Some people believe that the UK isn’t a hot-bed for action sports. However, we know that this ridiculous notion couldn’t be further from the truth. Granted, we may not have the endless snowfall of Northern Japan, or the gargantuan waves of the Polynesian islands, but with a tank of petrol and a little insider information, the adventures are closer than you think.
We’ve found four mini adventures that will only take 48 hours of your time. All you need is a car, and the spirit of adventure.
In the interests of geographical impartiality (and not wanting to appear to be London tossers) we’ve selected Birmingham in the Midlands as the starting point of the journeys.
We’re well aware that it’s not the middle of the UK, but it is pretty central, not to mention full of adorable people who will actually say hello to you when you pass them on the street. Bless ’em…
Surfing barrels in Scotland
Location: Thurso, Scotland
Round Trip Time: 19hrs 40mins
Info: We may not have the golden beaches of Australia, or the monster waves of Hawaii, but we’re closer than you may realise to good surf.
On the north east coast of Scotland lies Thurso East, a pretty special reef break. Waves regularly reach between two and fifteen foot high. Depending on the tide and direction of the swell, there can be a handful of sick barrel sections.
The conditions are so good that the O’Neill Cold Water Classic surf comp’ has been held there on numerous occasions.
Of course, with surfing, once you’ve forked out for your board, there are no lift passes or entrance fees. The sea is yours to surf for as long as your legs hold out. Winner.
Riding fresh powder in Avoriaz
Location: Avoriaz, France
Round Trip Time: 24hrs 42mins
Info: Some of the best snowboarding and skiing the world has to offer is just over 12 hours away in Avoriaz, France. In fact, some call Avoriaz the European Capital of Snowboarding. Praise indeed.
Whatever level you are and terrain you like to ride, this little corner of France has you covered. There are mellow, wide pistes ideal for beginners, five parks including a half pipe to keep freestylers stoked, and the off-piste is a backcountry lovers dream.
Avoriaz offers what they call ‘Snow Cross’ areas, monitored but ungroomed pistes, ideal for people wanting to dip their toe into backcountry riding without fully going out of bounds.
A lift pass in low season costs as little as £28 a day, which is less than a couple of hours in most UK snow domes. So, what are you waiting for?
Shredding the mountain bike trails in Fort William
Location: Fort William, Scotland
Round Trip Time: 14 hrs
Info: Mountain biking can take you anywhere in the world – from Canada to Peru, India, New Zealand, France…
However, good spots are closer than you may think. Here in the UK, we’re pretty spoilt when it comes to mountain biking. There are amazing spots in Monmouthshire, Staffordshire, and Sheffield, to name but a few. There are conditions for whatever kind of rider you are.
However, drive up to Scotland and you’ll reach Fort William, a bonafide mountain bike mecca. There are world class downhill trails, stunning cross country sections, and leisurely tracks with amazing views if taking it a little easier is your thing.
If you’re still not convinced, the folk behind the Mountain Bike World Cup have announced that, once again, the biggest MTB comp on the globe will be stopping at Fort William next year. If it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for anybody.
Skating one of the world’s most iconic parks
Location: The Undercroft, London
Round Trip Time: 6hrs
Info: “You can skateboard anywhere“, we hear you cry. You’re absolutely correct. It’s the beauty of the sport: have board, will travel.
However, there are a few locations that should be on any skater’s bucket list, and one just a few hours away.
The Undercroft – or to give its more popular name, The Southbank – is one of the most iconic skate spots in the entire world. It’s reportedly the oldest active skate spot on the planet.
Secret skate spots around the globe get closed down as soon as they become popular. Not this one. The concrete skate paradise has been ridden by skaters since the 1970s.
It was recently saved from closure when plans to redevelop the area were binned following protests from the entire skate world, such is the love for this spot.
It’s not just skating that goes on down at the Undercroft. Tourists regularly stand and watch BMX riders, hip-hop dancers, and street artists join the skaters, all expressing their creativity in this amazing little space.
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