Combination of lockdown and Spring heatwave leads to support for local North Wales businesses
The combination of lockdown and a Spring heatwave apparently led to many people taking up new sports and adrenaline-fuelled activities this year.
In turn, it has led to support for local venues and destinations combining food and drink with the great outdoors.
Taste North East Wales, a 40-day celebration of unique local food-based experiences, is this year being held virtually due to the ongoing pandemic.
Social distancing is less of an issue for those businesses who benefit from the beauty of their surroundings, however.
One Planet Adventure, the café, shop and mountain biking hub in Llandegla forest, is among those businesses which director Jim Gaffney says have faced challenges.
Being forced to close for several months they have since introduced new events, including regular barbecues using local produce, so people can enjoy a hearty meal and socialise safely after completing their exercise.
“Things are steadily getting back to normal, though we were forced to close for three months and missed out on that incredible Spring weather,” says Jim.
“We’ve increased the space outside, changed the layout of the car park and are starting to think long term about how we move forward in the wake of the coronavirus.
“Business picked up, especially in August, but of course we have to remain focused because our success this winter is weather dependent.”
He added: “One positive is the number of first-time visitors, those people who took up cycling during lockdown and want to keep active.
“Because the café is still closed we are doing take-outs and also regular barbecues with fabulous meat from our local butcher, so they’re able to stop and have something to eat with us, either on the decking, picnic benches or under the marquee, with social distancing in place – that has proven to be popular.”
Colleen Tou, owner of Honey’s Riverside Bakery & Café in Caergwrle says they have also seen more people combining sporting pastimes with visits to their premises since lockdown ended.
“We have the river here and since July get a lot of cyclists and people visiting us before and after taking part in water sports and kayaking at ‘Park in the Past’ and Hope lake – it’s been a hive of activity,” Colleen said.
“We closed for a couple of weeks at the start of lockdown but have been very busy in past weeks with people coming here and home deliveries.
“Afternoon tea has been especially popular, and all our baked goods are homemade and appreciated so much after some serious exercise.”
Taste North East Wales is organised by Clwydian Range Food & Drink and Llangollen & Dee Valley Food and Drink, with the support of Cadwyn Clwyd, the Clwydian Range & Dee Valley AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) and local authorities of Flintshire, Wrexham and Denbighshire.
This project has received funding through the Welsh Government Rural Communities – Rural Development Programme 2014-2020, which is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Welsh Government.
Donna Hughes, Business Partnerships Officer at Cadwyn Clwyd, said the initial sunshine and hot weather provided a welcome distraction from the first few weeks of coronavirus in the UK.
“Being stuck at home with few options but to exercise and explore new interests led to many people in the region running, walking, cycling and lots of other physical activities,” she said.
“Our local businesses capitalised on that and coupled their services with that surge in demand for food and drink outdoors.
“It is great to see that continued when the cafés, pubs, restaurants and hospitality businesses reopened in July, and we hope it will carry on over the months ahead, when they need it most.”
For more on Taste North East Wales, follow them on social media @taste_blasu, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the website www.tastenortheastwales.org
For more information on Cadwyn Clwyd, email email@example.com, call 01490 340500 or visit the website www.cadwynclwyd.co.uk
Taste North East Wales has also united with local businesses to record a series of short films to promote the best of the region’s food, drink and hospitality which can be found at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCnYDulvwaKJST5tLWZEFdpg
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