Time for a micro adventure: 15 action-packed day trips in the UK | Day trips


Snorkel and kayak, Cornwall

Combine snorkelling and kayaking on a new tour around the Cornish coast from Newquay. Paddle around the craggy shoreline exploring caves and coves, then moor up in a sheltered inlet to discover what lies beneath the waves on a guided snorkel. The Marine Conservation Zone is home to wildlife from dolphins to seahorses (it’s one of the few breeding sites in the UK). Wetsuits and all other equipment are provided. If you’ve still energy to spare, try a surf lesson in the afternoon. Snorkel Kayak Tour, two-hours, £55, surf lesson, £35 (newquayactivitycentre.co.uk)

Horseriding, Cumbria

Few things are more exhilarating than galloping through the surf – and Murthwaite Green Beach Riding in the Lake District offers the chance to do just that. Experienced riders can race along the near-deserted sandy shores of Silecroft beach, while novices can be catered for, too (gently trotting or paddling in the waves instead). The more experienced can sign up for a full-day’s riding along the beach to Haverigg, stopping for a picnic in a nature reserve, or opt for a beach and fell ride, climbing 2,000ft to Black Combe. Two-hour beach ride £75, whole day £150. Minimum age 11 (murthwaitegreen.co.uk)

Island-hopping, Essex

There’s something magical about islands – and with more than 30, Essex is the county with the most in England. While most are uninhabited havens for wildlife, some, such as Wallasea, are open to visitors. An RSPB site, this landscape of marshland, lagoons and mudflats was created when 3m tonnes of earth from the Crossrail scheme was shipped downriver. There are various trails to follow; look out for terns, marsh harriers or short-ear owls. Mid- to late-summer is the best time to see butterflies, too, from the common blue to the marbled white. Drive across the causeway or take a ferry from Burnham-on-Crouch to the marina, a mile from the reserve. Open 8am-8pm (rspb.org/wallasea)

Coastal foraging, Carmarthenshire

Beach find: explore rockpools in West Wales

Search rockpools for edible sea vegetables and shellfish, explore tidal mud flats, sand dune systems and estuaries, and learn about the rich ocean life on a coastal foraging foray in west Wales, with the help of local expert Craig Evans. The exact location depends on the weather, but is likely to be around Laugharne or Pendine Sands. If conditions allow, you’ll get to cook and sample some of your discoveries, too. Courses can be specially tailored for group interests (such as vegan foraging). The Classic Course (around four hours) costs £80pp, under-16s go free (coastalforaging.co.uk)

Wine tasting, West Sussex

For a day trip with extra fizz, join a vineyard tour at Tinwood Estate in West Sussex. Meet the growers, walk around the vines and learn about winemaking, before the best part – heading to the slick tasting rooms to sample their sparkling wines. There’s the option to stay on to sip more chilled vino in the sunshine (hopefully) – and even three luxury lodges should you want to stay the night. The tours run at 3pm on weekdays (and 12pm and 3pm on Saturdays), so there’s time to explore nearby Chichester Harbour AONB, with its vast mudflats and sheltered waters, home to myriad birdlife. Vineyard and tasting tours cost £18 for 1.5 hours, (tinwoodestate.com)

Narrowboating, Staffordshire

Spend a day navigating peaceful inland waterways on a canal boat, picnicking on board, or plot a route in advance and book a pub for lunch. Cruise the Trent and Mersey Canal from Great Haywood on “Abi” or “Daphne”, pretty narrowboats with space for 10 each, stopping for towpath walks along the way. Travel south to the historic market town of Rugeley, passing two locks and the National Trust’s Shugborough Estate and Cannock Chase Forest. Or head north to Sandon, through five miles of bucolic countryside, navigating three locks. Other day boat options include cruising the Shropshire Union Canal from Bunbury Wharf, Cheshire, or exploring the Stratford canal in Warwickshire. Full tuition is provided. From £99 a day for up to 10 people (anglowelsh.co.uk)

Paddleboarding, Herefordshire

Soak up the Wye Valley’s dramatic landscape of limestone gorges, ancient woodlands and rolling hills on a standup paddleboarding expedition on the River Wye. SUP YOFI runs various courses, including half-day river safaris from Kerne Bridge to Symonds Yat West. Children over eight are welcome – there are tailored family options and introductory sessions, too – but all need to be able to swim. A half-day experience costs £50pp (supyofi.com)

Dartmoor walk, Devon

Open country: strike out on your own or organise a guided walk

Wander the wilds of Dartmoor with its fairytale forests, ancient stone circles, towering tors and endless open moors. Strike out on your own (check Visit Dartmoor for hikes to suit all levels) or organise a day’s private guided walk tailored to your interests – from folklore to wild swimming – with Emma Cunis, aka Dartmoor’s Daughter. Full day from £250 for five. Group events with various themes, including learning navigation skills (5 September) also offered, from £10-£40 (dartmoorsdaughter.com)

Spa and adventure, County Fermanagh

Combine adventure with a little pampering at Corralea Activity Centre on Lough MacNean, in the west of Fermanagh. Spend the morning exploring wild islands on a self-guided canoe trip, followed by time in the outdoor wood-fired hot tub at the Eco Forest Spa, with views over Thur Mountain and the lough. There’s an option to swap canoeing for electric bike hire – a great way to explore the countryside and megalithic tombs hidden in the forest – and cottages should you wish to stay longer. The Slow Adventure Escape costs £50pp, for a minimum of two (corralea.com)

Scrambling, Conwy

Head for the hills of Snowdonia and get truly off the beaten track with a day of “scrambling”. Somewhere between hillwalking and climbing, scrambling is a hands-on experience, but no special skills are needed – just a sense of adventure, reasonable fitness and a head for heights. Peak Mountaineering takes small groups into the wilderness close to Capel Curig village – breathtaking views are the reward for your efforts. All equipment is provided and you’ll learn essentials, from movement techniques to mountain navigation. The Scrambling Taster Day costs £100 (peakmountaineering.com)

Via Ferrata, Fife

For bracing hikes with a view, the 90-mile Fife Coastal Path, which runs from Kincardine to Newburgh, has a lot to offer, from wild sandy beaches to woodlands and industrial skyscapes. Choose a section close to Elie and try Scotland’s very own via ferrata. A series of chains are fixed into the cliff between Shell Bay and Earlsferry and Elie, taking the adventurous on a route above the waves for over a kilometre. Allow up to two hours, check tide times before heading out – and do not attempt close to high tide. From here you can follow a 13-mile section of the path west to Buckhaven Plan or head east to Cambo Sands, 16 miles away. See fifecoastandcountrysidetrust.co.uk

Climb a mountain, Highlands

Take a hike: Suilven is one of the most iconic mountains in Scotland. Photograph: Peter Jolly/Rex/Shutterstock

The most westerly peak in Assynt, in the Highlands, Suilven rises sharply to 731m from a rocky, heather-clad landscape. It may be one of the most iconic mountains in Scotland, but the remote setting, two hours’ drive from Inverness, means it’s crowd-free compared to alternatives further south. It’s a long day’s hike from the start near Lochinver to the top (allow eight hours for the 22km round trip; OS Explorer map 442). A guide is recommended for the less experienced. Scottish Rock and Water offers private and group day trips, from £70 (scottishrockandwater.com)

Mountain biking, North Yorkshire

Soak up the scenery of the Yorkshire Dales on a day’s mountain biking adventure in remote Nidderdale. Starting from Pateley Bridge, all levels are welcome, with experienced guides leading woodland meanders for novices and families or across challenging cross-country terrain with steep descents for those with more skills. Other options include exploring the wilds of the North York Moors or pine-filled Dalby Forest with tracks for different abilities. Private guided days cost from £69pp for four, or £55 for a half-day. Bike rental extra (lostearthadventures.co.uk)

Sailing, Cornwall

Take to the high seas on a classic tall ship and learn the ropes of traditional sailing onboard the beautiful Bessie Ellen in Cornwall. With its usual sailing holiday schedule cancelled, the 100-year-old vessel is now taking small groups out from Fowey every day in August and September. You’ll explore the coast around Charlestown and Mevagissey, anchor for lunch and a swim off the boat, and can then choose to sit back and soak up the views or get involved in sailing home. Maximum 12 people, tea and cake provided (not lunch), 10am-4pm, £115pp, half-price for under 12s (venturesailholidays.com)

Cycling, Carmarthenshire

As part of its bid to become the cycling hub of Wales, Carmarthenshire has just mapped over 20 new day road cycling trips around the county. A cluster of rides start at Llandovery on the edge of the Cambrian Mountains and Brecon Beacons, with something for all levels from an eight-mile opener to a 58km day ride, but the choice covers the whole region. Family-friendly options include a 13-mile route along the Millennium Coastal Path from Pembrey Country Park – where you can hire bikes from too, full-day £17 adult, £12 child (pembreycountrypark.wales). For more information visit discovercarmarthenshire.com

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