Category Archives: Outdoor activities

Longest coastal path in Britain

Originally a path for coastguards on the lookout for smugglers, the South West Coast trail is now Britain’s longest waymarked footpath.  As highlighted by the Marine and Coastal Access Bill, soon to be debated in Parliament, this is the most accessible part of the English coast.  The 630-mile trail between Minehead and Poole harbour is only interrupted by ferry crossings across river estuaries.  Check out the official guide.

Walking the English coast, all of it

Almost a thousand miles of new coastal paths will be created if the Marine and Coastal Access Bill is passed by Parliament this autumn.  Natural England, the government’s advisor on the environment, report that “On average you cannot walk further than two miles [on the English coast] without reaching an area of unsecure access or having to turn back.”   There is some opposition to the Bill, mainly from private landowners who don’t want ramblers on their property. Read more in the BBC

The UK’s national parks – insider’s guide

This article in the Guardian to celebrate National Parks Week asks some people who live in parks about how they like to enjoy them: wild swimming in Windermere, long-distance walking in the Brecon Beacons, secret spots on Dartmoor, cycling in Exmoor, rock climbing in the Peaks. fishing in Loch Lomond and Trossachs, Sea Kayaking in the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, wild mushroom picking in the New Forest and more… The Guardian

National Trust campsite in Lake District

The location is hard to beat – a few minutes walk from Wastwater, England’s deepest lake, and at the foot of Scafell Pike, England’s highest mountain. Wasdale campsite is in a perfect location for walkers or those simply looking to escape crowds and trappings of civilisation (no mobile signal).  Good facilities and friendly staff.  More information at the National Trust.

Wild campsite in Snowdonia National Park

Campsite in Snowdonia National Park with fabulous views of the Mawddach estuary and Snowdonia mountains. Graig Wen, near Dolgellaux. Graig Wen promises “an inspirational, back to nature experience”.  Perfect for walking, bird-watching, mountain-biking or visiting the area.

4 star Bed and Breakfast accommodation, three holiday cottages and yurts are also available

Visit this site

Country campsite in mid-Wales

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Traditional small farm in the hills of Mid-Wales. The site offers veggie Bed and Breakfast, Camping and a Self-Contained Caravan. Goats, chickens and sheep wander about and there is a large vegetable garden grown to organic principles. Beautiful views of the mountains of the Snowdonia National Park, and on the Cambrian Way, Dyfi Valley Way and the Glyndwr’s Way National Trail. The camping site is in a wild area near the lake.

“The area has amazing wildlife including orchids,  dragon and damsel flies, buzzards, kites, frogs, newts and toads  and sometime nightjars and glow worms. Even an otter has been seen!  The site has its own spring water supply and campfires are permitted.”

Visit site

Canoeing in the Norfolk Broads

Exploring the Norfolk Broads by canoe allows you to avoid crowds, escape along waterways where larger vessels can’t go, and above all, move sufficiently silently to observe otters, kingfishers, marsh harriers, owls, maybe a bittern if you’re really lucky.
Guided canoe trips, staying at B&B or wild camping, and canoe hire at The Canoeman

Sea kayaking in Skye

Go sea kayaking around the Isle of Skye. Plenty of opportunities to see puffins and seals. The place says

“Thanks to to the number of protected bays around the island, it is nearly always possible to kayak somewhere suitable. Uig Bay is a perfect place to go for a safe and enjoyable paddle, exploring the local wildlife. Secluded beaches and beautiful bays, sometimes only accessible by kayak” Visit site

Mountain biking in Skye

This article reminds us here that thanks to Scotland’s open access laws you can mountain bike on the Isle of Skye just about whereever you feel like it. If you can put up with the wind, the terrain and the vastness of its scale. The Guardian

If you don’t fancy going it alone try Bespoke mountain bike tours of Skye by Highlands and Islands Adventures. Price for a long weekend is £300 per person.

Books about the Isle of Skye

Collins Rambler’s Guide – Isle of Skye

Produced in association with the Ramblers, this walking guide covers the beautiful Isle of Skye and combines detailed route descriptions with information on the local history and wildlife.

This famous corner of the Scottish Highlands and Islands is home to a spectacular variety of mountain landscapes and dramatic coastlines. There is also a wealth of fascinating places to explore: caves and sea stacks, headlands and arches, waterfalls and castles.

The introduction gives information about the topography, geology and history of the area, and describes the flora and fauna inhabiting it.

Isle of Skye: 40 Coast and Country Walks (Pocket Mountains)

An excellent little walking guide, especially for those – like me – wanting to explore as many parts of the Isle of Skye as possible in a visit. Arranged roughly by ‘peninsular’, there are walks ranging from 45 minutes to a few hours, even a day. We did at least one from each section and they were all straightforward and, of course, beautiful!

Dangers of wild swimming?

I love this site Wild Swimming, a guide to Britain’s outdoor swimming places with lots of information on where to have a dip in rivers, lakes and coves with the help of a Wild Swimming map. The web also includes a section on the dangers of wild river swimming (slipping on rocks, hypothermia and cold-shock, jumping and diving, cramps and solo-swimming, weeds, blue–green algae, ‘swimmer’s itch’, Weil’s disease, fast water, currents, waterfalls, weirs) but put these into context:

About 400 people drown every year in the UK, but only a tiny percentage of these drown while outdoor swimming. An analysis of recent annual accident data shows that of the 12 per cent of drowning victims who died while actually swimming, 7 people drowned in swimming pools, 11 in the sea, tidal pools and estuaries, and 7 in rivers, lakes, reservoirs or canals. In addition there were 8 who died swimming drunk, 30 who died through ‘jumping in’ to water and 17 who died in ‘jumping and diving accidents’. 95 per cent of all swimming drowning victims were male and many were teenagers. More here

Best coastal walks in Britain

Since Britain’s weather doesn’t always encourage sunbathing on the beach, an alternative way to enjoy the sea is walking near it. Yet another handy list from The Guardian covers  10 of the country’s best coastal walks.  Most aren’t longer than 6 – 8 miles, realistically taking into account the tempting distractions you might come across, including rock pools, fossils, windmills and seals.  The walks reflect the variety of Britain’s coastal landscapes, such as the vertiginous cliffs of Beachy Head and the eternal sands of Holkham, as well as a section of the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path.

The list was put together by Martin Wainwright, author of The Coast to Coast Walk.  Read in the Guardian

Kayaking in the Shetlands

Explore the stunning coastline of the Shetlands, with its sheltered coves, sea cliffs, remote islands, clear waters and abundant wildlife from a sea kayak. Trips are accompanied by a fully qualified local leader. Kayaking gives you access to remote parts of Shetland’s spectacular coastline and is also one of the best ways to see Shetland’s wildlife with great viewing of seals, otters, puffins and guillemots.