Creating a paradise for thrill-seekers

Published date: 20 December 2013 |
Published by: Rhian Waller 
Read more articles by Rhian Waller  Email reporter


FROM THE outside, much of Mile End Mill  looks like a wreck.

Part of it actually is – a section of asbestos roof collapsed in the heavy snowfall earlier in the year and one of the buildings is condemned.

The rest of it, though, is on track to be transformed into a major new tourist attraction, a whitewater and water sports centre designed to bring thousands more outdoor enthusiasts to Llangollen.

The development, which is projected to cost £3.5m, partly raised through private investment and partly provided by the Welsh Government and a National Lottery fund, will also provide about 35 jobs.

Gary Perriton, a Llangollen man serving in the Royal Navy, showed me around the building to coincide with the launch of the project.

Although a small cafe area, where adventure firm White Water Active operates, is neat and functioning, the main courtyard looks a bit worse for wear.

But Gary and the rest of the Mile End Mill Trust has grand designs.

He said: “We made the financial appraisal last week. It’s all very positive really.

“It doesn't exactly look the best right now. But our vision is to make something really special.

“The Trust has been working in the background for some time and now we’re ready to show people what we’re planning to do.”

He led me through a dark entryway and up a flight of dusty stairs. The third floor of the main mill building stretched out in front of us. At the moment, it’s stocked with half-built kayaks and canoes – a hint at what’s to come.

“This is going to be a gym,” said Gary. “We're going to partition sections of it off.

There’s also going to be a studio for use by dancing groups, pilates instructors, yoga, martial arts – anything like that.

“Upstairs we plan to have a bunkhouse for outdoor enthusiasts, and on the ground floor, in a single-storey building. We’re planning to build a swimming pool.”

Upstairs, the bunkhouse-to-be was echoing, empty and waiting for use.

It isn’t just the main facilities that have Gary and his fellow trustees excited, though.

He said: “We want to make this a centre for white water safety. Currently, there are three centres in the UK where firefighters go to train to deal with flood conditions.

“The other two are artificial, fed by pumped water.

“Here it’s all natural, which makes it unique in the UK. We have firefighters here pretty much every weekend training.

“Once the centre is fully open, we’ll also be able to train kayak and canoe-users from the very start. Using the swimming pool, they can learn the basics before they get out on the water.”

The entire building will be powered by biomass rather than fossil fuels and the gym equipment will be hooked up to feed back into the National Grid.

Anyone who uses an exercise bike will be helping to save carbon.

The pool idea has been met with enthusiasm by members of the community.

Amar Azad, 16, a sixth form pupil at Ysgol Dinas Bran, is the youth representative for the trust.

Amar said: “I’ve been going round schools in the area and asking what they think of the project and talking to them about how they might benefit.

“In Dinas Bran, they are interested in using the planned Mile End creche for their childcare development course, and as a teaching resource for ecology, as they’ll be able to see the biomass boiler.

“Most of all, the primary schools were really pleased with the idea of having a pool close by. Until now, they’ve had to travel to Corwen.”

As he escorted me outside, Gary said the community has been supportive of the project.

He said: “It would be open to anyone. We’d have schoolchildren swimming here and pay and play type arrangements on weekends.

“Commercial entities have shown some interest as well. Piranha sportswear have indicated they want to use the site as their Welsh base, which is excellent.

“The Mile End Mill project should develop the potential of outdoor activity tourism in this part of North Wales and bring new life to a redundant building and to provide a range of new facilities for visitors and local residents.”

Standing in the middle of a rain-slicked courtyard, Mile End Mill is a quiet venue. But if Gary and the rest of the enthusiastic Trust have their way, this could all change.

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