Bag a Munro
CLIMBING one of Scotland’s 3,000ft peaks should be on everyone’s do-before-you-die list. True baggers aim to trek to the top of every single Munro – there are 283 listed at www.climbthemunros.co.uk – but if you can only find time to walk up one or two, head for the Mamores, an isolated range of Munros near Ben Nevis. Here, as well as working up a sweat, you’ll experience true silence – there’s rarely a soul in sight. An easier Munro is Ben Lomond, where a well-maintained path takes you right to the top.
Sail the sea to Skye
THE island of Skye, off the west coast of Scotland, is a remote, rugged and captivating place. The waters around the island are a challenging sailing ground, but the reward for battling the seas is the rich wildlife – you could have whales, dolphins, seals and even basking sharks for company. Many yacht charters (skippered boats are the order of the day, unless you’re a pro) leave Mallaig on the mainland and take in the Small Isles of Muck, Eigg, Canna and Rum before heading for Skye where you’ll be met with spectacular views, secluded bays, sandy beaches and dramatic mountains.
Conquer the Beast of Brenin
A 38KM technical trail at Coed-y-Brenin – one of the oldest and arguably the best mountain bike centres in the country – the Beast of Brenin off ers the ultimate mountain bike challenge for fans of off -road cycling. A test of stamina and guts, the trail takes in gruelling forest, technical single track and high-speed downhill. And if you bottle it, there are lots of other less ferocious routes at the centre to try, from family-oriented rides to hard (but not beastly) tracks. Something for everyone, then.
Take the Pyg Pass to the top of Snowdon
THE highest mountain in Wales is probably the busiest in the country. But despite the popularity of the ‘Snow Hill’, it can still be a challenge to reach the summit (particularly if you don’t cheat by taking the train). Crib Goch is one of the finest ridge walks in the UK (see our feature on UK ridge walks for more), but can be a scramble at times, while the Watkin Path is best for fit types. The zigzag Pyg path is a nice compromise that has the potential to get your heart racing, but probably won’t be too strenuous – especially if you stop to take in the huge views across to Llyn Llydaw and Llyn Glaslyn.
Hike the Coast to Coast
THE Coast to Coast walk was devised by hiking legend Alfred Wainwright. A 182-mile long-distance footpath in Northern England, this is a trek that will test your fi tness and your navigational skills. The route, which crosses the Lake District, Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors, is on mostly un-signposted paths. From St Bees in Cumbria, the end is due east at Robin Hood’s Bay, near Whitby, but in between lie deep dales, limestone pavements, wooded moors and high cliffs. This is not one for the fainthearted or the unfit.
Cycle from sea to shining sea
NOT to be confused with the Coast to Coast Walk, the C2C is a national cycle route that crosses Cumbria and the Pennines. Designed for every kind of cyclist from families to experienced adventurers, the 140-mile route uses small roads, old railway lines, off -road trails and managed cycle paths to wind its way from Whitehaven in Cumbria to Sunderland on the east coast. Developed by Sustrans – a charity that works to create safe cycle routes – between 12,000 and 15,000
cyclists complete the challenge each year. But with 140 miles of trails between the start and the fi nish you rarely find crowds. Perfect for an adventurous family.
Walk the South West Coast Path
PROVING you should never underestimate our island, this 630-mile National Trail has recently been rated as one of the world’s greatest adventures. Skirting secluded bays, rugged moorland, and huge cliffs, fast walkers aim to take around 30 days to complete the trek. Start out at Minehead in Somerset and walk anti-clockwise through Devon, Cornwall and Dorset to Sandbanks, or do it the other way around. Better still, do it both ways! There are plenty of seaside pubs en route to keep your spirits up!
Surf Cornwall’s Sennen Cove
SENNEN Cove’s exposed location at the bottom left tip of the UK makes it one of the best surf breaks in the country. Atlantic waves consistently roll into this wide, sandy bay, which is perfect for intermediate surfers. Under an intense Cornish sun it’s like being in southern Europe, but even when the sun isn’t shining, Sennen’s reputation draws surfers from across the country. When you’re done in the water, head for The Beach restaurant for a belly-filling full English – it’s no greasy spoon though, so peel off your wetsuit and mind your manners.(www.thebeachrestaurant.com)
Kayak the Bitches
ONE of the best places to whitewater kayak in the UK, the Bitches are a set of rocks off the coast in West Wales, between Ramsey Island and St David’s. An experts-only playground, this small stretch of water is ferocious and glassy, featuring whirlpools and breathtaking rapids. The extreme conditions are caused by the sea being squeezed over a seabed that changes height dramatically. Try it if you dare – this is one to tell the grandchildren!
Ski the slopes of Scotland
WHEN the snow is good and the sun is shining, there’s no better place to be than skiing in Scotland. Admittedly, when the snow is bad and it’s windy and grey, it’s a bit like being on the moon. Scotland has five ski areas: Glencoe, Glenshee, Lecht, Aviemore and Fort William. Glenshee is the largest ski area with 38 runs and 28 lifts. Hardcore skiers can stay at the year-round campsite at Glencoe. Softies might prefer a local B&B.