Top 10 adventure holidays in the UK

Getting out and about in the UK needn’t be about stately homes and countryside strolls – there’s wild beauty here, and mountains to conquer and all manner of pulse-raising activities to get stuck into. What’s more, the UK’s compact size and good public transport links mean that there’s no need for damaging short haul internal flights; and in many cases you can leave the car behind, too. Choose instead to board a train to the Scottish Highlands, hop on board a sailing boat and cruise the English Channel or explore the Welsh countryside on horseback. More exciting for you, and better for the environment, too.

Read on for our top 10 adventure holidays in the UK.

1. Family adventures in Wales

Pembrokeshire National Park’s blustery coast can be reached by train and navigated by coastal bus services. It’s also a safe place for the kids to try out a raft of adventure sports including kayaking, coasteering, surfing and hiking, with expert instructors well trained in working with children and young people.
When to go: Year round
Our top selling trip: Family adventure holiday in Wales
See all our trips: Flight free adventure holidays
Read more: Wales travel guide and Family activity holidays travel guide

2. Winter walking in Scotland

Forget flying to the Alps for an unsustainable downhill skiing break. Instead take the train up to the Scottish Highlands for a week of challenging winter walking in the company of an experienced mountain guide. You’ll need to be fit, but the thrill of experiencing the snowy mountain landscape with few other people in sight makes it well worth it.

When to go: January to March
Our top selling trip: Scotland winter walking holidays
See all our trips: Walking holidays in Scotland
Read more: Scotland travel guide and Flight free travel guide

3. Family activity holiday in the Lake District

One of the most attractive parts of the UK, the Lake District is also brilliant at dishing out adventure. Abseiling, climbing and ghyll scrambling are all possible, or you can go it alone and follow local walking trails under your own steam. Arrive by scenic rail journey to Penrith station if you’d prefer not to drive.

When to go: April to October
Our top selling trip: Lake District family activity holiday
See all our trips: Lake District holidays
Read more: Lake District travel guide and Family activity holidays travel guide

4. Sea kayaking in Devon

You don’t need to have paddled before to get some sea kayaking action in Devon. You just need to be keen on exploring headlands, beaches, remote inlets and caves you can only discover from the water. You’ll travel either in a small group of like-minded people or self guided, full instruction is always available.
When to go: May to September
Our top selling trip: Devon sea kayaking holiday in England
See all our trips: Holidays in Devon
Read more: Devon travel guide and Sea kayaking travel guide

5. Horse riding in the UK

Follow the Border to Coast trail from Wales’ Wye Valley to sands of the Dovey Estuary, a thrilling trail ride through wild countryside that covers 100 miles over six days. You’ll have the company of an experienced local guide as well as a small group of riders, and nights will be spent in small inns and guest houses along the way.

When to go: April to October
Our top selling trip: Border to coast horse riding holiday in the UK
See all our trips: Horse riding holidays
Read more: UK travel guide and Horse riding holidays travel guide
Travel Team
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6. Hebrides cruise

Discover the wild and remote Hebrides on a small ship cruise with a maximum of ten other passengers. As well as admiring the spotting wildlife from the deck you can take to the waters for kayaking or windsurfing, or head ashore for coastal hikes and beachcombing.

7. Exploring the Causeway Coast

Northern Ireland’s Causeway Coast is perfect for a low-key adventure, from hiking the quiet trails of the Causeway Coast Way, to visiting UNESCO World Heritage listed Giant’s Causeway. Week-long self-guided trips make use of public transport and traveling to Ireland flight-free is easy thanks to numerous ferry services from the UK.

When to go: April to October
Our top selling trip: Causeway Coast holiday, Northern Ireland
See all our trips: Northern Ireland holidays
Read more: Northern Ireland travel guide and Adventure holidays travel guide

8. Sailing the English Channel

Sailing the Channel from England to France brings adventure, changing landscapes and the chance to explore some of the French coastline and the Channel Islands without setting foot on a plane. Even beginners can join this sailing holiday and you’ll learn all about essential skills, drills and manoeuvres as you travel.
When to go: May to August
Our top trip: English Channel sailing holiday
See all our trips: England holidays
Read more: England travel guide and Sailing travel guide

9. Activity weekend in Pembrokeshire

You can still pack plenty of adventure into a weekend in the UK’s only coastal national park. Surfing, coasteering, half-day hikes and kayaking are among the activities on offer, and full instructions and kit are provided. Nights are spent in an eco adventure lodge where bonfires under the stars are a regular occurrence.

When to go: year round
Our top selling trip: Pembrokeshire activity weekend in Wales
See all our trips: Holidays in Wales
Read more: Wales travel guide and Short break adventure travel guide

10. Cairngorms wildlife watching holiday

Follow in the footsteps of an expert tracker and guide, who’ll help you find otters, pine martins, mountain hares, red deer, beavers and golden eagles in the Eastern Highlands of Scotland. Your backdrop will be Cairngorms National Park – a diverse stretch of snow-streaked mountains, heather moorlands and Caledonian forests. This adventure can be totally tailored to your family’s needs.

When to go: March to September
Our top selling trip: Cairngorms wildlife holiday
See all our trips: Scotland wildlife holidays
Read more: Scotland wildlife travel guide
Written by Nana Luckham
Photo credits: [Page banner: David Merrett] [Family adventure in Wales: Charles Ng] [Kayaking in Devon: Hugh Millward] [Hebrides cruise: Kathleen] [Sailing the Enlgish Channel: Tony Brassell]