Lifestyle Travel

Ditch the lilo! The unacknowledged appeal of an active holiday

On any ordinary day, you probably wouldn’t ever see me breaking a sweat, apart from when I walk up the stairs in the Rad Cam a bit too quickly. For a self-confessed fitness-phobe, I was surprised to actually enjoy my first active holiday last summer camping around Wales for nine days.

I began in the Gower Peninsula. Even on my first day, a short two mile walk turned into a ten mile round trip to Rhossili Bay. The paths I followed were definitely off the beaten track; at one point, I climbed almost vertically up a sand dune. Upon writing this article, I’ve drawn a blank tracking exactly how I got from Llanmadoc to Rhossili. What I’d say to anyone else attempting this, is to invest in an Ordinance Survey Map as it allows you to go on customisable scenic walks that you won’t find listed anywhere else.

Part of the beauty of adventuring in this region is the distance from anywhere and anyone else. One highlight from my trip was my visit to Mewslade the following evening, a quiet Bay only accessible firstly by a hillside walk and then by scrambling over some rocks. Despite rock-climbing shoes being a questionable fashion choice, being well-prepared for activities is the best way to make the most of your time. Ignoring the hypochondriac echo of my mum’s pre-holiday lecture, my last night in the Gower I spent climbing up rocky hillsides, feeling waves soak into my tasteful footwear.

After visiting waterfalls in Brecon, I had time to fit in a bike-ride along a quaint canal. Broken gears and the inviting prospect of a pub cut short the cycle ride, but knowing I’d ridden the whole way there made the break all the more rewarding. The following day was reserved for much needed rest before the next early morning start. As someone whose biceps have been described as “concave,” the prospect of a whole day of kayaking along the River Wye made my knees feel as weak as my arms. Yet the perspective from the river would be unlike any view I’d get from just walking. By paddling at my own pace, I appreciated more of the nature around me as well as developing, dare I say, slightly more convex muscles.

The last stop was Snowdon. I surprised myself, after taking the train up to the peak, by wanting to walk the trail back down. Fuelled by the regret of not having achieved DofE Bronze, I descended in just under the average time.

Views on Mt Snowdon

For my last active day, I fixed up a paddleboard at Black Rock Sands and took it out to sea. This was another activity I’d never tried before, but the love I gained on this trip for going out on the water made me keen to try to try it out.

I can see why an active holiday is no easy feat for many people, myself included. With the appeal of luxury breaks and total relaxation, being more physically active on holiday than at home isn’t everyone’s idea of a break. Personally, I loved the difference that the holiday made in me and the sense of accomplishment I felt in knowing that I filled my days as much as possible.

Active holidays don’t have to be a grand expedition in another country many miles away, nor should there be any pressure to over-exert yourself. These breaks offer the chance for you to test your limits with something new, renew your love of old hobbies, and revel in the freedom of exploring.

Victoria Stone

Vicky Stone is the Senior Columns Editor, having previously been an Editor on Lifestyle. She is going into her second year of studying English at Teddy Hall.