As anyone that lives in London will know, boarding a tube during rush hour is about as close as it gets to an adrenaline-fuelled activity. And it is adrenaline-fuelled. It’s sweaty, intense and challenging. But the capital does have a genuinely adventurous side too. Most of the UK’s big cities do, with challenging inner-city escapes dotted about the different districts of each metropolis.
From wild swimming to trail riding, wakeboarding to climbing, there’s endless ways to catch a thrill in your lunch hour, breaking a sweat without ever leaving the urban jungle. So pack your bag like a pro, gear up, strap in and get your blood pumping with this guide to the best action-packed inner-city activities. No train ticket needed.
1. Swim In The Serpentine, London
Nothing suggests you live life to the full like a bracing dip in London’s most famous park, the sharp intake of air reviving you before you walk into work. That’s why you need to figure out a commute that takes you past the swan-dotted Serpentine in Hyde Park. It’s open water swimming at it’s very best, and the oldest swimming club in London. Trust us: there are worse ways to start the day than doing lengths of a lake surrounded by beautiful greenery and century oId buildings.
2. Bike The Urban Park, Leeds
For most city cyclists, the ride to and from work means sticking to cycle lanes, hugging the curbs and dodging rogue pedestrians. But not in Leeds. Located on the former Middleton Park golf course is the Urban Bike Park, with trails for every type of rider. BMX trails, mountain bike tracks, downhill routes with jumps for the adrenaline addicts and cross-country circuits that wind through the surrounding woodlands. You might be less than three-and-a-half miles from the city centre, but you’ll feel a thousand miles from the office.
3. Wakeboard The Lagoon, Brighton
Imagine escaping the mid-afternoon lull with all the thrills and spills of some serious wakeboarding, the spray of the waves and rush of adrenaline pumping through your body as you take on a lunchtime tow at a Lagoon barely three miles from the centre of Brighton. And you can. Simply pack a wetsuit into your bag and start carving some wide lines into the smooth water, or tackle some tricks on the rails and boxes. And if you’re having to clock-watch, you can always sign-up for a cheeky half-hour session.
4. Climb The Avon Gorge, Bristol
The West Country is an adventure playground, and it doesn’t get more adventurous than scaling the limestone cliffs of the Avon Gorge. It’s the diamond amongst a soul-stirring rough, and it has been since 1936, when a thrillseeker took on the Piton Route. It kickstarted the UK’s obsession with limestone climbing, and today there are a thousand routes to take - literally. Some stretch beyond the 260-feet mark and some go just far enough to give you a breath-stealing view of the famous Clifton Suspension Bridge. Either way, they’re just a short road trip from central Bristol - barely two-miles to be precise.
5. Raft The White Water, Cardiff
Throw on your backpack, jump on your bike and in less than fifteen minutes you’ll be taking on everything the white water centre of Cardiff has to offer. Paddleboarding, river boarding, wave riding, canoeing, kayaking - whatever adventure you’re looking for, you’ll get your quick fix of adrenaline here. But nothing beats the twisting, turning, wave-eating drops of the white water course. When those two hours are up, you’re guaranteed to see your heart thudding through your life vest.
6. Kayak The Docks, Liverpool
There’s no better way to explore this city than to pull yourself through it, one paddle stroke at a time. And no better way to unwind after a rough day at the desk than with sweat, graft and sharp breaths. So source yourself a kayak, head to Queen's Dock and start paddling. We suggest heading through the Docklands to the south of the city and up past the Albert Docks, taking in the city sights as you drift toward destination unknown. It’s the inner-city adventure you never knew existed.