The best outdoor activities in the UK
Feeling listless is a consequence of being stuck indoors with nothing to do, but it doesn’t have to be that way. We didn’t spend all our time perfecting snack bars for people to eat them in front of the TV. There’s a huge range of exciting sports and activities available all across the UK, and you may just discover a lifetime passion by trying your hand at something new.
Step away from your desk, get off your couch, and take advantage of the great outdoors. From water sports to winter sports, adventures on land and in the sky, we’ll show you what kind of outdoor activities in the UK you can do, and where you can do them.
When you think of skiing, it’s more likely that you picture the snow-strewn Alps in France and Switzerland, or the Rockies across North America, but the UK is actually home to a popular ski site of its own.
Nestled in Cairngorms National Park is Aviemore, which in winter becomes a snowboarding and skiing haven for winter sports enthusiasts. The park is prepped for visitors too, with hot tub lodges and ski chalets dotted about this celebrated winter sports resort.
For scaling mountains or rock climbing, you need to go to Snowdonia, home to Snowden, the highest mountain in Wales and England. For rock climbing, Tryfan is the place to start, but for climbers hankering for a challenge, head straight to the lofty heights of Snowden itself. There are six paths that will lead you to Snowden’s summit – a dizzying 1085m high – and the trek will take you around 6-8 hours to complete. If you haven’t undertaken a trek like this before, check out Adventure Smart for advice on how to do it safely. Of course, if you’re more of a climber in spirit than in body, there’s a railway line that will also take you to the top of Snowden.
Brecon Beacons, Wales
Sure, you can hike through the Brecon Beacons, you can mountain bike, and go spelunking and kayaking…but is there any better way to see a national treasure than from the air? Brecon Beacons has become something of a haven for paragliders, not only because of the unreal panoramas you get when you’re in the sky, but because of all the paragliding schools popping up.
There are hang gliding and paragliding sites you can launch from if you’re an expert, but beginners should book in with one of the local clubs. You can try tandem paragliding first, or level up and learn how to glide solo.
Hunstanton Beach, Norfolk
The north coast of Norfolk is probably the best place in the country to go windsurfing. This is partially down to the county’s large stretch of windy coast, and partially down to its golden sand beaches that you can relax on once you’re done.
You can windsurf pretty much anywhere from Hunstanton in the east to Great Yarmouth in the west, but if you’re new to the sport, start in Hunstanton. This spot is great for learning how to get to grips with the equipment thanks to the shallow waters and nearby centres offering lessons for beginners.
Scotland can lay claim to another beloved sport, kayaking, or more precisely, sea kayaking. Along the west coast, where the landscape is hollowed out by sea lochs and topped with mountains, are some of the best sea kayaking spots in the UK. Around the Applecross peninsula, near the Isle of Skye, there is some truly spectacular scenery for kayakers. If you keep your eyes peeled, you may spy some of the region’s wildlife too, like otters, seals, porpoises, and sea eagles. Pack a good lunch, and lots of snacks, because you’ll wanna stay out all day.
Lundy Island, Devon
When you think of diving, you’re probably conjuring up the shimmering waters of some far-flung tropical destination, but the UK actually has some of the best diving in Europe. Lundy Island in Devon is set within a Marine Conservation Zone and is one of the most celebrated spots in the country for heading underwater.
There are about 40 dive sites around the island, which consist of pinnacles, reefs, wrecks and drop-offs. The marine life is pretty impressive too: jellyfish, pink sea fans, starfish and sea squirts all make a home here, as does a permanent colony of curious grey seals. You may even spot some bask sharks and dolphins.
Causeway Coast, Northern Ireland
Country Antrim is no stranger to visitors, and this is likely down to its incredible coastline. The best way to see the coast is undoubtedly via bike. The cycle route starts and ends in Ballycastle, and if you undertake the full route, it’s around 105km.
But why cycle here? Well apart from the mix of steep climbs, rolling meadows, and epic sea views, there’s the strange and surreal UNESCO-listed World Heritage Site the Giant’s Causeway to see. If you haven’t heard of the Giant’s Causeway, you’ve probably seen it. From Game of Thrones to Dracula Untold, Hollywood has chosen this spot as a fantasy backdrop. It’s one of the most puzzling and beautiful geological sites in the world thanks to its thousands of interlocking basalt columns, and a real highlight on the route.
Cornwall is decorated with beaches on all sides, and as such, there are loads of places you can surf, but perhaps the most famous is Fistral Beach in Newquay. Sitting on Cornwall’s northern coast, and benefitting from reliable Atlantic swells, surfers will find that the waves here are quality and the action here is consistent. Further down the coast you’ll find Sennen Cove, a beach that’s great for beginners and old hands alike. The waves are gentle near the cove, ideal for getting your feet wet, but they get a little trickier as the stretch joins Gwynver Beach, offering up more of a challenge to seasoned surfers.
Hadrian’s Wall, Northumberland
Stretching across northern England, coast-to-coast is the national trail known as Hadrian’s Wall Path. Set amongst undulating hills and rugged moorland, the walk is fairly challenging, especially as the full trek is 135km long and takes a week.
The most difficult but rewarding section is between Chollerford and the Birdoswald Roman Fort, where you can expect 37km of steep climbs and quick descents. However, the historical sites, the market towns, and the country pubs will make the tougher parts worth your while. Oh, and did we forget to mention there’s an ancient Roman wall that has stood for almost 2000 years running alongside this incredible trek? Our bad.
Jurassic Coast, Dorset
Bouldering is a fancy word for rock climbing, but it’s great for novices because you are climbing much smaller rocks. Along the Jurassic Coast in Dorset there are some especially stellar bouldering locations where you can learn how to clamber up the difficult landscape sans equipment.
You’ll need to learn how to engage with this sport safely and effectively, but once you have the hang of it, there’s a serious adrenalin rush waiting on the other side. Luckily, there are lots of bouldering courses on the Jurassic Coast run by centres dedicated to the sport.
There’s no such thing as the Great Indoors, so get out there and have some fun! We have no doubt that there’s something for everyone, so unearth the hobby that will change your life, it’s out there waiting for you – taking our trusty snacks along the way with you, of course!