With the long-term rise in the value of the Euro against the pound, ash clouds, the BA strike, the credit crunch and the increasing awareness of the environmental impact of air travel, there’s no shortage of reasons for holidaymakers to stay closer to home. Not surprising then that the National Office for Statistics reports that in the year ending in April 2010, visits to Europe by UK residents fell by 14 per cent from 51. 7 million to 44.3 million, while trips to North America and other parts of the world were also down.
The British seaside holiday, it seems, is back in business. But it’s no longer about sitting on a deckchair with a knotted hanky on the head and a stick of rock in the hand. Instead of donkey rides on the beach, it’s more likely to be hanging off a cliff in Wales or hot air ballooning across London. Adrenamag headed off around the country to track down some day-out ideas that will keep the family’s pulse racing this summer.
1. Horse riding – Liskeard, Cornwall. Holidays can be life-defining moments. If you’ve never tried horse riding, you could discover you’re a cross between the Princess Royal and Frankie Dettori. Of course, you may also be a regular rider and want to keep up in the saddle on holiday. Either way, Cornwall and Devon offer a lot for both riding beginners and experienced horse people. It’s a terrific way to get exercise and see the countryside from a new perspective. Click here to hop into the saddle.
2. Hydro-zorbing – Liverpool. Instead of the ferry across the Mersey, how about zorbing across it? And, no this isn’t one of those cheeky Scouser jokes. Hydro-zorbing is the closest to walking on water you can get without falling in. Unlike dry zorbing you’re not strapped; you stand up and make your way across the river using foot power. Everyone who does it says it’s hilarious. Also, it’s suitable for children from age seven, right up to have-a-go grannies. From £19.99. Get the ball rolling here.
3. Rally driving – Saltburn, Teeside. Rally driving is perhaps the ultimate driving skill. The loose gravel track in Teeside is designed to replicate a real stage in a rally, testing steering and braking touch. So, if you’ve ever fancied yourself as a Hannu Mikkola or a Colin McRae here’s your chance big boy or girl. Obviously not for kids, but more for steadying the nerves of hard-pressed parents and those who would never dream of having children. And if it is raining, all the better – splash the mud. Prices from £71.50. Click here for more details of rally driving in the UK.
4. Off-road karting – Craigavon, County Armagh, Northern Ireland. Bored teenagers who didn’t want to come on holiday with the family in the first place may be won over with off-road karting. Many of the circuits like this one in Northern Ireland are on shale, which allows plenty of sliding for the teenagers who need their hormones tipping back in place. You can also race against each other. Min age 17, prices from £48.99. Click here for more info.
5. Kitesurfing – Torquay. Also known as kiteboarding, kitesurfing involves using a power kite to pull a rider through the water on a small surfboard or a kiteboard. A kitesurfer uses a board with foot-straps or bindings, combined with the power of a large controllable kite to propel themselves and the board across the water. The sport is still in its infancy, but it is rapidly growing in popularity. It is very safe due to innovations in kite design, safety release systems, and instruction. Many riding styles have evolved to suit different types of riders and conditions, such as wake style, wave riding, freestyle, jumping, and cruising. Click for more details.
6. Scuba diving – Hampshire. Scuba divers say the best scenery in the world is under the oceans. But if you’re novice you can’t just plunge into the sea. Learn to take a dive at a scuba diving centre. Long-term it can be an expensive activity, but it doesn’t have to be. Taster dives can be just £27.00. Kids who like swimming will no doubt go for it too. Clearly, not for those suffering from hydro-phobia. Min age 10. Dive-in here for more info.
7. Hot air ballooning – London. Balloons are often associated with open country, but if you really want a view down on the ground, where better to head for than the capital? A hot air balloon beats the Tube any day. Towering over the Tower of London or peering down on the Millennium Dome, is a side of London rarely glimpsed. It’s one or two steps up from the open top bus tour. Prices from £125.00, it may not be cheap, but we’re talking a capital experience. Click here for details
8. White Water rafting – Scotland. Not surprisingly with all those mountains and water, Scotland is the top place in the UK for white water rafting. There’s a number of centres offering some world class white-knuckle rides on the Rivers Findhorn, Tay, Ochy and Tummel as well as at Aviemore and Newtonmore. Check out the difficulty levels before you book. It’s something your family will talk about forever. Click here, if you’re brave enough.
9. Coasteering – Abersoch, Wales. Coasteering is a new extreme sport that is becoming increasingly popular, particularly in Wales. It involves making your way along the coast with a combination of scrambling, swimming, diving, climbing and jumping. But be warned: it can be pretty extreme. The Lleyn Peninsula and around Snowdonia will test the nerves and the body to the limit. But there are fully qualified instructors on hand who are registered with the Adventure Activities Licensing Authority (AALA). Good for older teenagers and young adults. Apologies for the ageism, but over 40s need to be fit and may prefer to walk around a castle or slope off to the pub. Click here if you’re up for it.
10. Laser combat – Kidderminster, Worcestershire. Unlike paintball where you have to be at least 12, with laser combat you only have to be six. Therefore – to quote the old cliché – it’s fun for the whole family. And, because you’re using laser guns, it means you don’t have to buy paintballs, which keeps the cost down and is ideal for trigger happy six-year-olds. Good for tiring out kids and adults. From £19.99. Click here for details.