evans describes the history of the Centre’s climbing wall and its significance in terms of the history of British climbing wall development...

The original wall, made famous by its appearance in the “dream” sequence in the epoch making Johnny Dawes climbing film “Stone Monkey”, actually still exists hidden behind the panels in what is now the equipment store.

Our wall was one of the earliest of its kind anywhere, with moulded concrete blocks in the brickwork to mimic features on real rock but in an indoor environment. Fast forward to 1992, when major British climbing wall builder, Bendcrete, came in, and produced the infamous Plas y Brenin “Arch” bouldering wall and adjacent lead wall in “The Tower”. This wall really was cutting edge at the time, featuring as it did, a moulded, textured fibreglass surface, feeling and climbing like rock on a crag outside. Opened by the great British climber and mountain guide Pat Littlejohn, this wall would remain in place until 2018, and many people in the UK climbing community, including myself, were sad to see it dismantled. One well-known local climber even used to refer to the bouldering arch as “the finest indoor climbing feature in Britain”!

So here we are today. The old, featured panels are no more, replaced with clean, flat textured plywood panels which are much easier to set an infinitely varied array of problems on. The wall is now more open and much lighter as a result, and actually feels more spacious. We have a much broader area for roped climbing as the tower has been opened up with some crack volumes courtesy of the Wide Boys. There is also a fantastic digital training board with wooden holds only, perfect for more elite level climbers training finger and core strength for performance climbing.

Ahead of its grand reopening to the general public, we thought we would get things started by asking one of the current stars of British rock climbing and route setting, and Llanberis local, Emma Twyford, to come and fully reset the bouldering wall for us. This will be followed up with a reset of the lead wall in the Spring.

So, if you’re in the area and the weather isn’t great for climbing outside, don’t forget to pop in for a session and maybe treat yourself to a hard-earned drink or some food in the Snowdon Bar afterwards.

The climbing wall is open every day 9am until 10pm, for more information pop in and speak to reception or call us on 01690 720214.


Join Us at the National Outdoor Expo This Weekend!

As we continue to welcome the gradual return to some sort of normality, events have been resuming - with few we’re looking forward to as much as the National Outdoor Expo!

Taking place this weekend (19 and 20 March) at the NEC in Birmingham, it will feature a fantastic lineup of speakers who have achieved a lot in - and for - the industry as well as some of the best brands and companies in the business.

We are sending a stellar team to represent the Centre, meet and greet attendees as well as answer any questions about our courses, outdoor pursuits and everything in between. We’re also planning a competition giveaway, so if you’re planning to attend, be sure to stop by and say hello to be in with a chance of winning one of our amazing Adventure Days. We have a stand located at D35 opposite the Montane indoor climbing wall. Rumour has it our famous flapjacks may also make an appearance…

The event promises to inspire anyone and everyone that has an interest in the outdoors, whether beginner or professional. The pandemic has taken its toll on the nation’s mental and physical health but one glimmer of hope we’re seeing, is a renewed love and appreciation of the great outdoors. According to research we commissioned at the height of the pandemic, almost a third (32%) of Brits tried an outdoor activity for the first time since the initial national lockdown in March 2020. With this in mind, we’re hoping to see a fantastic turnout and meet lots of new faces.

And if that’s not enough to convince you, we’re also giving away FREE tickets. To claim them, all you have to do is head to the official website, add tickets and enter the code PLASYBRENIN at checkout.

Hope to see you there!

National Outdoor Centre and Canoe Cymru Host Specialist Paddlesports Weekend for Women

  • #ShePaddles weekend comes to Wales - bringing together world-leading female coaches, beginners and enthusiasts for skills workshops and masterclasses
  • Initiative hosted in Snowdonia aims to encourage more women to progress their passion

National Outdoor Centre, Plas y Brenin is, for the first time, joining forces with Canoe Cymru to host #ShePaddles - an initiative that aims to inspire and encourage more women and girls into paddlesports.

Marking the event’s debut at Plas y Brenin in Snowdonia, it will take place on 7th and 8th May 2022. The two-day event will bring together beginners, enthusiasts, inspiring instructors, coaches, ambassadors and brands with some of Great Britain’s most accomplished, talented and inspiring coaches.

Split across the two days, the weekend has something for everyone from skills development workshops to masterclasses with the professionals and entertainment on Saturday evening as well as gin tasting with Aber Falls.

Attendees will be able to learn from the very best coaches and leaders across canoeing and kayaking - including those who have previously competed at Olympic level. The event will see a jam-packed itinerary including workshops on kayak, canoeing and SUP coaching and leadership as well as safety and rescue, navigation, planning and kit preparation.

Workshops will be hosted by elite athletes including Lowri Davies, Sian Sykes, Lizzie Harrington, Chris Evans and Dave Janes.

Helen Barnard, Chief Instructor, Plas y Brenin commented: “We’re excited to be hosting #ShePaddles in association with Canoe Cymru. The weekend will bring together the best and most inspiring coaches in the paddlesports world to share insights and tips to inspire current and future generations of female paddlers whatever their ambition. Together, we have developed the ideal environment to introduce, encourage and support any female that wishes to participate in Paddlesport safely and responsibly - and we hope for this to be the first of many more.”

#ShePaddles was started by British Canoeing to even things up - even in 2020, only 3 in 10 members are female. The ambition is to keep them progressing to where they want to be - whether that's paddling with family, volunteering as a coach at a local club, becoming an instructor or competing at a national level.

Tickets are available from £175 and must be booked in advance from the Plas y Brenin website. Limited capacity accommodation is also available on site.

Full itinerary

Saturday workshops

  • Kayak Coaching Workshop with Plas y Brenin instructor, Chris Evans or Laura Wynne
  • Canoe Coaching Workshop with Lizzie Harrington, holder of the highest canoeing coaching and leadership awards offered by British Canoeing
  • SUP Coaching Workshop with Sian Sykes, Stand Up Paddleboarding Adventurer and Environmental Ambassador
  • Safety and Rescue Workshop with Plas y Brenin instructor Matt Giblin
  • Navigation, Planning and Kit Preparation Workshop with Plas y Brenin instructor Dave Janes
  • Children’s Paddlesport Fun Session
  • The complete beginner Workshop (opportunity to try all crafts and get a taster for life on the water) ​(Please confirm if this is definitely a workshop option)
  • Freestyle Masterclass with Lowri Davies

Sunday workshops

  • Children's Paddlesport Fun Day
  • Kayaking Journey
  • White Water Kayak Journey
  • Sea Kayak Journey
  • Canoe Journey
  • Stand up Paddleboard Journey

- ENDS -

About Plas y Brenin

Plas y Brenin National Outdoor Centre was founded in 1955 and is a world-renowned provider of adventure sports training. From a base in the scenic heart of Snowdonia, Plas y Brenin’s work is focused on developing inspiring coaches, instructors and leaders in adventure sport, be they volunteers or working professionally in the sector, to better support people, from all backgrounds, to get active in the outdoors.

The centre also offers an extensive programme of personal skill development courses in rock climbing, hillwalking and mountaineering, kayaking, canoeing, sea kayaking and mountain biking. The centre also delivers a diverse and vibrant events programme, with adventure talks, environmental lectures, mountain safety lessons and sector-leading conferences.

Owned by Sport England, Plas y Brenin is operated on their behalf by the educational charity, the Mountain Training Trust (MTT); a not-for-profit charity founded by the British Mountaineering Council, Mountain Training UK and Mountain Training England. The charity was formed specifically to run the centre and ensure delivery of world-class training and encourage more people to get active in the outdoors, regardless of their abilities or experience.

To find out more about Plas y Brenin’s comprehensive course programme, facilities, business and educational services please visit


#ShePaddles Cymru is Canoe Wales's own #ShePaddles initiative in Wales. We asked our Development Officer to explain how #ShePaddles Cymru started and where it's heading:

Here at Canoe Wales, we have a real desire to have gender balance in paddlesport in all settings.

Only 29% of Canoe Wales members are female, and so we knew we wanted to do something to balance things out. The Sport Wales' 2018 School Sport Survey highlighted that participation in paddlesport is relatively gender equal at school age - and in fact demand for paddlesport is higher among females at secondary school age - but this is not currently translated into memberships.