Welcome to The Sprout! Please sign up or login

Information » Things To Do » Sports and Keeping Fit » Outdoor Pursuits

Outdoor Pursuits

Outdoor pursuits include hiking, climbing, hill walking, orienteering and outdoor water sports such as rafting, canoeing and kayaking. Climbing and hill walking are adventure sports which promote self-reliance, leadership and an appreciation of the environment.

Hiking and walking

  • Hiking is a form of walking undertaken for exercise or pleasure in exploring and enjoying the scenery. It usually takes place in the countryside
  • Wales is a perfect location for hiking and walking, because of its areas of mountains and hills
  • There is a lot of variation in walks in Wales, from the Three Castles Walk to the Snowdonia Trail
  • You can contact 'Walking Wales' to organise a walking trip, a walking holiday or for help in choosing your own trail


  • Climbing can be an extremely dangerous sport if it isn't undertaken under supervision and with all the necessary equipment and protection gear
  • Rock climbing - which is climbing on steep, rocky terrain - and mountaineering, which is climbing on mountains, are the two main types of climbing
  • Indoor climbing is climbing on artificial climbing walls
  • In 'aid climbing', all means of going up are used, such as pulling on gear or climbing rope ladders which are attached to drilled bolts
  • In 'free climbing', climbers use only their hands, feet and other body parts to make progress. Ropes and other gear are used only for protection
  • Competitions are usually held indoors on purpose built climbing walls. There are three main categories - difficulty, speed and bouldering, each with different climbing aims


  • Orienteering is a sport where competitors navigate their way between control points marked on a specially drawn map using a map and a compass. It usually involves different terrain and plenty of adventure
  • A standard orienteering course has a starting point, a series of control sites marked by circles and connected by lines and numbered in the exact order to be found, and a finish point
  • Orienteering can be practised as a hobby, is an easy way to stay fit and an exciting activity to share with friends or family
  • Orienteering is also a highly competitive sport which involves intense concentration, skill and fitness
  • There are various kinds of orienteering. Foot orienteering is the most common. This is where competitors either run cross-country or walk using their map and compass to find their way from the start to the finish, stopping at each of the control points
  • There is also ski orienteering, mountain bike orienteering and trail orienteering
  • Orienteering is a suitable outdoor activity for schools - it has challenging levels for all ages and abilities and can be used as part of the National Curriculum for PE, Geography and Mathematics
  • It can be enjoyed in the playground or countryside
  • Rules of orienteering are defined by the International Orienteering Federation
  • The British Orienteering Federation has a team of development officers who can offer advice


  • Whitewater rafting can be extremely dangerous - there is a risk of accident and injury because of the unpredictable nature of the water travelling at high speeds
  • Legislated safety measures are now in place for rafting operators, including strict regulations about what safety equipment must be carried on rafts and certification of outfitters, rafts and raft leaders - you should discuss the safety measures of the rafting operator before reserving a raft
  • You will be given a safety brief by the rafting centre - the qualifications of the raft leader and the type and scope of the equipment is information you should ask about before undertaking rafting
  • Rafting is a recreational outdoor activity which uses a raft (usually now an inflatable boat) to navigate a river or other body of water
  • Rafting is usually done on whitewater (whitewater rafting) to make the activity exciting for the raft passengers
  • Rafts are usually navigated with ordinary paddles and carry four to 12 people
  • Whitewater rafting can be done all year round

Canoeing and kayaking

  • Canoes and kayaks are fairly small boats and the canoeist or kayaker uses a paddle to propel the boat along the water
  • A canoe is propelled using single bladed paddles and the paddler is kneeling or sitting on a raised seat
  • A kayak is propelled using a paddle with two blades and the paddler sits with their legs in front of them
  • The number of paddlers depends on the size of the canoe
  • Paddlers face in the direction of travel - paddling a canoe is different to rowing, where rowers face away from the direction of travel
  • Generally, kayaks are closed deck boats with a spray deck, and canoes are open boats
  • The International Canoe Federation is the worldwide canoeing organisation which creates the standard rules for canoeing as a sport

Types of canoeing

  • There are various types of competitive and non-competitive disciplines of canoeing - spring and slalom are the only two competing in the Olympic Games
  • Sprint, or racing, involves canoe and kayak races of over 200m, 500m and 1000m
  • Slalom competitors are timed in completing a descent down the rapids of a whitewater course in which they must steer their canoes or kayaks through gates, which are a pair of poles about 1m apart
  • Marathon is a longer distance canoe or kayak race over a mostly flat-water course. Distances range from two miles to 125 miles
  • In whitewater racing, competitors speed canoes or kayaks down whitewater rapids
  • Other versions include canoe polo and canoe sailing
  • In these particular events, kayaking and canoeing are split in to separate classes
  • Other outdoor pursuits include hill walking, potholing and mountaineering. See¬†Water Sports for fishing, rowing, surfing, swimming, lifesaving and water skiing

Did you know...?

The UK's leading whitewater centre is in Bala, North Wales. It is called the Canolfan Tryweryn (CT) National White Water Centre

Related Media

Useful Links

Got something to say?

You must be logged in to post comments on this website.

Login or Register.

Please take a few minutes to complete this survey. It will help us find out how you use the website so we can keep improving it for you. Everyone who completes the survey will get the chance to win £50.