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Top 5: UK adventures

Forget the far-flung corners of the world; your next adventure expedition is just a stone's throw from one of the UK's major cities

Published 9 Apr 2019, 00:21 BST, Updated 14 Jul 2021, 16:54 BST
Via Ferrata in the Lake District

Via Ferrata in the Lake District

Photograph by Getty

1 // Swim with seals off Lundy Island

Distance: Four hours from Bristol
Ease of access: 2/5
Lundy Island's varied and unspoilt terrain, mild climate and abundance of wildlife make it a small bastion of wilderness in the UK. It's located four hours from Bristol, with two hours of that a picturesque ferry ride. Step up the aquatic aspect of this adventure by getting face to snout with the island's inquisitive resident population of around 200 Atlantic grey seals. You'll depart Ilfracombe harbour for Lundy where you will spend the morning swimming with the seals in one of the many coves and bays around the island's marine nature reserve.

2 // Climb the UK's only Via Ferrata in the Lake District

Distance: 1.5 hours from Manchester
Ease of access:  4/5
Honister Slate Mine's Via Ferrata, meaning 'iron way', invites intrepid adventurers to scale a series of footholds and cables built into the mountain. There are two routes, the Classic and the Xtreme, with the latter offering a more heart-pounding thrill for the relatively fit at around 3.5 hours while the former is suitable for most ages and abilities and rarely takes longer than three hours. 

3 // Sleep in a snow hole in the Cairngorms National Park

Distance: Less than an hour's drive from Inverness and approximately two hours from Aberdeen
Ease of access:  3/5
Although a decent distance from two sizeable Scottish cities, this incredible overnight adventure puts your survival skills to the test by submerging you deep in the Scottish Highlands. Literally. For three days and four nights, expert guides will teach you how to construct a communal snow hole in the winter wilderness, making for an undeniably unique home-away-from-home experience. Challenging though it might be, it's rewarding too — your guide will even prepare a delicious three-course meal in your new icy abode. Perfect for people with a pioneering spirit.

4 // Land yacht on Romney Marsh

Distance: Two hours from London by train
Ease of access: 5/5
If you've ticked off the high-octane thrills of the capital, make for the south coast. Land yachting is a cross between sailing and motor racing. The broad, flat expanses of Greatstone Beach on the south east coast of Romney Marsh provide the ideal setting for such an endeavour. Harnessing the power of the wind, these wheeled 'yachts' can reach up to 40mph — a few hours with a qualified instructor and you'll be zipping across the sand like a pro.

Words: Annie Brookstone

Eyewitness: Out on the edge in Wales

"Never again," I swear to myself as I swirl and unravel underwater. I've inhaled a bucketload of seawater and there's something I'm hoping is seaweed wrapped around my head. I propel myself upwards and burst out of the water gasping for air.

I've just jumped off a cliff in Pembrokeshire. It was by choice, admittedly, but still I vehemently vow, "Never again."

I clamber up the slippery moss-clad rocks and my adrenaline soars. I'm back with the gang and the intrepid mood is contagious. We've spent the day swimming through caves, spotting seals and coursing along coastal currents all in the name of coasteering with
Preseli Venture.

I'm in Pembrokeshire — the wildly beautiful and rugged Welsh coastline — for what this outdoor activity company has dubbed a 'fitness adventure weekend'. I attempt fitness from time to time in London. Adventure, not so much. But this is the venerated birthplace of coasteering and adventure is unavoidable.

We swim on and scale the next rock. The group lines up, ready to jump again as our guide points out the safe spot. I watch as one by one they make the leap and are submerged. Their smiles upon resurfacing confirm the lack of danger.Fear and exhaustion are forgotten as I lurch towards the jagged edge before yelping and launching myself off the precarious cliff. I couldn't do this in London — this is a real adventure. When I hit the water, I relax and enjoy the underwater swirling.

Who knows? I might even try this again sometime.

Words: Josephine Price 

Featured in the Adventure guide, distributed with the September 2018 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK) 

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