There are not too many places in the world where you can be skiing on a slope, then 10 minutes later put a climbing harness on and scale a mountain, then 20 minutes later suit up in lycra and zoom round and round a velodrome - Calshot Activities Centre is one such place! Climbing in the UK can be wet and windy, so heading indoors might be your best option some days. You could always head north and do some walking in the Lake District and embrace the bad weather!
Based in Southampton in Hampshire, Calshot Activities Centre is basically everything you could ever want from outdoor activities within a safe environment. Whilst my parents have lived in the south of England (and when I was younger and at school), Calshot Activities Centre was one of the places I visited the most, and really is a haven for adventure sports practice. The entire centre is housed in one large old aircraft hangar, and you can really tell. The huge high ceiling sits what seems like hundreds of metres above you, and the steel frame is industrial, no-nonsense and tough. The building is not pretty, but it is beautiful in its practicality.
The climbing section of the centre has more than 80 ropes, each one offering a different route up their many different walls. There are bouldering lumps with soft padded floors to practice technique, physical training sections as well as some overhangs and incredibly difficult routes for the advanced climber. There is always someone on hand to help you out if you need and the staff are incredibly friendly and welcoming.
When your arms get tired from hanging off fake cliffs, you can give your legs a go on the oldest velodrome in Britain. This steep sided cycle track is the perfect place to just whizz around at high speed with nothing in your way, or the necessary training place for races and competitions.
If all that wasn't enough, there are also three 'dry ski slopes' which are covered in a modern 'Snowflex' material that behaves and feels pretty close to the real thing. You can give skiing and snowboarding a go for the first time with lessons or practise if you have some experience already. You can also just play with inflatable rubber rings and group parties.
This location is not 'only' limited to indoor activities, as it also is located right next to the long pebble Calshot Beach. There are cute little beach huts you can rent to change and be based in, as well as sailing and all manner of water sports to enjoy as well. Windsurfing, kayaking, sailing and powerboating courses are all on offer here through the centre as well.
On this little spit of land you will also see Calshot Castle, built in the 16th Century by Henry VIII. You can go into the castle, which has had a lot of changes and renovations over the years. The castle was part of a Royal Air Force base which included an aircraft hangar, which is now the activities centre. The history, activities and fun here are completely inseparable and intertwined, which I think is a fantastic way to use our historical monuments and preserve them.
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