Our Country House Hostel was designed from the beginning to cater for groups. We have enjoyed welcoming a wide range of groups, from schools and colleges to mountain bikers and walkers, from the National Assembly to family events and weddings.
The Estate and the area close by is ideal for school trips of any age group, and with such a range of habitats, attracts many college/university field courses. We go from sea to mountains within a few miles and are within easy reach for day trips to Snowdonia or Pembrokeshire. The countryside is complemented by a range of local attractions of educational interest and outdoor activities.
Our location off the A44 and 3 miles from Abersytwyth is convenient but far enough to discourage youngsters from walking off site.
Our staff team has a wide variety of relevant expertise for educational visits and our aim is to help groups achieve their objectives in a safe and enjoyable environment, with excellent home cooked food as required.
The country house hostel has a friendly, warm and relaxed atmosphere and was renovated a few years ago specifically with group visits in mind. It is ideal for exclusive use for up to 48 people but can stretch to 60 with addition of the Swedish style farm guesthouse.
The accommodation is rated 4 star by Visit Wales and works well for exclusive use by larger groups or splits into 2 hostel sections with separate washing facilities for small groups. As well as the main lounge/meeting room, large and small dining rooms and games room, there are plenty of options for splitting into small study groups, with a rough lab. area if required.
We welcome visits by group leaders to check out the accommodation and resources in the area. Our aim is to help groups achieve their objectives and we try to tailor our help and suggestions to your specific needs. Our team includes a qualified teacher, marine and environmental biologist, agriculturist, dance and drama specialist, artist and photographer.
The grounds and surrounding area
Our 25 acre grounds includes woodland walks, permanent pasture (with cattle, sheep, ponies and a friendly milking goat), a small stream and access to the river Rheidol, with the possibility of seeing otters or foxes at dusk or dawn. Rabbits and squirrels abound and we have seen weasels and polecats. Ravens and red kites fly over daily and we have tawny and barn owls, greater spotted woodpeckers, a friendly crow family and a host of little birds visiting our garden feeders. It is an excellent area to study wild plants, mosses and fungi and we try to conserve the species we have, including several orchids, meadowsweet and purple loosestrife in the wetter grassland.
You can see all stages of river development within 12 miles: from source and torrent (including the famous Devil’s Bridge waterfall), to mainstream and flood plain with shingle bars, meanders and ox bow lakes, ending in the harbour and marina at Aberystwyth. This has a mainly shelving shingle beach, with a rich area of rock pools and bottle nose dolphins are frequently seen off the coast. Seals frequent small coves to the south and choughs nest on cliffs below the coastal path to the north. In contrast, Borth has 3 miles of sandy beach, exposing a fossil forest at low tide and ending in an extensive dune area at Ynyslas on the Dovey estuary, where the Countryside Council and local Wildlife Trust run a visitor centre.
The RSPB reserve at Ynys Hir has walks and hides to view estuary, woodland and farmland birds and there are red kite feeding stations at Bontgoch and Nant Y Moch, where the Forestry Commission have a visitor centre with cameras set up to view kite and buzzard nests.
“Green energy” issues are well covered by the Centre for Alternative Technology, local wind farms and the Rheidol Hydro-electric Power Station, again with an excellent interpretation displays.
Inland, the wilderness of the Cambrian mountains is one of Britain’s oldest mountain ranges, with wild moorland and mountain streams running through coniferous and deciduous forests.
While we can provide an area for wide games and informal ball play, Plas Crug Leisure Centre is just 2 miles away, with swimming and sports fields, and the Clarach Leisure Centre is ideal for younger age groups, including a small ten pin bowling alley. Llain Activity Centre provides more adventurous activities with well qualified instructors in ropes, abseiling and canoeing. Groups bringing their own instructors sometimes use our small woodland gorge for problem solving exercises.
Aberystwyth itself is a good study subject, being a small town but the centre for a wide rural hinterland. As well as the University, it has an excellent small museum, the National Library of Wales and new National Assembly and Ceredigion Council buildings. Older school and college groups often tap into the experience of Aberystwyth University, including the Institute of Biological and Environmental Research, Earth Science and the Centre for Performance Research.
Our own risk assessments are updated regularly and we are happy for your staff to visit and carry out their own or to complete a form for you in line with your own lea requirements. We do weekly fire tests, annual maintenance of the equipment by a professional company and we have an annual inspection by the local Fire Officer. Our kitchens are inspected regularly by the local Environmental Health Officer and the catering equipment is regularly maintained. We have full employer’s and public liability insurance, which can also be viewed, but we encourage groups to have their own group travel insurance.
We are mindful of the needs of people with disabilities and have an ongoing programme of improvements. An annual accessibility audit helps us identify practicable modifications to improve access within the constraints of our historic grade 2 listed mansion. The ground floors of both houses have guest toilets and are all on one level. The guesthouse has a downstairs twin bedroom including a large shower with a seat and we occasionally adapt a room in the mansion as a ground floor bedroom, close to washing facilities.
We recognise that this is not ideal and we recommend that we discuss your requirements and that you visit to check us out. Plas Dolau is not suitable for groups with more than a couple of people having special mobility requirements.