7 Adventures You Can Have Without Leaving The UK

You need to get out more – and here’s some good places to start. The UK’s top spots for adventure sports, handpicked by the pros

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1 | Where to surf: John O'Groats, Highland, Scotland
By Matt Smith, pro surfer

“In spring, Scotland's north coast is quiet as the water is still so cold (wetsuit, boots, gloves and hood are a necessity), but the light is so beautiful and the waves match anywhere in the world.

“There are a few special waves within a few miles of coast line near John O’Groats, long point breaks and short fast hollow and dangerous waves, with fitting names like Brimms Ness and Bagpipes. Drive all the way north until you see the sea and then explore.

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“There are some cosy B&Bs, hostels and camp sites that are so friendly. I like to eat where I stay as I am a vegan and they don’t really cater for this, but I always have a few drinks at the Y-Not Bar in Thurso, then hit Skinandi's Nightclub – it’s pretty out there, and always very entertaining.”

Essential kit: Cirrus jacket, by Finisterre
“It’s super-warm, lighter than a paperback and looks good with anything.”

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(Photo: Al Mackinnon)

2 | Where to go fell running: Ambleside, Cumbria, England
By Ben Abdelnoor, England international mountain runner and inov-8 athlete

“Perhaps I'm biased because I live here, but Ambleside is one of the best places to base a fell run. There's loads of starting points and routes to choose, from 30-minute trots to epic four-hour slogs. And you only need one map: an Ordnance Survey Explorer 7 map 1:25000.

“For a short run, head up onto Loughrigg Fell. A bridleway leaves Rothay Park and heads onto the fell. It’s like an above-ground rabbit-warren when you get onto the fell: there’s any number of paths and it’s easy to get lost, so remember the map and a compass. The views are stunning for such a short climb. There and back is around an hour – four miles and 1,000ft.

"The best slice of cake and a pot of tea in Ambleside? Look no further than the Rattle Gill Café. Say hello if you pop in – I work there! And you can be guaranteed a good pint of something local in the Badger Bar in Rydal.”

Essential kit: X-Talon 212 fell running shoes, by inov-8
“Super-lightweight, really flexible and have brilliant grip — my 'go-to' shoe come training or racing. Also a bum bag for a map, compass, whistle, phone, energy gel and a jacket.”

3 | Where to climb: Ben Nevis, Highland, Scotland
By Matt Helliker, pro alpinist and IFMGA mountain guide

“My favourite place to climb in the UK has to be the North Face of Ben Nevis in winter, there is no place like it which holds so many hard and historical ice and mixed routes – its a great place for a beasting!

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“A two hour steep walk normally in the dark brings you to the imposing North Face. It’s hard to choose a favourite single route on this face as there are so many, all of which brings you different experiences and challenges, from the most technically hard ice and mixed routes to atmospheric ridge lines catering for all abilities.

“The weather can be arctic with whiteouts on the plateau being the norm, but at times when everything goes your way clearings in the cloud can bring the most beautiful views out to the sea locks and beyond.

“You come here purely to climb; the town of Fort William is hardly a tourist attraction or a place to hang out in, but it’s the closest place for any provisions needed on route to the Ben.”

Essential kit: Fuel ice tool, by Black Diamond
“For when the climbing gets scary.”

4 | Where to go downhill mountain biking: BikePark Wales, Glamorgan, Wales
By Hazel Wakefield, former-Women's Welsh Downhill MTB Champion

“The team behind BPW have built some of the best trails in the UK and they’re hoping to have the park to a world race standard by 2018. With the cocktail of trails ranging from fast and flowy sections that have you hooping and hollering through to gnarly rock gardens that require you to hang on for dear life.

"There is a lift service, but it books up fast. Once at the top, there’s an information board showing which trails go where and how the top sections connect to the lower trails, which is great as you can mix it up with every run instead of being restricted to a couple of options.

“From the top, I like to drop into the “Enter the Dragon” black trail, which is a fast and flowing section of jumps, tight corners through the woods that keep you alert but grinning. From here, I like to drop into the “Cole not Dole” trail. This section gets your lungs and arms pumping with a series of compressions, jumps and berms.

“It’s amazing fun at any time of the year, and with the great facilities such as a cafe for mugs of tea you certainly can’t go wrong. And the place is scattered with great walks and viewpoints, so it’s not just for cyclists.”

Essential kit: NBL Classic L/S Merino, by Howies
“Hands down, the best bit of kit I own!”

5 | Where to snowboard: SnowDome, Tamworth, Staffordshire, England
By Matt Higson, pro snowboarder

"In between trips out to the mountains, I snowboard at the SnowDome as and when I can. The scene there is really good – everyone is super-friendly (we call regulars "fridge kids") and because of the type of lift system it has it means you can chat while you're getting pulled to the top of the slope.

“It’s a Burton Learn to Ride centre, meaning they've got the best-trained instructors in the UK and they have the ideal hardware to get you up on your feet and snowboarding.

“On Saturday and Tuesday evenings, they run freestyle sessions where they set up all kinds of jumps, rails and features – they're the nights I normally ride.”

Essential kit: Super Hero snowboard, by Burton
“A great snowboard if you want something you can have fun on everywhere.”

(Photo: Luca Bailey)

6 | Where to sail: Weymouth, Dorset, England
By Pete Cumming, pro sailor and Sky Sports pundit

“The host venue for the London 2012 Olympic Games is perfect for racing orientated training. With its enclosed bay, it’s also great for beginners and kids – it’s landlocked, so no one is going to get washed away!

“Head out to Weymouth Bay and you can go wave or flatwater training. Then there’s the facilities, the gyms, the workshops – it’s just geared up for sailing.

The Cove House Inn is a really old pub on Chesil Beach. It’s got a great atmosphere. A lot of the sailors when they are winding down head there, go for a beer and sit and watch the waves crashing in.”

Essential kit: BR2 offshore jacket, by Musto
“Goretex, fleece-lined – all singing and dancing.”

(Photo: Mark Lloyd)

7 | Where to fish: River Spey, Scotland
By Toni Karuvaara, Fish Team manager, Patagonia Europe

"The River Spey is central to the history of salmon fishing in Scotland, it is absolutely my number one place to fish. It’s perfect in size and is also an extremely beautiful river to relax and enjoy the incredible surroundings. There is an added bonus that the area is home to some of Scotland’s classic whisky distilleries Macallan and Aberlour to mention just two.

“Personally, I love to break a few rules when fishing with fly – on my last trip, I used a single-handed Spey rod and it was lots of fun as well as being in keeping with the name of the River Spey. The majority of fisherman use two-handed Spey rods when fishing salmon there, but in some areas its easy to fish with 10ft rods, too. From experience I would recommend a combination of yellow and black flies.”

Essential kit: Rio Gallegos Waders, by Patagonia
“The toughest, most puncture-resistant breathable waterproof product Patagonia engineer – ideal when you fish all day long.”

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