Wild Lakes Wales, which recently rebranded from Pembrokeshire Wake Park, has opened a new bouldering wall, boosting local employment and further expanding the range of activities available at the centre. The addition of the wall and a new yoga studio in the same building is enabling the centre to stay open through the winter for the first time since it launched.
A family business, Wild Lakes Wales is run by siblings Sarah Harris, Mark Harris and Stephanie Harris. The trio grew up in Pembrokeshire and decided to create their own Wake park after moving back to the area and always wanting to run a family business. The park now provides up to 30 local part time and full time jobs.
All three siblings are sports enthusiasts, and they have channelled this into Wild Lakes Wales. The new bouldering wall is a bespoke creation made by Mark Harris (one of the Harris siblings), with the help of Walltopia. It offers an array of different routes, holds and angled sections and a cave area. The plan is to have route sections reset every two weeks to keep the wall current and interesting for locals. To provide further interest, a guest route setter will also create a new route each month.
The bouldering wall is located in a new 12m x 20m building, which includes a reception area and an area to relax and catch up with friends, coffee and cakes. The bouldering wall is open for anyone aged seven and years and up. Membership and bulk buys are available, and the wall will also host social events and competitions. Children’s and adults’ lessons led by qualified coaches will be offered on a group basis and casual ‘open’ bouldering is on offer for competent climbers.
The addition of the bouldering wall will benefit the local community in more ways than one: as well as providing a new attraction, it has created several full-time positions at the centre.
“We always enjoy challenges and want to expand our venture year on year, so with the recent lockdowns we were provided the time to crack on with building works at the park,” says Stephanie Harris. “We wanted to extend our seasonal business and make it more viable with the offer of full-time jobs. A bouldering wall made the perfect winter alternative to wakeboarding and already we’ve seen lots of our wakeboarding members make the transition. Bouldering is a great sport and having an indoor centre provides opportunity during the winter for local climbers to continue working on their skills and keep fit.”
The new yoga studio, located on a mezzanine floor in the same building as the bouldering wall, will further expand the centre’s offering.
“We decided to capitalise on the height of the new building and use the loft space,” explains Stephanie. “As we have a yoga instructor already in the team, we thought the space would be perfect to create a studio. Yoga is a great crossover for those utilising the water sports and bouldering facility – it’s an opportunity to create more well-rounded athletes. Classes in the mezzanine will begin from February and have numerous instructors offering a flow for everyone. We plan to utilise the mezzanine for workshops too, whether that’s a yoga workshop, first aid training or crafty bits. It’s another space onsite that provides opportunity.”
The Harris siblings are delighted to be boosting job opportunities in Pembrokeshire.
“We always had plans to expand the business, but the main reason was to offer some of our great and loyal staff full time positions, to keep the talent in Pembrokeshire,” says Stephanie. “Often, Pembrokeshire is seen as such a seasonal destination but there are visitors and especially locals in the winter looking for places to go and new things to try. Adding an indoor bouldering facility and yoga studio allowed us to open through the winter as the water becomes too cold, it also goes hand in hand with our new chef and restaurant that will also run from February to December each year.”
Over the winter Wild Lakes will be offering bouldering for competent climbers as well as lessons, different flows of yoga and a restaurant with food cooked by an award-winning chef.
“This will be our first winter we stay open; we previously closed from November to the end of March,” says Stephanie. “We had a soft opening of the bouldering wall in the last two weeks leading up to Christmas and now we’ve reopened with yoga coming soon. The restaurant will follow in February and our watersports reopen at end of March. We’re really enjoying our first winter still in operation. We also plan to have live music events as they went down so well over the autumn, and we hope to hold a spring fair.”