Outdoor UK breaks where you go absolutely wild, from Scotland to Southampton


Outdoor UK breaks where you go absolutely wild (but still get top-notch accommodation and food)

  • Stay in a mountain lodge on a walking holiday in the Cairngorms National Park 
  • Go on a four-day stand-up paddleboard adventure on the River Wye
  • Sleep on a yacht and learn traditional ways to sail by the stars in Southampton


Every week, our Holiday Hero Neil Simpson takes an in-depth look at a brilliant holiday topic, doing all the legwork so you don’t have to. This week: Outdoor adventures around the UK.

Adventure awaits in the great outdoors this summer on a range of activity holidays.

‘This year, lots of people want something different, and holidays where you learn a new skill or get close to nature are popular,’ says Tim Williamson, director at holiday company Responsible Travel.

Out there: Join a six-night Wilderness Walking holiday amid the hills, forests and lochs of Cairngorms National Park

Out there: Join a six-night Wilderness Walking holiday amid the hills, forests and lochs of Cairngorms National Park

During daily hikes you may pass rare wildlife, such as red squirrels

During daily hikes you may pass rare wildlife, such as red squirrels

‘With so many fantastic places to explore in the UK, there are activity holidays for everyone – families, couples and solo travellers.’

There’s no need to forgo luxury on active breaks either, as they often come with top-notch accommodation and food.

A private mountain lodge will be your base on a six-night Wilderness Walking holiday amid the hills, forests and lochs of Cairngorms National Park. Daily hikes promise stunning views and you may pass Scotland’s only herd of reindeer as well as red squirrels and other rare wildlife. Hearty food and warm hospitality is offered throughout, with holidays starting in April from £1,895pp (wildernessscotland.com).

The company also has expert-led photography holidays with fantastic food from local chefs, while deluxe accommodation is promised on the isle of Islay on a wildlife holiday that includes a whisky-tasting.

The best adventure holidays also offer opt-outs if you feel tired or face bad weather. A good example comes on Responsible Travel’s four-day Stand Up Paddleboard Adventure on the River Wye. Active types can enjoy the 134-mile route, but if you fancy a break, simply hop on the support vehicle.

The holiday starts with a refresher lesson and experts are on hand throughout. As the river meanders through Herefordshire and Powys you should see otters, water voles, mink, kingfishers, heron, cormorants, deer, buzzards and red kites.

It includes three nights’ camping, but the tents are assembled for you. From £658pp (responsibletravel.com).

Ancient skills can meet luxury accommodation if you pick a cosy cottage from Cotswolds Hideaways and sign up to a two-day dry-stone-walling course where you’ll help create something that should be part of the landscape for more than 100 years. 

Experts from the Cotswolds National Landscape organisation will help you tackle everything from stone-sorting and foundations to dressing the stones of a completed wall. Courses run from April and cost £110pp.

First Class Sailing runs Celestial Sailing Weekends where you'll pass glorious coastal scenery around the Isle of Wight

First Class Sailing runs Celestial Sailing Weekends where you’ll pass glorious coastal scenery around the Isle of Wight

The group also offers a Foraging And Wild Foods Course and a Fossils And Fun course on Jurassic-era sea beds where you may discover a unique holiday souvenir. Find a hand-picked place to stay, from old mills and forges to large barn conversions, and get a discount on the rural skills course at cotswoldshideaways.co.uk.

Southampton offers something very different this year, with small-group Celestial Sailing Weekends run by instructors from First Class Sailing. You’ll pass glorious coastal scenery around the Isle of Wight as you’re taught traditional ways to sail by the stars, or try the Night Sailing Weekend to gain confidence after dark using modern equipment. Guests sleep on the yacht and all meals are provided.

Two-night courses with three days’ sailing cost from £497pp (firstclasssailing.com).

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