Winning tip: Cape Wrath Trail, Scotland
Walk 230 miles in Scotland and go days without seeing anyone. I navigated the unmarked trail, at times with no path, through soaring mountains and wild landscapes, across swollen rivers and beaches with sand as white as anything in the Seychelles. Starting at Fort William with a boat crossing, the trail hugs the rugged west coast, dipping in and out of sea lochs, and ends at the lighthouse at the most north-westerly tip of the UK. The last seven miles is through an MOD firing range. Wild camp by the finest salmon rivers, or stay in welcoming bothies from another era. It’s an adventure that draws walkers from all over the world.
Dolomites via ferrata, Italy
We completed the Via Ferrata Tridentina in the Dolomites last June, after an attempt a few years before failed because of snow. We set out with our Cicerone guide book, harnesses, helmets and via ferrata devices, and encountered the best VF route we’d ever done. Easy to access, Tridentina was thrilling and fun, but accessible to most people with basic climbing skills and a head for heights. We had extraordinary views throughout the ascent. Sadly, the Pisciadù hut at the top was shut, so no refreshing summit beer, but just as well – we needed our heads as the gully descent was snow-filled and much more treacherous than usual!
Sweden coastal cycle
In 2018, I tackled the Kattegattleden, Sweden’s beautiful coastal cycle path. With friends, I took the train from Copenhagen to Helsingborg to hire bikes. From there, it was a 340km ride to Gothenburg, with stops in Ängelholm, Halmstad, Falkenberg, Varberg and Frillesås. Airbnbs along the route were excellent and reasonably priced, averaging £50 a night for two. Bikes were from TravelShop in Helsingborg (£297 for two bikes, including pick-up from Gothenburg). Our journey took six days, although eight is recommended. A hugely rewarding adventure that can be done without much prior cycling experience.
Sailing and climbing to the pub, Ireland
I have competed twice in the Irish Sailing and Mountaineering Adventure Challenge, which will take place again on 30 May. Starting in Kinsale in County Cork, yacht crews sail to a succession of challenging hills, including the highest in Ireland, and finally, after running the Brandon Ridge, finish the race in a pub in Dingle in County Kerry. It is possible to charter a yacht locally, or to join another crew in the race.
• Team entry £400, ISAMAC-race.com
Family canoe thrills, France
Our favourite outdoor adventure was the 13km canoe descent down the Hérault river, near Montpellier, France. Four hours on the water might sound like a daunting prospect, but the stunning surroundings are enough to distract from those throbbing arm muscles. The descent features fairytale wooded pathways, thrilling waterfalls (a welcome break from paddling) and calm lakes for a break to have lunch and sunbathe. The canoes come equipped with waterproof barrels for belongings.
• €23pp, canoelemoulin.fr
Climb an active volcano, Stromboli, Italy
Last year we climbed Stromboli, Mount Etna’s smaller but more active cousin, on one of the seven Aeolian Islands rising out of the sea off Sicily’s north-eastern coast. We set off at 4pm accompanied by a guide and equipped with helmets, extra layers, food and water. After four hours of hiking amid thunderous booms and plumes of smoke, we reached the summit as the sun set. We sat along the crater’s edge in the darkness and observed nature’s most impressive firework display. A truly awe-inspiring experience.
Wild swimming in Windermere, Lake District
Wild swimming fans can’t do better than a summer solstice night-time dip as the sun sets over the Lake District’s biggest lake on the longest day. Starting at the National Trust’s Fell Foot lakeshore park, participants gather at 9.30pm and plunge into the water for a noncompetitive swim, with glowsticks attached to wetsuits (optional) as darkness descends. The effort is rewarded with a glass of Pimm’s and a medal for all. I did it in 2018 with nervous friends, and all were suitably wowed by the views and balmy water temperatures.
Cycling the Netherlands with teens
I cycled the length of the Netherlands in six days with my daughters – one of the best things I’ve ever done. I am in my early 50s and rode 600km with my two girls (who were in their late teens) from the southernmost tip of the country to the northernmost part. We followed the maps in the book Het Fietserpad. We meandered through the most remote areas, often close to the German border, and for some hours through Germany. The scenery was surprisingly varied. We carried camping gear, but after a few days realised there were plenty of reasonably priced hotels. Good touring bikes can be rented, from places including train stations, for less than €10 per day.
Mountain running, Bosnia-Herzegovina
In 2018, I ran 350km across the Dinaric Alps of Bosnia-Herzegovina, border to border, solo and unsupported, wildcamping in the mountains – which could be a world first. This year, I will return to do the next leg from Montenegro to Albania. I am not a runner, just an enthusiastic woman and outdoor therapist out to prove anything is possible for anyone.
Cuillins Ridge, Skye, Hebrides
Towards the southern end of the Cuillin Ridge (which includes the peaks Sgùrr nan Gillean and Sgùrr Alasdair), the Inaccessible Pinnacle isn’t quite as foreboding as the name suggests. Found at the top of Sgùrr Dearg, it forms the summit of the only Scottish Munro that requires a roped climb and abseil. You can hike up to the top of Sgùrr Dearg and enjoy the spectacular views without the climb, but conquering the exposed rock face makes it a true adventure. The Scottish right to roam means you can wild camp at the base of the Cuillins and even enjoy a dip in the famous Fairy Pools to help your sore muscles recover.
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