River deep, mountain high — there’s plenty on offer for those who like to get their thrills outdoors
From the Highlands of Scotland to the rugged Cornish coast, Britain’s activity centres have something for all the family: frazzled parents have the opportunity to offload their children for a day or more, knowing that they are in safe hands; and bored teens can try new sports, meet new people and explore new territory. White-water rafting and abseiling down mountains will keep adrenalin junkies of all ages happy, and for families who like to play together tailor-made activity days mean that they can stay together.
SHORELINE OUTDOOR PURSUITS CENTRE, NORTH CORNWALL
Sea-kayaking is the speciality of this outdoor pursuits centre on the north Cornish coast, and with the world champion Simon Hammond among its staff you can learn from the very best. Alternatively, you can combine two of the centre’s other activities — from abseiling to archery — to form a tailor-made adventure day that might just keep the whole family happy.
Where Crooklets Beach, Bude, North Cornwall.
Suitable for Most activities are suitable for children from age 9 upwards.
Cost About £35 per person a day during the high season, depending on group size.
Contact 01288 354039, www.shorelineactivities.co.uk
MONSTER ACTIVITIES, SCOTLAND
Everything from knife throwing to banana boating is on offer at Monster Activities, in the Highlands, but the weekly whitewater rafting trips top the list of attractions. The centre times its rafting sessions to tie in with the release of 252 billion cubic litres of water through a river’s dam, guaranteeing quality rapids and plenty of fun.
Where Great Glen Water Park, Invernesshire. Suitable forWhitewater rafting is not for anyone under 10 years old, but there are raft trips on a gentler river for younger children.
Cost Whitewater rafting costs £40 a head for a three-hour session. Motor boats can be hired for £17.50 an hour.
Contact 01809 501340, www.monsteractivities.com
CALSHOT ACTIVITIES CENTRE, HAMPSHIRE
Parents get a well-earned break as their children are whisked off on full-day adventures: raft challenges, track cycling and windsurfing are on the menu. The site, which was once an RAF base, features a castle that is ready for exploration. Calshot also runs residential and non-residential holidays for 10 to 16-year-olds.
Where Calshot Spit, Southampton.
Suitable for Children aged 8 to 16.
Cost £35 for a full day, including lunch; £18 for a half day.
Contact 02380 892077, www.calshot.com
TYF’s coastal explorer trip turns the shores of St David’s peninsula in the Pembrokeshire national park, West Wales, into a playground for the day. Families and their guides set sail in kayaks, with packed lunch, in search of hidden coves, sandy beaches and deserted caves. They can stop when they like to examine rockpools, to go snorkelling or to try coasteering, which combines rock scrambling, swimming and cliff jumping with an experienced guide. Other activities include whole or half-day kayaking, surfing and rock-climbing sessions.
Where High Street, St Davids, Pembrokeshire.
Suitable for Anyone aged 8 or over.
Cost The coastal explorer trip costs £72 for adults and £45 for children, including lunch.
Contact 01437 721611, www.tyf.com
BLACK MOUNTAIN ADVENTURES, WALES
This outdoor pursuits centre, in the heart of the Brecon Beacons, lets you set the pace. For those who enjoy an adrenalin rush, the whole family can embark on a day’s gorge walking, which includes climbing waterfalls, jumping over boulders and swinging on ropes across fastmoving water.
Where Near Three Cocks, Powys, Wales.
Suitable for Most activities, including gorge walking, are suitable for anyone from age 8.
Cost Gorge walking costs about £55 for adults and £30 for children for a full day. Other costs vary.
Contact 01497 847987, www.blackmountain.co.uk
SERAC OUTDOOR SPORTS, TYNE AND WEAR
Serac has been catering for thrill-seeking families for 20 years and can tailor an activity day to suit most adventurous tastes. Whether crawling through caves, climbing up rock- faces or abseiling down them, its primary focus is on exploring the countryside of the North East. There are non-residential multiactivity weeks for children-only during the summer holidays.
Where Lilburn Close, The Pastures, East Boldon, Tyne and Wear.
Suitable for Activity days are for anyone aged 12 or over. Children’s activity weeks are from age 9.
Cost A day rock-climbing and abseiling costs £125 for a family of four. Other costs vary.
Contact 0191-519 4495, www.seracoutdoorsports.co.uk
LAKESIDE YMCA NATIONAL CENTRE, CUMBRIA
Lakeside requires a minimum group size of eight for activity days for the whole family, which is a brilliant excuse to get together with friends to sample some of the numerous pursuits on offer. Orienteering, aerial runways (rope slides that stretch between two fixed points) and rowing are just three of the options. There is self-catering accommodation within the centre’s beautiful Lake District grounds.
Where Newby Bridge, Ulverston, Cumbria.
Suitable for anyone from age 8 upwards.
Cost Family activity days vary depending on the size of the group and which activities are chosen. A week of day camps for one child costs £98.
Contact 08707 273927, www.lakesideymca.co.uk