A cave
Explore fascinating caves in Brecon Beacons National Park.
Photo Credit: Getty Images

6 Adventure Vacations in the UK Outdoor Enthusiasts Will Love

Which of These Excites Your Adventurous Spirit?

Adventure travel can take you all over the world, but it certainly doesn’t have to, especially if you live in a place that has as many exciting outdoor opportunities as the United Kingdom. Whether you choose to stay on land or venture into the water, adventure holidays in the UK are sure to satiate your need for a unique and enlivening experience.

From a coast-to-coast cycle ride to surfing in a man-made wave pool, you’re bound to find an adventure activity that tickles your fancy. Any of these activities will get your heart racing, your blood flowing, and your fitness level up as you spend quality time in the great outdoors.

Many adventure holidays are suitable for the whole family, requiring teamwork and allowing kids and parents to bond and make lifetime memories. Plus, they can teach kids valuable new skills or even encourage new active hobbies. While there are many types of outdoor activities in the UK, these are a few of the places that offer some of the most memorable adventure travel experiences.

Caving in Brecon Beacons National Park (Wales)

One of three national parks in Wales, Brecon Beacons National Park offers a variety of outdoor activities to visitors. However, one of its more unique attractions lies beneath your feet. The park is home to the longest limestone caving systems in Britain. The most popular, Porth-yr-Ogof, has 15 entrances with many passageways, grottoes and shallow pools.

Adventure holidays to Brecon Beacons’ cave systems can be booked through tour companies for half-day, full-day and multi-day experiences. Cave leaders will guide you through exciting features like The Wormhole (a curving crawl tube), The Letter Box (a small horizontal gap not meant for the claustrophobic) and The Washing Machine (a water-filled cave).

Best of all, caving at Brecon Beacons can be done with the whole family (kids 8+) and adventures are tailored to your age, experience and fitness levels.

Two people cycling through Peaks DistrictThe Peaks District is one of the picturesque settings you'll cycle through on this route.Photo Credit: Getty Images

Cycle the Sea to Sea Cycle Route (England)

For a challenging cycling adventure holiday in the UK, consider the Sea to Sea Cycle Route. Ridden from west to east, this route attracts between 12,800 to 15,000 riders every year. Most trips done at a moderate pace can be completed in three to six days, but you may want to take longer to enjoy the landscape.

Along the way, you can enjoy home-cooked meals in charming B&B’s and hotels, dine at local restaurants and pubs, or camp in the wilderness and prepare your own food with the night sky as your entertainment. Many cyclists enjoy the route on their own, but guided tours are available as well.

Macs Adventure has a few different adventures depending on your desired pace, with each also involving added bonuses such as stops at historic castles, brief climbs and tea with your fellow cyclists.

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Shipwreck at Scapa FlowA sunken boat in the Bay of Orkney.Photo Credit: Getty Images

Diving at Scapa Flow (Scotland)

Scapa Flow has earned a reputation as one of the best wreck dives in Europe and the United Kingdom. Over 150 wrecks were originally strewn across the seafloor, most from a World War I German fleet. Now, only eight ships remain:

  • Three battleships: the Markgraf, Kronprinz Wilhelm and König
  • Four light cruisers: the Dresden, Brummer, Coln and Karlsruhe
  • The destroyer: V-83.

Blockships were also deliberately sunk at the Churchill Barriers, making it the perfect site for beginners. Aside from wrecks, you’re also sure to see a variety of sea life including seals, dolphin, eels, jellyfish, sea urchins and a variety of fish. Guided boat-led scuba trips of Scapa Flow are available through Scapa Scuba and last between four to six days with eight to 12 dives each day.

However, these are recommended for PADI Advanced Open Water Divers with recent drysuit experience as the depths here can reach down to 200 feet.

Shelter made in the woodsYou'll learn how to make your own shelter, build a fire and other essential survival skills.Photo Credit: Getty Images

Survival Training in the Lake District (England)

If learning how to survive and rough it out in the wilderness sounds like an ideal vacation to you, you might want to consider a Bushcraft adventure holiday. Survival School offers weekend-long Bushcraft Qualification Training in either Devon or Staffordshire.

During the course, you’ll learn how to light fires, forage, make traps, purify water, hunt and prepare game, and use knives and other tools efficiently. You’ll also build your own shelters to sleep under and will be provided with five prepared meals across the weekend.

If you have teens, you can attend the course together as a family, however, anyone under 18 must be accompanied by an adult. Survival courses are offered twice a month from spring to fall and are accredited by the NCFE.

Four people surfing on man made lakeThe Surf Snowdonia Adventure Parc caters to surfers of all experience levels.Photo Credit: Surf Snowdonia

Surfing in Snowdonia (Wales)

For a family adventure vacation, you can’t beat surfing in Snowdonia. In the north of Wales lies the United Kingdom’s only artificial surfing lake, also known as the WaveGarden. Located in Snowdonia National Park, the lake is actually a giant wave pool that puts out different wave strengths allowing everyone from beginners to expert level surfers to experience the lake.

While you can certainly take a lesson here or there just for fun, the Surf Snowdonia Adventure Parc offers a three-day family surfing camp tailored especially for your family’s experience level. From beginner to expert, you’ll get nine hours of instruction with three full days of surfing along with fun extras like an over-water obstacle course.

Plus you can stay onsite in one of their funky glamping pods and enjoy the onsite steam rooms and hot tubs between surf sessions.

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Killary FjordKillary Fjord is the perfect setting for a variety of adventure activities.Photo Credit: Getty Images

Gorge Walking at Killary Fjord (Ireland)

If variety is the spice of life, then gorge walking is one of the spiciest adventure trips you can take in the United Kingdom. Nature truly becomes your playground as you hike, jump, climb, swim and abseil across gorges, up rivers, down waterfalls and off cliffs.

Armed with a wet suit, helmet and buoyancy aid, your guide will take you through a dramatic gorge cut into the mountainside, presenting you with outdoor challenge after challenge. Many tour companies offer full or half-day adventures, but Killary Adventure Co allows you to combine gorge walking with other activities like kayaking, mud runs, or enjoying their mini water park for an adventure-filled trip you won’t soon forget.

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