Our Top 5 Outdoor Activities to Do in England
England is a country famed for its rolling hills and tranquil countryside. Poets, painters, and musicians have all conveyed the beauty of its landscapes for hundreds of years. Across 50,301 square miles, there are world-renowned sites such as the waterways of the Lake District, the dales in Yorkshire, and the quaint coves of Cornwall. As a result, people have utilised these landscapes to produce some amazing outdoor activities to do in England.
The English have always loved hillwalking through vales and tors. They have explored the rivers and canals of their island by boat, canoe, and more recently, kayaks and paddleboards. There is a rich history of marine, fly, and coarse fishing, and cycling has boomed in popularity during the 21st century. To learn more about these adventures, here are some of the best outdoor activities to do in England.
Stand Up Paddleboarding
Stand Up Paddleboarding, or SUP, is one of the new outdoor activities to do in England. People enjoy this hobby as it allows for full immersion in nature and it’s a peaceful way to explore the outdoors. England is blessed with rivers, canals, and picturesque waterways that are ideal for SUP. There are also endless bays, beaches, and harbours to explore for more experienced paddleboarders.
The Cuckmere River in East Sussex is a perfect place to try SUP. You can paddle your way down the meandering river and out towards the towering white cliffs of Beachy Head and the Seven Sisters.
Poole Harbour is another great paddleboarding spot as it boasts the title of being the largest natural harbour in the world. Between Oxford and Henley, there are plenty of smooth and tranquil sections of the River Thames for SUP. You can paddle alongside swans and rowers as you pass through scenic water meadows, grazing pastures, and old locks.
Hiking & Hillwalking
If there is a hobby that typifies the English outdoorsman, it would be hillwalking. Taking a stroll in the countryside is one of the most fundamental outdoor activities to do in England. Simply following a stream out of a historic village into the surrounding farmland is a perfect way to spend an afternoon in Dartmoor, the Cotswolds, or the South Downs.
If you venture north to the hills of the Peak District and the Yorkshire Dales, you will find some of the best panoramas in the country. If you’re a thrill seeker, challenge yourself to hike up England’s highest peak, Scarfell Pike, or any of the incredible fells that tower above the Lake District.
Multi-pitch climbs aren’t common outdoor activities to do in England. For big wall climbs, people often head elsewhere in Europe such as France, Norway, and Spain, or across the pond to the United States. However, there are some excellent bouldering locations and a few places to go trad and sport climbing in England too.
The Peak District is a climbing hotspot due to its functional limestone and sandstone geology. The gritstone escarpments at Stanage Edge or The Roaches create slabs of angular rock that jut above the ground. This creates lots of grippy handholds, some gnarly overhangs, and wonderful views to boot.
If you want to climb bigger walls, head to the Lake District or the Avon Gorge. If you’re interested in sea climbing, Dorset has many sport and trad routes near Portland and Swanage. Experienced climbers should set their ropes in Cornwall to attempt some epic sea stack climbing.
There is something quintessentially British about angling. It is a timeless sport and one of the best outdoor activities to do in England. For example, in the chalk streams of Hampshire, there is an abundance of trout waiting to be caught on fly rods. In the Wye Valley, you can fish on a more turbulent waterway and try to hook some predatory species such as pike, roach, and perch.
If you’re dead set on catching a large pike, the UK’s fiercest freshwater fish, the Norfolk Broads is a great place to go. The Solent and the North Sea are prime spots for sea fishing either from boats, piers, or harbour walls. You can even catch beautiful bass from the shore of seaside beaches such as Whitby, Whitstable, Dungeness, and Brighton.
It’s often said that the English triumph at sports where you sit down. For example, sailing, cycling, and rowing – if previous Olympics are anything to go by. For this reason, cycling is one of the best outdoor activities to do in England. It has many fitness benefits, it’s sociable, and it allows you to get some fresh air while enjoying the English countryside.
If you want to go big, the Land’s End to John o’ Groats route (LEJOG) takes you from the bottom of England to the top of Scotland – with the possibility of stopping at the English border. For those living in London, you can go on weekend trips around Richmond Park or the Surrey Hills. You can even reach Brighton in a long day’s cycle. The Lakeland Loop is a tough but immensely scenic route in the Lake District and there’s also the family-friendly Camel Trail in Cornwall.
Most outdoor activities to do in England sit somewhere between a hobby and a sport. You can embrace these activities casually, doing them on a semi-regular basis just for fun, or you can train and improve to compete at higher levels. With so many activities on offer, there is a hobby to suit all tastes.
And best of all, this is only a handful of the best outdoor activities to do in England. If you search hard enough, you’ll find there are even more esoteric hobbies to pursue. From adrenaline sports such as paragliding and abseiling to quirky past times like dry stone walling and cheese rolling! With such a range of activities, it’s no wonder England is considered a destination for outdoor lovers. All you have to do is get stuck in and experience your next adventure.