Richard Webber says head to the Peak District or Bristol for a UK jaunt or travel to Switzerland for an exhilarating experience
The UK and Switzerland are both wonderful places to take a hot air balloon ride.
Fly over the rolling hills of the Peak District, the UK’s first national park. At the southern end of the Pennines, tucked between Sheffield and Manchester, this region of contrasts offers everything from heather-clad moorland to limestone dales.
Jump in a hot air balloon and head for the skies from one of three launch sites inside the national park, courtesy of Wickers World. The most northerly launch site is near Chatsworth House, the Duke and Duchess Of Devonshire’s lavish stately home.
On landing, you’ll be whisked back to the starting point via Land Rover. Afterwards, explore parkland surrounding Chatsworth. Designed by Capability Brown in the 1760s – it’s free to enter.
Another of Wickers World’s launch sites is the privately-owned village of Tissington; the nearby Tissington Trail, a disused railway line, is perfect for walkers and cyclists.
Just south of Buxton, Glutton Bridge is the company’s third launch pad, nestled among some of the Peak District’s most stirring scenery.
Weather permitting, flights can be booked all the year. You’ll be in the air for 60-90 minutes, but allow up to four hours for the whole thing, including briefings and returning to launch site.
The company aims for two flights a day, around an hour after dawn and two hours before sunset, when conditions tend to be best for flying.
For more information:
Call 01889 882 222 or visit wickersworld.co.uk; prices from £109.
What better way to see the Alps than from inside a hot air balloon. If the weather is kind, flights take off from Château-d’Oex all year round.
Thanks to its favourable microclimate, this resort in western Switzerland is a magnet for ballooning.
Enthusiasts relish flying in this valley, delighting in the magnificent views over the Alps and Pre-Alps. Within minutes of lift-off, you’ll be enjoying views of the landscape from Mont Blanc to the Eiger.
Take-off is in the morning (May-October, evening flights are available) and you’ll be floating over the Pre-Alps for at least an hour, although the whole experience lasts up to four hours.
Once back on terra firma, you’ll be treated to a glass of wine and local specialities.
For more information: 0041 (0)26 924 2220; ballonchateaudoex.ch; morning flights £314 per adult, £157 under-16 (check
The city, straddling the River Avon, hosts the annual International Balloon Fiesta, Europe’s largest ballooning event.
Bristol has a rich maritime history and many of its 19th-century dockside warehouses have been transformed into restaurants and museums.
For a bird’s-eye view, take to the skies with Bailey Balloons, run by Jo and Clive Bailey, who recently flew Sir David Attenborough over the Swiss Alps to film for BBC’s Planet Earth II series.
Your magical balloon ride could begin at the historic Ashton Court Estate, affording breathtaking views of the city before even leaving the ground.
On landing, before returning to the starting point, you’ll be treated to champagne. Flights last around an hour but allow three to four hours in total.
For more information:
01275 375 300; baileyballoons.co.uk; prices from £99.