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UK Adventures for Beginners

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Admittedly I write this blog from an iceberg in the Arctic Ocean. But adventures don't need to take up weeks or months of your life, great quantities of cash or require technical skills. There are still adventures aplenty at home that anyone can undertake for free, for minimal outlay on inexpensive kit or hire charges and only need a morning, day or weekend. So to kick-start things off here are five ideas for the summer:

1. Snorkelling

My number one for a reason. Snorkelling is incredibly easy and can be done in river, lakes, mountain pools, ponds and of course all manner of coastlines. All you need is a mask, snorkel and fins...and maybe a wetsuit outside of summer. However, all you really need is a pair of goggles and your pants because seeing what's beneath the surface is the real adventure. Much of the submerged parts of the British coastline, rivers and lakes have never been seen so this is genuine exploration. There are even plenty of safe, shallow wrecks to snorkel. It's good for any age and ability just apply common sense to where you decide to go, if it's to dangerous to swim (big waves, strong current or fast tide) then it's too dangerous to snorkel. A great beginners' site is Kimmeridge Bay Snorkel Trail - you can even hire the kit for a fiver.

2. Wild Camping

Camping on a campsite is all well and good with its shower block, fresh water and parking space by your tent. However, camping out in the wild fills you with a sense of freedom and it's significantly more peaceful. It could be on a secluded beach in a cove in North Devon, by a loch in the Knoydart area of Scotland, or in a forest in the Brecon Beacons. Certain places discourage wild camping so it's worth checking, especially in established National Parks. Wherever you go try to get off the beaten track and remember not to damage the local area or wildlife and take all your litter home.

3. Sit-On-Top Sea-Kayaking

There are plenty of places that hire these for about £25 per day and you can get the two-man type if you've a young child or your partner is feeling lazy. They're more stable and safer then standard close-cockpit kayaks and very it's easy to get the hang of the basics quickly. It's an amazing way to see the coastline and the wildlife around our shores far form the madding crowd. Anywhere that hires them will give you a brief where the best place to go on that day and if there is a hire centre in the area then it's a good area for sea-kayaking. Prime locations include the West coast of Scotland and the Scottish Islands, Pembrokeshire, Cornwall and Devon.

4. River Canoeing

Much like the sea-kayaking mentioned above canoes are cheap to hire and easy to use. If it's your first outing pick an easy river and any hire company can advise on the best stretch for you in the current conditions (some very benign rivers can become difficult after heavy rain). The River Wye is the most popular canoeing river in the UK and has a number of hire companies along its length. If you're feeling adventurous you can do a multi-day trip stopping at riverside campsites (and pubs) or even, if you chose the Wye, do a six day trip down it's length from Glasbury to Chepstow - over 100 miles of ancient bridges and Wye Valley forest.

5. Climb a mountain:

As great an accomplishment as Ben Nevis or Snowdonia is the usual problem is that they can get very, very busy. A few summers ago I took my mum up Ben Nevis to see the sunrise and we left at 4am. At the summit there were only two other people but on the way down I passed 342 people on their way up and it wasn't even 10am when we finished. So pick one of the unusual ones, far, remote and wild - it doesn't have to be technical, most are a simple walk up and down hill. The mountains in the far North West of Scotland, towards Cape Wrath, are breathtaking and will make you feel like the only person in the world.

Now all you have to do is pray for a bit of sunshine...

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