What to do...for a stag do
Go to Cumbria and do everything, writes Guardian sports editor Graham Smyth.
‘I was recently tasked with organising a stag do, that of my little brother no less.
My brief was simple, it had to involve a stay at a cottage somewhere in England, his best mates, and some manly activities.
I picked Cumbria because it’s known for a plethora of outdoor activities, and it’s incredibly popular for short breaks.
A quick call to Hoseasons got us a very reasonable cottage, at Pasture Farm at Aspatria.
It was an ideal base, because it firstly slept eight comfortably, and secondly because it was within easy reach of many of the things we had planned.
The cottage was well equipped, clean and modern, with a spacious open-plan upstairs that was perfect for relaxing indoors when the weather refused to play ball.
In terms of attractions, we had Raw War Paintballing practically on our doorstep, West Coast Indoor Karting a short drive away at Maryport, and Go Ape at Whinlatter Forest Park near Keswick, again not far from our home for the weekend.
Places like Windermere and Ambleside, with all their watersport possibilities, took just an hour or so to drive to (with some of the most awe-inspiring views along the way).
Go karting is a brilliant stag activity, because it’s all about being incredibly competitive. There are few more manly pursuits.
At West Coast Indoor Karting we had a simple race that lasted around half an hour, but they can cater for those who wish to race until they drop.
Major stag do kudos went to the owner of the fastest lap, and the driver who most importantly finished first.
There was shame heaped upon the driver who tootled around at 15mph as if on a Sunday drive through the countryside.
Go Ape was a real test of courage, the perfect peer-pressure fuelled activity to force upon an unsuspecting stag.
Unfortunately, our own stag coped admirably with the sheer heights, climbs, zip wires and tarzan swings.
When it comes to bursts of adrenaline, Go Ape comes into its own. I’ve never experienced anything quite like the leap off the platform near the end of the course, when you simply fall through the air before your harness and rope take the strain and swing you into a cargo net.
As terrifying as it was, safety is preached and practised, and the instructors were brilliant. Their mantra, ‘always stay attached,’ will ring in my ears forever.
For an activity with a difference, and one I would heartily recommend, we sampled the sport of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA, or cagefighting) at Hokushinko Fight Academy in Workington.
Head instructor Mark Hodgson, a martial arts veteran of over 30 years, ran us through a number of techniques for fighting on the ground or on the feet, culminating in a few rounds on the punchbags.
Perhaps it’s not one of the traditional stag do events, but everyone in our group loved it. Especially when the stag had to try and take the instructor down. Good natured humiliation by the bucketload.
MMA is one of the fastest growing sports in the world, and Mark made it fun and entertaining.
For more sedate moments we visited Windemere, which has a number of really nice pubs, but truthfully there are dozens and dozens of good watering holes in the area, or indulged in PS3 sessions at the cottage.
We could have done a lot more, because Cumbria and the Lakes offer so much in the way of outdoor activities and pursuits.
The ideal stag do would last at least a week, and would take a week to recover from.
But copying our format will not result in disappointment.
As for the rest of our weekend, what happened on the stag do, stays on the stag do.’