Our dream began many moons ago, but as we registered the business in 2015 it seems a pretty good place to start. With two of us still at University, we began writing our business plan, meeting up in Pembrokeshire, London, Swansea and Bath (we spread ourselves along the M4 pretty well) to discuss, type, research and drink plenty of coffee whilst scratching our heads.
We originally started looking for land in St.Davids as this is where Steph went to school and we knew the area well. However, after literally knocking on farmers doors and looking at birds eye views on google earth for 'potential lakes' we decided there was nothing quite suitable. It was a few months later that we read 'Land for sale in Martletwy' and our dreams started to become a reality. We ventured out (after thinking where the blumin' hell is that?!) and decided it's location (behind Oakwood & Bluestone), the clay content of the land and the stream on site were perfect. Before we knew it, we had purchased 6.5 acres of agricultural land... and it wasn't to put any sheep on it, let us tell you!
Little did we know that the paperwork had only just begun, from loan applications, ecology reports, material sourcing .... the list goes on. We were finally granted planning permission in the winter of 2017 by Pembrokeshire County Council and we were buzzing to get on-site and start the build. But believe us when we say it wasn't your 'typical' building site. Rather than finding contractors, you'd find just three siblings, freezing, covered in mud and carrying all sorts of materials from one part of a bog to another.
Working things out as we went along, youtube tutorials became our best friend. Considering we purchased land with no water lines or electricity it wasn't easy.
Mark (the middle one) having just finished University as a Master Mechanical Engineer fortunately brought some brain power. With a lot of patience he taught his two sisters and co-directors how to plumb, weld, tile, plaster ... to name just a few.
Running on a generator to power the site and with our Mum bringing out hot flasks of tea to keep us going- somehow we built our clubhouse, toilets, changing rooms, cafe, car park and dug a lake with the help of the local Locke Bros.
Fast forward 8 months (I won't bore you anymore), we opened our doors on june 8th 2017 after being persuaded by our eldest sibling (Yes there's 4 of of us, just the eldest is sensible) and we literally haven't stopped since.
After our first season, we were back in with the tools, adding bits here and there. When we say adding bits, we really mean digging a second Lake, putting in new changing rooms, a reception area and treating ourselves to a phone line!
Becoming home to Wales' first Aqua park by SUMMER 2018, we were very proud to get to this point. Not only was the park buzzing with activity everyday, but we also had a summer family of 16 locals all trained up and eager to showcase their county. Achieving this growth is such a short space of time was a massive achievement and made us even more eager to continue on this path.
True to our nature, when the going gets tough the tough gets going!
The year or (s!) of covid hit us where it hurt. We were gearing up for our biggest year yet but closing the park like the rest of the country was the best and safest option. To keep us going we all took jobs elsewhere, Mark became a general handy man and Sarah & Steph took jobs in the local hospital and what was supposed to be a 3 month contract turned out to be 10 months! Working elsewhere enabled us to keep the park a float. But as many things go, we didn't sit still for long. A closed park gave us the opportunity to put our thinking caps on and so we went for it! 2020-2021 was the year we said goodbye to Pembrokeshire Wake Park (but not the Pwper's for all our members out there) and hello to Wild Lakes - the home of Welsh adventure, where you can Find Your Wild!
We are forever grateful for the never ending support from locals and tourists that's allowed us to grow year on year. Without being on the forefront of new ideas and additions we’d become lost in translation, as a small family business it’s even more important to stand out in a crowd of corporate companies, we want to put Pembrokeshire on the map for all the RIGHT reasons.
Winter & Summer (gosh was it nice to do some building in the summer!) saw Wild Lakes open up a gorgeous restaurant run from a 20ft container with an award winning chef and two giant tipis that hosted all our wonderful customers coming to try our menus! A closed park even meant we could start planning & building our next activities.. this time it was something indoors (a place to shelter in the winter). We began laying foundations for a 20mx12m agricultural shed which and don't get carried away of course we built , what even are contractors? If there was ever a tipping point for Mark...this could've been it. Building a steel building is hard enough but building an intricate building of all shapes and angles inside a building was just another thing coming. BUT..we did it! Over 30,000 screws, enough saw dust to fill both lakes and Mark smelling like a hamster cage 24/7 we opened our bouldering adventure including moon board (yup, we just chucked one of those up in our mezzanine) in the nick of time with New Year approaching. We opened Pembrokeshire's first bespoke bouldering/climbing wall... and quickly after we crashed and burned and ate all the Christmas food haha!
In 2019 we saw amazing results from some of the younger wakeboarding members. Competing either at our very own 'Southern Cable Series' or around the UK, they represented PWP and we are very proud to have been a part of their journey. 2019 was full of events from competitions and epic jam nights to charity fundraisers and sunset cinemas. We really saw the full potential of the park and how much support we had gathered.
This support wasn't lost during the 2020 season, even though it proved to be a challenging year due to covid-19 it also gave us the opportunity to reflect, appreciate what we have and plan for further expansion.
We built PWP because of our love for Pembrokeshire and now coming into our 4th year of operating PWP has grown into something so much more. We've now rebranded to Wild Lakes to reflect this growth and our future plans for the park. We've made plenty of friends along the way, we've a brilliant team of staff and the support is never-ending. What was a boggy patch of grass in the middle of nowhere is now a second home to a lot of locals and plenty of smiling faces that come to visit.