More and more frequently, people are choosing to spend their hard-earned cash pitting their wits against Mother Nature and gravity in a battle that sees them going to extreme lengths to achieve the kind of head rush that only the most finest scenery and roughest terrains can satisfy.
Not to mention the health benefits ... not only do you get the immense thrill of a white-knuckle ride, but it also helps you keep fit and active. See, staying healthy isn’t all about counting calories and watching your weight. So, here’s our guide to some of the best adventure sports around …
This is hiking with a difference — forget gentle gradients up moderate foothills: Via Ferrata is a hybrid of activities forced together to form this now popular rural activity. Walkers are challenged to move from peak to peak by way of a network of cables and stemples, ladders and bridges, gradually thrusting upwards towards the summit. This is more than a walk in the park; this is more than a run around the mountains; this is adrenaline sport in raw form.
One of the best places for via ferrata in the UK is Honister in the Lake District. Here you will be taken on a tour of the old slate mines which once thrived within the Cumbrian mountains. Via Ferrata, or the ‘Iron Way’, was how the miners traveled to work each day, and you can follow in their footsteps as you clamber across the rock face, and sail down zip lines on your journey upwards. Some of the views you will witness are simply breathtaking, and will leave you wanting to be a part of more of the UK’s beautiful landscapes.
Don’t worry; you don’t have to be super-fit for via ferrata, as the course has been designed for all ages and abilities, but this rocky adventure and the mountain air will certainly do you the world of good. Visit the website for more information.
Suit? Check. Watch? Check. Briefcase? Check. Parachute? Check!? No, this isn’t the prop list for the upcoming James Bond film; nor is it your average office job paraphernalia. For some people though, letting off steam at work requires more than just a stress ball. That’s where BASE jumping steps in. This adrenaline sport involves freefalling from an inanimate object, like a building, or a bridge (as you do!), or even a nuclear power station! You then open the attached parachute on the way down. This makes for an incredible rush, and certainly rates as one of the best adrenaline sports out there.
Base jumping, with the correct equipment, and adequate training, can be done potentially anywhere. There is however, a calendar of events when BASE enthusiasts congregate for mass jumps; and these are certainly a spectacle to be seen.
We cannot stress enough though, that BASE jumping is not to be taken lightly — jumpers have received extensive safety and fitness training before their first leap.
For an adrenaline sport that tests even the most rugged adventurer, ice caves are one of the greatest challenges. This is no simple feat, and scaling the summit of an ice capped cave supported only by a seemingly infinite drop takes nerves of steel. Doing your Robert Scott impression in sub zero conditions is one thing, but ice climbing is several rungs above, and should not be attempted without adequate equipment or training. Fitness here is the key to your success.
The UK has the largest indoor ice wall in the world at Kinlockleven, Scotland. Both beginners and seasoned professionals will find fresh challenges here in the artificial snow; and experts are on hand to guide you from the ground to the summit. Be sure to book in advance as the courses are quite popular. Visit the website for more information.
Ever fancied flying underwater? Yes? Well, here’s your chance: drift diving is current-driven, aquatic algorithm of a sport. It’s a chance to get to see local wildlife go about their business, as you drift serenely by, channelled only by the water’s transparence. You choose your own level of expertise by how many knots you think you can handle. This is a sport for all levels ... having your 25m badge wouldn’t go amiss though.
Depending on how experienced you are, there are a number of spots to drift dive in the UK. For beginners (although some training will be required), try King West Rock off Brighton, where the current is relatively gentle, and will carry you carefully along the south coast of England. For the more accomplished diver, the Orestone, a reef off Teignmouth will give you a few more knots for your money.
Sled dog rally
For those looking to mix the extreme with a little winter spirit, there’s an adrenaline rush that comes in husky form. Dog-led sleds carry you along snow-sprayed terrain in competition with other teams. Timing and coordination are the keys here if you want to win ... but winning isn’t what it’s really about — as you let the wind whip through your hair, pulled along by six furry friends, there are few experiences quite like this one.
First of all, you will need a set of trained dogs, and then all of your other supplies i.e. food, warm clothing etc. Rallies take place in a number of forests around the UK, and are organised events. Beginners needn’t fret as there are courses advertised around the country to get you and your dogs up and running. This is a great day out for all the family.
So, instead of spending your free time at home this year, why not travel to one of the many beautiful destinations the UK has to offer, and get active. Mix up your exercise plan with a shot of adrenaline, and you will feel the benefit and the thrill immediately.