Continuing our recommendations for the best action-packed escapades, here are five more outdoor adventures for thrill seekers:
Dorset: Hunt for fossils
© VisitBritain / Jason Hawkes
Did Ammonite, Kate Winslet’s recent fossil-themed blockbuster, have you dreaming of fossil-hunting forays along the English coastline? If so, we suggest a walk along Dorset’s UNESCO-listed coastline, which is littered with prehistoric treasures. Don’t know a brachiopod from a bivalve? Don’t panic – sign up for one of the many guided fossil tours on offer, or discover what to look out for at Dorchester’s brilliant Dorset County Museum, where exhibits include a 155-million-year-old pliosaur skull – one of the largest and best preserved fossils ever found. Both the museum and some of Dorset’s most fossil-rich stretches of coastline are just a short drive from Wareham’s Priory Hotel.
Hampshire: Abseil down the ArcelorMittal Orbit
For an urban adventure with serious bragging rights (and some pretty spectacular views) consider abseiling done one of the UK’s most famous landmarks. Opt for Portsmouth’s Spinnaker Tower and you’ll enjoy stunning views over the Hampshire coast, although for the ultimate urban adrenaline rush it’s got to be an abseil down the side of London’s ArcelorMittal Orbit. The best bit? It’s a freefall abseil (the UK’s highest freefall abseil, to be precise) which means you don’t actually have to do anything beyond soaking up the view as you plummet 262 feet. When it comes to your crash pad, given the ArcelorMittal Orbit’s architectural kudos, we recommend the Athenaeum Hotel and Residences, a beautiful art deco masterpiece overlooking Green Park.
Leicestershire: Saddle up
Did you embrace pedal power during lockdown? If so, we suggest taking to the saddle again for a two-wheeled exploration of Leicestershire, which has some brilliant bike trails. One of our favourite routes is along the Grand Union Canal, which connects London with Leicester, a city with a brand-new e-bike share scheme. You’ll find the historic Foxton Locks, one of the route’s most spectacular spots, near the town of Market Harborough. This rural heritage site has ten locks – the longest lock “staircase” found on any English canal. Finish your Tour de Leicestershire at the nearby Kilworth House Hotel and Theatre – the only hotel with an outdoor theatre which regularly hosts West End-standard productions.
Stay nearby at Kilworth House Hotel and Theatre
Scotland: Admire star-spangled skies
It’s a myth that you have to travel to Norway, Finland or Iceland to see the Northern Lights or to enjoy the clearest skies – northern England and Scotland have some fantastic spots for stargazers, too. One our favourites is southwest Scotland’s Galloway Forest Park, the UK’s first Dark Sky Park. Covering 777 km2, it’s a rugged wilderness made up of deep glens, thick forests and Scotland’s highest hills. Head to the park’s Scottish Dark Sky Observatory to peer through one of the two high-powered telescopes. Alternatively, book a night at nearby Glenapp Castle hotel where there are regular stargazing events held in the sprawling grounds.
Stay nearby at Glenapp Castle
Pembrokeshire: Explore the UK’s only coastal national park
© Pembrokeshire Coast National Park
Pembrokeshire has one of the UK’s most spectacular stretches of coastline, much of which forms Pembrokeshire Coast National Park. Base yourself at the beautiful Grove of Narberth hotel and sign up for one of the sea safaris operated by companies such as Dale Sea Safari. You’ll almost certainly spot a dolphin or seal, along with the guillemots and razorbills which cling to the cliffs. Fancy heading beneath the waves? Slip on a snorkel to admire octopus and starfish or take the plunge and do your PADI Open Water Diver course here. This will allow you to check out the Pembrokeshire coastline’s shipwrecks, including the Dakotian steamship, which sank in 1940.
Article written by Tamara Hinson