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.
4 months and many trips to Mountain Warehouse later, she and her partner Leo finally set off from Exmouth at the beginning of April. One week in, I took a trip down to Purbeck to join them for a beautifully sunny leg of the walk, and find about more about their epic 1600-mile trip.
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.
‘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. What’s more, it’s only an hour’s drive from me – so after a quick zip down the M4 on a Friday afternoon, I soon found myself bowling along quiet country roads to arrive at Puzzlewood, where I was staying for the weekend.
If you’re in search of tiny picturesque villages, miles of rambling over open heathland and more local folklore than you can shake a stick at, then Dartmoor is the place to go. I spent a week swimming in rivers, exploring the wild moors, and generally pretending I was in a gothic horror mystery novel.
Spoiler alert: at no point was I eaten by a giant hound.
As anyone who knows me (or follows my Instagram) could tell you, I love a bit of Poldark. Admittedly it’s a recent obsession: before last year I’d never read the books, but when the new BBC adaptation started my Sunday evenings soon became dominated by watching Ross Poldark gallop around on clifftops.
When I was little most of my family holidays were spent in Cornwall, so seeing the beautiful coastline, beaches and moorland on the screen gave me a real craving to go back. (Ok I admit it, Aidan Turner’s torso helped too). So a couple of weeks ago I headed south to the land of fudge and pasties, where I spent most of my time wandering round the county in search of Poldark locations.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that if you want me to wake up pre-8am, the best tactic is to bribe me with ponies. If you then add another quirky sport into the mix I might even be enthusiastic about it – which explains why I was up at the ungodly hour of 5am a few weeks ago so that my lovely co-adventurer Siân and I could drive over to Hertfordshire for a day of Horseback Archery. (Yes it is a thing. Yes it is awesome.)
In celebration of Britain’s annual week of good weather (yep, that’s all we get), Emily and I decided to head up to Warleigh Weir near Bath for a refreshing wild swim. We also became a handy picnic for the local population of horseflies.
If you’ve never been to Pembrokeshire, you are definitely missing out. Tucked away in south-west Wales, it has the same sort of beautiful coastline and picturesque little towns as Cornwall, but minus the bustling crowds and sky-high prices. It also happens to be a great spot for a bit of A&E – which in this context means adventure and exploration. Although you never know once I get involved…
According to Benjamin Disraeli, ‘a canter is a cure for all evils’. Fortunately I’m not plagued by that many evils at the moment, but I was still glad of a chance to blow away the cobwebs when I went beach riding in Pembrokeshire, courtesy of Nolton Stables (and especially Ace!)
The beautiful Loch Coruisk, segueing into the River Scavaig
The Norse apparently referred to it as Skuy, which translates as ‘Misty Isle’, and I am told that the reason for this is usually pretty obvious. Certainly when I arrived on the Isle of Skye the sun that I had basked in on the mainland suddenly disappeared, replaced by a sheet of thunderous grey that rolled overhead. I resigned myself to being soaked to the skin for the entire visit (not easy when I’d just spent a week in the Lake District and would have appreciated a bit of meteorological variety), but to my surprise – and everyone else’s – the next 6 days were mostly bright and warm. There were even a few occasions when I had to shed my jumper!
There are plenty of ways to pass the time on Skye, but these were my personal highlights:
A Somerset lass born and bred; I can usually be found rambling through the countryside or wittering about adventure/folklore/crafts/odd sports - and quite often all of them at once. Read more here, or drop me a line at email@example.com