New Activities On Water And On Land

orange square By new activities, we don't mean the types of sports that have only just been invented, but rather new ideas that you may not have heard of, or not thought about trying. I had the opportunity to try a new sport at the weekend and it got me thinking about all the activities out there that we don't know about, or if we do hear of them, we don't actually give any thought to having a go at them. Like most people, I tend to stick to what I know. I'll go running and cycling most of the time, and if I get the chance there is nothing better than getting out for a paddle in a canoe. Sometimes someone will invite me climbing, though I am not very good at it and I have to admit I am not the best when it comes to heights. But for people who enjoy adventure sports, we are we so unadventurous when it comes to trying something new? It got me thinking about some of the more obscure activities which are every bit as enjoyable as their more popular counterparts, so I did a bit of research. I won't tell you which of the following I had my first go at, but see if you can guess from what follows.


ocean

Underwater Rugby
✔ Low impact
✔ High energy
✔ Great fun

Bog Snorkelling
✘ Low visibility
✘ You'll need a bath
✔ Pub bragging rights

Waboba
✔ Like squash on water
✔ Great beach game
✘ Not really a sport


First up, three different adventures that involve water. Underwater Rugby is a fairly self explanatory, using a ball filled with salty water so that it doesn't just float about on the surface, and involving two teams of five. The idea is to get the ball into a "goal" by passing it between players. The ball's buoyancy is set such that it can be thrown through the water several meters before resistance stops it. Anyone who has played will tell you it is a great physical work out, testing swimming skills and lung capacity. Definitely not one for smokers then!

Bog Snorkelling has enjoyed quite a following for a number of years now with the annual world championships being held every year at the Welsh spa town of Llanwrtyd Wells. Whoever came up with the idea of cutting a sixty yard trench in a peat bog, filling it with muddy water then snorkelling along it, propelled by flippers, must have had a drink or two beforehand. It is certainly one of those quintessentially British sports often more fun to watch and often raising lots of money for charity. We aren't sure it would be one you would just pop out and do with a couple of friends at the weekend.

Waboba (Water Bouncing Ball) was a new one on me and nobody in the office had heard of it either, but there are some great youtube videos that show what it is all about, including a great one showing the physics behind it. You need to be in water about knee high to get the best out of this activity. The ball will bounce in much the same way as a flat stone will skim. The idea is to pass between two teams without allowing the opposition to get to the ball. The water makes it more difficult to move about and means you get a better work out by the end of the game. Even though the rules are minimal and there isn't really a right lot to it, Waboba definitely has some appeal and is a great way to spend some time if you are on a beach with shallow surf.


mud

Stair climbing
✘ Harder than it sounds
✔ High energy
✔ Helps if you are mad

Parkour
✔ Low impact
✔ Impressive to watch
✘ Down with the kids

Gorge Scrambling
✔ Great atmosphere
✔ Less extreme than canyoning
✔ Lots of fun


There are more land based activities than you can shake a stick at, though many of them are just plain daft and probably haven't developed any significant following for precisely this reason. However, each to their own, and I have picked out three that could be worth a try if you fancy something a little different. Stair climbing certainly sounds as though it should be in the daft category, but actually it is not much different to any other kind of running and indeed is taken serious enough to warrant an annual tower racing world cup. To make a good race of it you need more than the couple of flights of stairs up to our office, but before you get on a plane to New York to join the Empire State climb, ask yourself whether you really want to climb 86 floors as fast as possible. I have actually tried this one, not in New York, but up ten flights and dressed in a suit. The difference between propelling your body horizontally and horizontally AND vertically is actually quite significant. Gravity is a very useful everyday 'thing', but when it comes to the sport of stair climbing, it is not very nice at all.

Few people won't know what Parkour is, and even if you don't, chances are you have seen it demonstrated on the television or at the movies. Despite being more than a decade old now, the sport is still officially "cool" for anyone who doesn't have kids, and every media producer who wants to appeal to a youth audience will try to include a sequence. The best place to see parkour is on youtube. There are some ropey versions shot by kids in their back gardens, and plenty of 'fail' style vids, but some guys and girls make their living touring the world and giving demonstrations and they are well worth watching. While we aren't recommending you scramble onto the roof of your house and try to jump across to your neighbour, learning some of the basic moves is fun.

Gorge scrambling is amazing fun. OK you've already guessed this is the one I tried for the first time. Beside a picturesque river there will usually be a well trodden footpath, used by everything from sheep to families out walking with their dog. The idea with gorge scrambling is to completely ignore this footpath and follow the path of the river while getting as wet as possible, in other words, get in it! Thinking back my first experience of this activity was one summer when we were about twelve. The local country park (Bramhall) had a lovely little stream winding through it, and one day we decided to try to walk the length of it. We even followed the tunnel under the road to see how far we could get. Of course, if you are going to try proper gorge scrambling then you need a bouyancy aid and a helmet. Moving from shallow water that may only be up to your ankles, though deep pools that you can swim in, and up steep waterfalls, is a great experience and gives you a real sense of achievement. Plenty of outdoor centres offer gorge scrambling sessions and I'd recommend it to anyone. You get pretty wet so don't take the phone with you. If people want to see what it is like, tell them to try it for themselves.

Need more inspiration?

4x4 Off roading - Whether you want to take your 4x4 over the type of terrain you won't find on your Home Counties commute to the capital, or you are more interested in borrowing someone else's, off road driving is a lot of fun. Land rovers and other robust 4x4 vehicles are designed to cope with serious road conditions. At off road driving centres you can receive expert tuition in how to push your vehicle to the limit on steep slopes, rocky terrain and through deep water.

Archery - Archery is another sport that has its roots in historic combat, where a bow is used to fire an arrow at a target. Archery is a very popular activity, with lots of clubs offering lessons and facilities. It is also a central part of many multi activity centres and therefore an archery qualification will look great on your application.

There are several different types of competition archery, they are: target archery, where you aim at circular targets marked with concentric circles of different colours, with higher points being awarded for arrows that land closer to the centre of the target; field archery, were archers are not firing from a fixed location but move between targets; and clout archery where arrows are landed on a horizontal target. Target archery is by far the most common type of archery. You will also find a range of different bow types - recurve, traditional, fiberglass and compound. Fibreglass is the most common type you will use to teach beginners to the sport of archery.

Grand National Archery Society (GNAS) Level 1 Coach will help you to share your enthusiasm for archery with new comers to the sport and allow you to teach single sessions or beginner groups. The course usually lasts for about four days and is spread over several weeks.

Grand National Archery Society (GNAS) Level 2 Coach builds on the level 1 qualification giving you greater responsibility and focusing more on equipment set-up, archery techniques, and observing and analysing other archers to help develop their skills.

BMX - We're not talking hanging around on the street corner pulling a few wheelies. Masters of BMX half pipe will take anyone's breath away. Lots of towns and cities have purpose built BMX and skate parks these days. No doubt inspired by the likes of X-Games.

Bungee Jumping - Another adrenaline rush activity. Attaching yourself to an elastic rope and throwing yourself off a bridge may not immediately seem like the best idea, but the sport of bungee jumping is well established and very safe. It usually involves throwing yourself off a very high suspension bridge, the tallest being an eye watering 216m high. That's more than enough for most people, though some have now taken it a step further and started bungee jumping from helicopters. While others have turned the principal on its head by securing the 'jumper' to the floor, stretching the elastic rope and firing them catapult-like into the air. Crazy.

Canoeing - Anyone who has watched the Olympic Games has probably realised that there are a number of different styles of canoeing. Perhaps the most popular is referred to as Kayaking and includes single boats, doubles and quads, as well as different seating positions including sitting and kneeling. Canoeing can take place on flat water or white water rapids; the first being mostly about the strength of the canoeist, the second being their strength as well as their skill navigating through the water. In addition to the short sprint form or canoeing, marathon events are also popular. We recommend a bit of practice before entering the Yukon 1000, a grueling 1,000 mile race on the Yukon River in Canada. Other popular canoeing styles are sea kayaking and extreme racing.

Canyoning - Similar to gorge walking, but more extreme. When canyoning you will find yourself making your way through a river gorge by means of walking, climbing, jumping and swimming. There is a great sense of achievement at the end of it. Like you tamed nature or something.

Caving - Most of us have probably been caving or potholing at some time in our lives. Like most adventure sports you have the option to make it as challenging as you like. From the gentle school class visit to a show cave in the Peak District or the Yorkshire Dales, to squeezing through a muddy hole marginally wider than your head. A big attraction for caving enthusiasts is exploring cave systems that haven't been mapped properly before. Caving often involves hanging from ropes, making climbing experience valuable, and sometimes being fully submerged under water. Flooded caves are common, as most by their nature are below the water table, and cave diving is a popular form of cave exploration. It's not one for the faint hearted though. Adventure sports are often dangerous, cave diving is more so than most!

Clay Pigeon Shooting - There are lots of adventure sports being with C aren't there. Take a shot gun, have someone fling some orange disks made of clay through the air, and shoot them before they hit the ground. In America they had about 3 billion passenger pigeons. They shot every last one of them. They tried making clay replicas so they could shoot those too, but they weren't very aerodynamic so the clay evolved into a disk shape to make it fly better. I probably made that bit up.

Cliff Diving - (also known as Tombstoning) Definitely a don't try this at home. You have probably seen the competition divers, sponsored by Red Bull, who dive from stupidly high cliffs into the ocean. But they have safety equipment in place and the area is well researched. Jumping from an unknown location, without professional supervision is stupid. Don't do it. Seek out an adventure company who offer a safe way to enjoy this crazy sport.

Coasteering - A cross between swimming, climbing and cliff diving. Having difficulty picturing it? People who participate in coasteering wander out to the coast, jump off the coastline into the sea. Swim around a bit and then clamber back up the rocks. OK so it's more organised than that, with an International Coasterring Association as well as Coasteering Instructor Training Courses.

Dragon Boat Racing - Thought to date back thousands of years in China, Dragon Boat Racing has become quite popular as a form of river or lake racing in the UK. Take a boat of eight or so people, give them each a single paddle, and have someone beat out a rhythm with a drum at the front of the boat. Events often involve some form of fancy dress and each boat has a beautifully decorated dragon’s head at the front. There is an annual Dragon Boat Race goes past our office on the River Severn here in Shrewsbury.

Gliding - The traditional form of gliding involves something that look a lot like a normal aeroplane. The main difference being their lack of power. Towed into the air by a conventional plane, or by a powered winch, the glider is then controlled by the pilot who searches for thermals (pockets of rising warm air) in order to stay airborne. There are many gliding clubs in the UK and it is possible to experience gliding in a two seater glider.

Hang gliding - Hang gliding is an older version of the more modern paragliding. The principal is roughly the same, you launch from a hill and try to find thermals to stay airborne below what is effectively a large kite. The main differences between hang gliding and paragliding are your body position - stretched out like superman rather than sitting, and a hang glider has a fixed frame where a paraglider can be folded into a large back pack.

Hiking - Hiking is a more relaxing form of adventure activity compared to such sports as white water rafting and bungee jumping, but as you are new to the activity and coming to the end of a ten mile hike you'll probably be finding it anything but relaxing! Apart from sensible waterproof clothing, a good pair of boots, an OS map and a compass, you'll find hiking a cheap way of getting out into the countryside for a blast of fresh air. And with well over a hundred thousand miles of footpaths in the UK you'll never be short of somewhere new to visit.

Hot air ballooning - Ballooning isn't really an adventure sport you can take up by yourself. You need a basket, a powerful liquid propane burner and several propane tanks, and a very large envelope of fabric. But the experience is simply amazing. Whether you are drifting across the South Downs or peering down at Lions and Zebras on a safari flight, once you have been up in a hot air balloon you'll want to do it again and again. One piece of etiquette to remember, if you land in a field in the UK the gentlemanly thing to do is leave the landowner a bottle of something alcoholic.

Hovercrafting - This is not a hugely popular pastime but there are national events held across the country. Most hovercraft enthusiasts build their own machines though there are places where you can hire the craft if you fancy trying your hand at hovercraft racing.

Jet Boating - Jet boats propel forwards without having to have a propellor beneath the water. This makes them ideal for shallow water and river canyons. If you don't know what jet boating is, take a look on youtube. It is one seriously mad adrenaline rush.

Jet Skiing - Essentially a motorbike without wheels on water. Early versions were relatively tame though now the four stroke engines can produce up to 250 horsepower, making for a seriously fast ride for one, two or even four riders. Be sure to check where you are allowed to ride as some coastal areas have restrictions, you'll also need to find places that have launch ramps for your jetski. There are some good websites that list places to hire jet skis.

Karting - If you fancy yourself as the next Michael Schumacher then starting your driving career in karts is probably the way to go. They may look like the kind of thing you did at the seaside when you were five. But proper karts can get up some serious speed, and with a grid full of drivers racing into the first corner, it's way better than any Mario game. Available in most big cities, give it a go, you'll love it!

Kite surfing - The main limit of surfing is the fact that waves only break when they reach the shore. So your time in the water is limited to short bursts of activity. With kite surfing you are attached to your board but you are also holding onto a kite, so you can use the wind to get around, without having to rely on the energy of the waves. Anyone who has watched the infamous kite surfing video on youtube will know it is a good idea to get some tuition and perhaps start off with a small kite. The larger power kites will see you spending more time in the air than in the water and speed records are already pushing 60mph - not for the faint hearted!

Land kiting - Very similar to kite surfing but without the water. Make sure your board has some wheels else you won't get very far.

Mirolight - Also known as ultralight aviation, the microlight is basically a low budget aeroplane. If you like flying by the seat of your pants (literally) then microlighting may be something you'd like to investigate. Personally, you wouldn't catch me on one of those things for all the tea in China, but I have it on good authority that it is very exciting.

Moto X - I'm not going mad am I, Moto X, or scrambling as it was called, used to be shown on television in the 1980s. Fairly tame back then, with people having to balance on beams and jump over small bogs. These days Moto X is more about racing around a track with huge jumps. Great spectator sport, even better these days.

Mountain Biking - Mountain biking took off in America in the 1970s but found world wide popularity by the early 1990s with international competitions and permanent courses being created. Characterised by super strong frame materials, fat tires and shock absorbing on the front and rear wheels, the mountain bike has become the most popular type of bicycle. Competition mountain biking is split into three main styles: cross country, for the super fit, downhill, for the super crazy, and freeride or trials, for the super skillful.

Paintballing - I'm not sure this sport is as popular as it used to be. Basically you are given a gun that fires balls of coloured paint. Masks to protect the face and eyes, and then let loose in a woodland environment to shoot people. Find your inner Rambo. The little plastic paint pellets sting like anything. It really hurts.

Paragliding - If your idea of fun is sitting beneath a giant kite several hundred feet off the ground then paragliding is for you! The basic idea is to launch yourself from a large hill and using the thermals, make your way across country. Competition flying also includes flying around waypoints, accuracy and duration flying.

Quad Biking - A quad bike is a cross between a car and a motorbike. They can be fast and a lot of fun to drive, but they can also be quite dangerous for the novice rider. There have been a number of serious quad bike accidents in recent years, usually caused by the front end rearing up, throwing the rider off the back before tipping over backwards to land on them. Putting that pleasant thought aside, blasting across the countryside with the wind on your crash helmet is bound to appeal to a lot of people. Quad bikes aren't the preserve of farmers rounding up their errant sheep.

Rally - Most people have probably seen the World Rally Championship (WRC) on television, but thousands of people up and down the country take part in rally racing every week. It's not a cheap sport, especially if your driving isn't as good as you would like to think it is.

Rock Climbing - Most people wouldn’t dream of going rock climbing without a safety rope, and indeed this is the most popular form of climbing, however free soloing is a form of climbing where no form of rope or protection from falling is used. Needless to say, this is definitely not recommended for inexperienced climbers. In between the two is free climbing and rope soloing, where the rope is attached to a set of existing belays as the climber(s) advances up the rock face. Another popular form of climbing is known as bouldering, where no ropes are used to climb short, often difficult routes.

Scuba diving - Scuba diving is where you swim underwater for extended periods by means of breathing apparatus, usually compressed air. When you think about how many activities we can partake in on land and in the air, it is not surprising that there are also plenty of different things you can do once you are able to dive. Exploring coral reefs is perhaps the one everyone thinks of when you say scuba diving, but divers are also needed for engineering projects, by the police, in the oil industry, in boat maintenance, and much much more.

Of all the adventure sports we cover on this website this is perhaps the most difficult activity to define in terms of how to get to be an instructor, because there are so many routes available. When you consider that just one organisations can offer perhaps 50 different courses, and there are more than 100 different diving organisations who each have a similarly comprehensive system, you begin to see how complicated it can get.

There are many opportunities for qualified divers to earn money, and good money at that! But without the proper certification you are going to struggle to convince someone to give you a job, so where do you start looking for the right qualifications and courses? Divers have a huge range of internationally recognized courses available to them. The main disciplines can be defined as recreational, commercial, technical, scientific, and cave.

Here in the UK, perhaps the best known recreational diving organisations is The Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) who offer courses for all levels of divers. The rough progression in ability is Open Water Diver, Adventure Diver, Advanced Open Water Diver, Rescue Diver, and Master Scuba Diver. These are classed as recreational levels, and within each there are lots of specialist courses you can take, depending upon what you want to get from your diving. Once you reach Rescue Diver you can go on to work through the professional instructor levels which start with Divemaster.

Sky Diving - When people first started jumping out of planes the parachute opened pretty much instantly. That's only sensible though, why would you want to plummet towards the ground with a sense of impending doom? Well apparently some people do. Skydiving evolved into a serious mainstream sport and the latest incarnation is called wingsuit flying, where skydivers have webbing between the arms and legs, like one of those rainforest creatures that half jump half glide between trees.

Sphering - See Zorbing.

Street Luge - This like an extreme, and at the same time lazy, version of skateboading. Let's face it, beyond a certain age skateboarding becomes less socially acceptible, but with street luge you get to wear a full face helmet, so there is every chance your neighbours won't recognise you. The basics of street luge are, find a steep hill. Lye on your back on a street luge board. Go down the hill very quickly. Try not to hit anything at the bottom. Being so close to the ground makes you feel as through you are going even faster.

Surfing - If you were born on Hawaii's North Shore then you probably started surfing as soon as you learned to walk. If however you are from the UK and grew up with the Jaws movies then even a quick paddle in the surf at Newquay may still give you the shivers. But everyone likes the idea of being able to surf. It is such a graceful sport to watch and one that is surprisingly easy to get involved in. Head to one of the best surfing beaches in the UK, buy or hire a board, and before you know it you'll be doing hang-fives and tube riding with the best of them.

Tall Ship Sailing - Tall ship voyages are available all year round and cover a large distance. Anyone can apply to take part, though the boats don’t take passengers – you will be an important part of the crew, helping sail or navigate the ship. While on board you can qualify for awards by the Royal Yachting Association and the Duke of Edinburgh scheme. You might find you need a head for heights if you are asked to climb the rigging and unfurl the sail.

Tombstoning - See Cliff Diving.

Ultimate Frisbee - Frisbee? Seriously? We can't put this in can we? OK, it's more of an American sport, but Ultimate Frisbee is a bit like American Football but using a frisbee rather than a ball.

Wake Boarding - Wake boarding is to water skiing, what snowboarding is to skiing. Sort of. Imagine your feet strapped to a board and you are holding on to a rope attached to the back of a speedboat (or helicopter if you are completely mad). As you are dragged along you use the wake created by the boat as a permanent ramp, allowing you to get air and do tricks.

Wingsuit flying - See Sky Diving.

White Water Rafting - Paddling through a white water canyon was once the preserve of explorers who had no choice but to risk life and limb shooting the rapids. These days the occupants of these rafts are often wearing Day-Glo colours and sporting huge grins. There is no denying the adrenaline rush from this sport. Whether you are on a Class 2 section of river with the odd patch of rough water or rocks to navigate, or in a section of Class 6 where you could very easily be thrown from the raft at any moment, you are sure to find White Water Rafting an addictive hobby.

Zorbing - One of the newest and definitely one of the strangest adrenaline sports you'll find. Zorbing, or sphering as it is also known, involves strapping yourself to the inside of an opaque soft plastic ball and rolling down a hill. We imagine it is akin to taking a spin inside a giant hamster ball. The danger may be limited to feeling a bit sick and perhaps a small risk of bumping into a tree at the bottom of the hill, but it does seem to be gaining popularity. It's origins are hotly disputed but the 'zorb' was made popular in New Zealand.


Watersports RYA Scheme

Watersports RYA Scheme

With all the options available for the many different types of water based sports, we could probably give it a website all of its own. The guide serves as a basic introduction to the activities you can pursue on water, including sailing, windsurfing and surfing. The skills and qualifications, especially those you can pick up quite early in your career, are also useful to non-water based activity centres. Even far from the coast you will find most activity centres offer some form of watersport. But once you have the Dinghy Instructor qualification, will you be able to stop yourself wanting to become a Yatchmaster?

Watersports RYA Scheme >>

Climbing & Mountaineering Career Guide

Climbing & Mountaineering Career Guide

In the latest of our career guides, we take a detailed look at rock climbing, hill walking and mountaineering. Although it is quite possible to teach climbing without any recognised qualifications, with some aspirational and high quality courses on offer, it is no surprise that if you do want to get anywhere, most companies will insist you take part in the Mountain Training scheme. Whether you stick with the entry level Single Pitch and Climbing Wall awards, or take it all the way to the Mountaineering Instructor Certificate is up to you. This article will tell you all about training courses and the types of jobs they could lead to.

Climbing & Mountaineering Career Guide >>

Parent's Guide

Parent's Guide

Are you the parent of a child hoping to work in the outdoor industry? Or are you a young adult worrying about telling your parents that you would rather be working outdoors than sitting accountancy exams? As with most industries, career progression is competitive and based on an individual's performance, but skills acquired are readily transferable and so can aid your future career whether or not you choose to stay in the industry for a prolonged period. This handy guide discusses why the outdoor industry can provide a stable and fulfilling career path for young people.

Parent's Guide >>