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Outdoorsy Christmas Gifts Guide 2017

Yes it’s that time of year again – when you start finding yourself singing tunes from the Muppets Christmas Carol, wanting to live in a nest of blankets, and eating your own weight in mince pies. It might also be the time where you spend days staring blankly at your friends or family wondering what to get them, but fear not! Here’s my guide to the best Christmas gifts for outdoor lovers – perfect for climbers, hikers, adventurers and anyone just a little bit wild.

A bridge and autumnal colour at Colby Woodland Garden, Pembrokeshire

UK woodlands for autumn colour

While we might not to be able to compete with Fall in New England, this small isle of ours still likes to put on a show as the woods and forests begin the long slow decline into winter. Here are some of the top places in the country to drink in the autumn colour, from tiny golden woods to the vast fiery swathes of mixed forestry. I’ve even thrown in a few places that are a bit off the beaten track for those of you who prefer to enjoy the season away from the crowds.

Horse riders heading towards camera

Horseback adventures in Wales with Freerein

Every now and then I think about jacking in the day job and heading off to live the life of an itinerant wanderer on horseback; spending my days criss-crossing the wild parts of country. It’s not the most practical dream at the moment, but luckily I was able try out being a vagabond on a smaller scale with Freerein, who have been offering both guided and self-guided rides through their patch of Wales since 1989.

Campbell Cottage near Coniston, Lake District

Places to stay: Campbell Cottage, Lake District

The Lake District is undoubtedly of the UK’s best places for getting outdoors, with cloud-scraping mountains, lush green valleys and a whole host of rivers, meres, tarns and waters to explore. There are plenty of campsites (wild or otherwise) where you can rest your head, but if you’re looking for something a bit cosier after a long day of adventuring then the beautiful Campbell Cottage could be the perfect choice.

Rock climbing for beginners

Rock climbing as a sport has been around since the late 1800s, but it’s become increasingly popular in the last 50 years or so since the advent of indoor climbing walls. Not only do these walls help climbers stay fit over winter, but they also provide a great training ground and social area for newbies to learn the ropes (pun intended) – making climbing more accessible than ever.

Close up of wild garlic flower

Foraging for Wild Garlic

It’s spring time, and you currently can’t walk more than about half a mile in the countryside without coming across wild garlic. Here’s one of my favourite recipes that makes great use of the pungent plant.

lllongwalk tent

Walking from England to Finland

When a colleague announces that they’re leaving their job, you don’t generally expect the next words to be ‘to walk to Finland’. But that was exactly what happened back in December when my pal Lauren sat our team down to explain her adventure. One week in to the hike, I joined her and her partner Leo to find about more about their epic 1600-mile trip.

Caving at Clearwell Caves

Wild adventures in the Forest of Dean and Wye Valley

When people talk about places for outdoor adventure in the UK, they tend to focus on the big hitters – The Lakes, Snowdonia, Dartmoor etc. However after spending a weekend in the Forest of Dean and Wye Valley with some of the lovely #OutdoorBloggers crew, I think it’s time that more people heard about the amazing adventure potential of this beautiful region. Here are just a few of the activities you can try.

Viewing Platform in Puzzlewood

Where to stay in the Forest of Dean and Wye Valley

‘Hidden gem’ is a pretty over-used phrase these days, but it definitely applies to the Wye Valley and Forest of Dean. Not only are the acres of ancient forest and deep rushing rivers spectacularly beautiful, but the area is also full to the brim with places to explore and activities to try. First off though you’ll need a place to stay and some food – so here’s a handy round up to the best local spots.

Close up of girl wearing blue Merino wool Buff as a neckwarmer

Buff Headwear for cool-weather trail running

Confession: for an outdoorsy person, I can be pretty lazy. I’m particularly bad in winter, when the freezing winds and incessant rain make it all too easy to find excuses not to go outside. Fortunately the lovely team at Kitshack recently gave me the opportunity to test out a Buff, which was the prod I needed to hit the trail again and see if this might finally crack my reluctance to run in anything less than 20 degree sunshine.