Top 20 countdown to autumn adventures
Good news for sports lovers depressed by thoughts of a wet autumn
Good news for sports lovers depressed by thoughts of a wet autumn: there are fantastic ways of staying active, even in the rain. Some are not only immune to downpours, but will also feel better in wet conditions. Others will take you safely away from all weathers while still providing plenty of high-class action. Here are 20 of the best - a mix of the colourful, the orthodox and the downright unusual. Rain? It`s no excuse.
1 COLD MOUNTAIN
"Some people actually prefer mountain-biking in the rain - it`s more of a challenge," say bike experts in Wales, the premier landscape for this gritty sport. Feel the spray, taste the mud, embrace the foul weather and feel good about yourself.
2 WILD PLUNGES
"Wild swimming in the rain is positively magical," says Daniel Start, whose book Wild Swimming explores this weather-immune activity. He adds that downpours often warm up chilly water.
3 WET WALKS
Rain swells scenic waterfalls, gives rivers a dramatic twist and produces puddles for children to splash in. And it`s free, so it`s perfect for credit-crunched families. Pick your landscape with care and wet-walking is a joy.
4 CHILL THRILLS
Get that outdoor feeling indoors at the Ice Factor, the world`s biggest indoor ice-climbing wall, near Fort William, Scotland. Rain? Wind? Who cares?
5 SLALOM CANOEING
Fast, ferocious and soaking wet - it will make no difference if it`s raining when you`re slalom canoeing. This pacey sport sends you kayaking down white-water rivers between crucial "gates" where inches and speed are vital.
Autumn is great for sand-yachters because rain and wind clear trippers from the beach and you then have space to move in and power for your sails. It`s fantastic action, especially if you slip into a dry-suit to keep out the worst of the wet.
7 ROWING TREND
Dry-rowing on indoor machines is booming, with competitions now running all year round. This is serious stuff: national championships attract upwards of 3,500 competitors.
Dressed in a wet-suit and hard-hat, you`ll embrace the water when you go canyoning. Clamber down waterfalls, jump into rivers, slide down rocky chutes. It`s great fun and a serious work-out. For a taste, try Vertical Descents, which is based near Fort William in Scotland.
9 SKI SLOPES
Dry ski slopes run better in the wet because the added lubrication makes them smoother and quicker. Dress sensibly, head for the slopes and enjoy the downpour.
10 CURL UP AND TRY
Curling on ice is a winter sport, but there`s a nicely-protected year-round indoor version that`s just as enjoyable and active. New Age Kurling, which uses stones on rollers whizzing over wooden floors has 100 clubs in the UK.
11 ALE AND HEARTY
If walking in the wet isn`t really your cup of tea, then spice up the outdoor experience with a "Real Ale Ramble" in mid-Wales on November 22. Routes of 10, 15 and 25 miles include beer stops at various checkpoints, so that you`ll hardly notice the rain.
12 SKIP IT
Skippers burn 1,300 calories an hour - and who would notice it was raining if they`re going at that speed? In any event, you`ll be indoors. Varied skipping styles add lustre to the sport. The British Rope Skipping Association offers information and offers ropes for sale.
Wet weather or fine, the conditions don`t matter when you`re coasteering. This hugely popular sport sends you cliff-climbing, swimming and rock-hopping around the ragged rocks in wet-suits.
14 UPWARDLY MOBILE
Indoor climbing walls are hugely popular and easily-accessible while being testing and exciting.
15 GO DIVING
Divers defy weather and, though it`s better in tropical waters, there are plenty of opportunities in pools, lakes and the sea.
16 TUMBLE DRY
The sport of gymnastics is perfect for rainy days and, despite what you might fear, the 12 indoor disciplines - including tumbling, trampolining and acrobatics - attract all ages into the seventies.
17 INDOOR SKIING
Skiing indoors on real snow is no longer a mystery, just a great way of enjoying slithery downhill fun.
18 POOL JOY
A visit to the local pool can be a vivid pleasure. But, if you can`t swim, a new breed of experts makes it easy.
19 PERSONAL TRAINING
Rainy days could actually aid fitness if you opt for the intensity of a personal trainer.
20 WII WAY
Wii Fit, Nintendo`s celebrated techno-fitness balancing board, is getting drooling reviews from enthusiasts who lose weight through this software-linked equipment. Advantages include easy access and all kinds of active games - all drily indoors.