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Back to nature: adventures and relaxation by the river

Back to nature: adventures and relaxation by the river

Back to nature by river

After spending a damp winter wound up in scarves and struggling with umbrellas, it’s a joy to feel the days grow warmer and see wildlife bustling about their business around ponds, in our parks,along hedgerows and in other areas of nature. 

In March’s blog posts, we’re looking at the choices we can make to help care for these natural environments. Low-emissions and wildlife-friendly. As strenuous or peaceful as you choose, these refreshing short breaks by the river are the ideal green getaway…

A woman and a man paddling a yellow open canoe past a river bank of weeping willow

CANOEING: A gentle expedition down the River Great Ouse

Spend the days meandering downstream in an open canoe, absorbing the changing scenery and abundant wildlife in leafy countryside. In the evening, the group is guided to a place to camp in peaceful woodland. There’s plenty of time for dinner and to explore nature around the campfire before turning in.  

Canoe and camp breaks are for those who would like an adventure, but don’t want it to feel like hard work! 

Getting there: From Bedford train station, it’s a short walk to the bus station. Then it’s a five-minute hop to the Longholme café meeting place next to the river. 

One for those who would like an adventure, but don’t want it to feel like hard work!

Swimmer doing front crawl in open river water on a sunny day, the green trees on the bank in the mid-distance

SWIMMING: Trail running and wild swimming camps in Devon

If running and swimming are how you decompress, this three-night activity escape in beautiful Devon is for you. 

How would you fancy a daily guided run through stunning countryside. Followed by an open water swim in either the river or sea – depending on the tides – rounded off by a relaxing yoga session? Just don’t fall asleep in the hot tub after dinner! 

Getting there: The camp is right out in wild nature, however Wild Devon Escapes are able to organise pick-ups from the train station at Totnes. 

One for those who love to switch off from the daily grind with a run or a swim! 

Photograph of Loch Lomond, with shallow clear water in the foreground and a dramatic triangular grass-covered hill in mid-distance, against a very blue sky

WALKING: Self-guided tours along the West Highland Way

Wander along the serene banks of Loch Lomond, the UK’s largest freshwater lake. Keep your eyes peeled for a glimpse of Golden Eagles and Osprey hunting fish in the clear waters. Follow the trail north, where you can take in a series of dramatic waterfalls. 

Contours’ walking tours can help you tackle the UK’s best long-distance trails – either in their entirety or in bitesize chunks – under your own steam. Itineraries are set according to how many miles you’re comfortable covering in a day. Travel light and enjoy the views, as your luggage will be transported ahead to each night’s pre-booked accommodation. 

Getting there: The train stations along the West Highland Way at Milngavie, Ardlui, Crianlarich, Tyndrum, Bridge of Orchy and Fort William are all well served from Glasgow. The bus from Glasgow to Fort William also stops at Inverarnan, Glen Coe and Ballachullish if you want to break your tour up into smaller sections.  

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a public litter bin by a lake

One for those who like travelling at their own pace, with plenty of time to soak up the views!

Photograph of a small sailing boat with three people aboard, sailing up a quiet reed-banked channel in the Norfolk Broads

RIVER SAILING: Messing around on boats in the Norfolk Broads

Hop around this fascinating network of waterways during the day, pop into a pub for dinner. Then find a wild mooring spot for the night accompanied by herons, swans and marsh harriers. 

Whether you’re a seasoned hand or a novice sailor learning the ropes, a sail cruising holiday in this special part of nature is an experience not to be missed. 

Getting there: From Great Yarmouth, jump on the bus up the coast to Martham. From there it’s a short walk across the village or a five-minute taxi ride out to the boat yard if you have a lot of luggage. 

One for those who enjoy picking up a few skills on holiday!

What are your favourite memories of spending time by the river? Where are you planning to explore next? Share your thoughts with us on Facebook or Twitter.

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