Looking for an active holiday but are a little strapped for cash? Don’t worry there are plenty of cheap UK adventure holidays that provide ample fun without breaking the bank. For big fun but small costs, check out the best British budget outdoor breaks below.
Ultimately, watching the cash doesn’t have to leave us bereft of fun and adventure, it just means we have to be a little more creative. And having your dose of action and adrenaline doesn’t have to mean digging deep or even travelling far, as there are plenty of adventures that can be had at home in the United Kingdom.
Best British budget outdoor breaks
Here’s our guide to cheap UK adventure holidays. We’ve gone for activities that are mostly free, and given options all over the country to help you enjoy the British outdoors without costing a fortune.
Trekking and Hiking
Nothing is cheaper or easier than going out and exploring the great British countryside on foot. At it’s very basic level all you need is a decent footwear, appropriate clothing and a backpack with some supplies. If heading out into the wild or on longer walks, hiking boots, map and compass and waterproofs are recommended.
Why not abandon the urban jungle and scale England’s highest peak, Scafell Pike in the Lake District? At 978m it’s hardly Everest, but battling the somewhat unpredictable Cumbrian weather and steep pathways is undoubtedly exhilarating.
The views from the summit have inspired writers from Wordsworth to Wainwright. On a clear day, it’s also possible to see the five kingdoms of Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man and England. Hiking in the Lake District is easily one of the best British budget outdoor breaks.
But you don’t have to head to the north west for a spot of trekking or hiking. The Brecon Beacons in south Wales offer beautiful scenery and of course Snowdonia in the north of Wales has plenty of trails. The Peak district ‘Derbyshire Dales’ in the Midlands are well worth a visit and up in Scotland pretty much everywhere is great for hike.
The South Downs Way through Sussex and Hampshire is the best in the south east. Whilst the South West Coastal Path in Cornwall and Dorset offers stunning seaside scenery and plenty of pasties! Wherever you live in Britain trekking and hiking are probably the most accessible of cheap UK adventures holidays.
Wild swimming is not really something for the winter – although some people done wetsuits and do it year round. It is something of a new craze for those in search of beautiful beaches, crystal clear coves and cooling caves along our coasts and refreshing rivers, languid lakes and wild waterfalls inland.
Armed with just a bikini or pair of shorts, what could be cheaper yet more invigorating than plunging into a hidden waterfall or swimming to a secret beach? And your aquatic journey can start almost anywhere in the UK, just ensure you’re aware of the depth of water and currents before jumping in. Purchasing a wild swimming guide book is a good place to start.
Kayaking and SUP
Hiring (or buying) a kayak or stand up paddle board is not too expensive, yet it offers a great way to explore the British coasts and waterways. Of the two kayaking is a bit more suited to multi day trips but both make for cheap UK adventure holidays.
A great adventure is to paddle from Coast to Coast in Scotland. Following the Caledonian Canal from Fort William on the North Atlantic coast, through Loch Ness, all the way to Inverness on the North Sea.
Paddle around the the Seven Sisters and beautiful Cuckmere Haven in East Sussex. Explore Cornish coves to find hidden beaches or play in the waves on the wild Welsh coast.
Inland there are rivers with whitewater to ramp up the excitement. If you are after rapids then Blackwater River in Northern Ireland, River Tay in Scotland and River Wye in Wales offer the best natural whitewater in the UK. However the watersports centres in Lee Valley (used for the London Olympics), Cardiff and Nottingham offer man made whitewater.
We may not have the Alps, but the UK has some of Europe’s finest mountain bike trails. For example, Fort William is a regular event in the Mountain Bike World Cup. Set your adrenaline pumping and get on your bike while negotiating the rugged mountains encircling this Scottish town.
If the mountain biking in Scotland is good enough for the Mountain Bike World Cup, it’s got to be good enough for everyone else! There is everything from cross-country trails to white knuckle downhills and gentle forest rides in Scotland. Riding around the Nevis Range, Cairngorms or Loch Lomond is breathless, brawny and beautiful.
Heading south there is plenty of great riding in the Lake District, the Pennines, and Peak district. You have Bike Park Wales in the Brecon Beacons offering seriously challenging trails alongside routes for beginners – if you are into MTB this would be one of the best British budget outdoor breaks.
All over the UK there are local bike trails that will offer a technical challenge plus there are longer routes to test you physically. Routes such as the South Downs Way or London to Brighton off-road are fun but cheap UK adventure holidays. The ultimate though is to MTB off-road from Lands End to John o’Groats which takes about three weeks.
Who needs Costa Rica when you’ve got great weather and huge swells in the UK? OK so we can’t compete with Costa Rica on consistency of waves and sunshine, but there are plenty of surf spots offering cheap UK adventure holidays. If you already know how surf just chuck your board in the car and all it costs is a bit of petrol getting to your surf spot of choice.
Hell’s Mouth in North Wales is a popular spot with impressive peaks along its 4 mile length, so there’s room for anyone with a board. Cornwall gets plenty of waves with Newquay the British surf capital.
South Wales gets plenty of the Atlantic swell with the Gower Peninsula a gorgeous spot. The west and northern coast of Scotland gets good waves with Thurso probably the top surfing destination.
Camping can be combined with any of the best British budget outdoor breaks to keep costs down. But it is a hugely rewarding activity even if you don’t take on the above adventures. Many national parks allow wild camping as long as you are responsible.
There are thousands of campsites dotted across the UK, offering everything from statics with full amenities and entertainment, to a field with little more. There are bound to be campsites near you, go for one with less amenities where you are allowed to have a fire.
Arrive, pitch your tent, unpack, explore the area, forage for food (or go to a convenient farm shop!), build a fire and cook outdoors. That is an adventure. You may not have climbed a mountain, surfed a wave, or hit a scary top speed but camping is rewarding and undoubtedly one of the best British budget outdoor breaks.
Cheap UK adventure holidays
In the UK we may not be blessed with the biggest mountains, the gnarliest terrain or scariest whitewater, but we have more than our fair share adventures to choose from. So in many respects, the best British budget outdoor breaks would be multi-activity, combining the above activities with other extreme activities in the UK for your own tailor-made adventure.
If you have the equipment already, all of the above activities are free of very low cost. Meaning cheap UK adventure holidays are easily within reach to almost anyone. So get out there, get active and enjoy the British countryside, drag some friends along and no matter what you do you’ll have a great time.
Be sure to check out our United Kingdom adventure discounts as you could save a fortune on your next holiday.