Britain’s must-do sporting experiences

Jun 17, 2016

With a sporting heritage as long and robust as Britain's, try out one of these classic sporting experiences; whether you follow in the footsteps of revered mountaineers or paddleboard in a bustling port city, you won't find anything quite like these experiences anywhere else in the world.

Climb England's highest peak, Scafell Pike
The Lake District in north-west England is prime walking country and at its heart is Scafell Pike, England's highest peak at 3208ft/978m. From the top, you can see incredible views, responsible for sparking the imaginations of countless poets, painters and climbers: a sweeping panorama that stretches to Scotland, Wales, Ireland and the Isle of Man. It's not an easy climb, but well worth the effort!

Getting there: Penrith and Oxenholme stations are both about three hours north of London by train, then take public transport or drive to your chosen starting point. 

Speed around Silverstone racing track
This is about as close as most of us will ever get to being a racing car driver. Silverstone has been the home of British motor racing since 1948, and even King George VI and Queen Elizabeth II have graced it with their presence. The Formula Silverstone Racing Car single seater experience puts you in the driving seat. Go from 0 to 60mph in under five seconds, as you sit inches above the tarmac of this hallowed track.

Getting there:
Silverstone is easy to reach by car, approximately 90 minutes north of central London and one hour south of Birmingham.

Climb in the handholds of Sir Edmund Hillary
At 1,112m/3,650ft, Snowdon is a mere hillock compared to Everest. But it's the spiritual home of the expedition team that first conquered the world's highest mountain in 1953. They used Snowdon and nearby peaks as a testing ground for high-altitude boots and carrying oxygen gear. Despite the comparative lack of altitude, the sheer rock faces, treacherous screes and tricky traverses are some of the most challenging in Britain.

Getting there: Betws-y-Coed station, nine miles/14km from PYG, is about five hours north of Cardiff and under three hours from Liverpool by train.

Take a stand-up paddleboard through Bristol

Bristol isn't your average port city. The infamous pirate Captain Blackbeard and offbeat graffiti artist Banksy both hail from here, so it seems only right to see the sights of south-west England's biggest city in a suitably offbeat manner: stand-up paddleboarding! Join a tour and drift in the shadow of ss Great Britain, the world's first large transatlantic passenger ship, and paddle across Bristol's beating heart, the floating harbour built in 1809. 

Getting there: Bristol is less than two hours by train from London.

Go horse-riding in the New Forest National Park
There's something so right about travelling here by horseback. New Forest ponies have lived here since before the last Ice Age and still roam freely; in fact, the animals have the right of way and the park is riddled with sun-dappled open-access bridleways. Try Ford Farm Stables in Brockenhurst for serene rides in the heart of the forest.

Getting there: It takes 90 minutes by train from London to Brockenhurst.

Have a spin at the National Cycling Centre

Manchester's National Cycling Centre has a comprehensive range of activities suitable for everyone from complete novices to elite athletes, but start with a taster session and find out what it feels like to ride around a 42.5° banked velodrome.

Getting there: Easy to reach by public transport, car or the traffic-free cycle route from Manchester city centre.

Learn to surf in Newquay
This rugged spot on the north coast of Cornwall, Britain's most southern county, has around ten surf beaches and a vibrant surf community. Try Fistral Beach Surf School's group and private lessons, or just hire a board. They can also arrange accommodation on Tolcarne Beach - known for its consistent surf conditions - in surf shacks, beach cabins and luxury apartments, in the middle of the surfing and nightlife action.

Getting there: Newquay is five hours by train from London.

Tour Game of Thrones set locations by bike

One of the best ways to see key Game of Thrones filming locations around Winterfell, aka Castle Ward in County Down is on two wheels! Pick up your ‘Stark Sack' so you can protect yourself as you pedal deep into the world of Westeros: to the tree branch below where Brienne confronts the Starkmen, where Bran falls from the castle, and the waters that brought Jamie Lannister ashore in a canoe. Then try your hand at archery in a replica of the Winterfell Archery Range in the very spot that filming took place.

Getting there: Castle Ward is one hour south of Belfast by car.

Trek the world's first uninterrupted route along a national coast

The Wales Coast Path runs for 870 miles/1,400km. It goes through one GeoPark, two National Parks, three Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, 11 National Nature Reserves, 14 Heritage Coasts and 23 sites on the Register of Historic Landscapes. In other words, it's one very long walk. If that sounds like too much work, there are plenty of shorter sections to choose from. The Dylan Thomas Walk goes past the boathouse where Thomas wrote Under Milk Wood, while the seven mile/11km section from Manobier to Tenby packs in thousands of years of history. And there are always those breathtaking sea views.