Low impact adventure ideas from around the world

Adventure in the UK

Slog out some scenic but challenging marathons like Scarfell Pike Trail Marathon. The lesser-distance races of the Lakeland Trails also look incredible but if that’s too short a distance, go for broke and attempt a Bob Graham Round.

Run around the 5000 mile coastline of the UK like Elise Downing or JOGLE (John O’Groats to Lands End, 1000 miles). As a warm up, there’s the 66 mile perimeter of the Isle of Wight to jog around or the Ring of Fire 135 mile Ultra in Anglesey!

Visit some of the UK’s small islands and do some wildlife volunteering along the way. The UK has over 180 islands. Check out Lundy Island in Devon, St Agnes in the Scilly Isles and Bardsey Island in Wales, then trek off into the wilds of Scotland to stay in some of their unspoilt and pretty remote retreats such as Coll, Gigha and Lismore.

Run the capital ring in a day picking up plastic (plogging) along the way.

Hike the length of the Thames and camp along the way like photographer Ian Finch, for an insight into the diversity of our waterways.

Take a pilgrimage down the Old Way from Southampton to Canterbury, a 250-mile route discovered by the British Pilgrimage Trust from an old map from 1360 to retrace the steps of our past.

For the wow-factor, hike the Hebridean Way, 150 miles of pure heavenly scenery. In fact, this might also be doable with older kids too if you take a small section, or have all summer! Alternatively, the Pennine Way looks amazing too.

Camp in some of the UK’s remotest places. Though we’re a tiny island, there are still many, many wild places – Orford Ness, Connemara, Dartmoor, much of Scotland and Ireland – that look incredible places to camp out in.

Visit some of our wildest beaches. Even better? Camp out on them too. I’m looking at you Par Beach in the Scillies, Covehithe in Suffolk and Uig Bay on the Isle of Lewis.

Adventure in Africa

Back to running. First up is the Lewa Safaricom marathon in Kenya, which passes through jaw-dropping wildlife conservancies, while raising money for them at the same time. If I have anything left after that, I’d nip over to South Africa for Comrades, super popular and super tough ultra race.

Take part in the Plymouth to Banjul rally. All you need is an old banger and some faith! The aim is to get from Plymouth to Banjul, 3700 mile, some of which through the Sahara desert, on a shoestring. I really, really wanted to do this trip about 10 years ago but chickened out (and also couldn’t find any other willing volunteers to come with me. I mean, what!!)

Spend a week or two driving and camping in Namibia, or take longer and go slower by bike.

Adventure in Asia

Walk across India, or down. Alastair Humphries has done it. Maybe some kind of yoga pilgrimage. Also, this tour taking the high road to Kashmir also looks doable, yet still completely awesome.

Lizzie Carr, the first woman to paddleboard the UK to raise awareness of plastic pollution in our waterways, has made paddleboarding mainstream. And paddleboarding in Asia is quite a big thing so heading down the Mekong seems like a good plan.

Cycle Thailand, Laos and Cambodia. Test out a day tour first with Tiger Trails, an ethical adventure cycle tour just outside Luang Prabang. Not only is it beautiful, it’s a fantastic way to see a more authentic Laos, at a slower pace.

Iran and the ‘stans on horseback. For true non-touristy travelling and adventure, this is probably the sort of trip to take. That, combined with the thrill of travelling with a four-legged friend would be the adventure of a lifetime.

Adventure in the Americas

Hike the PCT. Read Wild by Cheryl Strayed before retracing her steps from Mexico to Canada, all 2,650 miles of it. There’s something about going back to basics, fending for yourself, and properly being in the wilds that really gets to me.

Wild camping and canoeing through Patagonia. Pretty much the ideal country to explore via shimmering waterways. It’s surrounded by fjords and divided by rivers.

Adventure in Australasia

Run the Outback marathon. You’d have no problem keeping warm on this.

Adventure in Europe

Attempt 30 marathons in 30 days or 2000 miles in a year. Where better than Europe? Either solo or organised. Some notable places worthy of your trainers stomping through them include the Azores Trail in Portugal (there is also an organised race yearly here), the Laugavegur trail in Iceland and along Albania’s epic coastline. To whet your appetite further check out this list of Europe’s long distance trail paths, and imagine the hikes, running or cycling you could do.

Horseride around Iceland. On an Icelandic pony. Probably best in summertime.

Run the Ultra Tour Monte Rosa (UTMR). Most people have heard of the UTMB – the seriously hard even to get into mountain trail ultra race in the Alps. The UTMR follows the UTMR trail which circulates the second highest mountain in the Alps. It was set up by Lizzy Hawker, and is more accessible to all (though still extremely challenging).

For more see Adventure Uncovered who promote ‘adventure that matters’, championing ethical adventure and escapades that go one step further, by creating less impact than more mainstream tourism, and doing something along the way too to promote social or environmental change.