Make the most of National Great Outdoors Month!
In the Rock and Rapid office Jade and I were discussing all the amazing places we’ve been lucky enough to visit around the world and this got us thinking… we’ve barely travelled the UK even though it’s right here under our noses! After doing a bit of research I’ve decided that I have been taking where I live for granted. There are just so many spectacular destinations to explore right here at my feet where I could quite easily go and enjoy the great outdoors - no long-haul flights required!
With June being National Great Outdoors month, there is no better time to share my findings with you. I have gathered up some great spots to visit within South West England this month. Oh, and don’t forget to pop in to the Rock and Rapid Centre on your way through to fulfil all your climbing, SUP and Coasteering needs!
I’ve a question for you…Have you ever tried wild swimming? I have found some absolutely beautiful places for you to visit! I’ve been inspired by Redbull’s top locations for ‘wild swimming’ and have chosen my favourite South West spots.
Bude Tidal Swimming Pool - This incredible pool gets filled with the Atlantic Ocean’s water and is a great place for the not-so-confident swimmers to experience the sea water! Located in Bude, Cornwall’s most Northern town, this tidal swimming pool is just over an hour’s drive from the Rock and Rapid Adventure centre and lays on Summerleaze Beach beneath the cliffs. There is no charge to enter this pool and it’s open all year round (meaning you could even go in the Winter if you’re feeling brave enough to embrace the cold).
Farleigh Hungerford, River Frome - Thought to be home to the country’s oldest river swimming club! To swim here you do need a membership however, it is very reasonable and well worth it for the experience! You can find the club and membership information here http://www.wild-swimming.com/farleigh.html. Farleigh Hungerford is just a one and a half hour drive from the centre and with 100m of swimmable river, changing huts and a nearby carpark it is very accessible. It is not only for the dedicated swimmer – a rope swing into the water can be found for a bit of added fun!
Treyarnon Bay Tidal Rock Pool - Treyarnon Beach has been praised for excellent water quality and is a great beach for keen surfers. It is best to visit at mid to high tide and is said to be an excellent place for families. The tidal rock pool can be used for swimming, paddling and snorkelling to investigate the extensive sea wildlife. At around a two hour car journey from the centre I will definitely be making my way over here in the summer!!
Pedn Vounder Beach - When the sun is shining, this place looks and feels like you're in the Mediterranean! (See main blog photo!) Almost as South West as you can get (a three hour drive from the centre) this stunning tidal beach with crystal clear waters can only be accessed by boat or a 15 minute walk but this only makes it more secluded! Be sure to check tide times as you don’t want to be faced with a climb up the steep cliff path when the tide comes in!
As with all coastal destinations, please, please, PLEASE be careful in and around the water and do your research before you go.
Here at Rock and Rapid we’re also extremely lucky to be right on the edge of the Exmoor National Park. Exmoor offers you every opportunity, from hiking and horse riding to stargazing, picnicking, and all the exploring in between, whether your idea of fun is an ultra marathon on the highest sea cliffs or cream tea in a charming little village next to a beautiful crystal river, Exmoor is the place to be. With some of the best locations for walking in Europe and road cycling good enough to host the Tour of Britain, there are plenty of opportunities to catch a glimpse of our iconic Exmoor ponies and red deer, and there will always be a pint of some of the best Somerset Cider waiting for you on the bar at the end of the day whilst you soak up the joyful atmosphere in one of the local pubs.
Below I have listed just a handful of some of the fun you can have on Exmoor that will leave you and your family wanting more.
Walking - Some of the UK’s best long distance routes pass through Exmoor, and definitely don’t get the recognition they deserve:
- The Coleridge Way – You can walk 51 miles through Somerset and Devon countryside of the Quantock Hills, the Brendon Hills and Exmoor, or ride 34 miles from Nether Stowey to Exford. Visit the excellent new Coleridge Way Website for all the details and an interactive route guide.
- The Southwest Coast Path - Whether you’re looking for an afternoon stroll to take you to a beauty spot, or to embark on the challenge of hiking the entire 630 mile route from Somerset's Minehead on the edge of Exmoor around to the shores of Poole Harbour in Dorset, this is a definite must. Visit the South West Coast Path website for more information.
- The Two Moors Way – Also known as the Devon coast to coast, this is a long-distance walking route between Ivybridge on the southern edge of Dartmoor National Park and Lynmouth on the North Coast of Exmoor National Park. It has a total length of 102 miles (163 km), making it an ideal week's walk.
- The Exe Valley Way - a long distance route ideal for walkers who want to explore the beautiful river valley. It is almost 50miles in length, stretching from the South West Coast Path National Trail on the Exe Estuary to the village of Exford on the high land of Exmoor National Park.
Cycling - Everyone always talks about those week-long cycling trips they took when they were travelling abroad – but what about taking advantage of some of the brilliant routes we have right under our noses!
- Road Cycling - With some of the most incredible panoramic views and steep valleys to climb, Exmoor has an incredible variety of road riding in the country. There are routes available for all abilities; you can enjoy the network of quiet country lanes, or climb 1705ft to the highest point at Dunkery, there is something for everyone.
- Mountain Biking - Exmoor is recognised as one of the best and most challenging off-road cycling destinations in the UK. The varied landscape and network of bridleways, lanes and other permitted tracks provide ample opportunity for cyclists to enjoy some fantastic rides.
Water Sports - Alright, so Banana Boating and water-skiing are great fun, but have you ever tried standing on a SUP board with 9 other people? There are so many different water sports you can get up to around Exmoor, for example…
- Canoeing - Exmoor provides some great opportunities for canoeists of all abilities both inland and at sea. Wimbleball Lake offers a range of options and full on-site facilities. There is no general permission to canoe on Exmoor’s non-tidal inland rivers but it is allowed during winter on some sections of the River Barle and East Lyn subject to water level restrictions. Both of these rivers are protected by law for their special wildlife.
- Sea Kayaking - Some of the most spectacular parts of Exmoor are along its 35 miles of coastline, many of which are inaccessible by foot. Sea kayaking can open up a whole new world of possibilities, and allow you to discover the beauty of Exmoor from the quiet of the sea.
At Rock and Rapid we can also offer you the chance to try out some watersports you may never have thought of, and really treat the family! We can take you:
- SUP (Stand-up Paddle Boarding)
- MegaSUP – we have 2 GIANT SUP boards that can fit up to 10 people on at once! This is great fun and a brilliant activity for family days out or Stag/Hen dos!
- Coastal Rafting
If you would like any more information on any of the above, just give us a call on 01769 309003!
Climbing - Exmoor is not well known as a venue for rock climbing, especially when compared to many of the other National Parks, but opportunities do exist if you know where to go.
The most obvious place to start is the Valley of Rocks near Lynton. A number of climbs have been established here that span the grades and it is probably the best place for beginners. For the more experienced climber, there are a number of routes along the coastal cliffs. They are adventurous undertakings and not suitable for beginners. The beaches of Lynmouth also provide a fine area of bouldering that has been developed over the last few years. If you think you would like a go at some Outdoor Climbing, get hold of us right here at Rock and Rapid and we can take you and your family out for a day full of adventure!
Tarr Steps is a 17 span clapper bridge (a bridge made of unmortared stone slabs), the longest of its kind in Britain. The river has silted up over the last century and often now comes over the stones in times of flood. Whether you are an experienced walker or someone who prefers a short stroll, Tarr Steps is a great place to go when looking to explore Exmoor National Park. You can head straight there, utilising the on site car park and toilet facilities, with just a gentle walk down to the ancient clapper bridge. The beautiful wooded valley of the River Barle is also worth exploring for its wildlife, as is the heathland of Winsford Hill and its wild ponies in the surrounding countryside.
Stargazing - Exmoor National Park is designated an International Dark Sky Reserve - the first in Europe!
Exmoor National Park is home to some of the darkest skies in the country so it's a great place to gaze at the stars. The dark skies that were the night time backdrop for the vast majority of human history are for many of us now a rare site. Our night times are filled with the orange glow of street lighting and we are all more likely to be looking at a television or phone screen than up at the night sky. So why not take the time on Exmoor to look up and rediscover your sense of wonder? Good spots are Holdstone Hill, County Gate, Brendon Two Gates, Webbers Post, Anstey Gate, Haddon Hill and Wimbleball Lake. On a clear night the night sky of Exmoor is simply stunning and many astronomical sights can be seen through the naked eye and even more can be discovered through a telescope or binoculars.
Stay tuned as we’ll be posting more about the Great Outdoors this month and you will want to discover more extraordinary places right here on the Rock and Rapid Adventure centre’s doorstep!
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