50 amazing things to do in the countryside this year

Get back to nature in 2018 – make a new year wishlist of outdoor experiences. Here are 50 ideas to get you started and make the most of your year

22nd December 2017

Most of us know of New Year’s Resolutions, where one sets intentions for the year ahead. But too often, people make their resolutions negative – “I will no longer eat biscuits at my desk” – and then feel unhappy. In the bleak, grey month of January, the last thing you need is to drain your energy further by setting up a series of battles with yourself. And if you break a resolution, you feel deflated, which is a rubbish way to start the year. What you need instead are things to look forward to.

So instead, try a wish list. This involves writing down 50 things you would like to do in the year ahead. The items can be enormous or tiny, ranging from “Climb Everest” to “buy a new pencil sharpener”. The main thing is that at some point it has popped into your head as something that you would like to do. Whatever you decide to do, enjoy yourself and good luck in all your adventures. I hope that it helps you look forward to the year ahead with enthusiasm. Let us know how you get on and I will keep you updated on my progress, too...

How to create your wishlist

  • Write down 50-100 things you would like to do this year.
  • Be as clear as you can. “Climb Pen Y Fan” is more specific than “Get outdoors”.
  • Feel free to put down whatever you want.
  • Be honest with yourself – only put what you really want to do on the list

Wistman's Wood

1. Walk in Wistman’s Wood, Dartmoor
These ancient knarled oaks will really capture your imagination.


Northern Lights

2. See the Northern Lights

Magical lights that decorate the night sky! What’s not to love. Come ON!


3. Learn to play the ukulele

It’s light and lovely to listen to; a great travelling instrument.


4. Have a picnic

A simple wish borne of fond memories from childhood. Discover Countryfile's best UK picnic spots here.


Steam Train

5. Take a steam train ride

Tootling through woodland, hills and valleys looks like a lot of fun. There are lots of options out there, including the Jacobite steaming over the Glenfinnan Viaduct (pictured above) and the Vale of Rheidol Railway in Wales.


6. Visit Portmeirion

Wales’s strange Italianate town looks so intriguing.


7. Walk Wainwright’s Coast-to-Coast path

Have you seen the film Downhill? It might inspire you to walk this well-known route.



8. Learn to identify five mushrooms

They are so varied and fascinating, but which is which?


9. Search for sea glass

It’s so calming to scour the seashore for these beautiful washed-up gems.


10. Attend a surf/ yoga course

Some of my happiest memories have been on surf/yoga courses. More please! 


Cape Wrath

11. Venture to Cape Wrath

The most north-westerly point of Scotland has an epic, daunting and appealing name.


12. Read 20 nature books

Titles to be decided! Watch this space. Here are a few to get you started: the best nature books of 2017/18.


13. Go on a mindful walk

Walk silently, peacefully, while absorbing the world around. In BBC Countryfile Magazine's new series – the A to Z of mindfulness – we look at the various ways that nature and the countryside can be used to help improve physical and mental wellbeing, starting with A is for Awareness



14. Swim in the Scilly Isles

Dip into the glittering waters of these striking southern isles.


15. Explore Malhamdale

Stunning limestone scenery that everyone raves about; see it for yourself!


16. Cycle the Tarka Trail

From Braunton, enjoy 30 miles of traffic-free cycling in Devon. What a ride. Learn more about the Tarka Trail and four other inspiring long-distance routes here.


17. Visit a Dark Sky Park

Behold the beauty of a black, black sky festooned with brilliance. Discover the best places to go stargazing here.



18. Learn to identify five constellations

Work out what you are actually staring at while stargazing.


19. Walk part of the Pennine Way

The spine of England seems excellently bleak and remote. Here are some of our favourite sections of the historic trail. 


20. Spend the night in a bivvy bag

It’s time to try the joys of sleeping outdoors without a tent.



21. Cook a meal outdoors

Get fired up. Nothing tastes better than food cooked and eaten outside.


22. Surf on the Gower

As a surfing fan, I’m keen to catch a wave in this beautiful heartland of Welsh surfing.



23. Canoe camp along the Wye

Paddle along this great winding river, stopping overnight at lovely campsites. Check out our guide to wild camping by canoe.


24. Attend a summer festival

Not to big, not to small, just right. The Big Shakeout in Derbyshire would be a great place to start. 


25. Walk under a waterfall

How cool to wander behind a wall of water, such as Sgwd Yr Eira in the Brecon Beacons.


Starling murmuration

26. See a starling murmuration

A truly exhilarating spectacle. Here are some of the best spots to see them.


27. Make sloe gin
Collect sloes and turn them into something quaffable.



28. Learn to identify five butterflies

From tortoiseshell to Adonis blue and red admiral, spot the difference.


29. Travel in a camper van

Living the dream, man, living the dream.


Wild swimming

30. Go wild swimming

Take any opportunity to get in the water, from rivers and lakes to the sea.


31. Spot an otter

One of Britain’s most entertaining but most reclusive animals. Join otter expert Simon Copper for some inspiration here.


Peak District

32. Climb a Peak District peak

I can’t believe I’ve never been. But which one of these walks should I choose? Pictured are Parkhouse Hill and Chrome Hill for sunset.


33. Eat a roast in a great country pub

My year will be a failure if this doesn’t happen.


34. Dance a jig at a ceilidh

Just jolly good fun.


35. Go on a glow-worm walk

Watch these little critters illuminate a summer night.


36. Go cider-cycling in Herefordshire

Make a pilgrimage by bike to the county’s orchards and cider farms.



37. Send a vintage postcard

Post a classic scene of a pretty village or famous landmark to a friend.


38. Have fish and chips by the sea

The classic seaside experience. Just… YES. Here are five of the best.


39. Listen to folk music in a pub

An ale, a fire and some fine music, please.



40. Learn to identify five new birds

There's more to life than pigeons.


41. Have a cream tea

It speaks for itself.


42. Sketch a landscape

There’s a contemplative joy in drawing a fine view. Even if the sketch is a mess.


43. Write a poem

Try channeling nature into lyrical beauty, like Mary Oliver or Wendell Berry.



44. See a kingfisher

Catch that flash of blue.


45. Paddle the Norfolk Broads

There's wonderful wildlife on these waters.


46. Visit Loch Lomond and the Trossachs

This Scottish National Park looks stunning.


View from a balloon

47. Fly in a hot-air balloon

What a rush, to see the land so spread about beneath.


48. Learn to identify five trees

Give our big friendly giants a name. Perhaps this tree guide will help?


49. Adventure in a narrowboat

Watch the world go slowly by while navigating our canals. And maybe visit one or two waterside pubs while I'm at it!



50. Walk the Northumberland Coast

I've been once and dream of going again...

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