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United Kingdom attracts the international audience with its diverse sporting events – especially with sports like football, rugby, cricket and tennis that are enjoyed by millions of people all over the world. Whether you prefer to participate or to watch the sport, England offers just about every possible outdoor activity from watersports, walking and cycling to rock climbing and pony trekking.

    For spectators, football is a national favourite, and professional matches can be watched every Saturday afternoon from early August to early May. There are also several matches on Sundays and mid-week. Tickets for second-tier Championship games are easier to get than tickets for the Premier League matches between famous teams like Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester United and Liverpool.

Although less popular than football, rugby is also a favourite and entertaining to watch. In the south, the Rugby Union has completely different rules to the Rugby League, which dominates the northern region. Whether you want to watch a weekly game in the Union’s Premiership season from September to May or the League’s Super League from February to September, securing tickets shouldn’t be difficult – even for one of the many international matches.

    Cricket has moved away from its elitist roots and become a national pastime and favourite – mostly because of the creation of the Twenty20 format, which focuses on more decisive games that are played in three-hour matches. As a result, cricket has become big business; you can now choose between watching county sides competing for the Twenty20 Cup, take in a one-day game between domestic teams or a four-day match in the County Championship. During the summer, a cycle of international five-day test matches is played around the country between English national teams and international teams.

    Another national sport is tennis and the Wimbledon Championship that is held in late June /early July and lasts two weeks, is probably the main attraction in this sport. To illustrate its popularity, the championship has wall-to-wall TV coverage and commentary on the performance of British and other players. When Wimbledon ends, spectator interest in the sport decreases significantly.

England hosts a variety of sport events throughout the year. In March the Cheltenham Gold Cup (horse racing) takes place as does the famous Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race, which occurs on Saturday along river Thames in London. The Grand National, the world’s greatest steeplechase, is held at Aintree in Liverpool on the first Saturday in April. The London Marathon, the largest race in the country also takes places in April and is considered to be the chance for spectators to see vicars, gorillas and other costumed runners trailing the professionals.

The FA Cup Final (mid-May), the climax of the biggest domestic football competition, is held at London’s Wembley Stadium. The Premiership Final, in which two Rugby Union’s top teams battle for the ultimate honour at London’s Twickenham Stadium, is held in late May. In horse racing, the 200-year-old Derby – held at Epsom near London in the first week of June – is popular.

    In cricket, the semi-finals and finals of the Twenty20 Cup take place on the same day and in the same grounds in mid-August while the culmination of the competition for Rugby League clubs occurs on the last Saturday in August in the Challenge Cup Final.  Finally, England’s most popular half-marathon, the Great North Run, occurs in mid-September and attracts 50,000 competitors across the Tyne Bridge in Newcastle-Gateshead.

For visitors who prefer to move rather than to watch a sport, England offers some of the best walking areas in the granite moorlands and breathtaking coastlines in southeastern Devon and Cornwall as well as in the northern highlands. The Peak District, the Yorkshire Dales, the North York Moors and the Lake District are among the best areas in the highlands further north. Whether you’re taking a short walk or a longer hike, ensure that you are properly equipped for your chosen path, pay attention to local weather reports and follow the advice of the locals. The English weather is unpredictable and people die in the mountains and moor every year, so yield the advice provided for you before you are going to set out.

    For hiking enthusiasts and adventurers, England offers around a dozen National Trails that cover approximately 2,500 miles of paths and tracks. At 268 miles, the Pennine Way is the toughest and typically Somerset takes 16 days to complete; it stretches from the Derbyshire Peak District to the Scottish borders. The South West Coast Path covers 630 miles through Somerset, Devon, Cornwall and Dorset, which takes 56 days to complete, but is typically done in shorter sections. Shorter trails like the South Downs Way (101 miles over 8 days) or the historically fascinating Hadrian’s Wall Path (84 miles over 7 days) are recommended and details can easily be found online.

        England is set up for cycling. The National Cycle Network comprises 10,000 miles of sign-marked routes of which a third is on traffic-free paths that include canal towpaths and unused railways. However, the paths are detailed online and covered by extensive waterproof maps; you’re never far from a numbered route. The northern coast-to-coast route, C2C, runs 140 miles from the Cumbrian to the Northumberland coasts. From Morecambe to Bridlington, the new Way of the Roses stretches over 169 miles while the Cornish Way covers 123 miles from Bude to Land’s End. In addition, routes that cut through the centre of the country from Derby to York (154 miles) and from Gloucester to Reading (128 miles) are available. Maps and detailed descriptions can be found in cycling guides that are carried by most of the  local tourist offices.

    Sailing and windsurfing are popular on the south coast, especially on the Isle of Wight and Solent. You can rent boards, dinghies and boats at all locations as well as in the Lake District. Rentals are done by the hour or for longer instruction periods; prices range from £25 for a few hours of windsurfing to around £140 for a two-day non-residential sailing course.

    The undisputed surfing centre is Newquay in Cornwall where Fistral, the main break, hosts several international contests. Quieter areas can be found along the northern coasts of Devon and Cornwall as well as along the northeast coast from Yorkshire to Northumberland. There are many places where you can rent or buy equipment.

    Guided and self-guided options are available through operators; the self-guided option is usually cheaper. Luggage transfer, confirmed accommodation, detailed itineraries, lunch and support are standard inclusions on these holidays.


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