15 Activities to Try this Summer
Surf’s up! There’s nothing quite like the cool, salty, sea to boost circulation and make you feel alive. Surfing is an exhilarating activity with a friendly, community atmosphere running along the North East coast, and there are so many ways to catch some waves and learn how to work a board this summer. Tynemouth Surf Co (tynemouthsurf.co.uk) provide an informative and fun introduction to any keen surfer of any age, always keeping in mind beach safety and respect for the sea. Alongside their surf lessons, the school also offer stand up paddle boarding lessons, running on calm, sunny days throughout the summer with all equipment included in the price. Northside Surf School in Amble (northside-surf-school.co.uk) are on board to give you all you need to get into surfing and paddle boarding this summer – they are open seven days a week throughout the year, regardless of the weather, and with over 25 years of international surfing experience, John Nolan brings his expertise to the shores of Warkworth Bay, North Druridge Bay, Embleton Bay, Beadnell Bay and Bamburgh. South Shields Surf School (southshieldsurf.co.uk) also have lessons available for all abilities. The school are currently running the Surf Mentor Project, which gives you the chance to complete a six- to eight-week training programme, surfing once a week, improving your mental and physical wellbeing. Further down the coast? Saltburn Surf School (saltburn-surf.co.uk) not only offer one-off surf lessons, but they also accommodate day packages for groups of up to five would-be surfers, as well as weekend packages. Their surf and stay weekend package includes a one night stay with breakfast at the family-run Spa Hotel, a mere two-minute walk from the surf school.
Foraging has become increasingly popular as a pastime. Northern Wilds (northernwilds.co.uk) host events throughout the year across locations such as Kielder and Tarset Valley, and – they also come with a wild food meal at the end too! Mushroom gathering begins in August and runs through until October, and Northern Wild will guide you through different habitats to teach you how to locate, identify and prepare your foraged finds. North East Wild Food Club (natureholiday.co.uk/foraging.html) also offer half day or full days of foraging activities, which sees you out in the woods, fields, riversides and on the coast exploring the wide range of plants to be found in Northumberland.
Jump in the saddle and give horse riding a try this summer. With great fitness and mental benefits, as well as being simply just a whole heap of fun, horse riding certainly offers something for everyone. In the heart of Newcastle, Stepney Bank Stables (stepneybank.co.uk) is the ideal place to learn to ride, with under 18s able to take part in private or group lessons in the indoor arena, and private adult lessons available now too. A Project charity, and an invaluable part of the local community, Stepney Bank have supported thousands of young people, enabling them to develop important life skills including confidence, self-esteem, resilience, listening, cooperation and teamwork, and all income goes to sustaining the charity. In South Shields, North Lizard Riding School (northlizardridingschool.co.uk), one of the longest established riding schools in the area, is a friendly, family-run yard and offers tuition for beginners and experienced riders, hacking sessions on the bridlepaths around the school, and there’s a floodlit arena too. Want to ride along the beach? Slate Hall Riding Centre (slatehallridingcentre.com) hosts beach rides at Bamburgh, as far as Beadnell, making for a serene time in the saddle for all ages and abilities.
Take a hike with one of these adorable creatures for a memorable day out. Alpaca trekking and walking experiences are not only great fun, they are also extremely informative. Barnacres Alpaca Farm in Heddon-on-the-Wall (barnacre-alpacas.co.uk) has a herd of more than 300 alpacas, with walk-and-talk treks offering a great way to experience the animals up close and personal, all while walking amongst the beautiful 110-acre stretch of Turpin’s Hall Farm. The owners, Debbie and Paul Rippon, gave up their office jobs in Nottingham (and everything else along the way) to dedicate their lives to alpacas – and since then have reared a champion herd. Teesdale Alpacas (teesdale-alpacas.co.uk) is just outside Barnard Castle, with options to trek-and-talk, as well as shop their alpaca-inspired products and gifts. You can purchase a flexi-ticket, which gives you the option to book your trek and visit the alpacas, or simply redeem the voucher against any of the products. At Ferny Rigg Alpacas (fernyriggalpacas.co.uk) you can enjoy a relaxing and fun-filled stroll with the whole family, within sight of the Kielder Dam. Not only can you take your new-found friend for a stroll, but you can also stay at one of Ferny Rigg’s two converted barns, overlooking the grazing alpacas and with views of Northumberland National Park and Northumberland’s International Dark Sky Park.
Experience the thrill factor this summer with some great outdoor adventure courses. Simonside Outdoor Adventures (simonsideoutdooradventure.com) – oddly enough in South Shields – deliver a bit of everything, from climbing to archery, and kayaking to mountain bike trails. Perfect for a family day out or groups of up to 12, Simonside give you the opportunity to try out a range of land- and water-based activities and learn new skills, all with expert instruction. Based in County Durham, F.E.R.N Outdoor Adventures (fernoutdooradventures.co.uk) is a family-run business specialising in creating immersive family experiences in the surrounding woodland. Learn new skills in shelter building, geo-caching and fire building, or attend one of their adventure courses and family sessions throughout the summer for a fantastic educational and exciting day out for the whole family. Adventure Sunderland (sunmac.org.uk) combine water sports with something for everyone, from rifle shooting to bell boating. If you’re an adult who has always wanted to give paddle boarding or kayaking a go, you’ll be in capable hands with experienced instructors running adult-only sessions and one-to-one coaching, as well as youth and family sessions too.
Boosting concentration and focus, as well as improving mental discipline, are just some of the benefits of shooting. Bywell Shooting Ground (bywellshootingground.co.uk) near Morpeth, is perfect for an alternative day out, offering tutorials and coaching for a range of skill levels, from novice, to clay and game shooters. The shooting ground is made up of numerous layouts, with disciplines such as down-the-line, automatic ball trap, skeet and clay pigeon shooting. Add a dose of healthy competition during your day out by taking up a shared lesson where you will learn the ropes together.
For outdoor adventure, take the plunge into deep pools, climb your way up steep gorges, and slide down natural flowing waterfalls. If you are after a full-on, action-packed day with a difference exploring the region’s natural beauty, then gorge walking is for you. Head to the North Pennines to feed your adrenaline with Endless Adventures (endlessadventurenortheast.com) who have gorge walking trails that include natural rockslides and 15-foot faith leaps. If you are wanting to start small and build your confidence, Northern Outdoor (northernoutdoor.co.uk) in County Durham and Northumberland has the perfect balance. Their gorge walking excursions allow you to tailor the route to bypass some of the more daring sections. Adrenaline junkies should head to Weardale Adventure Centre (weardaleadventurecentre.co.uk) in Bishop Auckland to experience abseiling from the 40-foot waterfall, Ash Gill Force, and to wade through the natural gorges.
Whether you’re a pro at golf or looking to tee off for the first time, from driving ranges to Championship courses, our region has lots to offer. Golf is a great sport to have in your locker, all it takes is time – and practice. Just off the A19 you’ll find Hartlepool’s Castle Eden Golf Course (castleedengolfclub.co.uk) with 18 challenging holes, and visiting parties and society groups are welcomed throughout the year. Further north, Matfen Hall (matfenhall.com/golf) has an extensive 27 holes across its parkland and an impressive driving range open seven days a week. On the coast, Bamburgh Castle Golf Club (bamburghcastlegolfclub.co.uk) is often labelled one of the most scenic golf courses in Britain, with views across to Lindisfarne, the Cheviots and Bamburgh Castle. Although relatively short, the 18-hole course is challenging enough – especially when the wind blows. A little further south is another links course, Dunstanburgh (dunstanburgh.com), where the short 13th takes you right up below the dramatic ruins of the castle. Anyone looking for a real challenge should head to Slaley (slaleyhallhotel.com) where there are two Championship courses with panoramic views over the Northumbrian countryside, a covered driving range and a great club house too. Wanting to practice? Head to Parklands in High Gosforth (parklandsgolf.co.uk) where there’s a great practice ground and tuition is available.
Not only does cycling improve strength, balance and fitness, it’s also a great way to get out and see the region. The Cycle Hub, on Newcastle Quayside (thecyclehub.org) has a great rental service, so you can pick up your equipment and set off along one of the many pretty cycle routes beside the River Tyne. Alternatively, head to Kielder Water and Forest Park (visitkielder.com) for breath-taking views from the numerous (sometimes challenging) trails which will keep the whole family entertained. Regardless or whether you are an experienced mountain biker, or a complete novice, Kielder has routes to suit all standards. Adventure Training North East (atne.co.uk) also offers a range of trails. The more challenging red and black trails are for the more experienced riders, while blue routes offer a gentler journey — there are even local bridleways and coast-to-coast paths to explore with their trained instructors.
Go fish! If you’re looking to spend a little more time outdoors this summer, fishing is a way of helping you reconnect with nature. Rediscover some patience, and find some solitude as you cast your line and wait for a bite. Angel Fishing Lakes in Birtley (angelfishing.squarespace.com) have three stunning lakes providing the perfect place to learn, with novice and family-friendly options to suit any skillset. The site also host community fishing matches, for competitive or keen anglers to take part in. Chatton Trout Fishery (chattontroutfishery.co.uk) welcomes all keen fishermen, and this family-run fishery regularly stocks Chatton Lake, Ross Lake and Dunnydeer Lake with tiger, rainbow, blue and brown trout. Rods are available to hire and there’s optional tuition for beginners.
Whether you’re keen to give yourself a challenge, or you have a little monkey that needs unleashing, climbing benefits all ages. Not only is it a fantastic physical activity for developing core strength and getting your body moving, it also has incredible health benefits mentally, and is proven to reduce stress. There are Clip and Climb walls across the North East, including at Gateshead’s Metrocentre (clipnclimbmetrocentre.namcofunscape.com), which give kids the chance to let loose and experience an exhilarating climb, all under expert guidance. One of the largest indoor climbing walls in the UK, Sunderland Wall (sunderlandwall.com) is suitable for new and experienced climbers – it has three huge climbing walls and over 900m2 of bouldering, and is a great place to take up a challenge. In Darlington, Ibex Bouldering (ibexbouldering. co.uk) is an impressive space, with plenty of different climbs. They update their routes every week so there’s always a new challenge to test every ability, and they allow the over fives to give it a go here too. If you’re looking to book training courses or lessons, Rock Antics in Middlesborough (rockantics.co.uk) offers just that. With the option to book four-week training programmes or induction courses, you’ll be learning the ropes in no time.
Fancy a mood-boosting day, or want to keep fit and healthy by the sea? Kayaking, canoeing and sailing are the activities to try. Award-winning activity centre CBK Adventure (cbkadventure.co.uk), based in Whitley Bay, offers a range of kayaking and canoeing excursions. Either book onto a guided tour along some of the region’s best rivers and coastline, or book a lesson— perfect for those starting on their water sport journey. Tees Barrage International White Water Centre (tbiwwc.com) also offer instructor-led lessons that are ideal for beginners who want to learn a new, exciting skill, or simply just have fun in the water. If sailing is more your thing, Coquet Shorebase Trust (coquetshorebase.org.uk), located in Amble, offer dinghy sailing at Ladyburn Lake. With a range of modern fleet sailing dinghies, develop your skills and gain a level one or two qualification from the Royal Yachting Association.
Bounce your way to better balance, coordination and motor skills with trampolining days out. Try one of the gravity-defying activities at Airbox Bounce (airboxbounce.co.uk) in Cramlington – with interconnecting trampolines, slam-dunk basketball nets and foam pits, there is something for all the family to get involved in. Jump Giants (jumpgiants.com), in Gateshead, also offer a range of bouncing fun. From angled wall trampolines, to launching decks and battle beams, this bounce park has plenty of space to show off your skills across the interconnected 115,000 square feet of trampolines. If variety is something you’re after, then check out Jump 360 (jump360.co.uk). With locations in Hartlepool, Stockton and Newcastle, Jump 360 offer an extensive range of activities, such as the Ninja assault course, Battle Beam, Dodgeball arena and much more. In Durham, Infinite Air (infiniteair.co.uk), is an impressive space with large area of trampolines, foam pits and their very own giant air bag. For a fun day out, take the family to one of their Jump Sessions to access not only the trampolines, but also the huge inflatable activity zones.
Visiting farms and animals centres is a great way to educate kids and encourage a connection with food production and wildlife. At Morpeth’s Whitehouse Farm (whitehousefarmcentre.co.uk) children can learn about birds of prey with a specialist falconer on-hand to answer questions, meet lots of animal, take tractor rides and join the small animal and critter handing sessions which are a highlight here. To experience an underwater adventure, head to Tynemouth Aquarium (tynemouthaquarium.co.uk) to see species from all over the world including rays, seals and tortoise. Wander through the aquarium, or visit one of the brand new exhibits which takes you through a tropical rain forest, coming face-to-face with giant fish. Bird watchers should head to Washington Wetland Centre (wwt.org.uk) for a day out filled with outdoor activities. With over 100 acres of wet lands to explore, the whole family can discover exotic and exciting creatures such as Chilean flamingos, adorable otters and beautiful roe deer. For land animal adventures, Northumberland Country Zoo (northumberlandzoo.co.uk), near Morpeth, is home to more than 100 different species of animals. Snow leopards are the newest addition to the zoo, and join other mammals including wallabies, llamas and meerkats, and other must-see highlights include the parrots, chameleons and tarantulas.
Up your step count, breathe in the fresh air, and get back to nature with a guided hike or walk this summer. Northumberland National Park (northumberlandnationalpark.org) offers a variety of guided walks across the area, which covers more than 1,000 square kilometres of stunning countryside. Stride out on a strenuous hike or opt for a more leisurely pace, the choice is yours. Carlton Adventure (carltonadventure.co.uk) in Stokesley also have lots of walking tour options, all based in and around the Carlton area. Guided walks include lots of discussion about the local history, geology and formation of the landscape. These wild country tours provide a day of adventure, as well as learning, for all the family to enjoy. If you are wanting a more city-based tour, check out Iles Tours (ilestours.co.uk). Tour lengths, ranging from one-hour to full-day trips, cover a breadth of the North East including Durham and Newcastle’s Quayside.