This past year has been tough, and we're all looking forward to getting out and about again. But it's really important that we get back to normality in a safe and careful manner. We've all been advised to spend more time outdoors as it is generally safer, but kicking a ball around a field might not be your idea of fun. Luckily, there are loads of fantastic places up and down the country where you can enjoy a variety of alfresco activities.
We thought we'd round up a selection of outdoor activity locations for you to check out once you're able to. This includes a variety of places from across the UK, so hopefully there is something for everyone here. There might be a few locations in this list that have had to remain closed for the moment, but we'll update the post to include the relevant information when we can. Let's get into it:
Photo by William TM / CC BY-SA 3.0
Go Ape is a high rope outdoor activity brand with locations across the UK. If you've never heard of Go Ape then it's actually quite hard to explain the concept - ropes and bridges connect trees and platforms, allowing people to climb between them. You're harnessed of course, but it's still pretty thrilling. This is ideal for both kids and adults, as some of the platforms are higher than others. Go Ape have a Covid-19 page on their website which details all of the changes they've made to ensure safety, so definitely check that out before you book.
Photo by M J Richardson / CC BY 2.0
Foxlake Adventures is a Wakepark based in East Lothian (the first of its kind). Imagine Go Ape on water - there are bridges for you to climb along, but also some really fun ziplines and other activities. A wetsuit and helmet is supplied, so you can just turn up and you're ready to rock.
Cardiff International White Water
Photo by Gareth James / CC BY 2.0
Cardiff International White Water is home to the only white water rafting course in South Wales. White water rafting might sound a little scary, but that's not the only activity available at CIWW. They've got kayaks, paddleboards and gorge walking if you fancy something a little more leisurely.
SwimTrek Swimming Holidays
Photo by Walter Baxter / CC BY 2.0
Keeping with the wet theme, SwimTrek offer swimming trips in a variety of locations across the UK. You'll definitely need to be a pretty able swimmer to take on one of these trips as there are no rope bridges to hold for support, but if you're comfortable with it then definitely give it a shot. You can take a Day Trip with the SwimTrek team in the North of Scotland or at the River Cam in Cambridge. You'll need to bring your own swimming costume for this one.
This one is a little different (and a little less high-octane) but still worth a look at, especially if you've got kids. Regardless of where you're based in the UK, Treasure Trails will have created an outdoor trail that you can follow. Each trail includes a list of clues that you need to look out for and objectives you need to complete. The perfect way to spend a day with the kids, plus it is all outdoors.
Based on the Jurassic Coast in Dorset, Jade & Dan from Fore/Adventure (previously known as 'Studland Sea School') have made use of their beautiful surroundings and have created an excellent adventure company that caters to beginner and advanced adventurers alike. Whether you're looking for a starter session, or you're looking for something a bit more adventurous like one of their 3-day expeditions, there is something here for everyone. Activities include sea kayaking, snorkelling, Standup Paddleboarding and foraging, both of which certainly sound like a great change from sitting inside watching Netflix for the past year. There is a really useful Covid-19 section on their website that outlines everything they've done to make their sessions as safe as possible. Check them out at foreadventure.co.uk
The Kintyre Way is a footpath that runs through the Kintyre peninsula of Argyll and Bute in Scotland. We wanted to include it in this guide because many of the above locations we've included require payment to visit, whereas this is a totally free but equally beautiful area of Scotland that you can visit and enjoy. The footpath runs between Machrihanish near the southern end of the peninsula's west coast, and Tarbert at the northern end of where the peninsula is linked to Knapdale (via Campbeltown). The footpath has been there since 2006, and is waymarked to make it easy for people to follow. If you wanted to walk the entire footpath it would take you roughly 4-7 days (as it is more than 100 miles long), but the footpath is split into 7 sections which range in length from 9 miles to 20 miles. What we love about this walk is the variety of nature that you'll encounter - beaches, coves and forests are among the things you'll get to enjoy. The variety in nature also means varied wildlife, so definitely bring your binoculars. As with any footpath like this, please use it responsibly and take your trash with you as you travel. The Tarbert to Claonaig is our favourite, which starts at Tarbert harbour and ends near Skipness Castle.
We wanted to include a section about the Giant's Causeway because it such an iconic location within the UK. If you haven't seen it before, we highly recommend you check it out. It comprises of 40,000 interlocking basalt columns, which were left over after an ancient volcanic fissure eruption. It's only about three miles northeast of of Bushmills, a nice little village that is also worth a visit. This is the only UNESCO World Heritage Site in Northern Ireland, and although it is free to walk to the stones and look at them from up close, to get the full experience you can pay for a tour experience which includes an audio guide, exhibition and access to a car park (£5 per visit). You can visit the stones from dawn to dusk, and the visitor centre is open between 10am and 5pm. If you're in the area then definitely pay Giant's Causeway a visit!
McKarri, Wikimedia Commons
Although it is a ruined castle, Castle Sinclair Girnigoe is well worth a visit. Located roughly 3 miles north of Wick, a small town on the coast of Caithness, Castle Sinclair Girnigoe is considered to be one of the earliest seats of Clan Sinclair. Although only ruins remain, the castle is still quite large as it actually consists of the ruins of 2 castles - the 15th-century Castle Girnigoe, and the early 17th-century Castle Sinclair. The castle has a rich and interesting history associated with it, much of which is explained via information boards near the ruins - for example, George Sinclair, 4th Earl of Caithness, imprisoned his own son John for 7 years in the castle as he suspected that he wanted to rebel. John was only fed salted beef and was given nothing to drink, so eventually he died from thirst. There is a great walk of roughly half a mile that leads right up to the castle, and although the castle is located right on a cliff edge it is very safe to visit as the dangerous parts of the cliff are fenced off.
The castle is impressive but also keep an eye out for wildlife - people have reported seeing puffins and grey seals in the area. As far as days out go, a visit to Castle Sinclair Girnigoe is a great option.
Hopefully, these ideas help to get you excited for a time when we can start to enjoy outdoor activities safely!