Adventure needn’t mean jetting off to remote islands – sometimes it can be found on your doorstep. Here’s our guide to mini adventures that you can fit in over a long weekend.
Cycle, climb and kayak your way to the summit of Snowdon
Britain is blessed with the kind of mountainous terrain that offers a respectable challenge without requiring months of altitude training. In fact, all you really need is a good pair of shoes and a sturdy rain mac. Much Better Adventures is a London-based company that specialises in getting people out of the city and into the wild, with guided mini-adventures across the UK and Europe designed to fit into a long weekend. Their one-day Snowdon Challenge is a twist on the standard hiking routes and involves completing a 17km cycle to the foot of the mountain, followed by hiking to the summit before finishing with a 4km kayak across the picturesque Llyn Padarn. The best part is that it can all be done in less than 12 hours, meaning you’ll have plenty of time to rest those weary bones before heading back to the office.
From £190; muchbetteradventures.com
Learn to freedive and forage in Newquay, Cornwall
Urban foraging has been on the adventurous foodie’s radar for some time, but how about taking things up a notch this summer and learning to swim for your supper? Freedive UK is a specialist freediving and apnea school based in the surfer’s paradise town of Newquay, Cornwall. As well as offering accredited courses and taster sessions in the art of equipment-less diving, the school also hosts a one-day marine foraging masterclass. As well as being taught the basics of freediving, you’ll also learn about gathering food from the seabed by hand, such as edible seaweeds and plants, herbs, molluscs and crustaceans. Not only that but you’ll also gain useful tips on how to prepare and use them too.
£100 per person; freediveuk.com
Sleep within a whisker of tigers in Kent
For those who enjoy their creature comforts but still like the idea of escaping the city, a mini break at Port Lympne Nature Reserve is just the ticket. This 600-acre wildlife park offers the full five-star safari experience without having to step foot outside the South East. The park is home to over 700 varieties of rare and endangered animals, including black rhino, giraffe, lions, leopards and bears. It’s also renowned for being home to some seriously cool accommodation, including a brand new two-storey lodge slap-bang in the middle of the tiger enclosure, allowing you to come face-to-face with these majestic big cats while making breakfast in your pyjamas.
From £450 per night mid-week and £800 per night at weekends; aspinallfoundation.org
Kayak your way through east London
The modern approach to adventure is all about discovering something new and exciting right on your doorstep. That’s certainly the ethos of Secret Adventures, who specialise in alternative and off-the-beaten track excursions in London and beyond. For those who only have a few hours to spare after work, why not try kayaking through London’s beautiful canals. The Limehouse Basin to Crate Brewery route is a tough 6km slog through Limehouse Cut and the River Lea up to Hackney Wick, but you’ll be rewarded with a completely new perspective of London, gliding past houseboats and wildlife as the sun sets over the water. You can then relax with a well-deserved pint and a pizza at the final stop.
Prices start at £39 per person; secretadventures.org
Go horse riding through rolling British countryside in the Cotswolds
What could be more quintessentially British than riding on horseback through the Cotswolds before stopping off for the night at a stately country home – roaring log fires and cups of tea abound. If your idea of adventure comes straight from the pages of a Jane Austen novel, then Stately Rides can fulfil all your wildest dreams. This small independent company organises horse riding trips for up to six people (experienced or otherwise) through rural British countryside, allowing you to take a step back and enjoy life at a slower pace as you trot through quaint villages and unspoiled woodland and meadows. Each day ends with a stay at a stately period home, where you’ll have the chance to fully recharge with an all-inclusive dinner followed by a hearty cooked breakfast the next morning.
Stately Rides takes groups of two to six guests on rides through the Cotswolds, Gloucestershire, Worcestershire and Warwickshire lasting from two to five days. Prices start from £650 per person per night/day all inclusive; statelyrides.co.uk