We may not have 10-foot waves or stomach-turning bungee jumps, but Herefordshire is full of adventure sports for those who want to get out and hang from cliffs or eskimo roll the length of the Wye.
In fact, this weekend is one of the best opportunities of the year to bust out your longboard and hang 10 on the historic Severn bore – a rare, surf-able river wave that winds its way down the Severn just a short drive south of the county.
Although only a few feet high – it’s unlikely to get Kelly Slater’s pulse racing – experienced bore riders can stay on the wave for miles at a time.
Don’t miss it though, the tidal phenomenon only occurs six times over the next three days.
For a more reliable way to get your adrenaline going, check out these five top spots around the county for something different to do over the summer.
1 Rock Climbing
For decades, the limestone crags at Symonds Yat have drawn climbers of all abilities keen to clamber up their routes and enjoy the spectacular views over the River Wye once they make it to the top.
There are several companies who specialise in training beginners or helping improving climbers find their feet on the variety of rock faces (there are climbs ranging from 10m to 30m) – check out Wye Pursuits and Wyedean Canoe and Adventure Centre for more info.
Just looking for a wall after work? We’ve got you. The new Boulder Barn set up at Taste For Adventure in Hereford offers a great way in to climbing.
‘Bouldering’ – now a sport unto itself – involves negotiating indoor walls of varying difficulty at a relatively low height, with cushioned floors underneath in case you slip your grip.
It’s a fun way of practicing your skills, getting a climb in if the Great British Summer is true to form and the heavens open, or giving climbing a go in a safe environment.
For more information on the Boulder Barn, click here.
2 Mountain Biking
There are a few spots where you can give your mudguards a decent work out in Herefordshire – Haugh Woods and West Wood are good starting points, and If you ask in any local bike shop they can recommend many more – but there are also a number of trails that are held in high regard nationally, within spitting distance of the border.
Starting up north, just the wrong side of the River Teme, is Bucknell downhill mountain bike track. Open to everyone and hosting the final round of the Pearce Cycles Downhill Series, the track is designed by Marc Beaumont and performs well in wet or dry.
Minutes from Cradley in the East of the county is Out To Grass, a bike and mountainboard centre which has a mountain bike trial course – designed by top riders Ricky Compton and Blake Sampson – which features kickers, a wall ride and a Northshore drop-in.
On the other side of the county, Hergest Ridge and the Radnor Forest – just over the Welsh border from Kington – play host to a series of great all-weather routes with spectacular views.
And finally for those located down south, check out the Black Mountains Cycle Centre, just off the A465 near Pandy. One of the best places to ride in the UK, the centre has a wide range of rides, catering to everyone from speed demons to big air fans.
We are blessed with one of the best rivers to canoe – or kayak – on in the whole of the UK.
As the Wye runs right across the county, you are not short of spots to jump in and jump out, and firms happy to help you do it.
In the British Canoe Union’s list of the top ‘100 Paddles in England’, the guide details various stretches that you can take on, from the shoulder-busting 100-mile touring route all the way from Glasbury in the West to Chepstow in the South, to various shorter routes ranging from 10-20 miles that would make for a lovely day on the river.
My personal pick would be starting at the picturesque Glasbury-on-Wye (just across the border), jumping in and heading for either Hay-on-Wye (5.5 miles, or a good three hours including collection) or if you’re feeling good, carry on to Whitney-on-Wye (11 miles, and about 5 hours total) for a chance to jump out at the perfect point for a thirsty paddler, the always-lovely Boat Inn.
The good people at Wye Valley Canoes can sort you out with everything you need at Glasbury (including funky accommodation at their bunk house, or bike hire if you want to take on the Black Mountains on two wheels) – including a briefing at the start and collection from whichever point you end up at.
Whether you’d rather slide around on grass or asphalt, Hereford’s got you covered.
Opened last year by international mountainboarder Tom Donalson, Hereford Board & Bike Park recently cut the ribbon on their second summer season.
Not only does the site have jumps, tracks and a foam pit to practice your tricks in, but for one day only it’s also hosting a giant Slip n Slide.
You can choose from mountainboards, dirt scooters, bikes and grass sledges to take on their tracks, near Tillington, with the centre hiring out everything you need.
Across town is one of the UK’s best outdoor skate parks, with bowls and a street section, all open for your shredding pleasure 24/7.
Beginners can arrange coaching, or rent out equipment, at the office on site (the Boom Box). And if you don’t want to stop skating just because the sun says it’s night time – by signing up to be a member, you can buy a card that lets you turn on the floodlights any time for the very reasonable price of £2.50 an hour.
If you’re a scooter rider or a youngster, check the website here, as there are some times during the busy weekend slots that are designated just for you (and others that are just for the older skaters).
5 High Wire antics
If you’ve got a group of adrenaline junkies, or mini-adrenaline junkies, looking to climb, swing and generally do their best Tarzan impression there are few adventure centres that specialise in just that.
Up north, based in Kingsland, there is Oaker Wood Leisure who (among a whole variety of activities) offer zip wires, high wires and something called the Leap Of Faith.
Just outside Hereford, Taste For Adventure Centre boasts a series of nail-biting high-altitude activities on site, as well as gorge walking in the Brecon Beacons.
And just south of the county, Go Ape in the Forest of Dean encourages you to become the king of the swingers for your own Tree Top adventure.
All of these may require a group booking, depending on the activity (usually a minimum of 8 people) so make sure you check on their websites or call before visiting.