The best places for action adventure sports in Britain

From white-water rafting in Snowdonia to sea kayaking in the Highlands or flying high over the rolling hills of Surrey, Britain is home to an array of exciting action adventure sports. The opening of The Wave in Bristol in October adds a new, state-of-the-art inland surfing destination to its wide-ranging repertoire. If you’re yearning for adventure, it marks another glorious spot to enjoy some adrenaline-fuelled action…

1. The Wave, Bristol

Rip Curl rider at Wagegarden test facility, Spain. The technology that powers The Wave.

As the first destination in the northern hemisphere to use innovative Wavegarden Cove wave-making technology, the surf lake will feature up to 1,000 waves of different sizes and shapes every hour, making it suitable for all levels and abilities. That equates to a wave every 10 seconds, with heights varying from 50cm up to 1.8 metres! Specific parts of the 200-metre-long surfing lake, located in a rural area on the edge of Bristol and close to the M5 Motorway, will be dedicated to beginner, intermediate and advanced surfers too.

The launch of The Wave is part of a wider project by founder Nick Hounsfield to bring surfing to more cities across the world, with the experience combining surfing with adventure and nature. High quality coaching can be provided to all guests, along with wetsuits and surfboards, enabling you to enjoy the benefits of surfing all year round as surfing at the site is not restricted by geographic location, the weather, swell conditions or tides. Adaptive surfing opportunities for those with a wide range of physical disabilities will also be available. With a distinct focus on health and wellbeing, The Wave will also house a surf shop, an array of gardens and meadowlands, numerous peaceful hideaways and a family-friendly camping area.

1
The Wave

2. Lee Valley White Water Centre

Developed for the London 2012 Olympic Games to host canoe slalom events and set in the picturesque beauty of the River Lee Country Park in Hertfordshire, the Lee Valley White Water Centre offers an abundance of different water sports. Easily accessible from London, you can try your hand at white water rafting, canoeing and kayaking, as well as a number of other activities including hydrospeeding, tubing, hot dogs (inflatable two-man kayaks) and paddleboarding.

2
Lee Valley White Water

3. Zip World Velocity 2, Snowdonia

Zip World, North Wales. Credit: Crown Copyright/Visit Wales.

Take in breath-taking views of Snowdonia while soaring over the Penrhyn Quarry at speeds that could top 100mph on Velocity 2. The fastest zip line on the planet, and the longest in Europe at 1,555 metres, can be found at Zip World, near Bethesda in North Wales. The thrilling experience offers spectacular views of some of Wales’ most dramatic scenery.

3
Zip World

4. Kitesurfing/Kite Buggying, East Sussex

Learn the art of kitesurfing along the expanse of Camber Sands with expert help from The Kitesurf Centre. With its shallow shelving sands, small waves and consistent wind, the beach has ideal conditions and the school offers a range of courses for all abilities between March and September. Based at the eastern end of the beach, the centre offers one to five day courses, as well as coaching sessions and one-to-one private tuition with instructors that have a wealth of local knowledge. As one of three national training centres, you can also try your hand at the exhilarating extreme sport of Kite Buggying. Involving a kite and a three-wheeled cart, it’s possible to achieve speeds of more than 50mph while racing along the beach.

4
The Kitesurf Centre

5. Sea Kayaking, Scottish Highlands

What better way to explore the striking landscapes of the Scottish coast than from aboard a sea kayak? From its base in a European Special Area of Conservation, Sea Kayak Scotland offers tailored lessons throughout the year for those wanting to give sea kayaking a go. Based on the Isle of Seil, around 30 minutes from Oban, the centre provides all of the equipment needed to take in the scenic beauty of the region. Guided trips and instructional courses are available for beginners, while hire is available for those with more experience. And if you fancy a challenge, the Scottish Sea Kayak Trail offers a 500km route around the most scenic parts of the Highlands and Isles.

5
Sea Kayak Scotland

6. ​​​​​​​Paragliding, Surrey

Take to the skies and enjoy staggering views of the Surrey and London landscape on a tandem paragliding experience with Green Dragons. Jumps are made in harnesses attached to highly experienced qualified instructors and you can expect to reach heights of 500 feet, providing a new perspective on the stunning countryside below. Although jumps are dictated by weather conditions, the instructors alter the location and launch method to ensure an exhilarating experience.

6
Green Dragons

7. National White Water Rafting Centre, North Wales

White water rafting, Canolfan Tryweryn, National White Water Centre, Wales. Group of people wearing wet-suits and red helmets paddling down a rapid.

Speed down the frantic natural rapids on the River Tryweryn in the heart of Snowdonia National Park at Wales’ National White Water Rafting Centre. Since the river is controlled by a dam at the Llyn Celyn reservoir, high flows provide an abundance of conditions that are ideal for white water activities. Water releases on the River Tryweryn happen on around 200 days every year and the centre is open whenever this takes place. Alongside full rafting sessions, there are also Rafting Safari sessions on the calmer lower parts of the river that are specifically designed for families with 10 and 11-year-old children. Alternatively, you could opt to embark on a canyoning experience to climb, scramble, slide and swim your way down the cascading river while taking in the stunning surroundings of Wales’ largest national park.

7
National White Water Rafting Centre

8. Hangloose Adventure, Cornwall

Next to the famous Eden Project site, just 10 minutes from St Austell in Cornwall, Hangloose Adventure offers an array of adrenaline-fuelled activities. The Skywire is England’s longest and fastest zip wire experience, giving you the chance to fly down a 660 metre course at speeds of around 60mph, while seeing the Eden Project’s massive biomes from a new perspective. Tower over the site while tackling Skytrek, a new aerial trekking course featuring zip lines and a host of other elements, or get involved with Big Air, a test of nerves where you jump from elevated platforms onto a giant bean bag below. Alternatively, you can opt to be strapped in on Gravity, a 20-metre high giant cliff swing that overlooks the Eden Project site.

8
Hangloose Adventure

9. Adventure Parc Snowdonia (Surf Snowdonia)

Surfer riding a wave at the WaveGarden artificial wave lagoon, Conwy Valley in the lee of the Snowdonia, Wales.

Presenting an opportunity to surf inland in the heart of Snowdonia, Adventure Parc Snowdonia puts adrenaline-fuelled adventure sports top of the agenda. At the world’s first surf lagoon, you can get to grips with a range of waves, from gentle undulations if you’re a beginner up to advanced waves if you consider yourself a pro. Surrounded by the stunning natural landscapes of Snowdonia, Adrenaline Indoors hosts an array of new adventure features too, including one of the longest artificial caving courses in the world, Britain’s only kicker flight slide, a ninja parkour floor trail and climbing and racer walls.

9
Adventure Parc Snowdonia

10. The Canyoning Company, Scotland

Discover unforgettable canyoning experiences hidden within Scotland’s rugged landscape with the Canyoning Company. With several routes for you to choose from, the canyons include jumps ranging from two to 10 metres, numerous flumes, vertical rock slides and spectacular waterfall abseils. The Tummel Canyon route, found along the shores of Loch Tummel in Perthshire, is the newest to open – from summer 2018 – and includes an incredible 14 abseils to get pulses racing!

10
The Canyoning Company

11. Windsurfing – Norfolk

Dive into the world of windsurfing with half-day taster sessions near Hunstanton on the Norfolk Coast. With fantastic wind conditions and a suitable expanse of beach, it’s the ideal location to learn how to windsurf. Hunstanton Water Sports also runs progression sessions if you have more experience, while kitesurfing and power kiting sessions are also available.

11
Hunstanton Watersports

12. Cardiff International White Water

Cardiff International White Water, Cardiff, Wales

Nestled in Cardiff Bay, Cardiff International White Water offers an abundance of exciting water sports from white water rafting through to stand up paddleboarding. If you’re a thrill seeker you may want to ditch the raft in favour of a river board (similar to a body board) or practice your surfing on the indoor wave machine. There’s a number of exhilarating ways to complete the water course, while if you wish to stay dry, you can tackle the Air Trail, a set of high wire ropes that tower over the centre.

12
Cardiff International White Water
20 Aug 2019(last updated)