Six outdoor activities every water lover should try at least once

Love getting your hair wet? Then tick these six waterborne adventures off your to-do list pronto

1. Wild swimming in the Inner Hebrides

Mystic Mull - a wild swimmer's haven |Photo Chris Parker

Mystic Mull – a wild swimmer’s haven |Photo Chris Parker

Britain has some of the most amazing coastline in the world, yet many of its beaches remain hidden. These little slices of peace and paradise welcome the intrepid adventurer and those in the know, and wild swimming is the perfect way to experience them. Wild sea swimming is an excellent all-round activity for building fitness and strength, boosting mood and creating a natural endorphin high. Water temperatures can rise to a balmy 15 degrees, though many prefer to don a wetsuit.

Daniel Start, author of Wild Swimming, recommends  mystical Mull, in the Inner Hebrides, with perfect white sand swimming coves galore (though few people ever find them).

“My first experience was at Fidden, where tufted grass ran down to an islet-studded bay and the dying sun seemed to be setting the distant archipelago on fire. I took a shallow dive into this great iced cocktail and swam down to touch the rippled grooves of sand along the shallow seabed. That night we made a fire in the dwindling half-light and sang songs under the stars on the beach,” says Daniel. 

2.  Kitesurfing in West Sussex

The English south coast is ideal for kitsurfing rookies|Photo Visit Britain

The English south coast is ideal for kitsurfing rookies|Photo Visit Britain

West Sussex is a hotbed for kitesurfing. Take Shoreham beach, near Brighton, which is the training ground of many a kitesurf pro thanks to its wind-prone waters and big rollers. But for beginners
and intermediates, West Wittering, near Chichester, is hard to beat. Extensive sandbars mean that low tide offers sheltered, easy access water, perfect for perfecting your wind-harnessing skills. 

3. Coasteering in Pembrokeshire

Steep cliffs and atlantic waves combine to make Wales the place to try coasteering|Photo Gail Johnson /

Steep cliffs and atlantic waves combine to make Wales the place to try coasteering|Photo Gail Johnson /

Back in the 1980s, a new sport was born on the cliffs of Pembrokeshire. It combined rock hopping, shore scrambling, swell riding, cave exploring and cliff jumping to make an aquatic journey along the coast like nothing else before, taking you to hard-to-reach caves and cliffs you just can’t get to through the land.

Needless to say, it soon caught on the world over, with courses taking off everywhere from Scotland to New Zealand. But, as so often is the case, the original is still the best. With cliffs that jut straight up from the sea, constantly being pummelled by rowdy Atlantic waves, this is about as full throttle as coasteering gets.

And if the scrambling, cave exploration or coastal scenery doesn’t get your heart pumping, we guarantee a 6m cliff jump into the icy Welsh waters will.

4. Gorge walking in the Lake District

Gorge Walking - a unique way to explore the Lake District |Photo River Deep Mountain High

Gorge Walking – a unique way to explore the Lake District |Photo River Deep Mountain High

The unique terrain of the Lake District is the perfect playground for one of the UK’s most varied outdoor activities, gorge walking

Johan Hoving, senior instructor at River Deep Mountain High in the Lake District, gives his simple definition of what gorge walking is: “The origin of gorge walking is finding an interesting way to get up a mountain. I describe it as taking a continuous path, up a river, doing activities along the way.”

Clambering through the becks, the possibilities of activities are seemingly endless. Whether it be swimming, scrambling or jumping from an 8m ledge into a pool, there is guaranteed to be something to do that will tickle your fancy while tackling the feisty river.

 Climbing in the river and scrambling around gives you that sense of adventure you had as a child when your mum first let you loose on your bike. Only wetter.

5. Sea kayaking the Scottish Isles

Kayaking under moody skies |Photo Richard Harpham

Kayaking under moody skies |Photo Richard Harpham

The isles around Scotland harbour some of the greatest sea kayaking locations in the world, with high cliffs and stunning caves. Adventurer Richard Harpham is especially keen on the Outer Hebrides:

“The Outer Hebrides are incredible, with golden beaches, caves, arches and crannies. Be aware though that bad weather here can leave you exposed, with the full force of the Atlantic from the west.  One of the highlights is catching the ferry with your sea kayak on a trolley and heading out for an adventure.”

Fancy trying it out? It’s important to note that conditions can range from flat calm through to monstrous seas, and some areas have huge tide races, over-falls and very strong currents. So it’s not a place for the inexperienced. However, you can put yourself in the hands of a qualified coach or activity centre.

6. River tubing and Cliff Jumping in Scotland

Scotland's natural waterpark| Photo Ace Adventures

River Findhorn: Scotland’s natural waterpark | Photo Ace Adventures

Yes, river tubing. It is what you think it is: travelling downstream on donut-shaped inflatables, rapids, waterfalls and all.

The River Findhorn in Scotland offers some of the finest river tubing waters in Britain, with a hefty sprinkling of rapids, plunge pools and curtained waterfalls.

For added gnarl, a series of cliff jumps into the dark tannined waters are worked in to the itinerary, culminating in a heart-in-your-mouth, 35 foot jump at Randolph’s Leap.

Words: Mary Creighton, Nick Spearing, Richard Harpham, Daniel Start