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Water based holidays in Britain

As an island surrounded by 12,000 kilometres of coastline and home to the dramatic beauty of the Lake District as well as canals that loop around scenic countryside, there is plenty of water-based fun to be had around Britain. Punt down calm Cambridge canals, learn to surf in cool Cornwall or wander through waterfalls in wild Wales - there's simply nothing as nice as messing about on the water. 

Coasteering in Angelsey, North West Wales

Coasteering is a daredevil's dream way of experiencing the coastline at close-quarters. Pioneered in Wales, it is a blend of rock-hopping, shore-scrambling, swell-riding, cave-exploring and cliff-jumping for the ultimate aquatic adventure. An experienced guide will help adrenaline-junkies and families alike discover hidden coves amongst 125 miles of beautiful Angelsey coastline - known as the jewel in the crown of Wales. 

  • Angelsey is an island off the North West coast of Wales; half a day for under 16s is from approx. £30pp and £48pp for adults; www.coasteering-wales.co.uk

Wild swim in the Brecon Beacons, South Wales

In the South West hills of the Brecon Beacons are some of the most amazing plunge pools in Britain. There are more than 20 pools along five miles of the Fechan and Mellte rivers, so you could try dipping in every one of them on a long day's walk. Lower Ddwli Falls is a huge open pool with a great arc of a waterfall where spray lifts up through the leaves and rainbows appear as if by magic. Just downstream is Horseshoe Falls, with a great jump and rope swing too.

  • Lower Ddwli Falls is in the Brecon Beacons in South Wales, approx. 1 hour via train from Cardiff and 2 hours from London; www.breconbeacons.org

Water trampoline on Fermanagh Lakelands, Northern Ireland

This lush, aquatic portion of Northern Ireland is ribboned by rugged woodland and freckled with lilliputian islands and watery coves. An extraordinary backdrop for thrill-seekers to enjoy not one but three water trampolines, all connected by various walkways and logs floating on the beautiful Upper Lough Macnean. Test your balance on the moonwalk, whizz down 4m high water slide and send your friends flying off from a catapult. Whether you accessorise your holiday with boats, canoes, kayaks, or even inflatables, it's a lakeland utopia.


  • Belfast International Airport and Belfast City Airport are both approx. 2 hours' drive from Fermanagh; www.fermanaghlakelands.com

Cast off in Loch Lomond, Central Scotland

Scotland, with its huge number of lochs and rivers, offers anglers some of the best fishing in Europe. The largest surface area of fresh water in the UK, a huge variety of fish can be found swimming in Loch Lomond, making it an ideal habitat for anglers. Salmon and sea trout return up the River Leven into the Southern reaches of the Loch, whilst brown and rainbow trout, pike, perch, roach, chub and dace offer variety for every angler. A glorious surrounding to practice your sport, there's plenty of opportunity for casting off in glimmering waters.

  • Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park is in Central Scotland, approx. 2 hours via train and car from Glasgow; www.lochlomond-trossachs.org

Punt along the River Cam in Cambridge, East England

Punting (meaning ‘to push') is a quintessentially British way to enjoy the River Cam, which runs through the heart of Cambridge. Enjoy fantastic views of the world famous Cambridge College ‘Backs', King's College Chapel, The Wren Library at Trinity College and the Bridge of Sighs while meandering along the river in a traditional Cambridge Punt. Take a picnic of strawberries and champagne to enjoy on the river for the full experience.

  • Cambridge is in the East of England, approx. 1 hour from London via train; A large punt is approx. £109 and a small punt approx. £69 with Cambridge Blue Punting; www.cambridgebluepunting.co.uk

Wander through waterfalls in the Lake District, North West England

A tranquil haven of towering peaks, serene waters and undulating hills, Ullswater Valley is truly breathtaking, with its beautiful lake nestled amongst towering fells. There you'll find Aira Force, a tumbling waterfall dropping an impressive 65ft that can be reached by taking a stroll through ancient woodland and landscaped glades. It's no wonder that it was while walking here that Wordsworth wrote ‘I wandered lonely as a cloud'. The perfect place for a family walk and picnic, water-sports enthusiasts will be kept busy with canoeing, sailing, fishing and even swimming for the more intrepid explorers.

  • The Lake District is a mountainous region in Cumbria, North West England, approx. 3.5 hours via train from London; www.nationaltrust.org.uk

Enjoy slow living on the Norfolk canals, East England

Sit back and enjoy the scenery or get busy handling the locks on a narrowboat holiday full of classically English charm. Gently travelling along the Norfolk Broads - Britain's largest protected wetland - enjoy idyllic Norfolk villages and market towns and the historic city of Norwich on your journey. Plenty of waterfront eateries, endless options for scenic countryside walks and numerous water sports activities should keep the whole family happy.

  • Norfolk is in East England, approx. 2 hours via train from London; Boat hire from approx. £797 for a six-berth boat for four nights, including fuel. www.waterwaysholidays.com

Escape to the magic of Mersea Island, South East England

Mersea Island has become a favourite haunt for day-trippers searching for Colchester native oysters. But there's more to this sleepy island in the Blackwater estuary, which is linked to mainland England by an ancient causeway. Enjoy crabbing from the pontoon, atmospheric walks across the saltmarshes with their wading birds and weatherboarded fishing huts, sailing, and, of course, be first in the queue at the Company Shed in West Mersea for one of its famous seafood platters.


Fulfill teenage surfer dreams on the Cornish coast, South West England

The golden sands of Harlyn Bay near Padstow, a sheltered crescent shaped beach and one of the safest in Cornwall, is the perfect place for teenagers to become a surfer dude or chick. Harlyn Surf School runs surf camps every summer for teenagers and children; and offer private, improver and group lessons too - so there's no excuse for even the biggest ‘barney' (an inexperienced surfer) to hit the waves and cry "Cowabunga!".


  • Cornwall is on the South West coast of England, approx. 5.5 hours via train from London; Surf lessons start from approx. £40pp from Haryln Surf School; www.harlynsurfschool.co.uk

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