Thursday, June 13, 2024

Seven of the UK’s most thrilling adrenaline fixes

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Did you know you can bungee jump above an idyllic Scottish river? Or whizz down the world’s fastest zip line in Wales? It’s time to start shaping up that thrills and spills wish list now: some of the UK’s loveliest areas for nature and walking are also great for white-knuckle experiences, from rafting to paragliding — the perfect excuse for an adventurous weekend.

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1. Abseil down the Spinnaker Tower, Portsmouth, Hampshire

Descend Portsmouth’s Spinnaker Tower if you’re brave enough

From April to September, you can shimmy your way down the side of Portsmouth’s needle-topped tower, descending a dizzying 100m. After zooming up by lift, you’re given a safety briefing before you descend. Below is the city’s gleaming harbour, with the sail-shaped building giving incredible views of the port, the Solent and the Isle of Wight across the water (over-14s only, £110pp; spinnakertower.co.uk). Stay at the Ship Leopard boutique hotel for views of Portsmouth’s historic shipyard.
Details B&B doubles from £129 (shipleopardboutiquehotel.co.uk)

2. Drive like the pros at Silverstone, near Towcester, Northamptonshire

If Lewis Hamilton can race Silverstone, so can you

If Lewis Hamilton can race Silverstone, so can you

ADAM PIGOTT

How about driving a real racing car around the UK’s only Formula 1 track? Make like Verstappen, Hamilton and Alonso at Silverstone Circuit, where you can try going from zero to sixty in an aerodynamic racing car. An ample safety briefing precedes a ten-minute drive around Silverstone’s Stowe Circuit behind a pace car while you get to grips with the engine, before 20 minutes zooming around as fast as you like (from £199pp; silverstone.co.uk). There’s a hotel on site, or spend the night at the Old Chapel B&B, 20 minutes’ drive away in Stoke Bruerne, on the Grand Union canal. The village also has a canal museum.
Details B&B doubles from £115 (theoldchapelstokebruerne.com)

3. Go tandem paragliding, Eype, Dorset

You don’t need a licence to tandem paraglide on the coast

You don’t need a licence to tandem paraglide on the coast

GETTY IMAGES

A tandem paragliding experience is one of the best entry-level ways to take to the skies — and Dorset’s Jurassic Coast is a spectacular place to do it if you want to swoop over acres of beautiful scenery. On PG Base’s tandem flights, you don’t need a licence or to have done a course. Strapped to an experienced pilot, you’ll take an easygoing 15-20 minute flight, soaring from Eype over the rugged Jurassic Coast. If conditions are good, you’ll even get to take the reins and fly the paraglider yourself (from £140pp; pgbase.co.uk). Stay at the West Bay Hotel close to Burton Bradstock, a stylish coastal pub with local beers on tap and a fabulous fry-up.
Details B&B doubles from £155 (westbayhotel.co.uk).

4. Bungee jump into nature, Killiecrankie, Perth and Kinross

You can bungee jump at a speed of 50mph in Killiecrankie

You can bungee jump at a speed of 50mph in Killiecrankie

ALAMY

The only permanent outdoor bungee jumping site in the UK is this knee-trembler on the River Garry in Killiecrankie, a 90-minute drive north of Edinburgh. Pre-dive you’ll have views of incredible, dense green countryside and down into the dramatic gorge towards a river; you’ll plunge 40m towards the water at about 50 mph. If that’s not quite enough screaming for you, there’s also a giant swing and a zip line. You can just turn up on the day, but aim to give at least 24 hours’ notice (over-14s only, £89pp; bungeejumpscotland.co.uk). Recover just upriver at the luxurious Atholl Arms, complete with roaring fire and tartan-clad beds.
Details B&B doubles from £135 (athollarmshotel.co.uk)

5. Test your nerve with whitewater rafting, Matlock, Derbyshire

In groups of at least four you’ll navigate the fastest rapids and currents

In groups of at least four you’ll navigate the fastest rapids and currents

ALAMY

Hold on for dear life as your raft tips and plunges down fizzing rapids in the Peak District. The River Derwent at Matlock is the place to hit the water, where Rapid Horizons runs expert rafting and tubing sessions. In groups of at least four you’ll learn to work as a team navigating the fastest rapids and currents over four miles of river. The company gives you photos and video to take home — quite possibly of you all getting soaked (2.5 hours from £65pp; rapidhorizons.com). Check in at the Georgian house Oakhill in neighbouring Cromford for easy access to the Derwent Valley — and the option of drying off in a luxury suite.
Details B&B doubles from £120 (oakhillcromford.co.uk)

6. Zoom along the world’s fastest zip line, Bangor, Gwynedd

Velocity in Bangor, Gwynedd is the world’s fastest zip line

Velocity in Bangor, Gwynedd is the world’s fastest zip line

Flying at up to 125 mph across a teal-coloured lake in Penrhyn Quarry, you’ll spot Mount Snowdon (Yr Wyddfa) as you whoosh along Velocity, the world’s fastest zip line. It’s also the longest zip line in Europe, running for almost a mile. If you’re worried about going it alone, choose a twin launch with a partner or friend — there are four parallel zip lines to take (from £92pp; zipworld.co.uk). Snowdonia Mountain Lodge is a six-minute drive away, with simple accommodation swathed in nature.
Details Room-only doubles from £95 (snowdoniamountainlodge.com)

My exhilarating trip on the world’s fastest zip line — in north Wales
White water and white knuckles: rafting Europe’s first wild river national park

7. Swim with sharks, Penzance, Cornwall

You really can swim with sharks off the UK coast

You really can swim with sharks off the UK coast

ALAMY

It sounds like a thrill you’d have to fly down under for, but swimming among wild sharks is a reality just off the UK’s south coast. Blue Shark Snorkel’s tours operate from Penzance between June and October; it can be a boat trip of just 20 minutes out into deep waters before you strap on fins and masks to drop into waters where migratory blue sharks swim — you should be a confident snorkeller (from £195pp; bluesharksnorkel.co.uk). The sharks can grow up to 4m long, feeding mainly on small fish and squid ‒ though they have been known to gobble seabirds and smaller sharks too. Book a room at the snug Hotel Penzance, with views of the harbour and St Michael’s Mount.
Details B&B doubles from £109 (hotelpenzance.com)

Have we missed your favourite? Let us know in the comments below

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