Starting an Outdoor Activity Centre

  • Price: £5.99
  • Published: July 2016
  • Type: Business Opportunity Profile
  • Format: PDF
  • What qualifications and skills are required?
  • Key market issues and trends
  • Trading, commercial and legal issues
  • Legislation
  • Further information

Outdoor activity centres provide instructor-led sessions in a wide range of outdoor activities, including climbing and caving, kayaking, canoeing and other watersports, and hillwalking, mountaineering and canyoning. Many outdoor activity centres run activities on a residential basis, providing catered or self-catered accommodation for groups of participants. Others also offer one-day outdoor activity experiences to individual adults, and to children as a school-holiday or weekend activity. Typical participant groups for outdoor activity centres include school trips, groups of scouts and girl guides, young people who are undertaking their Duke of Edinburgh Award, employees participating in company teambuilding events, and stag and hen parties.

Some outdoor activity centres are located in national parks such as The Lake District, the Yorkshire Dales National Park or Northumberland National Park. In general, permission is not required before using crags, caving systems, the sea or similar environments to run outdoor activity sessions. However, inland bodies of water are often privately owned and the owner's consent must be obtained before they can be used for watersports.

In general, outdoor activity centres in England, Wales and Scotland that allow participants aged 17 or under to take part in caving, climbing, trekking or watersports must be granted an Adventure Activities Licence by the Adventure Activities Licensing Service. A licence is not required if the centre is outside of the scope of the adventure activities licensing regime, for example because it only allows under-18s to take part in activities if they are supervised by a parent or guardian. There is no equivalent requirement in Northern Ireland.

This profile provides information about starting up and running an outdoor activity centre. It describes the skills required, the training available, the current market trends and the key trading issues. It also explains the legislation that must be complied with and provides sources of further information and support.

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