“An exciting or very unusual experience. Participation in exciting undertakings or enterprises. A bold, usually risky undertaking; hazardous action of uncertain outcome.” (Dictionary.com)
The reason I love the outdoors is that it can give us so much, whether that is physical; exercise, learning a new skill. Psychological; personal development or social; meeting up with friends.
The UK is relatively small in geographical terms, however the landscape is truly diverse and many an adventure can be had amongst the hills, lakes and rivers. To kick start 2016 I have chosen my top UK adventures that I have embarked upon since changing my career.
They are in no particular order but all have challenged me either physically, mentally or both! I think we should all get out of our comfort zone once in a while…
1. Waking up to a sunrise on Helvellyn
There something special about spending the night on the summit of a mountain, it can be a lonely harsh place but pick the right conditions and it can be awe inspiring. Imagine making your way up the path from Glenridding on a balmy late afternoon…meeting everyone on their way down having had their adventure whilst yours is just beginning…As you leave the murky depths of lake Ullswater behind you can choose to have a bit more excitement by negotiating Striding Edge, a classic grade 1 mountain scramble… though a head for heights is needed! Reaching the top you can sit back, relax, get the tea on and watch the sun go down across the majestic Lake District mountains before settling down to a night under the stars. In the morning having watched the sun rise and had a bacon roll and freshly brewed coffee (I like my luxury items) you can choose to go down Swirral edge…another classic ridge…and head back to Glenridding and civilisation.
(Please read my disclaimer at the bottom of the page)
2. Kayaking the River Eden
A classic Grade 2 run on this river from Lazonby to Armathwaite provides a couple of hours of entertaining easy whitewater that could be run in an open canoe as well. The guys at Wild River can sort you out with all things paddling.
3. Mountain Biking adventure-cross event North York Moors
This was an event organised by Cycling Weekly magazine and I chose the mini massif that was 44 miles. The weather added to the excitement of this adventure…it was absolutely howling and p****ing it down! A really enjoyable experience despite the weather with a couple of feed stations on the route and a medal at the end, I have already signed up for 2016!
4. Canoe camping in the Lakes
Combining some open boating with a bit of bushcraft is like getting two for the price of one! Being careful where you camp is the key, avoiding sensitive and public areas and always leaving no trace. A trip in the spring along lake Ullswater bivvying under your canoe with a makeshift shelter can prove very rewarding, this could be combined with a trip down the river Eamont depending on your energy levels. The British Canoe Union provide guidance on where to paddle and have published some canoe trails around the country.
5. Winter mountaineering in Scotland
Nothing has moved me more in the outdoors than topping out on my first winter climb. It was on Stob Coire Nan Lochan in Glencoe and was a Grade 1 winter climb. I was overcome with emotion when I glimpsed the view as I reached the summit, I guess it was partly relief at having overcome the gales and spindrift bedecked in goggles crampons with ice axe in hand and partly in awe at a landscape I had only seen in photographs. I remember triumphantly striding down with my partner back to the car and to the Clachaig Inn for a well-deserved single malt…
6. Caving in the Yorkshire Dales
I thoroughly recommend giving caving a go if you haven’t already, there is a whole other world beneath our feet and well worth exploring. In just one cave system (Long Churns) alone there are deep pools to traverse, squeezes to be negotiated, waterfalls to climb and some of the most fascinating rock formations you will ever see! There really is something for all abilities from the nervous beginner to the time served expert. If you do fancy it, then you will almost certainly need to go with someone who knows what they are doing… Head over to our friends at gocave.com for lots of ideas and info.
7. Multi-pitch rock climbing in the Lakes
Nothing beats a bit of climbing for focussing the mind! There are plenty of routes in the Lakes to suit all tastes and abilities. I personally love long easy routes to enjoy with a few mates. Corvus is a classic Diff on Raven Crag, Combe Ghyll and a great first intro into multi pitch climbing. There are several excellent guides….Jon Sparks Scrambles and Easy Climbs in the Lake District and the FRCC Lake District Rock spring to mind.
Plas y Brenin have an extensive range of climbing courses to suit all abilities
I hope this has whetted your appetite to go out and discover your own adventures in 2016, please come back and tell us about them or indeed add your own favourite UK adventures. During the coming months I will be posting some how-to articles showing how to make some of these adventures a reality. So please check back in.
I have undertaken all of these trips fairly late on in my life and believe they are all within the capability of most fit and healthy people with the right support, HOWEVER I have undergone extensive training in all of these activities to get the skills and experience to go out on my own. Mountaineering, paddlesports, climbing and caving are potentially dangerous pastimes and the risks should not be taken lightly. Don’t venture out without the skills, equipment and support to keep the risks to a minimum.