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We’re lucky to live in the beautiful British Isles – so
make the most of it and get out in the countryside this summer.
Sarah Brealey suggests nine great activities to help you see our
amazing landscapes differently.
walks in Wales
the New Forest
swimming in Cornwall
Fly a kite in
the Norfolk Broads
in County Derry
Golf in St
Orienteering in the Wyre
Conservation work in the Lake
Canal walks in Wales
There’s a lot of gentle joy to be found in canal walking – a
fairly flat, easy walk, the tranquil water alongside, bridges and
aqueducts for added interest, and perhaps the flash of a kingfisher
or some colourful barges as you walk along.
There are canals all over the country and you can usually walk
along the towpath. The Monmouthshire
and Brecon Canal in Powys is one of the most stunning in
Britain, with a public footpath along more than 30 miles of towpath
from Brecon to Pontypool.
Marple Locks and Aqueduct,
Union Canal, Hertfordshire (and
many other parts of its route)
Lock Flight, Warwickshire
The Leeds and Liverpool Canal, West Yorkshire
Kennet and Avon Canal, Devizes, Wiltshire
The Great Glen Way, Scottish Highlands
Cycling in the New Forest
Whatever your age or ability, you can enjoy the feeling of
gliding through the countryside on a bike. Cycling off-road means
there’s no traffic to worry about. The New Forest has more than 100
miles of waymarked cycle routes, many of which are on tracks or old
railway lines. You can cycle through ancient woodlands, heaths with
flowering heather and gorse, and spot New Forest ponies. If you
don't have your own cycle there are bikes to hire, too.
023 8028 2269
Alice Holt Forest Centre,
Pinetum and Forest, Goudhurst, Kent
Thornton-Le-Dale, North York Moors
Fineshade Wood, Corby, Northamptonshire
Grizedale Forest Park,
Guisborough Forest, Redcar
Haldon Forest Park,
Hicks Lodge, The National Forest, Ashby de la Zouch,
Rendlesham Forest, Woodbridge, Suffolk
Sherwood Pines Forest
Park, Old Clipstone and Edwinstowe, Nottinghamshire
Park, Norfolk/Suffolk border
Wareham Forest, Dorset
Wyre Forest, Kidderminster,
Ardgartan, Arrochar, Argyll
Ardmore, Tobermory, Mull
Craik, near Hawick, Scottish borders
Dalbeattie Forest, Dumfries and Galloway
Fearnoch Forest, Taynuilt, Argyll
Galloway Forest Park, Dumfries
Glenbranter Forest, Dunoon, Argyll
Glentress Forest, Peebles,
Hyndlee Forest, Hawick, Scottish Borders
Inverliever Forest, Argyll
Kilmichael Forest, Lochgilphead, Argyll
Knapdale Forest, Lochgilphead, Argyll
Learnie, Black Isle, Inverness
Mabie Forest, Dumfries, Dumfries and Galloway
Newcastleton Forest, Scottish Borders
Sutherland's Grove, Barcaldine, Argyll
Afan Forest Park, Port Talbot,
Brechfa Forest, Llandovery, Carmarthenshire
Coed Taf Fawr, Merthyr Tydfil, Brecon Beacons
Coed y Brenin, Dolgellau, Snowdonia
Halfway Forest, Llandovery, Carmarthenshire
Outdoor swimming in Cornwall
Swimming doesn’t have to involve chlorine and strip
lighting. You can swim outdoors along with the fish, where every
swim will be a bit different to the last. To many seaside lovers,
there’s nothing better than a dip in the sea, but if that seems a
bit intimidating, many beaches in Cornwall and Devon have sea
pools. The natural buoyancy of seawater makes floating easier and
there usually aren’t any waves to worry about. Bude Sea Pool in
Cornwall is one of the best, a large, sandy-bottomed pool with
lifeguards and views of cliffs and the horizon. It’s not heated,
though, so it doesn’t get much warmer than 18C.
If you’re nowhere near the coast, why not find out if there’s a
lido near you? You can still swim under the sky, perhaps with a
view of some green space around you.
Bude sea pool, 01208 262822, tinyurl.com/budeseapool
Trinkie Outdoor Swimming Pool, Wick, Caithness, the
Jubilee pool, Penzance,
Polperro tidal pool,
tidal pool, Cornwall
The Tunnels Beaches,
Walpole Bay Pool, Cliftonville, Margate, Kent
The Rock Pool, Newcastle, County Down,
Stonehaven Open Air
Swimming Pool, Queen Elizabeth Park, Stonehaven,
Jesus Green outdoor pool, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire
Nantwich Outdoor Brine Pool, Cheshire
Lido, The Hoe, Plymouth, Devon
Topsham Swimming Pool, Fore Street,
Pells Outdoor Swimming Pool, Brook
Street, Lewes, East Sussex
Saltdean Lido, East
Sandford Parks Lido,
Park Lido, London
Serpentine Lido, London
Tooting Bec Lido, London
Lido, Hackney, London
Chipping Norton Lido,
Arundel Lido, West
Ilkley Lido, West Yorkshire
Fly a kite in London
Flying a kite is a simple pleasure for all ages. You can make
your own as a family project, or buy a stunt kite if you want more
of a challenge. City-dwellers need not feel left out. Parliament
Hill Fields in Highgate, London is one of the best spots in the
country to let your kite take to the breeze.
If you try a few of these activities this summer, you’ll be doing your body a favour as well as having fun. Cycling, swimming and brisk walking are great aerobic activities, while canoeing, kite flying and golf will improve strength and flexibility. Beach games like Frisbee are good all-round activities for your heart, muscles and joints. And conservation work, depending on the activities, can build strength and keep your heart healthy. Try a mixture of these if you can.
Canoeing on the Norfolk Broads
Canoeing can be anything from white-water kayaking to a
gentle paddle in a Canadian canoe, and is as much fun for beginners
as it is for the more experienced. On the Norfolk Broads you can
paddle along tranquil rivers, getting up close to the herons,
dragonflies and even an otter if you’re lucky. Canoes are to hire
at several points around the Broads, and you’ll get lifejackets,
Beach games in County Derry
There’s a lot more to the beach than sitting in a deck chair –
why not play a game of Frisbee or beach cricket? Or if you fancy
something different, try boules (sometimes known as garden bowls)
or croquet. You can buy sets of either from about £10, and will
normally come with an explanation of how to play. They’re fun games
that the whole family can join in.
Any flat sandy beach, park, or even your back garden will do as
a location, but if you’re in Northern Ireland, try Downhill, County
Derry – seven miles of golden sand with spectacular views. There
are waterfalls, abundant bird life and even a picturesque
Sandbanks, Poole, Dorset
West Beach, Clacton-on-Sea, Essex
Stone Bay, Broadstairs, Kent
Great Yarmouth, Norfolk
Holkham Bay, Norfolk
Sandsend, near Whitby, North Yorkshire
Southwold Denes, Suffolk
West Wittering, West Sussex
Broughty Ferry, Dundee
Morar, near Mallaig, Highland
Huisinis, Isle of Harris
Caswell Bay, Gower Peninsula
Rhossili Bay, Gower Peninsula
Tyrella, County Down
Portstewart Strand, Londonderry
Benone Strand, Londonderry
Golf in St Andrew’s
Golf is “the best game in the world at which to be bad”,
according to AA Milne, so don't let inexperience put you off. St
Andrew’s, the home of golf, is the most inspiring place to start.
The nine-hole Balgove course on St Andrew’s Links is designed to be
welcoming to beginners. The emphasis is on fun and it is popular
with families. The green fee is £12 in summer months, £4 for
children. You can hire clubs, and lessons are available.
If St Andrew’s isn’t convenient, contact your nearest golf club.
You won't necessarily have to be a member to play – many clubs
accept “pay and play”.
St Andrews Links, standrews.org.uk, 01334
Find more places to play
Orienteering in the Wyre Forest
Orienteering involves navigating from point to point using a
map. It’s family-friendly, with different levels of difficulty
available. Forests and woodlands are popular locations, though you
can do it in parks and urban areas too.
You can try it out at an event, where the people taking part are
often competing against each other to get the fastest time, or in
your own time at a permanent orienteering course. Most small local
events are open to all and don't need to be booked. You don't need
much equipment, just sensible clothes and shoes, a special map and
possibly a compass.
The Wyre Forest has a permanent orienteering course to suit all
abilities through beautiful mixed woodland. Paths are wheelchair
accessible and there’s a cafe and toilets nearby.
Wyre Forest information (Forestry Commission) 01299 266302 /
British Orienteering 01629 734042, britishorienteering.org.uk
Conservation work in the Lake District
There are few parts of the UK more spectacular than the Lake
District, so it's the perfect place to try your hand at some dry
stone walling, hedge laying, tree planting or perhaps path
maintenance. Conservation charity BTCV runs regular volunteering
sessions in the Central Lakes area on Tuesdays and Thursdays
throughout the year, and new volunteers are always welcome. Tasks
and locations vary, but you'll generally have breathtaking views
and get to meet other people too.
There are other conservation volunteering opportunities all over
the UK, which will help you get active and fitter while doing
something for your local area.
Visit www.btcv.org.uk/volunteer or
call 01302 388883 to be directed to your local office.
And if you've
worked up an appetite...Click here for great tips and recipes for
If you like to get outdoors with others, why not try a BHF walk, bike ride or swim this summer? There are different levels of challenge and options around the country.
Every penny raised helps us to continue finding new ways to fight heart disease and giving invaluable support to people with heart conditions and their families.
Take a look at all our events or call us on 0845 130 8663.
Our online shop has lots of exercise equipment and active accessories that could come in handy while you enjoy the countryside. From water bottles to walking poles, if you need it, we've got it! Visit our online shop today.