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Top outdoor adventures in the UK: From ocean hikes to summiting peaks

Updated: 13th December 2021

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Getting stuck into a grand adventure in the great outdoors is an easy task in all four corners of the United Kingdom. Sure, sometimes the weather doesn’t play ball, but when you’ve got some of the most magnificent beaches in the world decorating the Hebrides and countless national parks ripe for hiking, a little bit of rain is never going to ruin the day.

As we get more reunited with the idea of holidaying closer to home and UK staycations grow, the abundance of natural beauty across the nation is practically calling out our names. Here are some of my favourite and best outdoor adventures in the UK to sink your teeth into, whether it’s simply a weekend escape from the city or a multi-day hiking trip.

Sheep and moorland on a winters day
Moorlands on a misty morning

Trekking in The Lake District 

One of the most beautiful regions in the whole of the country is The Lake District. Located in the northwest of England; it’s a picturesque playground of historic market towns, rugged and dramatic mountains, and of course, those mesmerising lakes. 

While there are plenty of easy walking routes to admire the landscapes from, for a little more adrenaline, tackle the Via Ferrata (Iron Road) armed with an experienced guide and the necessary safety gear. A dramatic mix of vertical ladders, impressive bridges, mountain edge climbing and epic lake vistas are promised as you embrace the wild landscape for some of the best views in the park. 

Surf the swell in Newquay 

Cornwall has long been one of the most famous surf destinations in the UK, whether for experienced wave rides or beginners looking to learn the basics – and as soon as you first set eyes on the verdant coastline and stone-clad villages, you’ll realise why.

The delightful town of Newquay, where powerful surf from the Atlantic rocks up on equally impressive beaches such as Fistral, is the place to soak up those surf-town vibes, set against the backdrop of arguably one of the prettiest outdoor regions in the UK. 

Scale Snowdon

The largest national park in Wales is Snowdonia, and while there is an extensive selection of trails, lakes and jagged peaks to appreciate here, for many, one of the main reasons to visit is to summit the highest peak in Wales.

Mount Snowdon stands at 3,560 feet, and there are a few different choices of routes for hitting those lofty heights that will deliver views of Ireland on a clear day. There are six different trails to choose from, all taking around six hours return time, making this an ideal outdoors weekend getaway in the UK. 

Rock Climbing in The Peak District 

While there are 15 National Parks across Britain, The Peak District was the nation’s first and is undoubtedly one of the most celebrated. At one end of the Pennines, this decorated park promises a whole host of drool-worthy views – and that’s before you’ve even parked up the car.

The rugged nature of the landscape, with dramatic rock formations and peaks set to the backdrop of moorland, make it an ideal destination for rock climbing. One of the most rewarding and challenging rock climbing destinations in the UK, it’s a popular destination for climbers from around the world, so sign up with an experienced guide and explore the crags and all corners of this breathtaking park. 

Diving in the Hebrides 

For some of the most pristine white-sand beaches devoid of footsteps, head to the some of the more far-flung Hebrides, one of Scotland’s most dreamy archipelagos. While The Isle of Skye is certainly a dreamy destination, it’s also become so popular it can feel overcrowded in peak months. So if you are planning a summer trip, consider another island such as Vatersay in the Outer Hebrides – you have plenty to choose from!

While these windswept islands might not seem the first pick for a scuba diving trip, for those to are happy to take on colder sea dives, you’ll be rewarded with the chance to spot one of the largest animals in the sea – the grand and impressive basking shark, alongside wreck diving and wall diving opportunities.  

Durdledoor
Beautiful Durdle Door, surrounded by 150 million years of history

Amble along the Jurassic Coast Paths

The south of England, where I feel fortunate to have spent my childhood, is one of the most picturesque outdoor destinations in the UK. With popular sandy beaches and famous coastal spots like Durdle Door, your camera will be working overtime.

To truly get a grasp of this region’s beauty, stroll along one of the Jurassic Coast Paths. Walk between villages of community pubs and shops wafting out the scent of fish and chips, with some of England’s best beaches right under your nose. The area’s name comes from the various fossils found here from the Jurassic period, adding an extra layer of interest for history buffs! 

Wild camping in Scotland

Without a car you’ll often find it hard to get to some of the more remote and magnificent spots. Still, plenty of companies offer you the chance to tour the UK by coach while retaining control over your accommodation options yourself.

There are, of course, thousands of great reasons to explore Scotland – whether it’s driving through the misty peaks of Glen Coe, made famous by mister bond, or falling in love with the countless castles which adorn the grand lochs (lakes in Scotland) but one of the reasons it’s my favourite outdoor adventure destination in the UK is wild camping is much more possible, and legal here, whereas in the other three nations which make up the UK it is illegal. Be aware of the guidelines to follow, leave no trace, and enjoy that dreamy feeling of waking up surrounded by nature. 

Scottish mountains and lake
Wild camping amongst the nature of Scotland

Coasteering the Giant’s Causeway

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this fascinating area on the Northern Irish coast consists of thousands of basalt columns that rise up to create a spectacular and intriguing backdrop, a testament to the ancient volcanic activity in the region.

Cliff-top trails promise walkers a real treat, but to get up close and personal with the rugged landscape, sign up for a coasteering adventure, strap on a hard hat, and really discover both land and sea as you dip into wave pools, take on the rugged coastline, and scramble, swim and search out sea caves. 

Cycle the Highlands

The Scottish Highlands will steal your heart – there are no ifs or buts when it comes to this magnificent mountainous region, lush and rich in flora and fauna and peppered with lakes (Loch Ness certainly the most famous) and castles.

For experienced riders who don’t mind up and downhill peddling, the 117 miles long, seven days Assynt Achiltibuie Circular is a challenge worth taking to enjoy the peace of some of the more remote areas. Whether you are being charmed by the cerulean hues of the ocean along the North Coast 500 or pitching up your tent a stone’s throw from a glistening lake to admire the night sky, you can be assured that your efforts will be well rewarded. 

Glencoe
Glencoe, good enough for 007!

Kayak the Wye Valley 

For those seeking a tranquil outdoor adventure in the UK, it’s time to head to the waters of the Wye Valley. This designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty straddles the English-Welsh border, with The River Wye meandering along the forests and rocky outposts of the region.

River Kayaking is often a more peaceful way to get out on the waters than in the ocean, and there are plenty of options for both hiring kayaks or canoes along The River Wye split into full or half-day trips. With campsites along the way, it’s easy to turn this picturesque setting into a multi-day adventure, with complete control over how far you fancy paddling each day. 

Are you looking for something with a little less activity? Check out some of my favourite places to visit in England – from sun-kissed islands to city-breaks. 

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