10 new activity breaks and wild days out in the UK for summer 2021

·7 min read

Wild Weekends, West Sussex

Wilderlands is a new project that aims to support nature in the UK by encouraging rewilding. This summer, it is hosting a series of “wild weekends” where people can spend time outdoors and learn more about conservation. The events, run by the people behind August’s Into the Wild festival, will take place every weekend from 21 May to 19 September in woods in Chiddinglye, West Sussex. All weekends feature bushcraft workshops (den-building, identifying birdsong), wild crafts (wood carving, flint knapping) and live music. Some have a specific focus, such as folklore, song or yoga, and most are family-friendly. Campers can pitch their own tents or hire bell tents or a woodland cabin.
From £150 adult, £60 3-16 years, wilderlands.co.uk

Chalk stream walks, southern England

The River Darent at Eynsford, Kent.
The River Darent at Eynsford, Kent. Photograph: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

The Nest Collective, which stages folk music events in green spaces, is running six nature walks along chalk streams in southern England in June. Each walk is led by the collective’s founder, Sam Lee, who is a Mercury prize-nominated folk singer, and an “eco pioneer” special guest. For example, the walk along the Rivers Cray, Darent and Thames is with biologist Dr Amy-Jane Beer. The other locations are along the Chess, Stour, Colne, Kennet, Mimram and Beane; all start and end at a railway station a short distance from London. The three- to five-mile meanders include several stops for songs and talks. The collective is also taking walkers and singers on a turtle dove pilgrimage in Sussex (10-13 June) and a salmon pilgrimage in the Cairngorms (17-20 June).
£27pp, thenestcollective.co.uk

Source to Sea (with easy options), various locations

Chepstow Castle and the River Wye.
Chepstow Castle and the River Wye. Photograph: Maxian/Getty Images

As soon as restrictions allow, Oxford-based operator Active England will start running new Source to Sea trips – where participants paddleboard, kayak, canoe, swim, walk (or run) and cycle the length of well-known English and Welsh rivers. There are chances to hitch a ride on a boat, a steam train or a support vehicle, so these are not just for the super-fit. Nights are spent in pubs or around the fire pit, with a choice of glamping or hotel accommodation. The four river trips are: the Wye, from its source in the Cambrian mountains to Chepstow; the Tyne, from Deadwater Fell in Northumberland to Tynemouth; the Thames, from Thames Head in Gloucestershire to central London (not quite to the sea!); and three rivers in Devon and Cornwall – the Dart, Fowey and Camel.
From £1,079 for six days, activeenglandtours.com

Source to Sea (advanced), Scotland

Secret Compass, which usually runs expeditions in far-flung places, is running its first in the UK this year. It, too, is a “source to sea” adventure – but it is not for the fainthearted. Starting at Tyndrum, on the northern edge of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs national park, participants will first hike 16 miles to climb Ben Lui (1,130 metres), one of the main sources of the River Tay. The next day, they will inflate their packrafts and spend five days following the Tay to Perth 87 miles away, negotiating rapids and lochs, and wild camping on the riverbank. There are points along the route where the river isn’t navigable and it is necessary to portage the rafts, so participants should be prepared to trek around 3 miles carrying a 21kg pack (food, kit and raft). The trip ends with a shower, dinner and comfortable bed in Perth.
£1,349 for seven nights, 29 May-5 June, secretcompass.com

Fell running and yoga for women, Brecon Beacons

A new fell running and yoga weekend for women, run by top-class tutors including the former British fell champion Ruth Pickvance and the triathlete coach Jack Maitland, who coached the Brownlee brothers and is now a yoga teacher. But that doesn’t mean it’s for aspiring Olympians – it’s perfect for parkrunners who want to take things to the next level, and no yoga experience is necessary. The weekend includes three running sessions in the hills and four yoga classes in a converted barn. It is based at Llwyn Celyn, a 15th-century house restored by the Landmark Trust in the Llanthony Valley. Accommodation isn’t included, but participants can camp in the grounds for free, or stay in the bunkhouse for £15 a night. There is a homemade vegetarian lunch each day, and a kitchen for the use of those staying overnight. Element also runs women-only beginners’ fell running days, fell walking and yoga weekends, and beginners’ mountain biking weekends.
£235 for two days, including a yoga mat, two yoga blocks and a belt to take home, next availability 4-5 September, element-active.co.uk

Go Wild for Your Health retreats, East Sussex

These active retreats are held at Tilton House near Lewes in the South Downs national park, and are all about exercising in nature. The two-day version focuses on standup paddleboarding and yoga, the three-day retreat adds wild swimming and there is a multi-activity five-day retreat, too. The shorter retreats still pack a lot in, with guided coastal hikes, a 45-minute fitness session and a 30-minute one-to-one coaching session, as well as paddleboarding on the River Cuckmere and hatha yoga in a woodland yurt. Food is homemade and plant-based – with dinners in the courtyard if the weather allows – and guests can use the wood-fired sauna.
From £395, next retreat with availability 28 June-1 July, departmentofwellbeing.co.uk

Swimming trips, various locations

Kynance Cove
One of Swimtrek’s more challenging swims is from Lizard Point to Kynance Cove (pictured). Photograph: Geoffrey Arrowsmith/Alamy

SwimTrek, the swimming holiday specialist, has several new UK trips for 2021. Those wanting to make the transition from the pool might like its Introduction to Open Water coaching camp in Brighton. New YogaSwim holidays are also on offer in both locations, for swimmers who want to discover the benefits of yoga. Experienced open-water swimmers can push themselves on a trip to the Lizard peninsula, Cornwall, where challenging sea swims in occasionally rough conditions include swimming from Lizard Point to Kynance Cove, crossing to Mullion Island and heading out to the Manacles rocks.
From £410 for three days inc B&B accommodation, swimtrek.com

Walk-Inn break, northern England

The Inn Collection has a special offer at all its inns in North Yorkshire, Northumberland, County Durham and the Lake District this year. Walkers (and their dogs) who stay for two nights’ B&B receive an OS walking pack of local routes, plus a packed lunch and a boot clean. The price also includes a pint or glass of wine and a two-course dinner. Participating pubs include the Wateredge Inn on the banks of Windermere in Ambleside and the cosy Kingslodge Inn in Flass Vale, near Durham. All venues offer free cancellation up to 48 hours before arrival.
From £224 for two, inns reopen 17 May, offer available until 31 October, inncollectiongroup.com

Walking holidays, various locations

Hikers on the Northumberland coast at Holy Island.
Hikers on the Northumberland coast at Holy Island. Photograph: travellinglight/Alamy

Inntravel has upped its UK holiday offering this year with nine new trips, from the Scottish Borders to the south coast. Walkers can follow the Thames from Oxford to Marlow or the Tweed through the Scottish Borders; stroll along the Northumberland or north Norfolk coast; or explore the Yorkshire Dales or the South Downs. All are self-guided, hotel-to-hotel walks, staying in four-star hotels, guesthouses and country inns. The price includes breakfast, some picnic lunches and some dinners, and luggage transportation.
From £395pp for four nights, from 17 May, inntravel.co.uk

Active breaks, various locations

Hiker walking alongside Hadrians Wall
Large Outdoors runs a seven-day Hadrian’s Wall trek. Photograph: Duncan Andison/Getty Images

Large Outdoors, which runs day walks, social weekends and adventure breaks across the UK, has some new holiday options for 2021. There are new walking weekends in Swanage, Dorset; Medway, Kent; Hathersage, Derbyshire; and the Isle of Wight. On a longer break, walkers can now trek the length of Hadrian’s Wall (seven days) or follow the Skye Trail on the Isle of Skye (eight days). There is also a new five-night wild swimming holiday in the Highlands and a sea kayaking trip on the west coast of Scotland. Accommodation is in dorms or private rooms in hostels.
Walking weekends from £139, largeoutdoors.com