Eight awesome adventures without getting on a plane from the BMC
The British Isles might not have the world's best weather, but when it comes to outdoor adventures we certainly punch above our weight. Slake your thirst for excitement with these adrenaline-pumping trips - and all without leaving home soil.
1. Sea kayaking around Skye
Grab a paddle and head to the legend-wreathed Isle of Skye to explore one of the UK's remotest coastlines. Most sea kayaking adventures begin from the fishing village of Elgol, which is a gruelling seven-mile walk or an idyllic but strenuous kayak crossing away from Loch Coruisk in the heart of the spiny Cuillin mountains. You'll be treated to exotic views of sandy Camasunary Bay as you round the coastline and make for the loch, which snakes inland between towering peaks. This isn't an adventure for sea kayaking newbies, so hook up with one of the many Skye-based adventure operators if you're short on experience.
2. Wild camping on Dartmoor
Outside Scotland, where wild camping is tolerated in most mountainous areas, there are few places in Britain where you can pitch up on somebody else's land and not expect to be moved on by morning. Dartmoor is one of those outdoor meccas. Provided you're on the moors beyond the sight of roads and houses, restrict your stay to two nights and generally behave responsibly, you're clear to set up camp wherever you like. Try Brat Tor or the moorland around Meldon Reservoir for a spooky but splendiferous wild camping experience.
3. Walking between bothies
Fancy the idea of sleeping wild without the hassle of carrying a tent? The network of bothies - basic but serviceable camping huts - scattered around the Scottish Highlands, northern England and Wales is one of the best-kept secrets in the outdoors fraternity. Bothies vary hugely in the facilities they offer. Some are basically sheep sheds with roofs while others resemble rustic youth hostels, but they have one thing in common: all are free to sleep in. Backpacking from bothy to bothy is an amazing way to explore Britain's wild places. Check out the Mountain Bothies Association, which maintains numerous shelters across the UK, for bags of advice and bothy locations.
4. Scrambling in Snowdonia
The rugged reaches of Snowdonia National Park in North Wales lend themselves to one of the most thrilling sports Britain has to offer. Scrambling is a hybrid of climbing and walking, and the easiest routes can be attempted by anybody who's hill savvy and has a head for heights. Cut your teeth on the North Ridge, a grade 1 scramble on the rocky pyramid of Tryfan; or turn your guts to jelly with a traverse of the lofty Crib Goch ridge on Snowdon. If you're looking to crank the difficulty up a notch then the Idwal Slabs (grade 2) or even the grade 3 Parson's Nose, where a rope is recommended, are all adrenaline-boosting days out.
5. Wild swimming in the Lake District
Chuck a bikini in your backpack if you're heading to the Lakes this summer - and if you're lucky, it might just be warm enough to indulge in a spot of wild swimming. Bassenthwaite, Buttermere, Crummock Water and Grasmere are all popular open water swimming destinations, but if you're looking for something a little more private then a tarn such as Easedale or Red Tarn might be a better bet. Spectacular wild swimming spots aren't restricted to the Lakes, either. Try the Gaddings Dam in West Yorkshire or Barcombe Mills near Lewes in East Sussex for more al fresco dips.
6. Backpacking a long distance path
There are 15 National Trails in England and Wales and 26 Great Trails in Scotland, adding up to thousands of miles of long distance walking. Each path has its own characteristics - the South West Coast Path is green and rolling, the Cotswold Way idyllically rural, the Cape Wrath Trail wonderfully wild, and so on - but walking any of these routes from end to end is the challenge of a lifetime. Why not be topical and take on the Pennine Way, which celebrated its 50th birthday recently? Stretching between Edale in the Peak District and Kirk Yetholm in the Scottish Borders, it takes around three weeks to complete and passes through some of the most beautiful parts of Britain.
7. Coasteering in Cornwall
Coasteering is a relative newcomer to the adventure scene, but it's taking Britain's coastal regions by storm. The basic idea is to don a wetsuit and traverse a rocky shoreline, taking time out to explore flooded caves and jump off low cliffs en-route. Cornwall's gnarly coast makes it one of the country's coasteering capitals, with popular spots around Newquay and the Lands End Peninsula. Like any adventure sport it comes with risks attached, so go with an instructor for your first few sessions.
8. Micro-adventuring in your back yard
Not everybody has the time to spare for an extended holiday, but you'd be surprised at how many opportunities there are for adventure close to you. Depending on where you live, those might include biking one of the South East's rural cycling routes - the South Downs Way is an easy train ride from London - climbing on an urban crag such as those in Avon Gorge, canoeing on an East Anglian lake or sleeping wild in the Surrey Hills. Even if you're marooned in the heart of a big city, there's no excuse not to have an adventure. Just hop on a train, head to the nearest rural station, and get exploring.
By Hanna Lindon
More BMC links to inspire a summer adventure in Britain:
The BMC is an organisation which represents people who love the mountains; hill walkers, climbers and mountaineers. We continually work to keep our wild places open and accessible to all, as well as preserving the qualities which make them special. Joining can cost as little as £15.72 a year and gets you a great range of benefits. Find out more here.