Having spent plenty of time living in the Big Smoke, much to the bemusement of friends and acquaintances who often can't imagine me not within 10 feet of water, I became a dab hand over the years at sussing out the best adventures within the confines of the city. Sometimes we can't always head to a mountain or the coast, it isn't realistic every single week, so for those of you starved for adventure, check out my guide below of my favourite adventures to have, all in or within an hour of London!
STAND UP PADDLE BOARDING & SUP YOGA IN ESSEX
A short train from London (it took me less than 45 minutes) and I found myself at one of the UK's most seminal institutes of boardsports: Wet N Dry Boardsports in Essex. With 7 locations including their own private lake where they host stand up paddle board yoga classes, and an arsenal of a store packed with knowledge and equipment across SUP, surf, skate and snowboard, Wet N Dry have been a go-to name in the UK for adventure and action sport for the last 20 years. A 2 hour lesson on clear waters at Hullbridge on the River Crouch (the tide flushes the water twice in a day) under sunny skies and you could feel like you aren't in what you know to be in the UK, and certainly not within an hour of London. Running days which include SUP tours and bonfires, and toasting the session with a beer on the beach, a true escape from London.
WAKEBOARDING AT DOCKLANDS
People find it hard to believe that in East London's Docklands you'll find a busy cable wakeboard park, and in a beautiful setting at that at Royal Victoria Dock. With instructors onsite if you're new to wakeboarding ready to teach you the ropes, or if you already ride, pitch up and make the most of the kickers and obstacles on offer, and the fully stocked bar.
SNOWBOARDING AND SKIING IN WEST LONDON
Even harder to believe for some is the indoor ski and snowboard facility Chelski tucked just off the Kings Road in West London. A magic moving carpet (not snow) moves under your feet giving you the sensation of carving and turning on the piste. Book in lessons with one of their brilliant instructors and get some shred in right in the city.
DIRT BIKE RIDING & ENDURO
VC London are an all-female collective encouraging more women to get out on the roads and on two wheels. Bringing together a hugely accessible array of workshops, activities, lessons and meet ups in London for riding bandit babes and those who've always wanted to try, annual camps and beginner moto riding and dirt bike days further afield with pro Leah Tokelove.
If you read my interview with climbing coach Robin O'Leary, you'll have found that climbing is one of the fastest growing sports in the UK, with indoor facilities cropping up across the country. London is home to a number of brilliant facilities including The Arch Climbing Wall in Bermondsey, Mile End Climbing Wall, the impressive Castle Climbing Centre next to Clissold Park and The Climbing Hangar in Parsons Green. Book yourself a coach (like world class Robin) and find out why climbing is steadily becoming one of Britain's favourite sports.
SKATEBOARDING IN WATERLOO
The already-now-iconic institution that is the House of Vans under the kaleidoscopic spray painted arches of Waterloo is the place if you're hankering after a skate or always wanted to learn. Book into one of their Girls Skate Nights and roll with a crew of other chicks, getting coaching and pointers. Onsite lockers and cafe and bar, exhibition evenings, screenings and more make House of Vans a one-stop for counter-culture in London.
WILD SWIMMING AT HAMPSTEAD HEATH
A short walk through the otherworldly and beautiful Hampstead Heath Park and you'll discover the swimming ponds, a place many Londoner's are unaware of it's existence. Open every day of the year, hardy souls cite the virtues of bracing the icy waters through winter and spring. On a warm summer's day the celestial beauty of the setting and crisp waters make this one of London's best adventures.