13 of the Best Outdoor Activities to Try Across the UK
From kayaking on the shimmering waters of the Lake District to paragliding over the chalky cliffs of the South Downs, the UK is the ideal place to try a diverse variety of outdoor activities. We’ve created a list of our favourite outdoor activities to try up and down the country, as well as the nearest place to pitch your unit.
1. Birdwatching at RSPB Fowlsheugh, Aberdeenshire, Scotland
The British Isles are home to a diverse array of weird and wonderful birds. Grab your binoculars and head out to see which birds you can see swooping in the sky.
Situated on the coastal cliffs of rural Aberdeenshire, RSPB Fowlsheugh is one of Scotland’s most dramatic nature reserves. During the spring and summer, RSPB Fowlsheugh is home to more than 130,000 breeding seabirds, including puffins, fulmars, kittiwakes, razorbills and guillemots – keep an eye out for grey seals and dolphins too.
If you’d like to try and spot some of the country’s rarest birds on your next camping trip, take a look at our best campsites for birdwatching in the UK.
2. Bouldering on Bonehill Rocks, Dartmoor, Devon
Bouldering is similar to rock climbing, but strips down the activity to its raw essentials. Leave the ropes and harnesses at home, grab your climbing mat and ascend one of the UK’s bouldering crags. If you are thinking of bouldering without an expert guide, make sure you tackle small boulders to minimise risk.
Sat high on the exposed uplands of the Dartmoor National Park, the Bonehill Rocks are one of the most popular bouldering areas in Devon. Here you’ll find boulders for climbers ranging from beginners to seasoned experts.
3. Coasteering from Dancing Ledge, Isle of Purbeck, Dorset
Coasteering is a combination of various adrenaline-fuelled coastal activities, depending on where you try it, and who with, coasteering can include cliff-jumping, cave-exploring, rock-hopping and more. Coasteering can be incredibly dangerous when done on your own; make sure an accredited operator leads you through it.
Sat on the Isle of Purbeck, as part of the historic Jurassic Coast, the Dancing Ledge is a flat area of rock at the base of a small cliff. This beauty spot is not only famous for coasteering, but wild swimming and rock climbing too. Cumulus Outdoors offer an expert-led, fun-filled day of coasteering on the Dancing Ledge.
4. Cycling through Box Hill, Surrey
From the valleys of Wales to the peaks of the Highlands, the UK is home to some of the world’s most scenic cycling routes. Not only is cycling excellent for your physical and mental health, but it also allows you to explore your local landscape.
In 2012, the eyes of the world were on Box Hill, as the world’s greatest cyclists took to the Surrey Hills as part of the London Olympics. Today, you can follow the same route as they did in 2012, taking in the spectacular panoramic views of South-East England.
Are you considering attaching your bikes to the roof of the car on your next camping trip? We’ve compiled a guide to the best campsites to stay at for a Great British cycling holiday.
5. Hiking up Mount Snowdon, Snowdonia, Wales
Pack a picnic, strap on your walking boots and explore the natural beauty of the Great British countryside. Whether you’re ascending a mountain, or exploring your local landscape, hiking is an activity that can be enjoyed by people of all ages and abilities.
Famed as one of the “Three Peaks”, Mount Snowdon boasts an elevation of over 1,000 metres and the title of the tallest mountain in Wales. The Llanberis Path is both the longest and the easiest, taking around 6 hours to ascend the summit and descend again.
Looking for more challenging walks in the UK, take a look at our top ten hikes across the country. If you’re going to embark on a long-distance walk, make sure you have the perfect footwear by reading our comprehensive guide to walking boots.
6. Kayaking on Derwentwater, Keswick, Lake District
Grab an oar and hop into a kayak to explore the beauty that this country’s lakes, rivers and seas have to offer. Kayaking is a fun water-sport that can be enjoyed by the whole family.
Set in the heart of the Lake District National Park, Derwentwater is nestled beside the charming Cumbrian market town of Keswick. Surrounded by snowy mountain tops and rolling fells, Derwentwater is one of the UK’s most popular tourist destinations and arguably the Lake District’s prettiest lake. Hire a kayak and explore the beauty of the lake’s local landscape from a truly unique perspective – the water itself.
7. Paragliding from Newhaven Cliffs, South Downs East Sussex
There are few better ways to explore the beauty of the Great British countryside than a few thousand feet in the air. Take off from a high altitude and glide through the air, pausing to marvel at the breath-taking views beneath you.
Set on the East Sussex coast, Newhaven Cliffs stretch along to Brighton and overlook the choppy waves of the English Channel. Mile High Paragliding offer an incredible opportunity to soar above the iconic cliffs of the South Downs with one of their expert guides.
8. Rock Climbing on Stanage Edge, Peak District, Derbyshire
Rock climbing is fun, challenging and a great way to get your heart beating and your muscles flexing. Whether you’re doing it at the local leisure centre or your local national park, rock climbing is an excellent activity for friends and families.
Nestled in the heart of the Peak District National Park, Stanage Edge is popular with walkers and climbers, boasting stunning views of the Hope Valley and the Dark Peak moorlands. According to Climbing UK, there are over 1,000 different climbs at Stanage Edge, varying in difficulty and time.
9. Snorkelling in Prussia Cove, Cornwall
From the sea-lochs in Scotland to the secret coves of Cornwall, the UK coastline is home to a vast and varied marine environment. Dive into the waves and explore a whole world filled with weird and wonderful creatures.
Sat on the Cornish coast of Mount’s Bay, around the corner from St Michael’s Mount, Prussia Cove is best-known as the home of the historic Carter family. Swim straight out to sea until you hit the sand, dive below to explore cavernous gorges covered with jewel anemones. Here, you might even be lucky enough to swim alongside a grey seal or a basking shark.
10. Surfing in Croyde, Devon
With over 11,000 miles of coastline, it’s no surprise that the UK is home to some of the best surfing beaches in the world. The island’s combination of sheltered coves and windy weather allows you to catch the perfect wave.
Situated on the North Devon coastline, facing westward towards the Atlantic Ocean, Croyde is one of the UK’s best locations for surfing. Backed by rolling dunes, the waves are best during low tide. Beginners should head to the neighbouring beach at Saunton Sands, where the conditions make for a smoother and more relaxed surfing experience.
If you want to pair a camping trip with a surfing experience, we’ve compiled a list of the best surfing beaches in the UK, as well as where to camp nearby.
11. Via Ferrata at Grey Mare’s Tail waterfall, Glencoe, Scotland
An Italian term meaning “iron path”, a via ferrata is a protected climbing route, built with a steel cable rail fixed to the side of a rock. Harness yourself onto the cable and make your way along the route, pausing to marvel at the breath-taking views. People all of ages and abilities can safely navigate their way around a cliff-face on the via ferrata.
Located near the loch-side village of Kinlochleven, Grey Mare’s Tail is a waterfall plunging over 60 metres from Loch Skeen. Vertical Descents have opened Scotland’s first via ferrata right next to the waterfall, offering spectacular views of the surrounding landscape.
12. Wild Swimming in the Fairy Pools, Isle of Skye, Scotland
In recent years, wild swimming has become increasingly popular with those seeking a fun and wild adventure. Take a dip in a winding river, tranquil lake or private cove and reconnect with both water and nature.
Located near the village of Carbost, the Fairy Pools are mystical rock pools fed by a series of waterfalls from the Cuillin Mountains. Swim beneath the underwater archway connecting two pools and discover the rock face encrusted with quartz.
If you’d like to try swimming in a public spot, but you’re unsure where and how, we’ve built a guide to the best locations, as well as how to stay safe when wild swimming.
13. Windsurfing on Hayling Island, Hampshire
Windsurfing is a form of sailing similar to surfing, but windsurfing uses the wind to propel forward, not the force of waves. You can try your hand at windsurfing in lakes, rivers or the sea.
Lying off the south coast of England, close to Portsmouth, Hayling Island is the birthplace of British windsurfing and one of the country’s most popular locations for the sport. Head to West Beachlands, where windsurfers and kite-boarders delight in perfectly formed waves. At low tide, the water is shallow, making it the ideal conditions for beginners. CBK Kitesurfing is an award-winning water sports school, offering expert-led lessons on windsurfing and paddleboarding.
If you’re looking for more days in the Great British countryside, take a look at our favourite Areas of Natural Beauty. Discover some of the diverse species and landscapes this country has to offer in our guide to the UK’s best nature reserves.