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Extreme sports and activities
Hang gliding & paragliding
The best way to see Britain’s stunning countryside is from the air. There’s a relatively small but enthusiastic hang gliding and (especially) paragliding scene in Britain with a good selection of varied flying sites.
England’s favoured locations include the Peak District, the Yorkshire Dales, the Lake District and the Long Mynd, near Shrewsbury. In Wales the most popular flying area is around Abergavenny with access to the nearby Black Mountains and Brecon Beacons.
Hang gliding at Rhymney Valley
For paragliding or hang gliding, see the British Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association’s website. This lists activity providers as well as other useful information.
Hot air ballooning
Fancy something a bit different? A hot air balloon ride offers a unique experience and an awe-inspiring way to see Britain’s countryside. Since the first flight in 1783, hot air ballooning has been capturing the imagination of those lucky enough to experience it.
These days, bespoke flights are available for individuals, couples and groups from a large number of quality-assured providers throughout England, Scotland and Wales. Visit The British Association of Balloon Operators which provides a comprehensive list of operators throughout Britain.
To enjoy the experience with others, head for The Great Leeds Castle Balloon and Vintage Car Weekend or enjoy the colourful spectacle at the Bristol Balloon Festival. Gaze at the miniature people and toy box buildings below or take an early morning ride over the countryside and see Britain’s wildlife at its best.
If you’re looking a serious adrenaline hit, you won’t get a more extreme or exciting experience than skydiving. Plunge 10-12,000ft from a plane, reaching speeds of up to 120mph for 30 seconds or more. This is 100% pure exhilaration!
If you never jumped before, you can take full advantage of the freefall rush by jumping in tandem with an instructor, who will take care of everything, leaving you free to enjoy the thrill of the jump. Or jump solo with a static line parachute that is attached to the aircraft and activates automatically.
For further information and a list of “drop zones” (jump sites) around Britain, contact the British Parachute Association and start planning that jump!
Rock climbing & mountaineering
First class mountaineering areas are the mountains of Scotland (especially the northwest), favourite spots include Glen Coe, the Ben Nevis area and the Cuillin Ridge on Skye. England’s main draw for long routes is the Lake District, while the Peak District is home to world-famous gritstone ‘edges’ of Stanage and Froggat and the limestone cliffs of the Yorkshire Dales offer great possibilities too.
Other good areas in southern England include Cheddar Gorge and the rocky outcrops or “tors” of Dartmoor in Devon. The mountains of Snowdonia and Mid-Wales also have excellent rock climbing.
Britain also offers the sheer exhilaration of sea-cliff climbing from Cornwall, through to Pembrokeshire in Wales, to Scotland’s classic Old Man of Stor rock tower. Nothing makes you concentrate more on finding the next hold than crashing waves below!
See the British Mountaineering Council for details on both activities.
Caving & potholing
The Gower Peninsula, Snowdonia and Brecon Beacons in Wales are rich in caving and potholing sites, including the biggest cave entrance in South Wales and the largest cave passage in the United Kingdom. You can find a list of operators at the Wales Active site.
There are a handful of sites in Scotland on the Isle of Skye, in the far north at Assynt and in the Southern Cairngorms. For full details of sites in Scotland visit the Grampian Speleological Group site and for details of operators see the Adventure Scotland site.
In England Yorkshire, Derbyshire, Somerset and Devon are some of Britain’s best caving sites, full details of which can be found on the Caving UK site.
Prepare to get muddy, messy and 100% exhilarated! Quad bikes were originally used by farmers in difficult terrain but they soon became when they realised they could create challenging and fun-filled courses with jumps and twists enough to make any heart pound.
Tear through fields, woods, streams and bogs – this is perfect for team building, stag dos…or just plain fun!
South West England