From the idyllic shores of Cornwall to the brooding mountains of the Scottish Highlands, there’s nowhere quite like the UK for a taste of the great outdoors. And what better way of experiencing the diverse landscapes and natural wonders of our isles than through a new adventure with your friends?
Whether you’re after a gentle horseback ride through the dappled woodland of the New Forest or a high-adrenaline zip-lining escapade in Wales, we’ve found some of the best outdoor group activities to try together on your next big staycation in the UK.
The best outdoor group activities on water
Sea kayaking in Northumberland
Discover offshore islets and lesser-known waters that only local paddlers know about with a sea kayaking adventure in Northumberland. This wild and beautiful coastline is a great spot for sea kayaking thanks to its natural rock arches, dramatic sea stacks and golden, sandy beaches.
If you are new to kayaking, then several companies offer coaching and guided trips for groups. Those who have kayak experience might want to join a trip to the RSPB reserve on Coquet Island or the National Trust-managed Farne Islands where you can admire seabirds in their thousands, including puffins and roseate terns, as well as a large colony of grey seals who will sometimes swim right beside you!
Northumberland sea kayaking providers:
Coasteering in Devon
Climb, scramble, swim and jump your way along the Devon coastline. If you’re looking for fun outdoor group activities for adults, then coasteering should be at the top of your list. Clad in wetsuits, buoyancy aids and helmets, you’ll experience nature’s own adventure playground as you and your friends plunge and splash your way through deep sea caves and gullies, hidden coves and rocky islands - this activity is one for the adrenaline junkies!
A host of outdoor adventure companies offer coasteering excursions across Devon: take on the ‘Swirly Gully’ at Baggy Point, dive into the ‘Washing Machine’ at Hele Bay or ride the swell at Gara Rock. As well as testing your limits, coasteering in Devon offers a refreshingly different, up-close angle on extraordinary beauty spots and wildlife that are not usually accessible by any other means. You can also discover more top Devon activities to entertain a big group in our guide.
Devon coasteering providers:
Surfing in Cornwall
The spiritual and historical home of UK surfing with around 100 surf breaks peppered along its sweeping coastline, there’s no better place to gather your mates and learn to surf than Cornwall. The waves here are some of the most consistent in the country.
Sat on the north coast, Newquay is the epicentre of Cornwall’s surf culture, home to the annual Boardmasters pro surf contest, but you’ll find a huge selection of surf schools to choose from across the Cornish coast to suit all abilities. We’ve also got some more top Cornwall activities for group holidays in our guide.
Surf schools in Cornwall:
White water rafting in Wales
If surfing doesn’t get your heart pumping, why not try white water rafting in Wales? One of the best outdoor team building activities for small groups, this thrilling water sport is an absolute must for those who enjoy white-knuckle rides and getting wet.
There are some exhilarating natural rapids to be found on the rivers in Wales, from the fast-flowing waters and the infamous ‘Hell Hole’ of the River Wye in South Wales to the turbulent weirs, drops and eddies of the River Tryweryn in the Snowdonia National Park. Split your group into small teams per raft and see who fares best as you race down the choppy waters.
White water rafting providers in Wales:
Aquaventures in the Cotswolds
Aquaventure, copyright Instagram @cotswoldparkandbeach
Nestled among the 180 sparkling lakes of the Cotswold Water Park, is the Cotswold Country Park and Beach. Here, you can treat your team to a day of action-packed fun at the giant Aquaventure inflatable waterpark, the largest of its kind in the area.
Climb, bounce and splash your way through this high-energy obstacle course and enjoy the ultimate total wipe-out experience. It’s perfect for hen parties, stag groups, corporate team building and days out with your family and friends. Once you’ve completed the challenge, there are myriad other exciting water sports, group games and outdoor activities to try within the wider waterpark, including windsurfing, water-skiing, golf and aerial adventures.
Activity providers in the Cotswold Water Park:
The best outdoor group activities on land
Via Ferrata in the Lake District
Set on the site of Honister Slate Mine in the Lake District, the Via Ferrata is one of the most adrenaline-pumping outdoor group activities in the UK. Clipped to a mountain by a cable, 2,000 feet above the valleys of Buttermere and Borrowdale where only the birds fly, up to ten plucky participants will make their way towards the summit ridge of the mighty Fleetwith Pike using a series of cables, rungs and hair-raising cliff-edge ladders.
This vertigo-inducing mountain trail will test your group's mettle to the max as you scramble across bridges, climb sheer cliff faces and cross the dizzying Infinity Bridge, suspended above the valley floor. Choose from Classic and Xtreme options, which each last around 3 hours – the latter promises to scale heights seven times those reached by Big Ben and twice as high as the London Shard, so you definitely need a head for heights!
Bouldering in Yorkshire
From ascending the weird and wonderful formations at Brimham Rocks in Nidderdale, to climbing landmark features, such as The Calf in Ilkley, bouldering in Yorkshire is some of the best in the UK. A great way to experience rock climbing without the height, bouldering is a type of low-level climbing but without ropes or harnesses. It is, however, more challenging than it might look!
If you’ve never tried this sport before, you and your friends can book a taster session and learn where to look for footholds and where to hold on when moving up a rock face so that you can climb with confidence. It is a great outdoor activity to do in a group as you can spot ‘problems’ together such as cracks, slabs and traverses.
Bouldering providers in Yorkshire:
Caving in the Peak District
Although the Peak District National Park is stunning above ground, it’s even more spectacular below the surface; cathedral-like caverns with towering stalagmites and glistening stalactites, tumbling rivers and waterfalls, and ancient geology abound.
Several outdoor activity centres in the Peak District offer journeys into this intriguing underground world. Squeezing through natural narrow passages carved through 300-million-year-old limestone and descending into man-made mining tunnels, you and your group can discover iconic caves like Peak Cavern, Poole’s Cavern and the impressive Titan - Britain’s biggest cave with a waterfall that plunges a whopping 140 metres below ground level.
Caving providers in the Peak District:
Horseback riding in the New Forest
Horse riding in the New Forest is one of the finest ways to experience the natural beauty and ever-changing landscapes of the national park. And there are many riding stables dotted across the area, so you and your group can be in the saddle in no time.
Take to the bridleways which wind across rolling heathland, through mature woodland and dappled glades, and along the pristine coastline. Keep an eye out for curious New Forest wildlife on your journey – you are likely to see the iconic New Forest ponies, as well as donkeys, cattle, deer and perhaps even some pigs! Why not include a pub lunch on your hack too? There are many friendly watering holes in the national park that provide space to tie up your trusty steed while you enjoy a bite to eat.
Equestrian centres in the New Forest:
Bagging a Munro in Scotland
A Munro is a Scottish mountain with an elevation of more than 3,000 feet (914 metres) – and you and your friends can challenge yourselves to ‘bag’ one by reaching the summit. The ultimate aim is to complete a ‘round’ of the Munros (all of them) so you will then become a ‘Compleatist’ (or Munroist). This is, however, not an easy feat, considering there are 282 of them in total!
So why not see how many you can tick off on your next group holiday in Scotland? With soaring heights and awe-inspiring views, bagging a Munro is well worth the effort it takes to reach its lofty peak. And nothing beats the feeling of achievement that sets in when reaching the top, whether you conquer Ben Nevis, the highest Munro at 1,345 metres, or Ben Vane which is the smallest at 914 metres.
The best outdoor group activities in the air
Paragliding on the Isle of Wight
The Isle of Wight is breathtaking at any time of the day, but with a birds-eye view of the land and sea, as the breeze carries you high on a paragliding trip, you will never want to do sightseeing the traditional way again.
With reliable wind conditions and more flyable days throughout the year than anywhere else in the UK, the Isle of Wight is one of the best spots for a paragliding adventure with your friends. Thankfully, no experience or skills are necessary if you and your group book with a qualified instructor, and there are few schools on the island where you can have a go at tandem gliding.
Paragliding schools on the Isle of Wight:
Zip-lining in North Wales
Zip World, copyright Instagram @zip_world
If paragliding doesn’t quench your group’s thirst for adventure, then how does hurtling through the sky at up to 125 mph attached to a wire sound? North Wales is undoubtedly the zip wire capital of the world, with numerous wires suspended over forests, quarries and deep underground.
The infamous Zip World team now have three locations spread across North Wales, each with its own daredevil experiences. At Zip World Penrhyn Quarry you’ll find Velocity 2, the fastest line in the world and the longest in Europe. This is the perfect group activity as it features four parallel lines, so you can simultaneously race each other for 1.5 kilometres over the turquoise lake below. Alternatively, zoom from tree to tree at Zip World Fforest on the 23 wires of the Zip Safari, or experience the longest underground zip wire in the world at Zip World Slate Caverns.
Flyboarding in Dorset
Now this one is a mixture of both the air and sea, so two activities for the price of one! Head to Sandbanks Beach in Dorset for a flyboard flight and experience the rush of pure adrenaline as these powerful jet packs blast you straight out of the water and up to 10 metres in the air!
Flyboarding is a fairly new addition to the world of water sports, and a fantastically futuristic one at that. Essentially, a flyboard is a board holding two shoes with propulsion jets at the bottom. This is connected to a jet ski via a powerful tube that shoots water through the bottom of the flyboard, facilitating lift. The trick is to find your balance and maintain a hover while in the air, and once mastered you can try dives, spins, twists, backflips and blast-offs – you can even use the flyboard to propel yourself under the water and back out again dolphin-style, if you’re feeling really brave.
High ropes course in the Forest of Dean
Test your head for heights among the ancient canopies of the Forest of Dean. Nestled deep within England's largest oak woodland are some fiendishly fun adventure centres offering high ropes courses where you and your group can take part in some high-octane monkey business!
Climb, swing, jump and fly your way around the treetop challenges, taking on epic zip wires, Tarzan swings, rope ladders and a variety of obstacles. For groups, this is a great test of courage, physical ability and teamwork, sure to push you outside the realms of your comfort zone.
High ropes courses in the Forest of Dean:
Group holidays in the UK
With so many exciting outdoor group activities to choose from across the UK, there’s never been a better time to book a staycation with your mates. Our collection of large holiday cottages in the UK offer the perfect settings for a big break with those you cherish the most, whether you’re looking for group accommodation for your friends, family, a stag party or a hen do. Click the button below to browse our full portfolio of large houses and book your group holiday in the UK.
Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing,
please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.