Feeling the need to blow away the cobwebs with an adrenaline-fuelled outdoor adventure? We’ve got 10 fantastic activities for thrill-seekers everywhere – and a nearby Pride of Britain hotel to crash out at, afterwards.
By Tamara Hinson
Go quad-biking in the Cotswolds
As much as we love a leisurely walk through the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Beauty, there are plenty of options for those with a need for speed, one of which is a quad-biking session with Quadquest on the beautiful Notgrove Estate – a working farm threaded with dedicated quad-biking trails. The best bit? The vehicles are electric (it’s the only place to offer guided electric quad-bike tours), which lessens the impact on the environment and means lower noise levels, too.
Stay nearby at Ellenborough Park
Zip it in Aviemore
Zip lines have come a long way over the past decade – the longest one in the world will open in South Africa in 2022, and the UK now has hundreds of them, although you’ll find some of the best at Aviemore’s Zip Park, where you can speed through an ancient pine forest and over the Alvie Gorge in the heart of the Cairngorms. There are two courses to choose from: Zip Adventure is made up of 20 zip lines, while Zip Trek has 14 wires covering a distance of two kilometres. We recommend one of the recently launched Night Zip sessions, during which you can indulge in a spot of stargazing while you speed across the landscape.
Stay nearby at Ness Walk
Try sea kayaking in Scotland
Sea kayaking is a great way to get fit, explore the great outdoors and spot some of the UK’s most beautiful wildlife, and Scotland is a fantastic destination for first-time kayakers, partly because of its accessibility – some of the best kayaking can be found just off Scotland’s East Coast, within easy reach of Edinburgh. The wildlife you’re most likely to spot includes seals – which are known for their inquisitive streak, and will often come right up to the kayaks – and seabirds, including the ridiculously cute puffins for which the Scottish coastline is famous.
Stay nearby at Dunstane House
Channel your inner ninja at the first Ninja Warrior UK Adventure Park
Ever watched the popular TV show Ninja Warrior and thought “I can do that”? If so, make a beeline for the new Ninja Warrior UK Adventure Park which opened in Chatham, Kent in December 2021. Head to the 30,000-square-foot venue to tackle the infamous Warped Wall, scramble over inflatable obstacles and fling yourself onto the supersized air bag. Trust us – getting fit has never been so much fun. Got a ninja-in-training with a special occasion coming up? Consider booking a ninja party – participants get a birthday meal before getting the chance to burn off their energy on the obstacle course.
Stay nearby at Gravetye Manor
Go caving in the Mendip Hills
The Mendip Hills are absolutely stunning, but only a handful of visitors get to appreciate the hills’ equally spectacular subterranean side. Whether you’re a keen caver or an amateur keen to head below ground for the first time, the Mendip Hills, which has the UK’s largest underground cave network, is the ideal location. Sign up for one of the Mendip Activity Centre’s caving sessions and you’ll spend three hours crawling, walking and climbing through the underground caverns, which are filled with pointed stalactites and otherworldly rock formations. Perhaps unsurprisingly, claustrophobics should probably sit this one out.
Stay nearby at the Royal Crescent and Spa, Bath
Bounce through a Welsh cave
What could be better than a supersized trampoline park? We’ve got the answer – a supersized trampoline park in a cave. But don’t panic if you’re prone to claustrophobia – the six trampoline nets at Snowdonia’s Bounce Below are in a slate cavern which is twice the size of St Paul’s Cathedral. There’s even a practice zone where you can perfect your bouncing skills before braving the enormous nets, which are on different levels, are connected by chutes and illuminated by neon lighting – giving the entire place an otherworldly feel.
Stay nearby at Palé Hall Hotel
Try white water rafting
Every fancied white water rafting but concerned you’ll lose an oar or fall out of your dinghy and float off into the sunset? The Cardiff International White Water Centre has the solution – an artificial waterway, complete with a flat water area for those getting to grips with the sport for the first time, and a 250-metre hairpin-shaped rafting course. It’s the only white water rafting location in South Wales. Powerful pumps allow different speeds of water flow to be created, and on Friday nights, they’re cranked to the max for the extreme white water rafting sessions.
Stay nearby at The Lake Country House and Spa
Skydive (indoors) in the Midlands
Always fancied skydiving but not so keen on the idea of throwing yourself out of a plane? Then the iFLY indoor skydiving at the Bear Grylls Adventure centre might just be the solution. You’ll enjoy your indoor skydiving session in what’s basically a vertical wind tunnel – step inside it and powerful blasts of air will allow you to float mid-air. The indoor skydiving instructor who’ll accompany you will help you perfect your mid-air moves, and your nearest and dearest can watch you take flight from the dedicated spectator areas. All skydivers get free admission to the centre’s assault course, too.
Stay nearby at Kilworth House Hotel and Theatre
Learn how to surf
We’ve established that white water rafting doesn’t require a river – just a lot of water and some very powerful pumps – so perhaps it’s not surprising that it’s now possible to surf on an artificial wave, far from the nearest coastline. The wave in question is at Adventure Parc Snowdonia, which lays claims to the world’s only inland surf lagoon. Clever underwater contouring means three different types of wave can be generated, and the pool can accommodate 52 surfers at any one time. Roughly one wave is generated every minute, and it’s an incredibly hygienic surf spot, too – ultraviolet technology cleans the water every 24 hours.
Stay nearby at Bodysgallen Hall & Spa
Learn how to rock climb in Gloucestershire
This is one to watch, but we guarantee it will be worth it – a huge new climbing centre with indoor and outdoor walls designed for climbers of all abilities. £7m has been spent on the centre, which will open in late 2022 and which will have two dedicated areas for bouldering, which refers to a type of low-level climbing done without ropes. There will also be several indoor and outdoor speed climbing walls, designed for those inspired by the sport’s recent status as an Olympic discipline, and an artificial cave system, for anyone keen to work on their subterranean skills. Oh, and a café, for all all-important post-climbing caffeine fixes.
Stay nearby at Barnsley House