On the water
What better way to make the most of being outside than being in, on and beside the refreshing waters of the UK. Whether it be coastal seas, crisp clear lakes, gushing waterfalls or wandering rivers, there really is no excuse not to become at one with the water. Take a look at our fantastic ideas of best water-based activities this summer holiday and try something new.
Stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) is a great way to stay active and nowadays you only have to head to your local beach, lake or river and you're bound to see someone giving it ago . Anyone can do it, even if they start by kneeling, and there are plenty of places to rent a board and improve your skills if it's new to you. Try your hands at yoga on a SUP, litter pick from your SUP or take your four-legged friend out on the water too by joining one of many organised sessions taking place across the UK - search your nearest online.
You cannot get anything more quintessentially English than punting down a river, with a picnic on-board and a backdrop of some of the countries most stunning architecture. Whether you have a go at punting yourself or you wish to relax and be taken along by a guide, Cambridge is the perfect place to try out this unusual activity.
Punting is a great way to see the sights of Cambridge from a different angle. We recommend avoiding the big companies and heading straight for the smaller, family-run companies who often provide cheaper deals. You can punt under the beautiful bridges and float effortlessly past Trinity College and venture further along the river to experience breath-taking views of St Johns chapel. Alternatively, turn south down the river for spectacular views of Kings and Queens College and get a glimpse of the Mathematical bridge from an unusual angle.
Find out more about punting in Cambridge.
Water trampolines and aqua parks are a less well known, water activity but provide equally as much fun. They are a great way to exercise and be on the water whilst having lots of fun with all the family. The new craze of giant inflatable water obstacles has been inspired by Americans and has seen the pop up of outdoor water parks appear on lakes and reservoirs in the UK (see The New Forest Water Park and Aqua Park Rutland).
So, get down to your nearest aqua park and climb, leap and scramble on the giant inflatables as well as bounce around on the giant water trampolines. Alternatively, if you want to just try water trampolining individually, without having to pay for the entire aqua park then there are a variety of places which offer this. Liverpool water sports centre offers purely water trampolining for £11 an hour. They also offer a number of other water activities and lessons.
Waterfalls are a great way to combine a scenic hike with a fresh wild swim. The UK has a whole host of beautiful waterfalls which can be accessed on foot and are well worth a swim in once reached.
Swallow Falls, Snowdonia National Park - A well-known, but fantastic waterfall to get up close to. By taking a moderate 4 mile walk for around 2 hours you can reach the waterfall whilst experiencing stunning woodland scenery of Snowdonia National Park. Take the walk starting from Betws-y-coed to swallow falls which will take you right through the forest to the picturesque, natural beauty spot.
Sgwd yr Eira, Brecon Beacons National Park– If you wish to well and truly become one with a waterfall then this is the waterfall for you. At Sgwd yr Eira you can actually walk right behind a curtain of water which is plunging to the ground from the cliff above. This is the perfect picture spot as, on a sunny day, it is often easy to spot at least one rainbow radiating from the spray of the waterfall. Known for being one of the hidden gems of the Brecon Beacons, the three hour walk keeps it secretly hidden from a majority of the tourists, making it an extra special find. For those willing ones, it is well worth the trek as there is always the option to take a quick dip in the falls refreshing plunge pool. Find out more about waterfalls in Brecon Beacons National Park with our guide to the most romantic waterfalls in the Brecon Beacons.
Warleigh Weir, Somerset - One of the most magical waterfalls in the UK, the Warleigh Weir is a definite must visit! On a hot summers day you can really immerse yourself in this waterfall, from jumping up and down the weir, to balancing on the edge of the waters ledge, to splashing around in the spray of the falls. There really is so much fun to be had here - it's also great for families and kids!
Plunge pools are natural cut outs of rock at the bottom of waterfalls which are formed by erosion from the gushing water above. Plunge pools can create quite an adventure, from hiking to find them in the first place to that fresh feeling you get when you brave the plunge into the refreshing water. Plunge pools make the most perfect natural swimming pools and, if you find the right one, are often a fantastic capsule of beautiful crystal clear water.
Fingal’s Cave - Fingal's cave is an absolutely mesmerising plunge pool with it’s clear blue water descending meters deep. Laced with fantasy of giants and mythical creatures, swimming in the cave and jumping in the plunge pool is quite an experience and can be both an exciting and nerve wracking adventure. Take a 30-45 minute boat from the Ilse of Coll with Basking Shark Adventures and they will safely guide you on where to swim within the safety of the currents. The most striking thing about the cave is the way it is made up of hexagonal stacks of stone, separating into long spectacular columns.
Witches Cauldron – Pembrokeshire - The aptly name ‘Witches Cauldron’ at Ceibwr Bay, Cardigan, is an enticing collapsed cave which acts as a plunge pool when filled by the sea. The softer rock which occurs along a fault has collapsed inwards, making way for a cauldron shaped water hole, hence the nickname ‘Witches Cauldron’. The real name of ‘Pwll y Wwrach’ can be accessed via the ‘Llywybr coast path’ and the descent into the cauldron is through a waterfall. You will need a wetsuit, a head torch and must be a confident swimmer and we do not advise that you actually jump directly into the pool, as depending on tide times it sometimes cannot be deep enough.
Blue Pool at Blue Pool Bay - If you are brave enough to take the plunge then the Blue Pool at Blue Pool Bay is legendary for being bottomless so can provide quite an adrenaline rush. The rock pool is popular for diving or just jumping in from the surrounding rocks for a quick splash. Although its rumoured to be bottomless, the actual depth of the rock pool is between four and eight meters so this really is perfect for an exciting jump in. Do you dare?