With 1,130 kilometres of coastline bordering the English and Bristol channels the Southwest is a haven for watersports. Cornwall offers world-class surfing with a host of British Surfing Association (BSA) approved surf schools, predominantly in Newquay. The Devon coast is 402 kilometres long and the county also has several inland lakes and rivers great for everything, from sea kayaking to windsurfing.
The South West
Poole Harbour in Dorset is a popular place to learn to sail, and Weymouth and Portland Harbour in Dorset will host the sailing and Paralympics sailing events at the 2012 Olympics. If you prefer to be under the water the Isles of Scilly are a hot spot for scuba diving, with opportunities to see shipwrecks, jeweled anemones and friendly seals.
For those more interested in land-based activities there is a wide variety of other options, from exploring the Dorset and east Devon Jurassic Coast on foot, to horse riding in Exmoor National Park, and exploring the high cliffs and sandy coves along the 630-mile long South West Coast Path (www.southwestcoastpath.com) National Trail, which provides continuous access along the coastline from Minehead on the edge of Exmoor all the way to Poole harbour.
You could also try walking The Strawberry Line in Somerset, a converted railway line from Cleveland to Cranmore, or hiking the 165 kilometre Cotswold Way in Gloucestershire. Wiltshire has 8,200 paths and trails for walkers and cyclists to explore and the Quantock Hills in Somerset are a mountain biking mecca. Alternatively, hire a narrowboat and take to the Kennet and Avon canal, a trip to the Southwest cannot fail to be anything but action packed.