Five ways to indulge your adventurous side across the network
Words by Helen Dorritt
Go wild swimming
On a hot summer’s day there’s no nicer way to cool off than with a swim, and if it’s in an open water source then it makes it that little bit more special. As well as taking the waters from the varied and lovely East Anglian beaches such as Cromer, Sheringham, Southend, Frinton on Sea and Great Yarmouth, there are also lots of rivers, mill ponds and estuaries where you can head for a refreshing, non-salty dip. Suggestions from the Wild Swim website, which is a worldwide crowd-sourced map of open water swims, include Milton Country Park, the saltwater estuary at Wivenhoe, the River Stour from Sudbury to Henny, the River Yare at Trowse and Caen Meadow in Wroxham.
Catch some waves
Another way to take to the water is via surfing, and there are plenty of posts in the region where you can jump on your board. Beaches such as Cromer, East Runton, Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth are recommended by local surfers, and are especially good for beginners due to the gentle swell and low wave heights. Glide Surf School in Cromer will help you out with a few lessons if you’re new to the sport. Or for something a bit different, why not try stand-up paddleboarding? This close cousin of surfing sees you balancing on a board while propelling yourself along the waves with a paddle. If you fancy giving this fast-growing activity a go, Quiver in Felixstowe and Essex Stand Up Paddleboarding in Southend offer lessons and rental equipment. When the sea is looking a bit too choppy to brave the waves, SUP WetNDry runs river-based paddleboarding on the river Chelm, just five minutes’ walk from Chelmsford city centre.
Fall from the sky
One for the serious adrenaline junkie, you can try skydiving at Beccles airfield with UK Parachuting. A tandem skydive – where you’re attached to an experienced instructor – is a great introduction to this thrilling sport. You’ll have a pre-jump briefing, then board a plane to soar to around 13,000 feet. You and your instructor will jump from the plane and descend to 5,000 feet at the heart-pounding speed of 120mph, before the parachute is opened and you enjoy a more leisurely glide back to the earth, taking in the beautiful East Anglian landscape.
Nearest station: Beccles
Pilot a plane
If you’d rather take to the skies under cover, then why not learn how to fly a plane? Skyward Flight Training near Bury St Edmunds offers trial lessons with instructors in Cessna or Piper aeroplanes of 45 minutes to 90 minutes’ duration, where you’ll have the chance to learn taxiing, basic take-off and how to maintain straight and level flight. You can also get airborne with Premier Flight Training from Norwich International Airport, who offers sessions lasting from 45 minutes to 1 hour. You never know, this may be the start of a very exciting new hobby…
Ride the rapids
The artificial rapids at Lee Valley Whitewater Centre were created for the 2012 Olympics, and now they’re available for you to enjoy the thrill of rafting through gallons of water. Full kit is supplied, including a wetsuit, boots and buoyancy aid, and then you’ll be guided through the drops and eddies of the rapids in a raft. There’s also the option to ride the rapids on a hydrospeed, a cross between a float and a body board. Fancy something a bit more sedate? There are also options for canoeing and kayaking on the lake at Lee Valley.
Nearest station: Waltham Cross