From 29 March, outdoor organised sport for adults and children is finally allowed. So it’s time to dust off your tennis whites, don your trainers and book some adrenalin-inducing activities. But where to start?
You’ll be surprised to note that London is home to a seriously impressive range of activities. You have your normal five-a-side at the local football clubs and driving ranges for golf, but in the same day you can sail around the Docklands and go white water rafting. It all depends on how adventurous you want to be, but considering we’ve been sat in front of the TV for the best part of a year, we suggest you push the boat out.
1. Golfing in Greenwich
Need to tighten up that swing? Over at the Greenwich Peninsula Golf Range you can test out your skills with fabulous views over the glistening buildings of Canary Wharf. Hire a booth to practice your technique and then relax back in the comfy chairs as you watch others attempt and fail.
Normally, there’s also the chance to order some beers and snacks, or even head to the restaurant afterwards. But good things come to those who wait, so for now, just get swinging.
2. Horse riding in Richmond
Sure, this outdoor activity might set you back a bob or two, but it’ll be worth it. Perched on the corner of Richmond Park is the Stag Lodge Stables, one of six riding schools in the area. You can saddle up a horse and trot around the park to your heart’s content.
From pony lessons for three year olds to full-blown horse care and stable management courses for adults, there’s every bit of equestrian fanfare that you could want.
3. Swimming in Hampstead
This could be the moment to invest in a season ticket at Hampstead’s outdoor ponds, if bathing in dirty water is your thing. It can get a bit chilly out there, but if you want to know the exact temperature, the ponds Tweet about the temp regularly on their social accounts.
There are changing rooms but no lockers, so valuables are left at your own risk. Make sure not to drink the water as there’s the occasional blue-green algae floating about that can give you a bit of a dodgy tummy. And one final note on their regulations: swimwear must be worn at all times. So that cancels out any skinny dipping.
To find more lidos and ponds in your area, read our full list of the best in London here.
4. Football from Finchley to Vauxhall
A relaxed kick about and five-a-sides are all back in play. The best place to start for those looking to set up a football team is with Powerleague, the biggest chain of football pitches across the city. Their London locations include Barnet, Croydon, Docklands, Spawell, Enfield, Fairlop, Finchley, Newham, Nine Elms Battersea, Portobello, Shoreditch, Tottenham and Vauxhall. With their fancy pitches, state-of-the-art equipment and competitive leagues, it’s definitely a good place to get started.
5. Tennis lessons in Finsbury Park
There are local tennis courts in pretty much every London park, but over in Finsbury Park they’ve just completed a fab new refurbishment. Whether you’re semi-professional or you’ve never picked up a racket before, this unpretentious tennis venue welcomes everyone.
There’s an all-year coaching programme for those who want to play competitively or you can simply hit a few balls and just socialise (yes, as in meet new people, who would have thought it!?).
6. British Military Fitness in Clapham
Do you ever need to be literally shouted at to find any motivation? Well, you’re in luck with the team of British Military Fitness (BMF) groups dotted around London’s parks.
BMF incorporates military methodology with seriously aerobic programmes to deliver workouts that help you lose weight and get fit. The sessions are all about working together, so it’s fun as well as challenging. Don’t feel intimidated though, the workouts are tailored to all abilities and newcomers of any fitness level are welcome with open arms.
7. Cricket in Dulwich
It would be nice to follow in the footsteps of cricketing greats Sir Ian Botham and Joe Root, and step onto the perfectly manicured green at Lord’s. Sadly though, it’s an indoor cricket centre here, so you’ll have to wait until 12 April before you can start bowling.
In the meantime, you can book the outdoor area at Dulwich Sports Ground for a small fee or rock up at Brockwell Park to enjoy the nets there for free.
8. Basketball in Ravenscourt Park
Practice your slam dunk over at Ravenscourt Park. It’s home to some of the best outdoor courts in the city, which can be booked for around £23.35 per hour. There is one full-size court and two practice hoops for those looking to be the next Michael Jordan.
It’s also just a great chance to get a group of friends together for the afternoon. And if basketball isn’t your cup of tea, they have netball hoops on the courts too.
9. White water rafting
Make a splash at the Lee Valley White Water Centre and take on the white water rafting course that played host to events at the 2012 Olympics. It’s an experience like no other in the city, and you don’t have to head too far out of London to try it.
The course is reachable via Waltham Cross station, so get ready to challenge yourself, get a little out of your comfort zone and battle the raging currents with this adrenaline-fuelled experience.
10. Sailing in the Docklands
As the days get longer, why not make the most of the brighter hours and pootle on down to the Docklands Sailing & Watersports Trust for a sail across the Thames. If you don’t know your port from your starboard, then there are plenty of instructors to give you lessons. There’s also the chance to sail a little further upstream if you’re an aficionado.
Kayaking, windsurfing and paddle boarding are also an option if you fancy something a little different.