Chilterns Mountain Biking Weekend
A guided, fully supported, weekend of riding in the Chiltern Hills is complimented by staying in a superb 16th century coaching inn – spot on for a few pints and some refuelling after a hard day in the saddle! The trip starts in Wendover, a mere 48 minute direct train from Marylebone station, and is best suited to regular mountain bikers looking to explore this surprisingly rural rolling countryside, just northwest of the M25.
The trip offers a great mix of forest, single-track and open farmland; if that all sounds a little tough for you then Saddle Skedaddle also offer an introductory mountain bike weekend in the Chilterns for the same price.
‘Introduction to Climbing’ courses, England
Rock and Sun
Rock and Sun offer weekend courses – without accommodation – in various parts of England, from the Peak District to Cornwall. They can point you in the right direction for accommodation, suggesting campsites, B+B’s and hotels near the course venues. This introduction weekend is for beginners as well as indoor climbers looking to take their first handholds outside.
Covering topics such as safe belaying, top roping, equipment use and storage through to actual on-rock skills, it’s a perfect two-day course to gain a basic understanding of outdoor climbing. Rock and Sun also offer many other UK courses, from one day tasters – £80 – to weekend multi-pitch – £220, as well as overseas week-long climbing holidays from £649.
Cycling Coast-To-Coast C2C
This challenging four-day cycle ride takes you across the width of England, from Whitehaven on the Irish Sea through to Tynemouth on the North Sea. You cover 218km in total – around 75km a day – whilst riding through three beautiful Northern English regions: the Lake District, Eden Valley and over the rugged North Pennines.
Included in the price is hybrid bike rental, maps/route information, three breakfasts, one night in a guest house and two nights in hostels; the non-cycling guide provided drives the support vehicle. Not included is any transportation to and from the start and finish points.
Climb Mount Toubkal, Morocco
€175 (group size 2-3 people)
Flight with Easy Jet Gatwick-Marrakesh from £113
Climb to the roof of North Africa for a ridiculously small amount of money! If you can manage to get a cheap flight, the on-ground costs are minimal, making it easily possible to summit for around £300 in all.
€175 (about £140) will get you a return transfer from downtown Marrakesh, or the airport, to the Berber village of Imlil, right in the heart of the High Atlas Mountains; a guide; a mule to carry your kit and food; all food and a night in the Toubkal refuge. It’s a tough ask, but straight from the airport you can actually hike up to the refuge, and then set off at around midnight for a sunrise summit.
Want to take a little longer? KE Adventure (keadventure.com) offers a weeklong trip without flights from £395, where you trek a circular route for five days. Exped Adventure (expedadventure.com) offer a week at £495, excluding flights.
Coasteering weekend in Pembrokeshire, Wales
£219 Jan-April, £225 May-Dec
Leaping off a cliff into the sea may not be everyone’s tipple, but you can’t deny that it will get the adrenaline going. In this coasteering weekend break you’ll be led by a team of qualified instructors on two coasteering sessions at different locations. You’ll also be led on a coastal hike. For a further £49, you can try a half day of either surfing or sea kayaking.
The price includes two nights at the 5 Star Preseli Venture ecolodge, two half-day coasteering trips, all equipment, guides, transport, food and train station transfers. Preseli Venture also offer many other affordable weekend as well as week-long trips for both adults and families (kids must be nine or over).
River Spey Descent by Canoe
£475 camping (£695 hotel based)
Paddle through one of Scotland’s most famous whisky regions, passing through tranquil pine forests and heather-clad hillsides as you descend the River Spey. Starting on calm and easy waters near Aviemore, the river livens up as the days progress, with many rapids to shoot further downstream. The £475 includes all transportation to and from Aviemore railway station, guide, camping equipment and food. Wilderness Scotland also offer a ‘family canoeing in the Great Glen’ holiday for £495, amongst many other multi activity itineraries.
Tess’s Journey (Hardy’s Tales) Hiking in Dorset
4 nights, 5 days hiking
Inn-to-inn hiking through Thomas Hardy country, this short self-guided walking trip is designed and booked through Foot Trails. Staying in handpicked atmospheric inn’s, with fine ales and food on offer, this journey will allow you to wander through unspoilt villages and historic towns, including the Saxon hilltop town of Shaftesbury – which Hardy referred to as Shaston in his novels – and the village of Marnhull. You’ll also hike along the banks of the River Stour with the chance of spotting kingfishers and herons.
Timber Rafting on the Klarälven River, Sweden
Price from £266 pp
Flight from £145 with SAS
This amazing five-day adventure starts with building your own raft. You’ll be supplied with timbers and rope, weighing an astounding 2,000kg in total. Then you ‘simply’ build your own raft, which you’ll then use to explore the central Swedish Klarälven river, used for professional logging up until 1991.
You’ll have to stock up on supplies and carry a tent for wild camping – as where you sleep each night is down to you, and the speed of the river (normally around 2kph). One canoe will be provided to help make landing – and in case you want to set someone adrift… You’ll also have the opportunity to go for hikes wherever you want as you float past forests, farmland and small villages. There’s a distinct likelihood of seeing beavers too.
Adventures in the Picos de Europa, Northern Spain
Price from €100 (about £80) per night half board with guiding
Flight From £80
‘Picos Rock and Snow’ offer bespoke hiking, scrambling, biking, snowshoeing and ski touring trips to this wild part of Northern Spain. Staying in the owners Mike and Lisa’s 500 year old house, near the ancient town of Potes, you’ll start your day with locally produced honey and cheese, before exploring the nearby mountains with, or without, mountain guide Mike who has lived in the area for over twenty years.
There is a whole host of possibilities here from nature walks, hut-to-hut overnight outings on foot through to single-track and on-road bike tours. Bear, wolf and vultures still live in these mountains and if you fancy a swim, it’s only an hour from good surfing beaches too.
Easy Jet fly London Stansted to Bilbao and Oviedo in Asturias as well as Manchester to Bilbo, while Ryan Air fly Stansted, Edinburgh and Dublin to Santander.
Ferry from £180: Brittany ferries Portsmouth to Santander.
Traverse the Tatras, Poland
Ryan Air to Krakow from £82
The Polish High Tatra Mountains are a rugged and wild place, home to wolves and bears, and a great place to travel on foot. It’s part of the Carpathian Range, with a tough ascent of Rysy (2,499m), the highest mountain in Poland, as one of the goals of the trip. Hiking time amounts to around 5 – 7 hours a day from hut-to-hut, and you’ll be carrying your own backpack weighing approximately 12kg, so will need to be an experienced hiker.
You will be sleeping in mountain refuges for most of the trip other than your first night in Zakopane (Poland’s Chamonix) and your last in the fantastic medieval city of Krakow, with its historic centre being a UNESCO world heritage site. The hiking is tough but rewarding, with fantastic views, some scrambling and lots of chances to see raptors and rare woodpeckers.