Forget the far-flung thrills you’ve seen on Instagram; Britain’s rough and ready terrain makes it a must-explore destination for any adventure traveller that’s not afraid of unexpected rainfall or chilly nights. Wild coastlines, rugged landscapes, mountain peaks and everything in between; there’s an expedition to be had no matter what you’re into or what level you’re at.
And to get an inside look at the most epic adventure’s our island has to offer, we spoke to a range of outdoor addicts that have filled their lives with challenge after challenge. From a record breaking solo-explorer to an ultra-marathon runner to an ex-special forces operative that knows the Brecon Beacons like the inside of his backpack, here are some of the best adventures Britain has to offer.
Snow Holing in the Cairngorms
The weather in the Cairngorms National Park is unpredictable at the best of times. But come the winter months and you can expect anything from bluebird days and bright sunshine to gale-force blizzards where you can barely see the person beside you. That’s what makes this slice of Scottish Highlands the perfect place to test your survival skills. Literally. That’s the tuition Scot Mountain Holidays provides. For four nights, their expert guides will teach you how to survive against the odds as you construct emergency snow holes in the freezing wilderness using ice axes before cooking up tasty meals in your icy home. Time to unleash your pioneering spirit.
Difficulty level: Hardcore
Stargazing From a Welsh Bothy
Head into the Welsh wilderness and you’ll quickly uncover a landscape that’s pockmarked with woodlands, heaths, waterfalls and lakes, making it a take your pick destination. But, according to our explorers, the Elan Valley is the ultimate destination; partly because it’s known by very few, partly because it’s home to Lluest Cwmbach, a little bothy built for escaping everything except the stars. Recently refurbished by volunteers, there’s everything you could want from a basic shelter in the middle of nowhere. Sleeping platforms, a stove, an outside toilet and no light pollution, making it a stargazers paradise. Not bad for nothing.
Difficulty Level: Moderate
Coasteering in Pembrokeshire
There are adventures and then there are heart-pounding, nerve-jangling, eye-opening adventures where heavy moments of doubt are unavoidable. Coasteering along the wild and rugged Welsh coastline is all that and more. Intrepid, exhausting, precarious and contagious. This is a real adventure, and it’s best done with the explorers at Preseli Venture who will lead the charge as you clamber up slippery moss-coated rocks, swim through caves, point out seals and tiptoe towards another jagged edge before you launch yourself off the cliff and into the swirling waters below, ready to swim on and scale the next moss-coated rock. “There is a lot of fear to start, but there’s a big difference between fear and danger in that fear is fun to overcome.”
Difficulty Level: Challenging
Three-Day Flatland Hike Through Norfolk
Most newbie hikers picture the harsh spine of the Pennines or the fifteen peaks of Snowdonia when they hear the word hike, but the 39 mile stretch between Hunstanton and Cromer known as the Norfolk Coast Path is one of those adventures made for entry-level walkers. You’ll still want to pull on some durable boots and pack your adventure bag with exploration essentials, but the hike itself is fairly flat, even if the views leave you with an armful of pinch marks. As for the thrills and spills, there are plenty of places to stop for a North Sea swim, plenty of view-rich campsites to set up basecamp and plenty of options to either skip sections, finish early if needed or extend your adventure along the cliffs of Sea Palling.
Difficulty Level: Entry
Build Your Own Canoe in the Lake District
Everyone has their own concept of what an adventure looks and feels like, but it always-always involves a hands-on challenge. By that definition, this canoe-building workshop near Pooley Bridge is a bonafide adventure. An exploration into the unknown that requires you to build a Canadian-style canoe from scratch by combining raw materials and initiative before you head to the water for a Davy Crockett-inspired expedition. The challenge is formidable, the learning curve is steep and the risk of failing is high. But get it right and you’ll leave with more than just waterproof memento; you’ll leave with a weekend’s worth of memories and a can-do attitude.
Difficulty Level: Hard
Snowshoe Through The Pennines
No one can predict the amount of snowfall on the Pennines, or when it might snow, but that’s part of what makes this unpredictable part of the Peak District such a challenging terrain to overcome. Head there in the deepest winter months, however, and our expert explorers recommend you prepare for some pretty harsh conditions. “Hire a guide, throw an adventure-ready bag on your back, strap some snowshoes to your feet and pop a pole in each hand because hiking across these wild heather fells when they’re covered in deep snow requires all the preparation possible.” Welcome to a world of high ridge walks, swapping views and epic sunsets.
Difficulty Level: Weather Dependant
eBiking The North Yorkshire Hills
Mountain biking down steep hillside trails is an adventure usually reserved for the bravest, most experienced cyclists among us, but the North Yorkshire tracks are an ideal starting point for slow and steady adventurers; adventurers keen to mix the thrill of riding with a landscape specked with haunting abbeys, endless moorlands, weather-battered millstone, drystone walls and ascents so steep they’d usually leave your thighs screaming in agony. But not anymore. Not with North Yorkshire Electric Bikes who give you a way to explore the adrenaline-packed routes without the uphill struggle; routes like the Beryl Burton Cycleway, taking you along an old disused railway track full of forget-me-not moments and epic vistas. All the gain, none of the pain.
Difficulty Level: Easy Yet Epic
Wild Camping on an Uninhabited Island
Every so often, the need to rewild ourselves can become too hard to resist and the temptation to try our luck in the wilderness - the real wilderness - too much to ignore. When that happens, there’s only one destination to put into your SatNav: Rams Island, a deserted island in the centre of Britain’s largest lake. With nothing but a 9th Century tower, a forgotten settlement from Ancient Celtic times and toilet on a sand barge, this is an escape with absolutely zero home comforts. It’s a by-appointment only arrangement that requires a ten-minute boat ride to reach the shores. But even though it’s only a mile from the shores of Ireland’s Lough Neagh, you will feel a thousand clicks from anywhere when night falls. Hint: get that campfire ready.
Difficulty Level: Survival
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