The back-to-school window displays are out in force, and it can only mean one thing: the end of summer is fast approaching, so what better time to grab your hiking boots, camping stove or snorkelling mask, and cross some last minute activities off your summer to-do list?
Whether you’re jetting off to enjoy the end of August in a sunny location or your kids are preparing for the new term at home, there’s plenty here to inspire your last days of freedom before September rolls around. Here are 10 activities to try while the sun still shines.
If your budget can’t stretch to a holiday overseas this year, camping is an affordable alternative and is great fun for the whole family. Pack your tent, some walking boots and all of your camping gear and prepare for a cosy night under the stars. You can tell stories, toast marshmallows and explore the scenery and wildlife around you, all without spending a fortune.
Popular camping spots in the UK include Bay View Farm in Cornwall, Slapton Sands in Devon and Dale Hill Farm in Pembrokeshire. Family campsites often include play facilities as well as baby changes and bathrooms, while many sites have cafes, bars and entertainment. Pitch fees vary from site to site. Some small farm sites may only charge a couple of pounds per night, while full facilities sites in peak season may cost upwards of £30 for a family of four.
Eating al fresco is a British summer staple. So if you haven’t done it yet, it’s time to pack some sandwiches and a picnic blanket and enjoy the taste of your favourite lunch in the sun. If you’re strapped for money or time, you can head to your closest park with your friends or family in tow. Alternatively, you can make a day trip of it and travel to one of the UK’s best picnic destinations.
Popular picnic hotspots include New Forest National Park, the Yorkshire Dales, The Lake District, and Robber’s Bridge near Exmoor National Park. If you’ve never visited any of these places, cross them off your bucket list now while the weather holds up – not that us Brits aren’t accustomed to a picnic when it’s overcast!
Seeking a water-based adventure? Then add snorkelling to your summer bucket list, and get up close and personal with beautiful live corals, observe many different species of fish and enjoy a full-body cardio workout in the process. Some of the best snorkelling sites in the UK include Studland Beach in Dorset – one of the only places in the country where you can see seahorses, Prussia Cove in Cornwall and Fairy Cove (as magical as it sounds) in Devon.
Before you go, research equipment that will give you the best diving and snorkelling experience – such as the Equaliser Full Face Snorkel Mask from Ninja Shark. The mask will allow you to dive deep and enjoy a truly immersive experience, reducing fog and offering twice the ventilation of a normal mask. If you’re a beginner, being able to breathe deeply and clearly will put you at ease, so a good mask is a must.
Hosting a barbeque
With the end of summer approaching, there’s only so much shorts-friendly weather we have left. Make the most of long evenings and warm sunsets and host a barbeque for your friends and family, where everyone can enjoy food and drink in the sun. With delicious grilled food, cold cans of beer and an excuse to mingle with neighbours and acquaintances, what’s not to love?
If you don’t own a barbeque, you can buy one from the local supermarket for as little as £2.00, but you’ll need to find somewhere to host your party if you don’t have a garden at home. Places like Constantine Bay in Cornwall or Mersea Isnald in Essex are perfect, but you might have a beach or field closer to home where barbeques are allowed.
You should always check with the landowner before you light a barbecue away from your own home, though most councils are happy for families and small groups to BBQ on beaches as long as they leave the area in a pristine condition and recycle items responsibly.
If you want to switch off from the everyday stresses of life, why not spend the day on a boat? Whether you take a sail on a canal boat or hire a yacht for a private brunch is up to you, but being out on the water will calm your mind and allow you to soak up some rays.
Some of the most picturesque journeys in the UK include The Avon Ring, where you can break to visit Tewkesbury Castle then cruise the river to the Worcester and Birmingham canal, and Gloucester docks, the best-preserved 19th-century docks in Britain. If you feel like venturing further, you could head to Northern Ireland, where the waterscape is perfect for a cruising holiday. With a maze of more than 150 islands and sheltered bays, you’ll take in lakes, the winding River Erne, and the county town of Enniskillen, as well as walled medieval castles and pubs.
Of course, you can hike all year-round if you have the gear, but there’s nothing like watching a summer sunrise surrounded by nature. Just remember to pack plenty of water and wear proper walking or hiking boots. A comfortable backpack is also a must if you’re attempting a long hike, as you’ll need space for a tent and sleeping bag, snacks, maps, water purifiers and other hiking essentials.
There are multiple hiking trails to discover in the UK, including longer trails like South Downs Way (100 miles) and shorter trails like South West Coast Path from West Lulworth to Weymouth (13 miles). If you’ve never hiked before, start small and choose the right trail for your level of fitness. You should also familiarise yourself with the trail surroundings before you set off, and remember to tell someone where you’ll be if you’re walking alone.
The last weeks of summer are the perfect time to tackle your to-be-read pile, whether you shelter indoors from the blazing heat or head to a shady park to delve into a paperback. If you’ve already raced through your supply, you can head to one of the UK’s famous bookshops to stock up. Head to Achins Bookshop in Sutherland, which is England’s most remote bookshop just three miles south of the Suilven Mountain, or visit Sam Read Books in the Lake District, where Wordsworth, Coleridge and Beatrix Potter wrote their infamous works of literature.
Taking a road trip
There are few experiences quite like driving on the open road when the sun is shining, and the end of summer is the perfect time for that road trip you’ve always wanted to take. Find a stretch of road you’ve never travelled before, pack your favourite music and head off on your own or with loved ones.
The UK has over 200,000 miles of road to explore, but some areas are more picturesque than others. Popular trips include Snake Pass, located in the Derbyshire section of the Peak District, which crosses the Pennines and Ladybower Reservoir (1 hour and 15 minutes), Black Mountain Pass – Brecon Beacons, Wales (43 minutes) or Cheddar Gorge in Somerset (29 minutes).
Giving back to your community will not only keep you busy during those last days of sunshine, but it will also give you a sense of pride and wellbeing. If you like being outdoors, why not help out at a community garden or find out about opportunities at your local park? You could even offer to help out at nearby allotments or help a neighbour to get their garden ready for the colder months. Volunteering is a great activity to involve kids in, as it teaches them about the importance of helping others and paying it forward.
Scrapbooking your summer will give you a treasure trove of memories to delve into when autumn sets in, as well as inspiration for future summers. This is also a great activity to do with kids before they go back to school, as it helps them mark the end of the summer holidays and prepare to begin the new term, their happy memories of family holidays and days out fresh in their minds.
Tick these activities off your summer bucket list
Summer might be almost over, but there’s plenty of time to enjoy the weather, so try to carve out some space so you can enter the new season refreshed. Surround yourself with the people you love or enjoy time alone. Stretch out at the beach and read that stack of paperbacks you’ve been waiting to read or host a barbeque with friends.
Whatever you do, enjoy yourself and make the most of the weather as you prepare for the season ahead. With any luck, you’ll return home refreshed and recharged after spending a few days away from your screens, surrounded by the great outdoors. Plus, with the summery weather we’ve enjoyed this year, you might even get a suntan.