The Best Adventure Travel Destinations in the UK

Giant's Causeway by bike makes for a spectacular road trip
Giant's Causeway by bike makes for a spectacular road trip | © Nataliya Hora / Alamy
Photo of Benjamin Kempton
Travel Writer12 April 2021

Think the UK is all quiet countryside and pretty villages? Think again. It’s time to get your pulse pumping with these adrenaline-fuelled adventures from the Lake District to Lundy Island.

Have you ever swum with seals? Surfed Cornish waves? Bungee-jumped in Scotland? Well, now’s your chance. Whether you’re brave enough to try them all, or just fancy one or two, let us inspire you to get outside and make the most of all the adventure activities the UK has to offer.

Swim with seals, Lundy Island

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Young female and young male grey seal (Halichoerus grypus) swimming in shallows. Lundy Island, Devon, England, United Kingdom. British Isles. Bristol Channel.
© Alex Mustard / Nature Picture Library / Alamy
Forget swimming with sharks. This award-winning tour is much more friendly and fun. Head an hour from Ilfracombe Harbour, in North Devon, to Lundy Island, with regular sightings of dolphins along the way. Once there, you’ll spend the morning swimming with seals in coves and bays around the island. They’re friendly, inquisitive creatures and love to come and say hello so be prepared for some close encounters. Warm up with a hot drink once you’re back on board, and take in a tour of the coastline. Lunch in the Marisco Tavern while looking out at the puffins is recommended.

Surf Sennen Cove, Cornwall

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© Kevin Britland / Alamy Stock Photo
Surf’s up! Sennen Cove, in Cornwall, is one of the most radical places to catch waves in the UK. It’s also a great place for a day at the beach, with a pub, fish-and-chip shop and the Old Success Inn, where you can swing by for a pint of Cornish Tribute. But if it’s the waves you’re going for, you’ll be in good company. Sennen Surf Co is one of the best surf schools in Cornwall, and there’s a church-turned-surf shop where you can buy all your kit once you’ve caught the bug. The size of the waves ranges, so it doesn’t matter if you’re not already a pro. All you’ll need is a wetsuit, a board – which you can rent at the school – and a cowabunga attitude.

Zip down Velocity 2, Wales

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Three people on the Velocirty 2 zip lines at Zip World Penrhyn Quarry, North Wales, UK 2AHTMAW
Three people on the Velocirty 2 zip lines at Zip World Penrhyn Quarry, North Wales | © Nigel Wilkins / Alamy
Strap in and brace yourself for the fastest zip line in the world, and the longest in Europe. No UK adventure list would be complete without Velocity 2 in Zip World, at Penrhyn Slate Quarry, near Bethesda, in North Wales. You will be dangled face first, on your front, as you soar 201kph (125mph) down the wire, 500m (1,640ft) above a lake. The acceleration alone will take your breath away, as you rocket from 0 to 60mph in under 10 seconds. And if that’s not enough adventure for you, Snowdonia – the highest mountain in Wales – is nearby.

Three Peaks Challenge

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View from Scafell Pike in the Lake District National Park, Cumbria, England.
© Sebastian Wasek / Alamy Stock Photo
You’re in a race against time here as you attempt to climb the UK’s three tallest peaks in under 24 hours. You will walk a total of 37km (23mi) and ascend 3,064m (10,052ft) climbing up Snowdon in Wales, Scafell Pike in England and Ben Nevis in Scotland. Every muscle in your legs will be put to the test, but at least they get a rest driving in between the mountains.

Climb England’s only via ferrata, Lake District

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Tourists follow a Via Ferrata route at Honister Slate Mine in the Lake District.
© Cliff Hide General News / Alamy
On this adventure, you’ll be climbing 648m (2,126ft) up Fleetwith Pike, in the Lake District, along England’s only via ferrata, a climbing route guided by a steel cable that you clip a harness onto. This nerve-wracking adventure, which takes around three hours, includes crossing a tightrope line called the Burma Bridge.

Whitewater rafting, Hertfordshire

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The Lee Valley White Water Centre Station Road Waltham Cross Hertfordshire EN9 1AB.. Image shot 2012. Exact date unknown.
© roger parkes / Alamy
Feel like an Olympian as you take on the whitewater rafting course that was used for the canoe slalom at the London 2012 Olympic Games. You’re in for a rough ride at the course in Lee Valley, Hertfordshire – so you better bring your A-game. For gallons of fun without the difficulty, there’s also kayaking, paddleboarding, hydrospeeding, an inflatable obstacle course and even disc golf. But for a true British adventure, put yourself to the test on the exhilarating whitewater rapids.

Cycle Giant's Causeway, Northern Ireland

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© Deryck A Dillon / Alamy
You won’t find a more spectacular cycle route in the UK, and you’ll need to make regular stop-offs to take it all in. The Causeway Coast Cycle Route is a 23mi (37km) ride that runs along the North Atlantic Coast from Castlerock to the Giant’s Causeway via Coleraine. The route is well signposted, with many dedicated, cycle-friendly measures that offer traffic-free riding for much of the journey. If you want a challenge, sign up for the Giant’s Causeway Coast Sportive, a leisurely race that is the biggest road cycling event in Northern Ireland, attracting more than 1,300 participants each year.

Bungee Jump, Scotland

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Glasgow, UK. 22nd March, 2015. The Titan Crane Abseil takes place off the Titan Crane, one of Glasgow's most historic landmarks, participants under the watch of experienced and qualified instructors from the Glasgow Climbing Centre, are able to act out th
© Steven Scott Taylor / Alamy
Last but not least, and quite possibly the most insane pick of the bunch, is of course the bungee jump. No adventure list would be complete without the ultimate adrenaline thrill. The best place for it in the UK is in Scotland. Take your pick between free-falling off the Garry Bridge at the Highland Fling, near to the famous site of the Battle of Killiecrankie; or leap off Titan Crane in Glasgow, where you will freefall 50m (164ft) at over 80kph (50mph).
These recommendations were updated on April 12, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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