Welcome to Northern Ireland's Outdoor Adventure Blog. This blog will keep readers up to speed with all things ‘adventure’ in Northern Ireland this year. The OutdoorNI team will be posting up new and exciting information on the best ways to get out and enjoy the Northern Irish countryside whilst industry professionals will be letting us into their tips of the trade in order to get the best from Northern Ireland’s ultimate activity playground!

This blog is packed full of useful information for everybody looking to take part in outdoor activities from the hardcore adrenaline junkie to those simply looking for some fun ideas for all the family.

This outdoor adventure blog will cover a range of land, water and air based activities such as caving, coasteering, hover crafting, zorbing, surfing, sky diving and many more. You can also find more activity specific information by visiting the other three blog sections on cycling, canoeing and walking.

Get Wet with a Watersports Club near You

Posted on June 5, 2018 @ 1:42 PM in AdventureCanoeing

GetWetNI has been a huge success already. People from all across Northern Ireland have been trying out water sports for the first time and developing a love they didn’t know was there. If you have missed any events so far, don’t worry! There are lots of exciting come and 'have a go' water sport sessions still happening over the next couple of weeks as part of Get Wet NI 2018.

With no experience necessary, all equipment provided and many of the activities suitable for individuals, families and groups of friends, there really is no excuse not to try something new out on the water this summer!

Sailing

With the weather having been so great recently, it's the perfect chance to experience Northern Ireland from the water. Whether you're part of a larger crew taking a yacht through it's paces, or learning the ropes on a small dinghy, you're guarnateed to come away having had a brilliant time.

Women On Water Sailing Programme, Lough Neagh Sailing Club, Craigavon, Sat 13th May

A great opportunity for the girls to try out sailing out in the Irish Sea.

Bright Night Sailing, Donaghadee Sailing Club, 20 Shore Street, Donaghadee, BT21 0DG, Every Friday throughout the Summer

For the kids only, this is a great introduction for boys and girls aged 8 – 16 to experience the excitement of sailing.

Women on Water Sailing Programme, Ballyholme Yacht Club, 262 Seacliff Road, Bangor, BT20 5HT, Tues 24th July

Set sail and learn the basics in this girl’s only programme in which everything will be provided.

 

Try Something New

Wakeboarding is one of the most exhilerating water sports around. A blend of water skiing, snowboarding and surfing, it's an amazing resource to have here in Northern Ireland!

Ladies Beginner Wakeboarding Lessons, Knockbracken Reservoir, Carryduff, BT8 8BP, Sat 28th and Sun 29th July 

Another event just for the girls, Cable and Wake will introduce you to the exhilarating world of wakeboarding!

 

Rowing

Rowing is wonderful in it's simplicity - pull as part of a team, get fitter and enjoy seeing Northern Ireland from a different perspective!

Go Rowing with the Lagan Currachs, Stranmillis Mooring Dock, Governor’s Bridge, Belfast BT7, Every Saturday during the Summer 

At just £5 per person, you and your friend can experience sailing the River Lagan and see Belfast from a different perspective.

Free Taster Youth Rowing Sessions on Strangford Lough, Strangford Lough, leaving from Cook Street, Portaferry, BT22 1LB, Sat 9th and Sun 10th June

A great introduction to rowing for young people aged 11 – 17. Get fit while learning to row on Strangford Lough.

4 Week Rowing Course for Beginners, Lockview Road, Belfast, Runs from Sun 5th Aug and Sun 2nd Sept

Aimed at improving your basic rowing skills and giving you the confidence to be on the water in a safe and fun way!

 

Canoeing / Kayaking

Paddling has exploded in popularity in Northern Ireland in recent years. Whether you're braving your first try or heading back to your favourite waterway for the 100th time, it's an experience to be savoured.

Summer Splash for Families, Creggan Country Park, Westway, Derry~Londonderry, Every Sat and Sun through the Summer

Hop in a canoe, race your friends and have a go on the giant inflatables anchored in the lake!

Lower Bann Recreation Paddle, Access point 3, Newferry East on the Lower Bann Trail, Sat 23rd June

Realise the beauty of the River Bann with a day out on the water alongside the Canoe Association of Northern Ireland.

 

To check out more events taking place, check out GetWetNI.com

Ethan Loughrey
Ethan Loughrey  Mountain Bike Officer

Hardest thing about Mountain Biking? Definitely the trees.

Top Tips For Increasing Your Steps in 2018

Posted on May 3, 2018 @ 3:38 PM in Walking

How many steps do you take each day? For many, sedentary jobs can make it difficult to accomplish the suggested 10,000 steps a day. Below are some of our top tips for motivating yourself to walk more, maximising your lunch break or making the most of time outside of work.


Activity / Fitness Trackers

Fitness trackers are a fantastic way to keep track of your personal progress. Depending on the kind of tracker you have, many offer the ability to track not only steps but calories, heart rate, distance travelled and sleep. How about starting a Step Challenge in your workplace or challenging yourself to meet a weekly target? Check out Cotswold Outdoors for some activity tracker ideas including brands like Fitbit and Garmin.

Make Every Walk A Tresure Hunt (Geocaching)

What if we told you that you could make a walk into a treasure hunt every time you step out the door? Geocaching has become increasingly popular, with more and more people searching for hidden ‘Caches’ both locally and internationally. Simply navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates using a GPS enabled device (this includes most smart phones) and then attempt to find the geocache (container) hidden at that location. Get the app on Google Play or download on the App Store for free.

Walking During Your Lunch Break

Whether you have a 30-minute lunch break or a leisurely 1 hour to fill, keep a pair of trainers or comfortable walking shoes under your desk. Not only will this help you get your steps up, it will also give you that well-earned break from a computer screen and help you start the afternoon refreshed and focused.

Dog Friendly Walks

Walking the dog is a fantastic way to get that step count up. While weekday walks may be kept local, make the weekend your time to experience some new sights, sounds and smells. With lots of fantastic walks to choose from, here are a few of our favourite dog friendly walks across Northern Ireland.

Please note for these walks dogs must be kept on leads.

Family Friendly Walks

There are fantastic family walks across Northern Ireland, perfect for family outings at the weekend or during school holidays. Here are a few of our favourite family walks to inspire you to get out and about with your loved ones.

Check out our blog 'Top Tips For Walking As A Family In Northern Ireland' to help inspire your family to get out walking more.

Discover Trails On Your Doorstep- OutmoreNI.com

Do you know what walking trails are on your doorstep in Northern Ireland? We have recently been developing a website to help you do just that. Discover hundreds of outdoor trails and places across Northern Ireland using OutmoreNI.com.

Walk @ parkrun 

Did you know that parkrun isn't just for runners? Suitable for all ages and abilities, this fun, free and friendly 5km (6,336 steps) walk in the park is ideal for those looking to introduce a regular routine of walking into their week. With a fantastic sense of community, the event is suitable for those walking on their own, with friends, with prams or those walking their dog. Seven parks are currently hosting the 'Walk @ parkrun' initiative: 

Registration is free and can be done online via the parkrun website: www.parkrun.org.uk/register/form and selecting #ParkWalk as your club.

Walking Northern Ireland

Walk The Ulster Way

While it may seem like a daunting prospect and you may not have time to walk the 665-mile-long (1,404,480 steps) Ulster Way in one go, how about walking it in achievable sections over the course of a year (or two!)? Check out our Ulster Way Highlights Blogs for some inspiration; The Mourne WayThe Sliabh Beagh WayThe Causeway Coast Way.

Charity Challenge Walks

There are lots of opportunities throughout the year to take part in charity challenge walks. Details of upcoming walking events can be found on the WalkNI Events Calendar. You may also wish to organise your own sponsored walk with family and friends to raise money for a good cause? Many charities offer fundraising packs to help you with arranging this.

Walking Step Blog

Walking Festivals

Walking festivals are the ideal way to explore somewhere new with people who know the area best. Suitable for all ages and abilities, the programmes often include a range of guided family friendly, lowland, intermediate and high-level walks. Full details and dates can be found on the WalkNI Walking Festivals Map

Bucket List Walks

WalkNI recieves lots of messages and comments about the following popular walks. How many have you yet to discover?

With so many health benefits and fantastic walks to discover, there really is no better time to get out for a walk. Check out WalkNI.com for more blogs, events and routes sure to inspire. 

Jayne Woodrow
Jayne Woodrow  Marketing Officer & Active Clubs Coordinator for Walking

Jayne joined the marketing team of Outdoor Recreation NI in March 2014. She oversees the marketing and communication on WalkNI, OutdoorNI and Walking in Your Community Project. Most recently she has been working with Parkrun Ireland & UK to introduce the 'Walk @ parkrun' initiative.

Tir Chonnail GAP does Rostrevor

Posted on April 30, 2018 @ 5:52 PM in Mountainbiking

When a group of 11 riders from Co. Donegal visited the Rostrevor Mountain Bike Trails we couldn't miss the opportunity to ask them about their MTB experience here in Northern Ireland. Cecilia Holden from Tir Chonnail GAP sent us this epic recounting of their adventure!

 

Very early Saturday morning, the Tir Chonnail GAP Cycling Club mountain bikers headed off to Rostrevor for a weekend of bikes, forests, mountains, trails, tents and craic. Our two team mums, Gerard and Antony promised us much. They and Rostrevor delivered.

We're a mixed bunch in every way: 10 lads, 1 lass, ranging in age from early 20s to the wrong side of 50; and in ability from national downhill contender to enthusiastic novice, with everything in between. We have roadies turned mountain bikers (otherwise known as cross-dressers), pure mountain bikers, enduro riders and “swapped my motorbike for something with pedals”

It was a 2 ½ hour journey, so we broke it up with a coffee stop and a 5 items for £1.99 fry, such good value that some of us had two! What goes in Rostrevor stays in Rostrevor, so I won't name Francis or John B.

 

As we drove through the gates, we'd already forgotten the long drive, and we were straight onto the trails. Our downhillers, Adam and Raymond, headed straight for the uplifts to maximise their riding time whilst the rest of us took on the Red trail.

“You'll be climbing for a while. It's a bit pedally” said Antony. Antony is from Yorkshire where understatement is a way of life. An hour later our legs were screaming, our Garmins were registering a paltry 7k and we were only part way up! But that didn't matter, we'd reached Kodak Corner, and an incredible view over Carlingford Lough and Rostrevor.

On went the climb, getting ever narrower and the turns tighter, with rock gardens and table tops aplenty, helping us forget the effort and definitely getting us warmed up for the downhill. Once in the forest, the fun really started. There are lots of regroup points along the way, which allow everyone to ride down at their own pace and get maximum enjoyment. We had so many spills along the way, we had to count both riders and bikes at each regroup. No injuries all day – well, except for one derailleur.

The forest section is incredible, and for a relative beginner, just awesome. You approach an obstacle thinking “How the flock am I going to get over that?” but you barely have time to celebrate making it before the next one is upon you and the next one and the next one. The boardwalks are something to behold, and are as jumpy and twisty-turny as the trails themselves; the tabletops are set up so everyone can get a bit of air; and a dropper post is essential for the many drop offs. Jaws sore with grinning, we all had a ball!

John B took a corner a wee bit too fast and become an impromptu tree hugger, Cess had a comfortable landing in a bog, and Frank's ribs shared an intimate moment with his handlebars. But it was Raymond who stole the show, performing an almost flawless Olympic gymnastics routine: maximum points for speed, height and grace on the jumps, then a dismount consisting of 3 consecutive somersaults on the bike before parting company with it and adding 2 forward rolls. He stood up and announced “I got that one wrong!”

Back at the centre, we had lunch and pitched our tents. This is where Antony and Gerard came into their own, unloading umpteen holdalls from the vans and quickly erecting gazebo, tents, windbreaks and plenty of chairs, and unpacking a kitchen, tables, many cool bags of beer and the biggest pot of curry you have ever seen – thanks to Mrs Gerard, Amanda. Luckily Hugh didn't need to unpack much, so put his locksmithing skills to great use instead. What goes in Rostrevor....how did you manage to lock yourself out Gerard?

Fed, watered, unpacked and raring to go again, we headed back to the trails. John L, Frank and Francis picked up the end of the Mega Mission and loved every second of their first go. “Savage!” screamed John at the top of his voice, grinning his head off!

 

Dermott decided to take a few snaps, which of course meant riding up - and down - faster than everyone else to find vantage points. Class job!

 

And soon it was time to eat again. What better way to round off the day than a wholesome hearty curry? Food tastes so much better outdoors! And a wander down the picturesque Fairy Glen into town to sample the offerings of the local hostelries.

Sunday morning came way too soon, and that meant more food. How Amanda knew we would need at least 5 sausages each is beyond me, but we were happily replete when we got back on the bikes. Antony had a cunning plan to cut out some of the legwork on the climbs, but it was a Yorkshire “some” and we still had a mighty fine workout. The Guinness was well and truly sweated out of us by the time we reached Kodak Corner. The sun shone for us Sunday, and the views were magnificent across all of the trails.

The uplift service is superb at Rostrevor. (It's run by East Coast Adventure) Adam has his first competition event next weekend, so took advantage to get as many runs in as he could. He and Raymond absolutely flew down the hills. There are a few crossover points on the trails, cleverly laid out to always have a down section crossing an up with the ups giving way. Some of us novices were therefore able to watch the experts coming down. And even the experts were all doing it at their own level. Some jumped the table tops, some rolled over them, each took a different route over the rocks, and many different angles were seen round the berms. Inspired, we carried on up the hills to do our own descents. We watched a father with his 2 sons, no more than 6 or 7, competent and confidently descending the On the Pulse DH Trail, and 3 young lads, not much older, excitedly comparing stories of their runs. Hugh, Antony and Gerard described their own runs as more sedate. If sedate means poised, balanced and in control, then yes I agree, but if it means slow and gentle, sorry boys, I'll have to show you sedate next time.

Several of us did the Red Run again and were pleasantly surprised at how much better we did on many of the obstacles. And also how many new ones there seemed to be. The obstacles on the forest section and the Home Run are literally non-stop, and you barely have time to register them. We rode the berms higher, there were fewer feet down in the rock gardens and many times we took the more adventurous line. The more you ride the trails at Rostrevor the more you discover, and the more you enjoy. We may have had 11 completely different levels of ability, but all 11 of us pushed our respective limits and so the buzz was the same for everyone.

And so the weekend finished. Another healthy feed at the Synge & Byrne Cafe and we were on our way, knowing we'd still be on a high 3 days later. The set up at Rostrevor is simply the best. Ability and fitness are no barriers to enjoyment. If you don't fancy the climbs, take the uplift; the trails are graded and divided into sections so you can find a trail that suits, and just skip the sections that don't. But my advice – don't skip any of the forest sections, they are just too good. And it’s worth the leg burn for the views alone.

11 happy campers will be back very soon.

Class photos © courtesy of Dermott Sweeney.

Not so class photos courtesy of the rest of us.

 

For more information on planning a MTB Trip to Northern Ireland, visit MountainBikeNI.com. You can also find information there on joining a local MTB Club!

Ethan Loughrey
Ethan Loughrey  Mountain Bike Officer

Hardest thing about Mountain Biking? Definitely the trees.

Have a Go at Watersports for £10 or Less

Posted on April 24, 2018 @ 4:57 PM in AdventureCanoeing

Make a splash and try something new this May as part of Get Wet NI 2018. Clubs from across Northern Ireland are offering watersport sessions for just £10 or less on Sat 19th & Sun 20th May. With no experience necessary and all of the equipment provided, there has never been a better time to get out on the water!


Below are just a few thrilling events you can try:

For the Adrenaline Junkies

Learn to Waterski / Wakeboard with the Experts, Meteor Water Ski Club, Lough Henney, Bresagh Road, Sun 20th May
Guaranteed to get the heart pounding, try water skiing or wake boarding in a safe and controlled environment. 

Ladies Beginner Wakeboarding LessonsKnockbracken Reservoir, Carryduff, BT8 8BP, Sat 19th & Sun 20th May
Get into wakeboarding during a one on one coaching session which will soon have you gliding across the longest cable wakeboarding run in Ireland!

Fun with Friends

Rowing Taster SessionsRiver Lagan, Stranmillis Mooring Dock, Governors Bridge, Belfast, Sat 19th and Sun 20th May
Row a community-built traditional currach and see Belfast and the river Lagan from a different perspective. Suitable for all ages and abilities. This session will teach you basic rowing techniques and you'll try your hand at steering. 

Have a go Rowing in Kircubbin, Kircubbin Sailing Club, 106 Shore Road, Kircubbin, Sat 19th and Sun 20th May
Improve your fitness and have the option of participating as a rower, cox or support member.

Have a go Rowing in Dundrum, Dundrum Inner Bay, Slipway opposite Dundrum Inn, Sat 19th and Sun 20th May
Row with the current world champions and see if coastal rowing could be your thing.

Skiff Rowing for Beginners, Killyleagh at the Netwalk, Sun 20th May
A fun filled session with excellent coaching from experienced team members. This event is a fantastic opportunity to meet new friends while learning to row and exploring Strangford Lough. Everyone that enjoys this activity will have an opportunity to train for the Strangford Skiff Festival.

Try Rowing with Lagan Scullers Club, River Lagan, Lockview Road, Belfast, Sun 20th May
Rowing / sculling taster session for beginners, with some sessions specifically for women over 16 years old. Learn the basics of rowing indoors before taking to the water to see Belfast from the river.

A Family Day Out


Summer Splash Event For FamiliesCreggan Country Park, Westway, Derry, Sat 19th & Sun 20th May
This family fun event will involve canoeing, kayaking, paddle boarding and a session on inflatables. It's a great opportunity to get everyone out on the water at a special half price rate.

Dip Your Toe – Have a Go, Lough Erne, Broadmeadow, Lakeland Forum Leisure Centre, Sat 19th May
Get your family (or some friends) together to join a crew of 10 to row through Enniskillen aboard this fascinating bronze age boat currach boat.

Free Taster Youth Rowing Sessions on Strangford Lough, Strangford Lough, Leaving from Cook Street, Portaferry, (located along shore road BT22 1LB), Sat 19th & Sun 20th May
Free rowing sessions for boys and girls aged 11 to 17 years old on Strangford Lough.

Push the Boat Out


Push the Boat Out – Try Free Sailing, Kayaking and Coastal Rowing, County Antrim Yacht Club, 1 Marine Parade, Whitehead, BT38 9QP, Sat 19th May
County Antrim Yacht Club's annual taster day. Try a range of watersports with experienced guides during 20-30 minute sessions. A family fun day will also be taking place, including face painting and a BBQ.

Push the Boat Out with Strangford Lough Yacht Club, Strangford Lough Yacht Club, Whiterock, Sun 20th May
A fun and sociable introduction to sailing with the option of a BBQ afterwards.

Push the Boat Out – Introduction to Dinghy and Cruiser Sailing, Carlingford Lough Yacht Club Killowen Point, Rostrevor, Sun 20th May
A great opportunity to take a dinghy or a yacht out for an afternoon! You can even take a spin in a RIB or have a go stand up paddleboarding.

Follow us on Facebook to keep up to date with what's happening across Northern Ireland's waterways or check out our website, GetWetNI.com

Ethan Loughrey
Ethan Loughrey  Mountain Bike Officer

Hardest thing about Mountain Biking? Definitely the trees.

Welcoming Synge and Byrne Café to Rostrevor MTB Trails

Posted on April 10, 2018 @ 10:53 AM in Mountainbiking

Rostrevor MTB Trails recently saw the opening of a new café at it's trailhead. Synge and Byrne is a well established chain across Northern Ireland, and their promise of awesome food, great coffee and outstanding customer service is already being well received by the MTB community. We spoke to Damien Garvey, Director / Pot Washer in Chief of Synge and Byrne about the nitty gritty of opening a cafe at a MTB Trailhead.  

 

Hi Damien, congrats on the new move and thanks for speaking to us! What do you think makes Kilbroney such an attractive place for a café like Synge and Byrne?

As a brand we are committed to Northern Ireland and the best it has to offer, providing healthy choices and engaging in a better working life - so Kilbroney and its world class MTB trails, amazing environment and what it gives to the community and visitors couldn’t sit better with the values of our brand. That and the numbers of thirsty and hungry visitors that arrive every day!

How aware were you of the MTB trails before the move?

Being a local business and the fact that one of the owners is a World Champion Level Iron Man competitor, biking and the local biking scene is quite high on our agenda, so we have been regular visitors to the trails in the winter months since (the café) opened….roadies during the dryer brighter months.

 

Mountain bikers have been known to enter a café with mud and rain dripping from them. Is that a pain or something to be embraced?

That was a frightening prospect at the beginning and we did worry about having some softer seating, but we have used fabrics that can deal with quite a high level of abuse. Besides, they might be a dirty bunch but they have great manners normally and so sit on the hard chairs when they are filthy... usually! So no issue really, every site has its particular challenges and a bit of dirt is fine as the dirty guys are usually the ones that are really hungry.

Have you or any of your staff been out on the MTB trails yet? If so, what did you / they think?

As we said we have been out on the trails a number of times and we have a semi-pro turning pro on our payroll, Jack Devlin and he thinks the trails are the best. If he isn't charming the customers in our Boucher Road branch he is shedding the trails in Rostrevor…. a man with his head screwed on!

 

What would you say is the perfect feed for a MTBer having just come in from taking on the 27km loop?

Definitely one of our Roast sandwich specials. Slow Honey Roast Ham, mustard mayo, rocket on a Corn Dolly award winning bap served up with Sweet potato fries, Zingy Slaw and Pesto Mayo Dipping Sauce... probably followed by a Serious coffee and some chocolate, homemade Caramel Square maybe. The best in the country, Fact!

 

What’s a healthy treat you’d suggest for mountain bikers?

I didn’t know mountain bikers did healthy I thought that was for the runners & roadies! On the occasion they are out with their other half and trying to impress I would say one of our “Bliss Balls” – vegan, Gluten Free, additive free, made locally buy the lovely Lisa and simply delicious washed down with one of our range of Green teas……and back the next day for the S&B Breakfast!!

 

Quick fire round:

Favourite film?

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

 

TV show you’re currently into?

G.O.T……the only one and we get to watch them filming in the beautiful Mournes.

 

Favourite food?

Our own Caramel Squares…..that’s why we bike!

 

Favourite song at the minute?

BB King “Better not Look Down” (not current I know but on repeat in the store at the minute)

 

Worst injury you’ve picked up?

Thankfully just the nasty pussy scrapes and cuts that come with using your ass for brakes on tarmac while clad in Lycra only! One of the team has had the whole Airlift job for a broken leg while competing in the Cooley Thriller a couple of years ago….nasty!

 

Anything else you’d like to share with the MTB community?

Just that we have a café in Slieve Gullion Forest Park and although you have to get yourself to the top it is a real undiscovered gem that should not be missed. Although there are no structured MTB trails ther...yet!

 

Thanks for chatting to us Damien!

Synge and Byrne at Kilbroney are open 9am - 5pm daily. They also currently have cafés in Dungannon, Newtownabbey, Newry, Derry/Londonderry, Belfast and Slieve Gullion. Rigorous food sampling took place prior to this interview. It was delicious.

 

Ethan Loughrey
Ethan Loughrey  Mountain Bike Officer

Hardest thing about Mountain Biking? Definitely the trees.

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