1. Go wild swimming
Wild swimming is going through a bit of a renaissance in Britain, and once you’ve braved the bitter UK waters, you might just get hooked too. There’s lots of known physical benefits to swimming in icy water, but wild swimmers will also enthusiastically tell you about the mental boost and euphoria they feel after taking a dip. To some it’s bracing, to others invigorating, but either way, heading out for a swim in the UK’s prettiest lakes and rivers beats swimming in your local public pool, hands down.
Try… Plunge pools in the Brecon Beacons
Head to the Waterfall Woods in south-western hills of the Brecon Beacons and you’ll find a series of delightful plunge pools hidden in the forest along the Afon Hepste river. There are over 20 pools in the area so if you’re looking for solitude, you’ll likely find it. The most popular swimming spot is Lower Ddwli Falls, where you can swim in a large pool, splashed by the waterfall, and on a sunny day, spot rainbows amid the spray.
For a good night’s sleep after a day of chasing waterfalls, stay at the Best Western Aberavon Beach Hotel in Port Talbot, near Swansea. If you can’t get enough of wild swimming, the beach is right outside.
2. Challenge yourself on a via ferrata
Unlike traditional rock climbing, where you’d probably spend time working on your skills before trying out a real wall, via ferrata offers a similar experience with no prior experience or skills required. You’ll just need a head for heights! On a via ferrata route you’re clipped onto a cable by your harness and you use cables, steel staples and ladders to get you up on the rock face and out of your comfort zone.
Try… How Stean Gorge, Yorkshire Dales
The Via Ferrata at How Stean Gorge in the Dales is one of only three in the country. Test your mettle on three adventurous routes criss-crossing the steep cliffs of the limestone gorge. At one point you’ll pass right below the glass-floored café – don’t forget to wave up at any friends or family who’ve opted out! At the end of the via ferrata there’s also the option to switch into a wetsuit and abseil down to the How Stean Beck. From there you can walk/slide/scramble/swim back through the gorge. A true micro adventure in the Dales!
Our Best Western Plus Ilkley The Craiglands Hotel & Spa makes a great overnight base for micro adventures in the Dales and the Nidderdale AONB, with a sumptuous pool and spa facilities waiting for you at the end of a wet and wild day.
3. Kayaking and canoeing micro adventures
The UK is a hotspot for kayaking and canoeing. Whether you paddle off to explore the estimated 11,000 miles of coastline; take a tour of our many lochs, lakes, meres and waters, or simply float down one of our many rivers, there’s countless micro adventures to be had on this bonny isle.
Try… Sea Kayaking on Dorset’s Jurassic Coast
If you’re new to sea kayaking, the sheltered waters of Studland Bay are a great spot to dip your toe in. From Studland Beach or nearby Stannage, you can kayak out to the iconic Old Harry Rock. The chalk pillars along the coastline here are often compared to Australia’s famous 12 Apostles and there are tons of nooks and crannies to investigate. Believe it or not, it’s also a popular spot for snorkelling (if your wetsuit is thick enough!) The water here is beautifully clear and the eel grass around Studland Bay is an important habitat for short snouted and spiny sea horses.
Make a weekend of it and cap off your micro adventure with some four-star luxury at the Best Western Plus The Connaught Hotel & Spa in Bournemouth.
4. Get on your bike!
After a week spent staring at screens in the office (or at home on the phone!), you may well be ready to get moving by the time the weekend rolls around. Heading out for a micro adventure on your bike is a great way to shake off the cobwebs and experience somewhere new.
Try… The London to Brighton cycle
It’s a classic London micro adventure. You wake up one bright weekend morning, enlist the company of a few adventurous friends, don your fluorescent Lycra and padded shorts, and cycle on down to the beach. Avoid the main roads and stick to the scenic route, through rolling countryside, past charming villages and country pubs. At around 60 miles, you’ll definitely feel like you’ve accomplished something by the end of the day, but should still have enough energy to enjoy celebratory drinks and feasting in Brighton.
Spend the night at our seafront Best Western Princes Marine Hotel in nearby Hove, a few miles from the centre of Brighton, and get spruced up for post-ride celebrations on the lively esplanade right on our doorstep.
5. Spot whales in Scotland
Did you know Scotland was a prime whale-watching destination? Seeing a whale up close is on many an adventurer’s bucket list, but there’s no need to head off to some far-flung destination to tick it off. Just head to the Scottish coast!
Try… Wildlife-watching in Oban
South of Oban, a few hours’ drive from Glasgow and Edinburgh, the Firth of Lorn Special Area of Conservation protects a wide number of marine animals. Head out on a wildlife cruise and you could see dolphins, porpoises, seals, orca and, depending on when you visit, even minke whales. Several companies in the area offer day trips out to spot the whales and other wildlife, and most cruises will also stop by the Corryvreckan whirlpool along the way (touted as the third largest in the world). Or, if a cruise is not your style, you can also hire a sea kayak and go out to explore on your own steam.
The town of Oban is a charming destination, and you can spot otters, seals, and the resident guillemots around the harbour, without leaving dry land. After a day out on the waves treat yourself to a scotch at the Oban Distillery and a good night’s rest at the Best Western Muthu Queens Hotel.