It’s officially Spring, so it’s time to turn off the TV and dust off those cobwebs by embracing the great outdoors to get fit in time for summer. From tackling the world’s biggest assault course to walking whilst speed dating, VisitEngland has teamed up with outdoor specialists Blacks to suggest the top outdoor activities and challenges.
A dirty weekend on the world’s biggest assault course
Not usually associated with dirty weekends, Lincolnshire’s Burghley House – one of England’s finest Elizabethan houses – plays host to the Rat Race Dirty Weekend on 11th May. The world’s biggest assault course consists of 20 miles, 20 zones and 200 obstacles.
From tackling the world’s largest hay bale and bushwhacking through thick undergrowth, to swinging through treetops and wading through lakes, you can guarantee to be soaking wet and covered in mud by the end of the course, but with a huge sense of achievement.
Prices start from £119 including race entry, camping and after party.
Trek across a Roman frontier2013 marks the 10th anniversary of Hadrian’s Wall Path becoming a national trail, so there’s no better time to attempt this 84-mile sign-posted trail which stretches from coast to coast. Travelling from Wallsend in the east to Bowness-on-solway in the west, you’ll come across the Roman fort at Segedunum and the River Tyne bridges during your journey across this UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Alternatively, for those who think a marathon over a mountain is but a walk in the park, a new 69-mile ultra-run in Cumbria and Northumberland follows the route of Hadrian's Wall. Take part in the Wall Run, on 22nd and 23rd June, and run from Carlisle to the Millennium Bridge in Gateshead in a day. Entry fee for the Wall Run is £135 per person. Pitch up at Haltwhistle or Herding Hill Farm for the nearest camping and caravanning sites.
Speed Dating at the UK’s biggest walking festivalThe Isle of Wight Walking Festival, which covers the island’s entire 72-miles of coastal path, is the UK’s biggest walking festival. A popular walk, on a programme of over 300, is the Speed Dating Walk which has so far resulted in four weddings and a baby. Attracting single walkers across the country, the walk aims to create long-lasting friendships between like-minded people, but also gives participants the chance to meet a perfect partner.
The start and finish line of the Speed Dating Walk on 5th May is the romantic Fisherman’s Cottage on the Shanklin Esplanade. Stay at The Scout Hall, which was only ever used as a Scout Hall until a recent renovation by Vintage Vacations. Externally, the building has been re-clad and repainted using original materials and paint colours. Internally, much of the original interior remains untouched. Weekend stays from £495.
Nordic walking – the fastest growing fitness activity in the worldThis new exercise experience is designed to make the most of the diverse terrain and staggering beauty afforded by Dartmoor National Park, the largest and wildest area of open country in the South of England. Similar to walking in four-wheel drive, Nordic walking is an extremely effective way of keeping fit, accessible to anyone whatever their level of fitness.
Developed by cross-country skiers, who needed to keep fit "out of season"; Nordic walkers use poles to achieve an all-over body workout using both the upper and lower body muscles. The Nordic fitness experience is bookable for groups of two to ten and costs from £190 per person including two nights’ accommodation at The Prince Hall with a three-course dinner each evening, plus a full day of Nordic fitness.
Tee off on England’s Golf CoastFor the first time in over a century, golf will be played at the Olympic Games in Rio in 2016, so it’s time for wannabe athletes to get training. The Golf Coast, stretching from Cumbria down to Cheshire, is home to 19 challenging and spectacular courses, including three Royal links courses.
Book a golf break at Formby Hall Golf Resort and Spa, situated at the heart of the Golf Coast, and tee off on an 18-hole championship golf course in beautiful surroundings. The golf break costs £79 per person and includes accommodation, dinner, breakfast and two rounds of golf.
Ride the waves in Devon
North Devon’s beaches are home to some of the best waves and attract the top surfers in the country. Croyde Bay tends to be the epicentre of all things surfing in this part of the world; the pretty thatched village’s inhabitants’ lives revolve around the wind, the tide and the waves.
Organisations like Surfing Croyde Bay offer expert guides, a private sandpit for learning, surfing gear, and a two hour lesson in the surf. Prices start from £40 per person. Pitch up a tent at Croyde View Farm; a campsite with a bar, swimming pool and entertainment.
Walk from white to dark in the Peak DistrictThe White to Dark Way is a three-day walk linking the Peak District’s two halves -the White Peak and the Dark Peak. The 27-mile course encounters a varied terrain ranging from meadows, woods and farmland to wild moorland and grit stone edges.
The walk, which is in its first year, showcases some of the area’s most beautiful landscapes. Stay literally on the trail at the 16thcentury tower house, North Lees Hall, which sits just above Hathersage. The property sleeps six and costs £690 for two nights (£115 per person).
Wild swimming in DorsetDurdle Door is one of England’s natural wonders and swimming through the arch out into wide open sea should help explain what the wild swimming fuss is about. It’s a beautifully scenic swim, under the arch, past the near vertical cliffs of Purbeck limestone, then into Lulworth Cove on the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site.
Top tip: leave your warm clothes on the shingle beach as it’s a long steep walk from the car park at Lulworth, over cliffs and down a rock staircase! Stay at the family-run 16th Century Castle Inn near Lulworth Cove. The thatched hotel and pub is dog friendly and prides itself in serving the best real ales and ciders around. Doubles cost £95 and include a full English breakfast.
Get wet in NottinghamshireNow the weather is picking up, grab the opportunity to go rafting on the UK's premier white water course at the National Water Sports Centre on the edge of Nottingham. Take to the rapids on this naturally powered water course used by the British Slalom, Freestyle Kayak and White Water Rafting Teams for training. Prices start from £35 per person.
The National Water Sports Centre has its own accommodation, depending on how tired you are - choose from either the hotel or campsite.
VisitEngland has partnered with Blacks to promote outdoor breaks in rural England. Consumers are encouraged to visit www.blacks.com/visitengland, where they can enter a competition to win a fantastic adventure break in Cumbria, as well as Blacks kit.
The website also contains destination information about the filming locations, and advice on how to get involved in outdoor pursuits across the country.