Top 10 unusual outdoor experiences
Think you know how to have fun outdoors? Think again...
Jumping inside a giant clear plastic ball and launching yourself downhill might sound completely bonkers, but it’s also incredibly good fun. Once under way you’ll be and bouncing, tumbling and rolling head-over-heel – at speeds of around 30mph. See you at the bottom ...
2. Medieval jousting
Sadly knights in shining armour are few and far between these days. Except, that is, at the Medieval jousts regularly staged around England. Performed by professionals, who square up and charge each other on horses, these duels are half battle, half performance. Forget football or wrestling, none of today’s sports can really match this for flamboyance and colour.
3. Tree-top obstacle course
Discover your inner-Tarzan on a Go Ape giant treetop obstacle course, 40 feet up in the air. Even those with a head for heights will be pushed out of their comfort zones negotiating the ladders, walkways and – for the grand finale – a 426-metre zip wire. Of course it’s perfectly safe and you’re harnessed in the entire time – as you might need to remind yourself each time you look down.
Think snowboarding, but with sand rather than snow and you’ll get the idea of this slightly bonkers sport. England has excellent sandboarding conditions all year round, and Devon has become quite the hot spot. If you’ve got an old snowboard in the garage (or even a sledge), then why not have a go at some turns, tricks and jumps? Only one word of caution, though: try to stick to wide expanses of sand, so you avoid damaging delicate dunes. Enjoy the ride...
5. Llama trekking
Who knew that llamas made such good walking buddies? They’re calm, gentle and full of character – and most importantly, will carry your backpack, too. Dartmoor National Park is great for this, with its wooden gorges, heather moorland and tumbling rivers, so grab some saddlebags, find yourself a furry friend and take to the trails.
6. Flying lessons
There’s little that compares to looking out of a plane and seeing the patchwork of tiny fields below. But imagine how much more exhilarating this is when you’re the one in the pilot’s seat? Flying lessons are now available nationwide, and range from taster classes, where you take the controls for a few minutes, to Pilot Starter classes, where you’re the one taking off. Fasten your seatbelts…
7. Power kiting
Forget those kite-flying sessions in the park when you were a kid. This is a whole different league. Specially designed kites that are large enough to drag you off the ground, give you a quick taste of what it’s like to jump about with zero gravity. And if that sounds fun, try adding a board, skates or a vehicle (think boat or three-wheel cart) if you want to go really extreme.
8. Bushcraft and survival skills
Give the sofa a miss this weekend and get back to nature on a bush skills course. Bushcraft is the art of living in the wilderness (á la Bear Grylls, Ray Mears and co.) and after enrolling on a survival course you’ll learn how to start a fire, find your dinner (and that won’t be in the fridge), build a shelter and generally feel at home living in the wild. Grrr.
So you have some barrels, a bit of rope, a few planks of wood and, hopefully, your own ingenuity. That’s apparently all you need to build a raft . Of course, whether it floats once built is another matter but then, even if you get soaking wet (and you probably will), it’s a pretty cool way to spend time with your friends.
As its name suggests, this is an unusual mix of yachting and go-karting. You sit in a thin, three-wheeled buggy and use the central shark-fin sail to accelerate and steer using the wind. A flat stretch of quiet beach is the best place to practice; although if there’s a strong off-shore blowing, things can end up getting pretty speedy…