If you’re craving some indoor adventure then look no further than the unremarkable market town of Bedford. It might not conjure up images of adrenalin-fuelled fun and games, but Bedford is actually a hotbed of thrills thanks to its Bodyflight Centre which offers a raft of high-octane activities.
The mother of all indoor adventure playgrounds, the Bodyflight Centre is the perfect place to spend a day if the chilly winter air is stopping you from engaging in outdoor pursuits.
Pleasure-seekers travel all the way from Spain – and even the US – to Bedford to visit the palatial warehouse-like building that’s home to an indoor skydiving wind tunnel, a surf simulator and a zip wire, so us Londoners are lucky it’s a mere one-hour train ride away.
If you’ve always wanted to go skydiving, but you’re too chicken to hurl yourself out of a plane, flying in an indoor wind tunnel is the next best thing. The notion of flying indoors was first attempted by the American military in 1964, and the first vertical wind tunnels were opened in Tennessee and Las Vegas in 1982.
Bodyflight boasts the world’s largest indoor skydiving wind tunnel, which attracts both beginners and experienced skydiving dudes from all over the world. To enter the wind tunnel, stand in the open doorway, lean forward and you’ll feel your legs lifted from under you. Arch your back and get into a horizontal flying position – it’s unlike any other feeling. Remember to try and smile at the camera as the wind contorts your face.
Anyone with a passion for board sports should give flowboarding a shot at the centre’s FlowHouse. In a mish-mash of surfing, skateboarding and wake boarding, wetsuit-wearing participants try to stay upright on a small board balanced atop a gush of fast-moving water. When you fall, the rubbery floor assures a soft landing.
Quicken the pulse with a 56km/h slide down a 200m super-steep zip wire. The starting point is the roof of the Bodyflight wind tunnel, offering sweeping views of the patchwork of fields that make up the Bedfordshire valley. Scream yourself silly as you surge to the ground at top speed.
If you’ve always fancied leaping off the edge of a building, but were too scared to give BASE jumping a go, give the Vertigo Jump a whirl. One of the tallest jumps in the UK, Vertigo is used to train new BASE jumpers.
The tension builds as you climb to the roof of the tunnel before having a cable attached to your full body harness. You’ll be scared witless, but once you’re away, the experience is the ultimate high. With no need for a parachute, the cable will slow your fall allowing you to land gently on your feet.
» Janine Kelso travelled to Bedford with First Capital Connect, staying at the Bedford Swan Hotel (bedfordswanhotel.co.uk). Bodyflight activity prices from £15.