Fiona Outdoors logo My independent guide to the best of Scotland outdoors

4 awesome outdoor activities without having to leave the UK

Written by Fiona

May 19 2021

Even though the vaccine rollout has been highly successful throughout most of the United Kingdom, going abroad can still prove challenging. And while there are plenty of positive signs across the world, countries are still struggling to contain the deadly virus. 

However, if you are into outdoor activities, there is plenty to do without having to step foot outside of Britain. Staycations are just as popular this year as they were in 2020, so in this article, we will take a closer look at some of the exciting activities people have been getting up to.

Although we might not get the same weather conditions as countries such as Spain or France, there are some incredible spots throughout the UK well worth a visit. You might be pleasantly surprised at how incredibly scenic some of the countries throughout the United Kingdom are and the different activities available.

  1. Paddle Boarding

The impact the spread of Covid-19 has had on most businesses has been devastating, however, some have seen their businesses grow during the on-going pandemic. If you sell SUPs (Stand Up Paddle Boards) during these unprecedented times, your sales have probably been increasing. Although SUPs were growing in popularity before 2020, it seems like everybody has a paddleboard nowadays. 

The issue that most people have with fiberglass SUP boards, is that they are not very convenient. Bringing a very heavy board that is around 12 feet in length and approximately 30 inches wide can prove extremely difficult. However, board manufacturers have introduced inflatable SUP boards as an alternative a few years ago. These boards come with a paddle, pump and gauge, which all fits into a bag alongside the board itself. All you have to do is spend five minutes or so inflating the vessel before hitting the water. Once you are finished, you simply let the air out of the board and store in the bag.

Paddling around a lake or on the sea is not only great fun, but it’s an incredible exercise too. Some people practice yoga on these boards, while others use them for fishing. Unlike surfing, paddleboarding is a lot easier to master. Although you can expect to fall off the board from time to time, because the board is wide and long it’s much easier to keep your balance and get the hang of it. Once the board is fully inflated it is hard to tell the difference between an inflatable and a board made with fibreglass.

child climbing.
Climbing for all ages.
  1. Rock Climbing

One of the best full body exercises that one can do is rock climbing. Luckily, there are lots of incredible places around the UK where you can go rock climbing, including Land’s End in Cornwall, Pembroke in Wales and the Isle of Skye in Scotland. Whether you are new to rock climbing or you are an expert, you are spoiled for choice in the UK. Even if you live in a densely populated city far from any mountains, there are plenty of man-made indoor and outdoor climbing walls that you can take advantage of. 

Take a few lessons or join a guided climb if you are new to the sport. It is well worth learning at an indoor facility before heading outdoors, too.

The issue that a lot of climbers face is not having the upper body strength required to bring their rock-climbing ability to the next level. Although a lot of people like to go to the gym to increase their strength, there are plenty of tools available designed to help rock climbers. Devices like crack simulators, rock rings, and campus boards are great, but a lot of people have purchased hangboards so they can improve their strength and technique from home. What is a hangboard? Well, they are devices that consist of many different grips.

Climbers hang from these boards to increase their strength for short periods. They are normally made from urethane, which is the same material used to make climbing holds on man-made climbing walls. 

  1. Canoeing or Kayaking

Just like rock climbing, there are lots of places around the UK that are ideal for canoeing or kayaking. Although purchasing a new canoe or kayak can be expensive, there are outdoor adventure services that allow customers to rent a canoe or kayak. It is a fabulous activity that all the family can enjoy. Kayaks and canoes are slightly different, so let’s take a closer look first: 

  • Kayak: A kayak is enclosed, and you can sit in it with your legs fully extended. People tend to use double-bladed paddles while paddling. 
  • Canoe: These are open boats, which allow you to either kneel or sit inside. People use a single bladed paddle while canoeing. 

There are plenty of areas around the UK to go paddling, including the River Wye. The area’s incredible countryside and amazing wooded valleys make the overall experience memorable. However, you can take a canoe or a kayak on the sea too. 

Whichever vessel you prefer, both can provide a fantastic workout. Unlike an overcrowded gym, kayaking or canoeing down a gentle river can help increase your fitness levels and help you lose weight. Not only will paddling on one of these vessels help improve you physically but there is something therapeutic about going on a canoeing or kayaking trip in a scenic area. 

Surfing hotspots. Pic by: Catriona Megahey
  1. Surfing

Many people assume surfing is only possible in places like California and Australia, however, some areas around the UK are great to do a bit of surfing. Even if you have never surfed in your life, there are plenty of surf schools that welcome novice and beginner surfers to show them how it is done. 

The UK has over 11,000 miles of coastline, and there are surf spots ideal for both beginners and experienced surfers. Although places like Portrush in Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland, has some of the biggest waves in Europe during the winter months, the waves tend to be a lot smaller during the warmer months which makes it an ideal time to learn. There are lots of surf schools throughout the UK.

Most surf schools educate their students by providing them with boards made out of foam instead of fiberglass. These boards are a lot easier to get used to in comparison to short, fiberglass boards. Although it is unlikely you will be able to catch big waves with these boards, they are great for getting used to the technique. 

Before you enroll in a surf school, it might be best to check out the weather and swell conditions. Even if you are new to surfing, if the conditions are not right there might not be any waves to surf. Also, check to see if the school offers any other alternatives, such as kite surfing, paddleboarding, or bodyboarding.

Conclusion: The current situation is tough for a lot of people, especially if you had planned on going abroad. However, if you live in the UK there are so many things to do that it shouldn’t be all doom and gloom. If you can handle changeable weather, there are plenty of exciting outdoor adventures available. From demanding mountains, fantastic landscapes, challenging walks and incredible coastlines, the possibilities are endless. Many people who have been unable to go abroad to travel have been blown away by what they have found while traveling domestically. Maybe it’s time to put that passport away and look at what’s available on your doorstep.

More Like This


Review: COMPRESSPORT Thunderstorm waterproof 25/75 jacket


Award-winning film SOLO in special London screening


Corbett bagging: Beinn Odhar Bheag and Beinn Mhic Cedidh


Anne Butler is first known female to bag a second Full House of mountains


Corbett bagging: Bike and hike of Stob an Aonaich Mhòir


Steven’s 10 Loch Ness Marathons in 10 days charity challenge