If you like getting out in the fresh air then the West Country has an enormous amount to offer from walking to zip wires depending on your adrenalin requirements!
If you enjoy hiking, the South West Coast Path, Dartmoor, Exmoor and Bodmin Moor provide excellent opportunities for all abilities.
The South West Coast Path is 630 miles long and stretches all the way around the coast from Minehead in Somerset to South Haven Point in Dorset and takes in breathtaking scenery all the way. You don’t need to tackle the whole path in one holiday although many do, stopping off at youth hostels and b&bs. The following website will give you information about short walks, pub & tea room walks and all the latest news etc: The South West Coast Path
Hiking on the wide expanses of the West Country’s moors is especially rewarding if you like to get away from it all – Exmoor National Park alone has over 1000km of paths to suit long or short distance walkers and gentle strollers. For more information see: Walks Around Bodmin Moor Circular Walks on Dartmoor Exmoor Walking
Horse Riding & Pony Trekking
If you are more interested in letting a horse do all the work, then the Moors offer plenty of exciting opportunities for riding and pony trekking for all abilities – hourly rides, day rides and longer holidays are all on offer. What better way to enjoy the stunning scenery and landscapes? If you can’t drag yourself away from the coast then try Trenance Riding Stables in Newquay where you can enjoy beach and coastal treks around the Gannel Estuary.
You can’t really avoid water sports in the West Country – they are a part of its culture, so if you’ve never tried any why not give them a go this year? Beginners’ surfing lessons can be found at Harlyn Bay & Newquay in Cornwall, and Croyde in Devon plus many other locations. If you are worried about not looking cool, well we all have to start somewhere, and you can hire all the apparel too.
Above: Yachts moored at Fowey, Cornwall Above: Surfing at Trebarwith Strand, Cornwall
Newquay is famous for its fantastic surfing beaches such as Fistral and Watergate Bay. Many international surfing events take place here every year: Newquay Surfing Events
Above: Fistral Beach, Newquay
Above: Polzeath, North Cornwall
Paddle Boarding, Kayaking, Coasteering
Stand Up Paddle Boarding is a new water activity that is gaining in popularity, although it has been around in Hawaii for centuries. Many of the surf schools offer tuition. Kayaking is also gaining in popularity and is a great way to explore the coast. If you prefer calmer waters how about canoeing the creeks and backwaters around the River Fowey? You can hire canoes or take guided tours: Canoeing on the Fowey River
If you want to be really adventurous how about Coasteering? Go Coasteering offer this activity in Cornwall, Devon and Dorset plus many other outdoor activities such as Gorge Walking and Bushcraft: Go Coasteering. What is coasteering? Basically it involves jumping into the sea off a rocky coast and making your way, by climbing, scrambling and swimming along the edge of the sea. Even children can do it, it’s not just for adrenalin junkies, apparently! Here is what Wikipedia says about it: Coasteering. Kayaking and Coasteering in Dorset: Jurassic Coast Activities
If sailing takes your fancy, the west country is a sailor’s paradise. If you have your own yacht there are plenty of delightful places to drop anchor around the coast such as St. Mawes, Padstow, Torquay, Fowey, Dartmouth and Poole. Many places have their own Sailing Clubs and Regattas such as The Royal Fowey Regatta and The Dartmouth Royal Regatta. If you want to learn to sail the Camel Sailing and Power Boat Centre offers tuition at Rock (opposite Padstow on the river Camel.) Learn more here: Camel Sailing. If you are serious about sailing then St. Mawes in Cornwall is the place for you, with moorings, lessons, races and a 94 year old sailing club. St. Mawes: St. Mawes info and sailing
More watersports can be experienced at many of the lakes run by the South West Lakes Trust. Siblyback is one of them, and is situated in a peaceful site on Bodmin Moor. Many activities are on offer here, including wakeboarding, rowing, sailing, windsurfing, kayaking, climbing, cycling, angling, Segway and walking plus there is a cafe and parking. More info: Siblyback Lake
Above: Siblyback Lake
If you prefer dry land, perhaps cycling is for you. The most famous cycle route in Cornwall is the 18 mile Camel Trail, now open from Wenfordbridge, near Bodmin to Padstow via Wadebridge. It follows the site of an old railway track and between Wadebridge and Padstow runs along the magnificently scenic Camel Estuary. A nice flat route, walkers also use this path. Cycles can be hired at Padstow, Wadebridge and Bodmin, including add-on trailers for toddlers, child seats, tricycles, tandems and even dog trailers. More info on the Camel Trail: The Camel Trail.
Above: The River Camel Estuary, Padstow
Staying in Cornwall, Cardinham Woods near Bodmin, owned by The Forestry Commission, has some excellent mountain biking trails suitable for more experienced cyclists. You can hire bikes here too. There are also walking trails, activities for children, barbeque area and Woods Cafe – they have a delicious menu, particularly vegetarian dishes. Links: Woods Cafe Cardinham Woods.
Above: Woods Cafe
A new 17 mile route called The Caradon Trail, enabling cyclists to enjoy the South East part of Bodmin Moor, has been created with sign posts and maps. The Caradon Mining District as it is known is a World Heritage Site and historic tin and copper mining area. On or nearby the trail you can see The Hurlers Neolithic stone circles, Minions Heritage Centre, King Doniert’s Stone, Golitha Falls Nature Reserve, Trethevy Quoit, St. Cleer Holy Well, Long Tom standing stone, The Cheesewring, Daniel Gumb’s Cave as well as numerous relics and ruins of the mining industry. Click here to download a map: www.visitliskeard.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/Caradon–Trail-Leaflet-2.pdf
Above: The Cheesewring, near Minions, from a distance and close up
Above: Part of the Hurlers Stone Circle and United Phoenix Mine, Minions
Above: King Doniert’s Stone and Trethevy Quoit
Above: Golitha Falls, near St. Cleer
Above: St. Cleer Holy Well
In Devon the 11 mile Granite Way offers a level traffic-free cycling and walking path along a disused railway between Lydford and Okehampton on the northern edge of Dartmoor. Lydford is a lovely village with the remains of a Norman castle, and the ruins of a later medieval castle. The ancient church has Celtic and Saxon origins, and there is a mound that marks the banks of the old Saxon town. Nearby is Lydford Gorge, owned by the National Trust, a spectacular river valley walk with a 30m waterfall, wooded gorge and wildlife to enjoy. There is also a cafe and shop. More info: Lydford Gorge. The Granite Way offers stunning views of Dartmoor, and crosses two viaducts. There is a Norman castle at Okehampton to explore too.
Above: Lydford Castle
Above: Sourton, along the Granite Way
Why not try Drake’s Trail Cycle Route, a 21 mile, mostly level, path that also follows a disused railway between Tavistock and Plymouth. For more information on both these trails, plus walking and horse riding in Devon see this website: Granite Way and Drake’s Trail.
If you are an adrenalin junkie then these airbourne activities might just fit the bill! The west country has two of the best zip wires in the country. The new SkyWire based at the Eden Project in Cornwall is the longest in England at 660m, with speeds up to 60mph. Eden Project admission isn’t necessary. The zip wire takes you for a bird’s eye view of the massive biodomes. There is also a giant gravity swing to try out.
The Adrenalin Quarry near Liskeard, Cornwall boasts the Maddest Zip Wire in the UK. It crosses a 490m long flooded quarry at 50m high, with speeds of up to 40mph. The Adrenalin Quarry also has a giant swing, plus many other outdoor adventure activities.
Just into Devon, at Gulworthy, near Tavistock in the Tamar Valley is the Tamar Trails Centre where you can zip wire through the trees, try the High Ropes, archery plus much more.
Above: Tamar Valley
At Lusty Glaze, a private beach in Newquay, Cornwall, you can try out cliff-side abseiling and the Terror Tight Rope walk plus beach games etc.
Height, weight, age and health restrictions apply to the activities for safety reasons. Please see the relevant websites below for detailed information and prices.
If you are into taking flight with no anchor, then hang gliding, paragliding and paramotoring are a fantastic way of experiencing the amazing land and seascapes in the area. Cloud9, based in North Cornwall, cover Cornwall, Devon, Somerset, Avon and Dorset – here is link to their website: Cloud9
Links to Zip Wires and other exciting things to do:
Links to other outdoor adventures information:
Outdoor adventure activities: Adventure Okehampton
Things to do in Exmoor National Park: Exmoor National Park Activities