We’re never too old to experience new adventures and get the adrenalin flowing. If you want to try an intrepid new activity, it can be hard deciding what to do and how to go about it.
The UK is jam-packed with experiences that will get your heart racing, and the great thing about this diversity is that there’s an activity out there to suit everyone. From scuba diving to wild camping, here are 11 adventurous things to try.
1. Wild camping
If you’ve always enjoyed camping, getting back to basics, and feeling at one with nature, what about going on a wild camping trip? Wild camping differs from normal camping because you’re entirely alone: no sea of tents nearby, no busy toilet blocks, no revving cars or caravans. It’s the perfect escape and a wonderful opportunity to reconnect with nature. Unzipping your tent in the middle of the night and seeing nothing but stars glittering above is an experience you’re unlikely to ever forget – and pitching your tent in the wilderness can make you feel like an intrepid explorer.
It should be noted that wild camping is by and large illegal in England and Wales, except for parts of Dartmoor – however, if you get prior permission from the landowner beforehand, it’s allowed. Wild camping is legal everywhere in Scotland, so if you don’t want to worry about getting permission, you could always plan a wild camping trip there.
If you’re wild camping, you’ll need to take the necessary safety precautions: be sure to pack enough food, water, and fuel, and ensure you have a means of connecting with people, should you need to make contact in an emergency. You can find out more about the laws and safety advice surrounding wild camping by reading this guide. The video below will also help you prepare for your first wild camping trip.
If you’ve always dreamed of being able to fly, paragliding is probably about as close to it as you can get. Paragliding involves being harnessed into a light-weight glider aircraft with fabric wings, and launching yourself into the air with your feet – generally from the top of a hill. Once the thermals flow under your wings, you can glide for hours at a time, steering yourself with suspension lines and looking down as the landscape unfolds beneath you. More than a thousand metres above land, you’ll be soaring beside the birds and enjoying views of the countryside that are absolutely unrivalled.
Of course, it takes a lot of time to become an independent paraglider – so if you just want to experience the thrill of flight, why not consider a tandem paraglide? It’s easily the most accessible way to enjoy this sport, and because you’ll be strapped to an expert instructor, all you have to do is sit back and enjoy the ride (or flight). You can ask your instructor to take you on a smooth, graceful ride through the sky – or if you’re feeling seriously adventurous, you can ask for an aerial roller coaster, complete with acrobatics. To find your nearest paragliding school, click here. Have a watch of the video below to see if paragliding is something you might enjoy.
3. White water rafting
White water rafting is perfect for the daredevils among us. It involves donning a wetsuit, buoyancy aid, and helmet, and climbing aboard a custom-built raft to rush down some fierce white water rapids.
The great thing about white water rafting (compared to white water kayaking) is that it’s not an independent experience; you’ll have an instructor on board with you, so you don’t need any experience – only a sense of adventure and some courage. The rapids are, as the name suggests, very fast, and your raft will tear down the river at exhilarating speeds.
Wherever you’re based in the UK, you won’t be too far from a white water river. There are great white water rafting opportunities in England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland – you can have a look at some of the best rafting centres here. With options for man-made rapids and natural river rapids, as well as variances in how intense the rapids are, it won’t be hard to find a white water experience to suit you.
Hiking has got to be one of the most enjoyable and beneficial free activities in the world. Pulling on your walking boots and setting off for a good hike always feels like the start of a new adventure, and the fresh air and sense of peace you’ll experience are just an added bonus.
The UK has beautiful, diverse scenery that’s perfect for hiking through: you can explore the moorlands, forests, mountains, gorges, or the rolling green fields this country is most famous for. For a bit more inspiration, have a read of our article on 10 different types of walks you can do and 5 remote destinations for a UK walking holiday.
Your hike can be as long and as challenging as you like – but if you’re looking for a truly adventurous hike, you might want to check out this article on the 10 best hikes in the UK. From the Hadrian’s Wall path to the Yorkshire three peaks and Scafell Pike, the tallest mountain in England, these are spectacular hikes that you’ll remember forever.
Alternatively, you can find hiking routes near you by checking out the National Trust site or having a look on Walking Britain. Just remember to bring plenty of water and some food with you for longer hikes. You can buy good quality hiking boots, walking socks and other outdoor clothing accessories from Blacks and Cotswold Outdoor. To get inspired, have a watch of this video on the top places to hike in the UK.
5. Mountain climbing
Climbing a mountain is something many people have always dreamed of, and if you haven’t got around to it yet – or you have and want to do it again – you won’t have to travel far for this particular adventure. There are plenty of mountains in the UK just waiting to be conquered, and with many differences in size, steepness, and terrain, there’s something for all abilities. There’s a unique feeling of satisfaction to be had when you reach the summit – and of course, the views are almost always spectacular.
If you’re new to mountain climbing, or don’t fancy scrambling up steep inclines, have a read of this guide to find out which mountains are the best for beginners to climb in the UK. If you want more of a challenge, have a look at this article on 15 of the UK’s best mountains to climb: from Ben Nevis to Snowdonia, these mountains will certainly put you to the test.
Before setting off for your mountain adventure, you should always make sure you’re wearing the correct footwear, have warm layers and waterproofs, and are carrying enough water and some emergency food. It’s important to always prepare for all weather conditions, too – this is the UK, after all – and at the top of a mountain the weather can change quickly! Mountain Warehouse has a good range of outdoor jackets, shoes, backpacks, walking poles, and other useful climbing accessories.
If you’re feeling seriously adventurous, you might want to give canyoning a try. Canyoning is a way of exploring canyons in the most exhilarating way possible – it’s rather like white water rafting, but without the raft!
Led by an expert guide, you’ll float, slide and swim through rapids, jump down waterfalls, and climb and abseil down steep rock faces. Canyoning is one of the most adrenaline-pumping outdoor activities around, and zip-lining into icy plunge pools, sliding down smooth rocks, and scrambling through tunnels is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
In spite of how physical canyoning sounds, as long as you have a basic degree of fitness, you’re fine to do it. You don’t necessarily even need to be able to swim to participate, as you’ll be wearing a buoyancy aid at all times – but always check with your instructor first. Knowledgeable instructors will lead the way and help you out, and you’ll be wearing a wetsuit and helmet to keep you safe.
There are canyoning centres across the UK, though most are situated in Northern England, Scotland, and Wales. You can find your nearest canyoning company here, and have a look at some of the best canyoning spots here. To get more of an idea of what canyoning entails, have a watch of the video below.
Skydiving is one of those activities many people plan to do at some point in their lives – and for good reason. Leaping out of a small aeroplane and freefalling through the sky is a life experience that will stay with you forever – and in terms of adventure, it’s hard to think of anything more daring. Skydiving tests both your body and mind and will leave you breathless – literally and figuratively.
Skydiving independently takes a lot of time (and money), but if you just want to experience the thrill of freefall, you can sign up for a tandem skydive. You’ll be securely strapped to an expert instructor, so once you leap out of the plane, you can just sit back and enjoy the rush – and the view.
There are varying heights for skydive experiences – it all depends on how long you want to freefall for. Many skydiving centres offer skydives from 15,000 feet – that’s more than two miles high! – which allow you to experience a whole minute of freefall. Once you descend to around 5,000 feet, your instructor will open the parachute and you’ll glide gracefully back down to earth.
Almost anyone can skydive, although there are a few medical and weight restrictions – you can find out more here. To find your nearest skydiving centre, click here. To see what you can expect from your first skydive, have a watch of the video below – or get inspired by reading about this 95-year-old man’s skydiving adventure in March of 2020.
Surfing might not seem quite as appealing in the UK as in the tropics, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t just as enjoyable! Surfing is great cardio, as you’ll be doing plenty of paddling while you go, and it’s great for shoulder, back, leg, and core strength too. Plus, being out on the water often feels like the ultimate freedom. Anyone can learn to surf, but summer is the best time to learn due to the smaller waves and warmer weather – and because Britain has nearly 20,000 miles of coastline, you won’t be too far from the waves, no matter where you live.
While it’s natural to want to stand up on the board and catch a wave right away, there are several important skills you need to learn in order to surf safely, so it’s best to take a few lessons before heading out by yourself. You can browse English surf schools here, or read up on the best surf schools in the UK here.
The great thing about surfing is that you don’t need constant tuition to improve, and once you’ve mastered the basics you’ll learn from experience. The only thing you need to surf is a wetsuit and a surfboard, which you can buy online from Boardshop and Surfdome. Have a watch of this video guide to find out more.
9. Scuba diving
Scuba diving is one of the most rewarding, enjoyable, and thrilling activities you can possibly do. Sinking down into the depths and exploring the sea is enormously fun, and for most people, being this deep underwater is totally unchartered territory. The UK is actually one of the best places to learn to scuba dive, because you’re never more than 72 miles from the coast. Forget images of dark, gloomy lakes – this country is home to some of the most spectacular scuba spots on the continent. Plus, we have more shipwrecks per mile of coastline than anywhere else in the world – so if you’ve always dreamed of exploring long-forgotten wrecks, now’s your chance.
There are hundreds of scuba diving courses that are aimed at beginners, but if you want to see if it’s for you before committing to anything, you can always book a taster session first. These take place in swimming pools and give you a chance to get to grips with scuba equipment and learn to breathe underwater.
To dive in open water, you’ll need to get certified by either the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI), the British Sub-Aqua Club (BSAC), or the Scuba School International (SSI). The PADI course is the most popular, and after kicking off with some pool dives, you’ll complete four open water dives by the end of the course. You don’t need to be an especially strong swimmer to take part, but you do need to be able to swim 200 metres and tread water for ten minutes.
Learning to dive takes some commitment, but once you can do it, a whole new world will open up to you and many people use their diving skills as an opportunity to travel around the globe to visit the world’s best diving spots.
10. Mountain biking
If you’re a keen cyclist, you might want to take it that bit further and have a go at mountain biking. Getting on your bike and cycling through the wilderness is a wonderful way to escape the real world and get back to nature – and with thousands of miles of accessible off-road trails across the UK, your biking adventure is just around the corner.
If you don’t have any mountains near you, that’s no problem – mountain biking is just about cycling off road, whether that’s through woodland and forests, hills, steep tracks, or rocky terrain. With so many different routes varying in different intensities, you don’t have to start off too ‘hardcore’, and taking your time getting used to riding on challenging terrain is always a good idea anyway. Check out our article, 9 of the most beautiful cycling routes in the UK, to get some ideas about where mountain biking could take you.
You may want to start off biking at trail centres and bike parks, as their purpose-built trails are well-kept, clearly signposted and easy to follow. Plus, because they’re rated by skill level, you won’t find yourself unexpectedly out of your depth. You can have a look at 30 of the best trail centres here.
In terms of equipment, you’ll obviously need a mountain bike, which are lightweight bikes with strong brakes and study tyres, and a good quality helmet. Wearing protective clothing, like body pads and gloves, is also a good idea. You can buy everything you need from Wheelbase, although Amazon has a good selection of mountain biking accessories too. To find out more about getting into mountain biking, have a read of our cycling guide.
11. Bungee jumping
If you’re up for a thrilling aerial adventure but don’t quite fancy jumping out of a plane, bungee jumping might be for you. Bungee jumping is one of the most popular extreme sports in the world, and it’s also one of the most accessible. You don’t need to be physically fit or able-bodied to do it, you don’t need any prior experience, and you don’t need any fancy equipment – all of that will be provided by the bungee jumping centre (you can have a look at the medical restrictions here).
During a bungee jump, you’ll be lifted to the top of a tall structure (usually a building, crane, or bridge) and an elastic cord will be attached to your ankles, along with a safety harness. Another harness will be attached to your body for maximum security.
Once you’re safely strapped up, it’s time to jump off – head-first! You can choose to do a tandem bungee jump, where you jump while strapped to a friend, family member, or instructor, or you can go solo. There’s no skill required, so there’s nothing to learn – all you need is courage to make that initial leap of faith.
Once you’ve jumped, you’ll experience a few exhilarating seconds of freefall before pinging back up to safety, and enjoy some gentle bouncing around as you’re lowered back down. There are thousands of bungee jumping experiences all across the country. If you want to see if bungee jumping is for you, have a watch of the inspiring video below.
The UK’s diverse landscape, miles of coastline, and moderate weather mean it’s one of the best places in the world to go adventuring. Whether you already consider yourself a bit of a daredevil and want to take things further, or you’re simply looking for an exciting new activity to try this summer, there’s something for everyone here.
Discover the secrets of the sea, soar through the sky, tear down rapids, dash down mountains… or simply hike through beautiful scenery and gain a new perspective on your surroundings. There’s never been a better time to try something new and test your limits.
For more ideas and inspiration, why not check out our articles; 10 low cost adventure ideas and 15 adventures you can enjoy without leaving your home? Or, you might also want to visit the Travel section of our site.