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.
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.
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. 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.
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 could tell you, I love a bit of Poldark. When I was little most of my family holidays were spent in Cornwall, so seeing the beautiful coastline, beaches and moorland on screen in the recent BBC series gave me a real craving to go back. (Ok I admit it, Aidan Turner’s torso helped too). So south I went to the land of fudge and pasties, where I spent most of my time wandering round the county in search of locations from the series.
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.
Hunkered a short way off the West Coast of Scotland, Skye is one of those places that instantly makes you feel like you’re in some sort of fantasy novel. The name somes from the Norse word 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 island, the sun that I had basked in on the mainland suddenly disappeared – replaced by a sheet of thunderous grey that rolled overhead.