Believe it or not, there have been several positives to emerge from our various lockdowns – including a renewed enthusiasm for keeping fit.
Having spent so many months shut away indoors, we’re all desperate to stretch our legs and explore, discovering places close to home, while also keeping our health in check.
6 of the best UK activity holidays
From swimming and sailing to hiking and cycling, there’s a multitude of active adventures on offer. We’ve selected a few exciting breaks promising to challenge and inspire in equal measure.
Power pedal through Yorkshire
Countless bike tyres have rolled through the Yorkshire Dales National Park, an area famous for hosting the Tour de France’s Grand Depart and the World Cycling Championships. A new self-guided two-wheel tour of the area allows cyclists to enjoy the scenery while revving up their riding a gear, by following in the pedal paths of champions.
Setting off from Pateley Bridge, head to Masham and Hawes via Yorkshire’s highest road. Other sights include Wensleydale, Swaledale, Bolton Castle and Birkdale Common, where a challenging climb is rewarded with a view of the Lake District’s peaks.
How: Wilderness England (wildernessengland.com; 01768 721 210) offers a four-night trip from £845pp (four sharing), including B&B accommodation. Various departure dates.
Sail alongside super scenery in Scotland
Cast off in the peaceful waters of the Inner Hebrides and learn the ropes of yacht sailing while enjoying some of the most dramatic scenery in the British Isles. Designed to immerse guests in Scotland’s marine wilderness, this trip also offers a chance to spot whales, sharks, dolphins and a bounty of birds.
On land, long walks will reduce the wobbles of days at sea. On the Isle of Rum, visit the crimson Kinloch Castle, a former shooting lodge built in the Edwardian era, and discover the Isle of Eigg, often touted as the UK’s most eco-friendly island. Other ports of call include unspoilt Ardnamurchan and colourful 18th-century fishing port Tobermory on the Isle of Mull.
How: Wilderness Scotland (wildernessscotland.com; 01479 420 020) offers a six-night trip from £1,100pp (two sharing), including all meals. The trip starts from Mallaig. Availability in July and September 2022.
Wild swim along the coast of Ireland
For so many living along coastlines or close to lakes, wild swimming has been a saviour during lockdown. Acclimatised to cooler water temperatures, those brave enough to take a dip have discovered both a new hobby and invigorating health benefits.
Experienced mermaids and mermen seeking a new challenge should dive into a specialist trip exploring Donegal’s coastline with sails and swim strokes.
Based onboard the tall ship Lady of Avenel, guests will navigate to spots only accessible by water, making a splash between the glacial loch of Lough Swilly and the quiet seaside village of Burtonport.
Be prepared to swim up to 4km per day, combating sea currents or floating in calm waters while gazing up at sea cliffs.
How: Swimtrek (swimtrek.com; 01273 739 713) offers a seven-day Donegal Atlantic Way trip. Dates and prices for 2021 yet to be released. Get in touch for more information. Tour starts in Derry.
Kayak and wilderness camp in Scotland
In the right light, West Scotland’s beaches glow so blindingly white, they could be mistaken for the exotic fringes of an Indian Ocean island. Admire their beauty at water level on a newly-launched kayak trip, skirting secluded bays and sheltered shores, and splice through the clear waters of Highland sea loch Moidart.
Although crowds are minimal, paddlers are rarely alone; dolphins, porpoises, seals, and the occasional basking shark will keep them company. After a few hours of physical exertion, pull up on land to wild camp at Smirisary and the islet-filled Sound of Arisaig. Forage for shellfish and seaweed or dive into the Atlantic Ocean for an invigorating swim.
Trips are accompanied by a professional guide, and no previous kayaking experience is needed.
How: Much Better Adventures (muchbetteradventures.com; 020 3966 7597) offers three nights from £560pp (two sharing), including all kit and food. Available from April to September.
Stroll along the Thames Path
Winding its way from Kemble in Gloucestershire to Charlton in southeast London, the Thames Path is a gentle meander along one of England’s most famous rivers. This year marks the 25th anniversary of the National Trail, which runs for 184 miles, passing watermills, aqueducts and plenty of country pubs.
Although typically done on foot, Inntravel has launched a trip using buses, boats and trains to complete the route, including stays at pretty hotels in the villages of Goring and Henley-on-Thames.
How: Inntravel (inntravel.co.uk; 01653 617 001) offers six nights from £795pp (two sharing), including six nights’ B&B accommodation, three dinners, luggage transferred, route notes and maps. Available June 1-October 31, 2021.
Scramble up icy mountains in Scotland
There’s a tendency to hide indoors during the winter months when temperatures plummet and days shrink. But active adventures can be even more rewarding when experienced in extreme conditions. Already a popular pastime in the Alps, ice climbing is set to catch on closer to home, with the introduction of a new itinerary in Scotland.
Using crampons and ice axes, ambitious beginners can get to grips with frozen inclines, with a guide for every two climbers, to give encouraging words of advice. Once slippery slopes have been scaled, there’s a chance to ascend Tower Ridge, one of the finest routes on Ben Nevis.
How: Much Better Adventures (muchbetteradventures.com; 020 3966 7597) offers three nights from £700pp (two sharing), including full board accommodation. The trip starts from Fort William. Departures from December 2021 to April 2022.