A working electric power station may sound like an unlikely choice for a family day out, but First Hydro’s tours of its Dinorwig pumped storage plant – set in the magnificent landscape of Snowdonia National Park – make a memorable, fascinating and (dare we say it?) illuminating experience.
Visits begin at the Electric Mountain visitor centre, where you can study real-time statistics from the power station online while the younger members of your party enjoy the soft play area. From here, hour-long bus tours travel through huge tunnels deep into the bowels of Elidir Mountain, where the plant is located. First stop is the inlet valve chamber, where you can get off the bus and gawp at the massive pumps and turbines in operation. Next is the viewing gallery, where a short, lively film (with a loop system) explains how the station was built, and how it works. You can also take a closer look at some machinery here before the bus takes you back to the visitor centre, where the tour ends. Note that for health and safety reasons, no under 4s are allowed on the tour; suitable footwear must also be worn – no high heels, sandals or flip-flops.
Accessibility has been planned very carefully at Electric Mountain. The car park has four Blue Badge spaces, and is linked to the main entrance, seventy yards away, by a hard-surfaced path. The modern, spacious visitor centre has an accessible toilet and provides lift access (with Braille signs) between its two floors. In addition to the regular tour buses – which all have semi-low floors – there’s a wheelchair-friendly bus with safety straps to safeguard wheelchairs; phone ahead on 01286 873030 to check it’s available on the day you want to visit. You can choose to stay on the bus during stops, if you prefer, but access on and off is good, with friendly, capable staff on hand to help.
Food & drink: The café/bistro in the visitor centre is very good indeed, offering homemade, seasonal local dishes and a range of tempting continental specials. In the warmer months you can eat outside in the pretty garden, accessed via sliding doors.