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Active things to do in Hertfordshire

We know that staying at Bethnal&Bec is often about total relaxation, switching off and enjoying everything that your retreat has to offer. With outdoor whirlpool baths, cinema screens (in the Foaling Box & Bec), record players and complimentary gin and whiskey we don’t blame you for wanting to check in and stay in.

However, we know that for some of our guests getting out and being active is what helps them switch off. We’ve got walks aplenty right on our doorstep and will soon be offering electric bikes for rental, but we know that Hertfordshire has lots more to offer. We’ve enlisted the help of Hitchin personal trainer Ben Pirie to help build out a list of the best active, outdoor and sporting activities in Hertfordshire.

1. Lee Valley White Water Centre

First up is Lee Valley white water centre, home to the 2012 Olympics canoe slalom events. The Water centre hosts a range of activities including white water rafting, canoeing & kayaking, hydrospeeding (think extreme bodyboarding), paddleboarding and a water wipeout course. The centre is located just a 30 min drive from Bethnal&Bec making it a great option to take a short trip out for some adrenaline adventures. We recommend pre-booking as the activities do tend to get booked up weeks in advance, especially during peak times.

2. Ninja Warrior UK - Watford

One for the big kids or fans of the show. This purpose-built unit in Watford has a reduced-size Ninja Warrior course, including the famous wall and red button. Alongside this, it also has a huge inflatable assault course including the big red balls, wrecking ball and gladiator-style battling with inflatable batons. Ben recommends going during the week in the daytime or booking an adults-only session to enjoy it fully and avoid hoards of children. Ninja Warrior UK Watford is around a 40 min drive from Bethnal&Bec.

A man swinging between two high bars at Ninja Warrior UK Watford
Ben at Ninja Warrior UK Watford

3. Hitchin & Letchworth Outdoor Swimming Pools

The nearby towns of both Hitchin and Letchworth have wonderful 50m outdoor swimming pools which are open from May to September. Hitchin outdoor pool is soon to celebrate its 85th birthday after opening in 1938, and Letchworth pool will this year celebrate its 70th birthday after opening in 1953. Both pools maintain elements of their history and are a great place to experience the joy of swimming outdoors in the summer months. Pre booking isn’t usually necessary and all details of opening times and prices can be found on the sll websites linked above. Letchworth outdoor pool is around a 15 min drive from Bethnal&Bec whilst Hitchin outdoor pool is around a 20 min drive from us.

4. Snow Centre Hemel Hempstead

We’re really lucky to have an indoor real snow slope right here in Hertfordshire. Hire some gear and hit the slope if you’ve skied or snowboarded before. Or plan ahead and book a lesson if you’ve never skied before or want to brush up on your skills. The snow centre is around a 45 minute drive from Bethnal & Bec.

5. Lee Valley Canoe Cycle

This one is a hidden gem that Ben has shared with us. With a network of canals spanning through the Hertfordshire countryside the Lee Valley Canoe Centre is the perfect place to get out onto the water or explore the towpaths by bike. Hire costs are extremely reasonable and having been himself Ben has vouched for the friendliness and helpfulness of the small team. A word of warning on this one. If you’re going to canoe along the canal you will need to navigate the locks which require strength and balance to get yourself and the canoe up onto the bank. Ben assures us that this makes for an even better experience! Lee Valley Canoe Cycle is a 30 minute drive from us.

A man and a woman are in a canoe on a river surrounded by water and greenery and are both looking at the camera
Ben and his wife Charlotte canoeing on the river in a canoe hired from Lee Valley Canoe Cycle

6. Text Trails

If you’re looking to explore some of the local towns surrounding Bethnal & Bec and learn a little along the way then this one's for you. Text Trails does exactly what it says on the tin. Sign up for a package at your chosen location and receive text message directions, clues & questions to find your way through the town. At each point submit an answer and receive the next clue to move onwards with your trail. It’s a really unique way to explore our surrounding towns of St Albans, Hertford and Ware and could have you on your feet for up to 2 hours.

7. Hertfordshire Sports Village - Indoor Climbing

A 30-minute drive from Bethnal&Bec is the town of Hatfield and the Hertfordshire Sports Village where you’ll find an indoor climbing wall. The sports village is based at the University of Hertfordshire so don’t be put off when you drive into a university campus. There are various options for climbing including group sessions and guided lessons. This is definitely one to book ahead if you’re looking to do something a little different whilst staying with us.

8. Hertfordshire Walks App

Finally, we finish up with our favourite pastime, walking. We love a stroll through the Hertfordshire countryside, breathing in the fresh air, taking in the views, and hopefully ending up at a pub! You’ll find numerous walks directly from your retreat and the Hertfordshire walks app is the perfect companion to help guide your way both here and if you choose to explore more of Hertfordshire.

An image of a pathway leading up to a grand bridge, surrounded by green parkland and trees.
Just one of many beautiful walks on the Hertfordshire Walks App

We hope that gives you some inspiration for active things to do in Hertfordshire whether you’re staying with us or not. And if you’re not yet booked to stay with us we hope you’ll take a look at what we’ve got to offer and plan a trip soon. Your break can be whatever you want it to be, from pure relaxation in your retreat to exploring Hertfordshire with some adrenaline-fuelled activity.

And if you're local to Hertfordshire and want to stay active regularly then Ben is your man. With a purpose-built private personal training studio in Hitchin and over 15 years of experience you'll be in great hands. You can find him by searching for Fitsolution Training.

We hope to see you soon!

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