Latest Online Reviews (April 25, 2017)
I've had a few people try to teach me to roll before but nothing as good as this. Andy had a whole pile of exercises and techniques I'd never seen before. Although we were all working through the same stuff there was constant individual coaching - not everyone has difficulty with the same stuff. Managing fatigue was a big issue over 2 days and again Andy was on the ball with breaks etc. The whole group came away with a real understanding of why the roll works or doesn't - I never heard the usual 'Your head's coming up too soon'. When it all clicked on the last day I couldn't stop rolling -"Just one more". Many thanks Andy.
Excellent 2 day course, with brilliant instruction from Andy Butler. 6 on course ideal for the pool size. We didn't go outside but that was a possibility if required. Thoroughly and highly recommended.
A great course
Just completed this course and it was fantastic. Andy, our instructor, was simply brilliant and succeeded in getting me to roll a sea kayak. Thanks Andy. I would advise potential attendees to come with, or borrow from the PYB stores, a shortie wetsuit or a long john. Being in the pool all day means you can get chilled but a wetsuit worked well. Also something for your feet. Highly recommended. Get booked on!
Great course for any white water beginner to intermediate
I have been paddling on and off for quite a few years now but never pushed myself beyond grade 3 because of my weak rolling ability. Although my roll is not perfect now, it's a lot better and this course has given me the confidence and knowledge to keep working on it and in future push my overall paddling further. On this course we weren't paddling difficult rivers so allowed the coaches and me to strip my paddling back to the basics and others in the group to build confidence on moving water. I saw some bad habits start to slip away and hope to continue with this. The best thing about the course was the coaches (Andy and Chris). Not only did they help me improve my kayaking but also gave us advise as coach's. They were flexible and adaptable to the group and individual needs. They got the vibe of the group right and then set their coaching styles. They aimed to improve us as paddlers and coaches, not just to gain our 3 star and they succeeded.
Mike was simply excellent. This is my first First Aid course in a long time. While I will be using the course to support my partner during outdoor explorations (she is an anaesthetician doing the mountain medicine course), I have also had the ability to meet some individuals who may just have furthered my passion for the outdoors and to perhaps even pursue a career in the outdoor. If that isn't the ethos of Plas-y-brenin, I am not sure what is. The stay was, as it always is, comfortable and the housing more than up to snuff. I will be returning very soon.
Really enjoyed the course ,I renew every 3 years here. The course is well run, the environment is second to none, the staff the food the accommodation is excellent.
Useful & Enjoyable
The course was pitched just about right. A good combination of tweaking our existing skills and some new skills all together in an enjoyable weekend of paddling. Ongoing advice and tips with safety and sailing sessions. Our coach Dave Luke made a huge improvement to our forward paddling, which we will benefit from everyday we paddle. We were the only boat of the course so Dave was able to tailor it to our needs, but I think even with a full compliment of boats it could be very tailored. As usual PYB was extremely comfortable, really good food and the staff helpful and friendly. It really is a treat to be accommodated at the centre. We have come away with improved paddling, lots of tips and tricks as well as a couple of really valuable new techniques - we will definitely return.
Learning to Lead 5 day
Great course & great tuition
I was hoping this would be a zero to hero course for me but even though I stopped short of rolling without a float on the end of my paddle, it certainly taught me loads. Our instructor, Andy, was first class and broke the elements of a roll into bite size and achieveable chunks. With the right timing, technique and energy, you would put these together and have a roll.
We spent two days in the PyB indoor heated pool practicing these elements and the other three classmates all managed a complete roll on day two so I would highly recommend this course, and Andy in particular, if you want to learn to roll and generally gain confidence in a boat.
I will be back in a weeks time for the 5 day intro to kayaking course with my wife!
See you soon and many thanks - fantastic location and great team you have.
I have attended this course several times over the years, always to improve my existing roll. It has certainly been useful for that, mainly because of having the heated pool available and two days to improve in... made all the more enjoyable by the great PYB atmosphere. Be aware that many people attend this course when their roll simply isn't working at all. But the coaches are not miracle workers; they can only do so much. Prior to attending, I recommend looking at books or at Youtube rolling videos to identify the typical mistakes that people make when learning, and especially, how to correct these mistakes. (Such errors include your head coming up first, over-reaching, diving paddle blade, etc). This not a 'learn to roll' course; it's better for improving an existing roll that is unreliable. Three Stars to warn you not to come with over-high expectations if you don't have any sort of roll in place!
Giencoe March 5-9.
5 days fantastic hill walking in the Scottish mountains exceeded all my expectations. The weather was generally good but not benign which added greatly to the challenge for man from Suffolk. Our instructor Will was both totally professional and a great guy to spend 5 days in the mountains with. He taught us great skills to enable safety and good technique in the mountains. We were fortunate enough to have Sam helping us for the first three days giving us a ratio of 2:1 instructor.. Must mention my other fellow walkers- brilliant company on the hill and in the bar!! The Alltshellach was comfortable warm and very well run and the food a delight! This trip was long overdue and has already got me thinking about my return next year. Thank you all, Mick Hall
ML preparation for assessement
Considering the almost 'winter' conditions this was a great two days. It certainly tested our kit to the full extent if not ourselves!
Gareth was an excellent instructor. Giving information and guidance with just the right levels of gravitas and humour.
I feel much more confident about my own abilities and weaker areas to work on before my assessment in April.
Just hoping for better weather :-)
A BRILLIANT course delivered by BRILLIANT instructors!
I'm a fairly competent paddler on flat water but have done very little on moving water so decided to let Plas y Brenin show me the ropes.
I've used PyB on a number of occasions previously have nearly always had amazing experiences and this course was no different.
Our instructor, Karl, was friendly, extremely knowledgeable, helpful and informative. He made the learning easy and interesting with obvious progression between skills.
I've built up the confidence in just two days to be happy on any grade 1 or 2 water and can't wait to get out again.
I would highly recommend this course (or even better, the five day version) to anyone looking to get some beginner experience on white water.
Good course, thanks. Did not use Plas y Brenin accommodation but was a very nice place and nice bar.
Winter ML training Alltshellach 29 Jan - 3 Feb 2017
Male, over 65, attended for personal development, self-funded.
I very much enjoyed this course and found it very useful and instructive. I would rate it excellent for value for money, friendliness, quality of instruction, food, accommodation, facilities and cleanliness. Despite the conditions being limiting for Winter ML purposes, we were able to cover nearly all of the syllabus and we got a very clear idea about what would be expected on assessment. I liked the fact that all necessary elements were taught in a practical, realistic manner in a way that one could immediately see the relevance to safely leading groups in winter conditions.
Admin was very good, but I have a couple of comments. Firstly, the kit list on the course information document needs to improve. It does not include at present any of the kit you need for overnight stays in the hills; Goretex bivvy bag, sleeping mat, sleeping bag, stove, pan, mug, cook kit, shovel, probe etc. Some but not all of these items were available from store. OK, it should be obvious, but they should be there on the list! Secondly, although we covered most of the general topics during conversation on the hill and back at the hotel, I thought a bit more on hypothermia and general equipment recommendations could be valuable. To be fair though, all the people on this particular course were obviously very knowledgeable about these things.
Does what it says on the tin
Fantastic, professional and welcoming staff throughout. The food was great and there was outdoor kit available for hire.
The room was clean and comfortable.
I'll definitely be keeping an eye out for future events
However a few points I'd like to note:
1. welcome to plas y brenin folder/brochure in room was not bilingual which was a bit disappointing
2. I paid for mountain insurance on the booking website but received no further documents as evidence of this
3. I paid for a single room over the phone although did not receive an email confirmation of this
4. Some guests received Joe brown discount vouchers whilst others didn't (including me!)
Great Course despite lack of snow!
Still got loads out of the course even though no snow. Covered loads of things and instructors were great and really down to earth. Accommodation and food excellent!! Definitely go again.
Had an amazing time
Alex Wade, Alice Geddes
We stayed the weekend for our Welsh Winter Skills course, unfortunately there was no snow but the instructors did a great job of running the course regardless, we got everything we had hoped to achieve out of the 2 days and had an amazing time.
Great people, great place, will definitely look into coming again
The course provided a good grounding in movement and ropework and allowed plenty of opportunity to practice the skills learned, and also exposure to climbing on several different types of rock during the week. Will and Paul were patient and highly knowledgeable instructors and I achieved more than I thought possible. Although this course runs both as 2 day and 5 day durations, my opinion is that the 5 day option is preferable as it allows much more time to practice and reinforce the techniques introduced on the course. I would would have no hesitation in recommending this course to others wishing to improve their confidence climbing outdoors.
The Bombproof Roll course was everything I expected and more. Having started the week with a roll that sometimes worked and sometimes didn't, I came away at the end of the course with a solid white water roll and, more importantly I think, an understanding of WHY my original roll wasn't working, with ways to correct this when my technique gets sloppy. We were also given some great ideas for practising our rolls and progressing with our rolling.
The course instructors were friendly, enthusiastic, knowledgeable, supportive and patient: they pushed us when they could see it would do us good, but not so much that we'd get frustrated. The course participants had a range of abilities, but no one ever felt excluded and no one was left behind. Facilities were great, as you'd expect: we spent a few days in the rolling pool at Plas y Brenin and a couple of days on the River Dee at Llangollen, with plenty of different boats and paddles to try if you wanted.
Accommodation and food were fantastic: lovely meals (huge portions if you wanted), clean and comfortable rooms, and a great bar with some nice beers! All the Plas y Brenin staff were very friendly and helpful.
Overall, an absolutely fantastic week - highly recommended!
Amazing time at PYB!
Can't really fault anything to do with the course. Everyday was well structured, we we told of what we would be doing in advance, comfortably got through the material and passed the whole course in 4 days, leaving us with 1 day of pure white water kayaking and I managed to squeeze in a bit of playboating :)
Instructors were amazing, knowledgeable and helpful. Staff at the centre were really good as well and the facilities and bar were excellent.
I did pick up that the centre is trying to be more environmentally conscious and I have a couple of recommendations - make the menu less focussed on meat and dairy products and more focussed on plant foods, but also instead of wrapping sandwiches in cling film possibly encourage people to bring tupperware or their own sandwich bags to cut down on waste.
I will definitely be returning!
This was a great course. The coaching from Chris was supportive, insightful and effective. He paced the weekend just right ensuring that the content was tailored to each participant. The use of video analysis was especially useful. I now have a basic roll that I can build on over the coming months.
Welsh Winter Skills
Great course at a great venue. In spite of the lack of snow Stuart managed to locate enough for us to practice our skills. Sunday provided a great walk and more snow. A thoroughly enjoyable weekend.
Welsh Winter Skills
On the way to Wales I assumed the weather conditions precluded us from finding any snow to really get stuck in with crampon and ice axe use.
However! Stuart our Mountain Guide took us to a place that there was snow on the first day! We learnt so many of the essential things and even tried out digging snow holing!
On the second day we ascended a nearby mountain and consolidated many of the skills we went through including navigation. The conditions were fantastic, so we were very lucky indeed!
Overall, an awesome experience and I cannot imagine having a better introduction to winter skills. Highly recommended! Not to mention the excellent accommodation and catering!
Had an amazing weekend and picked up new skills such as map reading and using compass. Our guide was very professional, well prepared and helpful with all of us. Staff in PyB centre is amazing, everybody is very friendly, food is first class!!
First of all,I was amazed at the very high standard of the instructors (Tim and Stu)that we had. Obviously, being Plas Y Brenin I thought that they would be good but in fact they were both right at the top of their game (for example they had both climbed the North Face of Eiger).Despite this they never gave the impression of being bored at covering what to them was obviously very easy terrain and put a lot of effort into teaching us the correct way to go about things.The first day was pretty challenging but after that the day's objectives were tailored to reflect the experience, fitness and ability of course attendees.For the last three days I was teamed (along with another guy) with Stu. I benefited hugely from his vast experience and it was also very interesting hearing about his experiences as a top guide in the Alps.Considering the wet weather we had, it was amazing what we got done (Cneifion Arete was a highlight). It is a big advantage being with instructors who know Snowdonia so well, as they are able to select routes that are doable in the conditions - not everyone (me included) would have the confidence to do this.
The Centre itself can't be faulted - very comfortable rooms and well cooked food with a good choice. It was very useful being able to borrow kit from the stores. However, some of the boots do let water in - in fairness it would be a mammoth job to keep them all waterproofed to a high standard. If you are thinking of using their boots and want to be sure of avoiding wet feet, it would be a good idea to bring a pair of waterproof socks (Sealskins) as back up.
Good music, good walking, good food
We arrived early on the Friday, so we were fed, settled in and signed up for Saturday's mountain walk for when the impromptu music session started around 7:30. Excellent! Very informal and entertaining; good light beer and singing along to old folk favourites.We left regretfully at 11pm, but apparently the bar remained open for beer and music.
Breakfast Saturday - excellent - sticks to your ribs; picked up lunch, filled flask and set off to walk 11km. Had lunch on top of Drum in the snow; cold, but very pleasant.
back to PYB for tea and cake.
Dined, and back into the lecture theatre for a more formal musical event. Wow! Much talent, much enjoyed. We left at midnight, (had to sleep!).
Breakfast Sunday, Excellent, slightly later than usual. Informal music went on till 4am!!!!!(apparently). Breakfasted, packed and room cleared. Gentle 11km through forest to Betwys y coed.
then back to PYB, tea and cake, then away home.
Found out later we could have bought an extra night!. Should have,Sunday night was another informal music session.Next time, we will.
Food - excellent, and plenty of it.
Walking - thoroughly enjoyed, professionally guided.
Music - brilliant. (I have to say we enjoyed the informal session more than the formal Saturday night).
Thank you to all who helped make a weekend special.
We will be back!
Advanced Scrambling - mega!
The 5-day Advanced Scrambling course completely exceeded my expectations. We had a fantastic instructor, Tim Neill, who was extremely patient, knowledgeable, friendly, and fantastic at ensuring that everyone understood all the concepts as well as the big picture; Tim pushed us to our comfort levels after which we felt we had had an epic day every day. We covered all the concepts and skills, using a lot of gear, which in the second half of the week Tim was pushing us to implement ourselves while carefully monitoring us and correcting when necessary.
After the first day I thought that lasting the 5 days would be difficult but this was not in fact the case and we all finished an epic week with still a little fuel left in the tank, but full of confidence and knowledge. While the weather was damp or wet, Tim chose locations where impact of the weather was minimal, and the weather conditions did not in any way reduce the experience or training provided - indeed it probably enhanced it as climbing in dry rock conditions can only be easier.
The PYB centre is fantastic - clean, great food (and plenty of it), a nice bar, nice bedrooms, and staff are very friendly. Equipment of all sorts is available free to course attendees, and indeed after trying a scrambling boot for the whole week (that I previously had been interested in but was slow to buy) I went and purchased the boot in the local Joe Brown climbing shop, happy in the knowledge that it was perfect after scrambling all week in a pair. Indeed another attendee on the course tried 3 different pairs of boots on different days until he found the right one.
The drying rooms are great, so you have dry kit every day without having to bring too many changes of clothes with you to the course.
I cannot recommend this course and the centre highly enough; it's a 10/10 course and centre.
4th time at The Big Acoustic Walk and I'll be back for no. 5
As ever it was a very enjoyable weekend in a very hospitable and friendly environment. Alan Manouch and Dave Cheetham 'worked their socks off' to make this as special if not better than my previous three visits.
The staff at PYB at all levels are a welcoming and friendly group of people, which contributes to the overall success of each visit.
The scenery, food and ale are hard to beat and this combined with great guided walks and an abundance of live music is just brilliant. (Although the course officially finished on Sunday, the music carried on in the bar on Sunday evening with a small group staying for an extra night)
The accommodation isn't perfect (PYB is not a 5 star hotel) but a problem with a shower one morning was rectified the same day. The rooms are warm comfortable and more than adequate for a short stay. The new policy of being able to book a single room and pay a small supplement was most welcome and will certainly appeal to visitors who are not keen on sharing rooms.
The new layout of tables and chairs in the dining room works well and is easier to navigate with a sleepy head and a plate piled high with a wonderful cooked breakfast. Also, the enhancements to the bar were very pleasing.
A big thanks you to Al and Dave and everyone at PYB for a wonderful weekend, I've still got a big smile on my face.
PS. Thank you to the weather forecasters for being wrong! Two dry days for walking and some sunshine was terrific.
Big Acoustic Walk
I've been to Plas y Brenin four times for the Big Acoustic Walk weekends and will be going back again (soon I hope). The accommodation is warm and comfortable with fabulous food and a fantastic bar. The scenery is spectacular and the staff at Plas y Brenin are brilliant. They are all really friendly, especially Dave and Alan who go out of their way to make these walking/music weekends weekends such fun. I will be back in April, with re-enforcements.
Such an amazing place. You couldn't ask for a more professional and friendly service, excellent facilities, great food and possibly the best view from a cafe and bar in the country. I look forward to my next visit.
The course was brilliant. We spent 5 days getting thoroughly expert tuition (and excellent company) from Tim Neill, who is as confidence-inspiring as he is tall. It was pretty full-on on day 1 (and I'd done a tiny bit of rock climbing beforehand), and, to my surprise, seemed to get tougher from there! That said, Tim (and latterly Stuart) managed to shepherd a very mixed-experience group up some fantastic, tricky-seeming routes, with only limited help from classics like "the Alpine knee" and "the gentleman's rope". We climbed in challenging conditions (I'm reasonably confident that one of the climbing routes was actually a stream), had stunning days out in the mountains, and learnt absolutely loads. The course left me confident in the basic ropework I'd need to safeguard friends while scrambling (even if I still make a pretty ugly rope coil when left to my own devices). Five of the best hill days I've had: thanks very much Tim, and thanks too to Stuart and the other guys on the course.
I'd recommend this to anyone who wants to develop their mountain skills, it's a good mix of fundamentals and advanced skills, tailored to the needs of the individuals and the group. The coaches we had were both excellent, full of knowledge and skilled at passing that on. Great place to be based, the PYB centre is comfortable and the food is hearty and tasty. The stores can lend you anything you need, from full kit to just a single item you may not have or have forgotten to bring. I thoroughly enjoyed the course and learned lots.
Fantastic White Water Week
Having had a bad experience, I needed to rebuild confidence on moving water. This course really did the trick. My coach, Colin, really took on board my previous confidence crash and worked hard to push me at a rate I was happy with. Lots of encouragement and positive feedback, meant after two days my confidence was returning and I was enjoying kayaking again. By the end of the week I was feeling really happy in the boat and confident on the drops.
Great catering and accommodation. Thanks Colin, thanks PYB, I will be back.
Just what I had been looking for
Great choice for an all-round mountain experience. Quality instruction, tailored to suit, that enabled us to make the most of the weather and time available. Enough time for those (like me) who were a bit rusty to progress quickly through to taking on grade 3 scrambles bythe end of a memorable week.
We focussed almost exclusively on the ogwen valley but with so much choice on Tryfan, glyder fach etc no-one had any cause for complaint. A great week. Thanks
The course was excellent, couldn't have asked for more. Instructors were good humoured, patient and provided good technical feedback.
Food could have been better. Veggie choices at breakfast were very limited.
The dining arrangement with the long benches felt very old fashioned/institutionalized. I was at Glenmore Lodge recently and the round tables there were great for group interaction.
Just being at PYB with it's wonderful setting is a joy.
I found the course informative and thoroughly recommend it to walkers for navigation. My leader Steve was helpful and interacted well with the group and acknowledge our different levels of ability.
BMC ready to rock 17th September
Thanks again for another fantastic weekend. The course was well structured and paced.
I'd like to thank the tutors Mike (I think) in particular who were very knowledgeable and encouraging.
I've been climbing indoors for about 6 months so found this course extremely useful in improving technique and making the leap to the great outdoors.
Since completing the course I've purchased some basic gear (Joe Browns - thanks for the discount voucher) and have made regular trips to Stannage Edge.
I hope to return to North Wales in the Spring and continue to improve my new passion.
Accommodation was clean & tidy, all staff were friendly, good food provided over the weekend. Thanks to all involved!
I thoroughly enjoyed this course
I thoroughly enjoyed the course. Chris was very clear about finding out what we wanted to do, and tailoring the course to us. We achieved more than I think we expected to do over the weekend, and I certainly felt I had challenged myself. I left with a good basic understanding of whitewater paddling (coming from a flatwater background), the basic techniques and a better understanding of reading the river. The latter, if nothing else, will hopefully help in my flatwater/descent racing.
We had a good pool session trying to roll. It was only the second time I had attempted this, and certainly got a lot closer - but still some way to go!
Part of the lack of confidence at times on the river was the thought of swimming. Obviously it's easy in our boats, as you just fall out. In hindsight, I wonder if I should have tried a controlled capsize on the first day just to have the confidence of pulling of the spraydeck if needed. That is only something that occurred to me after we left. Of course.
I would be very keen to come back - next time with my whole family, to do some more training here.
Many thanks to everyone at PyB for their help and friendly and positive attitude to us all weekend.
Too Little Too Late!
At 54, it was the first time I'd really attempted anything like this, and I'm really glad I had the opportunity, because I've found I have osteoarthritis in my knee, and if I'd known that before, I probably would have decided against going. But I unexpectedly discovered and thoroughly enjoyed gorge scrambling (it wasn't in the description and I'd never heard of such a thing!), and I want to do it again, and even though I was petrified climbing, I want to try again, so have booked onto a four-week intro course back home in Cardiff.
The only thing I found a bit strange was that I seemed to be the only Welsh person there, and almost certainly the only Welsh speaker - and this in my own country. Some of the tutors mispronounced local place and mountain names, which grated a little: although upon reflection, if the place is not used by Welsh people, who cares how anything is pronounced! I could not help but feel some sadness at the fact that Wales's most beautiful area seemed somehow unavailable to its own native people.
But I hope I'll be back there for more. It's great!