Pendarren House is ideally situated in the Brecon Beacons National Park to be able to offer a range of off-site activities which allow you to experience the natural world, face-to-face!
Below are details of all the activities we offer – to see what is suitable for your group check the activity options on the Primary, Secondary and Self Catering pages. How you use Pendarren is down to your imagination – activities can be used to develop personal skills, personal development, communication, team skills, art, english, maths, science, geography etc etc.
All school courses have elements of environmental education and personal development.
The courses are designed in consultation with the group leaders to ensure the group gain the most from their visit.
Groups may choose from a range of adventurous outdoor activities and environmental studies, or we can tailor the course to meet specific curriculum or development requirements.
All equipment is provided.
Below is a summary of the activities and venues we use. There are more details for each age group on the relevant pages – primary, secondary and Firs self catering
Canoeing and kayaking
We have fleets of Old Town Discovery open canoes and Pyranha Master kayaks, and a great selection of venues. Canoes (also called open or Canadian canoes) are typically paddled by a team of two people using paddles with a blade on one end. Kayaks are typically paddled solo with a paddle that has a blade on both ends.
All paddlers, whether they can swim or not, are equipped with safety equipment such as buoyancy aids and other items such as helmets are issued as required.
Depending on the age and ability of the groups we use the Brecon Monmouthshire canal, Llangorse lake, reservoirs in the mountains of the National Park, the rivers Wye and Usk and the sea.
The rivers Wye and Severn are navigable all year round and therefore suitable for multiday canoe camping trips.
From October to March the white water paddlers arrive to canoe on the miles of rapids on the rivers Usk, Wye and their tributaries. This is classic paddling country with an abundance of grade 2/3 water suitable for canoe and kayak.
Rock climbing and abseiling
We use off and on site venues to teach rock climbing. On site we have an indoor bouldering room and a climbing tower with an abseil platform. Across the valley is our closest climbing venue, but there are numerous others ranging from mountain venues to the wooded Wye valley to the south Wales coast.
There are hundreds of caves in south Wales, including the deepest and second longest in Britain. They are all full day options, although we don’t spend the whole day in the cave and so it is possible to undertake other activities if they are in the vicinity of the cave. The temperature in caves is fairly stable and in winter they are warmer than the outside temperature.
The nearest caves are across the valley and although caves are associated with streams we have a selection that enables us to safely cave no matter what the weather. In some caves the rivers last flowed down the tunnels at the end of the last ice age.
The Brecon Beacons National Park was created to protect the mountain scenery, and we are in the heart of this on the side of Sugarloaf mountain. They include the highest mountain in southern Britain, Pen y Fan. Our local hills include Sugarloaf, Table Mountain, Blorenge and Skirrid. Pendarren is on the edge of the Black Mountains which are quieter than the popular peaks of the central Brecon Beacons around Pen y Fan. To the west of those is Carmathan Black Mountain where you will see few walkers.
Adventure journey and Gorge walks
These are like walks except we follow the beds of streams and rivers – it may involve sliding, jumping and scrambling. You will get wet! The venue is matched to the age and ability of the group.
Use your brain and your legs to navigate your way around the course. We have a variety of courses to suit all abilities: a number of on-site courses including indoors, garden and park, and a variety of woodland and moorland challenges.
The high ropes tower has 6 challenges and is used for half day sessions. The challenges are Crate Stack, All Aboard, Leap of Faith, two Traverses and the Jacobs Ladder.
Problem solving and Team Building
Around the grounds we have a number of stand-alone challenges, some of which are linked to form extended team challenges.
Challenges are selected that are appropriate for the aims of the group. This may be a few challenges incorporated into another activity.
Build your own shelter, light a fire without matches, discover wild food, learn how to safely use a knife.
Half and full day options. Full day options will include a journey.
Pony trekking/horse riding
Pony trekking can be arranged through another provider for an extra cost.
Pendarren is well resourced to offer camping experiences either as part of an expedition or overnight in the grounds.
Pendarren is an Approved Activity Provider for the DofE and can offer training, practise and qualifying expeditions by foot or by canoe, and gold residentials.
ENVIRONMENTAL and FIELD STUDIES
There is a wide range of environments and habitats to discover around Pendarren that can be used to teach environmental and field studies.
Coast – rocky cliffs, sandy bays, rock pools, salt marshes and mud flats.
Mountains – the Brecon Beacons National Park was created to protect the highest mountains in southern Britain.
Rivers and streams – the Wye and Usk and two well known white water paddling and salmon fishing rivers.
Caves – hundreds of kilometers of cave passage exist in S Wales, with some rare organsisms living deep in the caves.
Forest – many of the forests are being transformed from coniferous to native broadleaved forests which will be beneficial for our native wildlife.
Rural landscapes – most of the land is used for sheep grazing and towns are few and small, such as Crickhowell and Brecon.
Pendarren is well equipped to support students who study these environments with field study equipment, protective clothing, smartboards, visualiser, laptops etc.
Big Pit coal mine museum
Big Pit closed as a working deep mine in 1981 and reopened as a tourist attraction. A visit includes an undergound tour led by one of the entertaining miners, an audiovisual simulation of mining techniques and a museum. One hundred meters below ground, visitors equipped with safety helmets and cap-lamps will see what life was really like for generations of South Wales’ miners. Free.
Caerleon – the Romans
The Romans colonised Wales extensively from AD74 until AD300. A large garrison was established at Caerleon (Isca). Subsequent archaeological excavation has revealed an amphitheatre, barracks and baths. The visit includes the baths, amphitheatre and the Roman Legionary Museum. There are work sheets available. There is a charge for some sessions.
Over the centuries the Welsh and the English built many castles along the border to try and control the region. Some of these are well preserved such as Raglan Castle, with its moated keep, fortifications and dungeons. Other nearby castles include Abergavenny, Crickhowell, White Castle, Grosmont and Skenfrith. Mostly free.
Welsh Folk Museum – St Fagans
This visit provides a fascinating insight into the customs and life-styles of the people of Wales through the ages. The indoor exhibits include an agricultural section and a magnificent collection of material culture. The external exhibits show the development of housing and crafts in rural Wales, with many buildings including farm houses, watermill, tannery, chapel and school, reconstructed and furnished as they were in their period. It is possible to arrange a “Victorian Lesson” with the children dressed in costume in the school. Free.
The Centre brings the birds to Pendarren and displays the birds on the lawn at Pendarren House, the young people can sometimes be invited to participate. The birds include owls and hawks. There is a charge for this 1 hour session. Requires booking.
Daniel Morden is our local storyteller, and is occasionally seen on stage in London and visiting schools in Haringey. His books are available in the Big Green Bookshop in Wood Green. For this 45 minute evening sesion there is a fee (which is currently subsidised by the Friends of Pendarren). Requires booking.
An inflatable dome accommodates the group who are taken on a visual tour of the night sky by an enthusiastic retired teacher. Requires booking.