ACTIVE AND OUTDOORS
MOUNTAIN BIKING, 7STANES, DUMFRIES, SCOTLAND
Purpose-built trail centres are the easiest way to get into mountain biking, and provide a big hit of adrenalin whatever your skill level. They have been springing up all over the UK in the past 10 years, particularly at Forestry Commission sites, with trails graded green, blue, red and black, like ski runs. Everything is signposted and mapped, so navigation isn’t an issue, and the trails are usually free to ride – although you may have to pay for parking. Scotland is one of the best places to start: 7Stanes is a network of centres spanning the south of the country, within easy reach of Edinburgh and Glasgow. Glentress, near Peebles, is the most popular, and has suitable beginner terrain as well as instructors on site.
FLY FISHING, VARIOUS LOCATIONS
If you’d like to get the young ones hooked, or you want to improve your own skills, equipment supplier Orvis has fly fishing courses taking place in its stores around the UK. It’s not a hard sell for their kit, but they will talk you through some of the gear you might need, as well as showing you the basics of casting and how to tie the essential knots. For over-16s there is a more advanced course covering the different types of reels and lines, and an introduction to tying flies.
Burford in Oxfordshire and Harrogate in North Yorkshire have courses on Oct 27; both are free but must be booked ahead. Make a splash on the Flamborough coast. The Living Seas Centre, run by the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, is a breath of fresh air – quite literally, given the stiff easterly breeze. A root around the rock pools on the foreshore feels like stepping into Famous Five territory, as does a yomp along the cliffs above. The Living Seas Centre brings the plants and animals to life, including shellfish, kelp forests and chalk reefs as well as the gannets, gulls and even puffins that nest on the craggy clifftops. Admission is free but donations are welcome.
SKATEBOARDING TRYOUT SESSION, HOUSE OF VANS, LONDON
Skateboarding was once seen as a fast-track to A&E, at best; at worst, a gateway to a life of crime. While not exactly mainstream today, skate culture is far more respectable: every town worth its salt has a skate ramp, and in 2020 the sport makes its Olympic debut in Tokyo. It is still fiendishly difficult, however, so enlist the help of a pro at a free tryout session at London’s House of Vans. The two-hour time slots are free but you need to book ahead and bring your own board. At time of press, places were available tomorrow, Thursday and on Oct 28.
Year-round daily; scotland.forestry. gov.uk/activities/mountain-biking/ 7stanes Year-round daily; ywt.org.uk houseofvanslondon.com/ book-skate-session
GREAT OUTDOORS Children can try fly fishing, top, rock pooling, above, and skateboarding, below, among other outdoor pursuits breconbeacons.org/geocachingorienteering-navigation