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.

Lucy CarterTom CooperDavid Flanagan
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Have a Go at Watersports for £20 or less

Posted on April 15, 2019 @ 2:14 PM in AdventureCanoeing

If you've always wanted to have a go at something adventurous on the water, we have some good news for you! Clubs all across Northern Ireland will be running 'taster' watersport sessions over the weekend of Saturday 11th and Sunday 12th May as part of Get Wet NI 2019, and all of events are £20 or less, with most of the events either free or under £10. You don't need any experience, all equipment is provided and all of the activities are suitable for all abilities, no matter what your interest is!

Sailing

Push the Boat Out: Try Sailing Taster Day, Carrickfergus Sailing Club, Carrickfergus, Co. Antrim, Sat 11th May, Free 

A great opportunity to get out on the water for free and try your hand at sailing! 

Push the Boat Out: Sailing & Kayaking Taster Sessions for Adults And Children, County Antrim Yacht Club, Whitehead Promenade | Marine Parade, Whitehead, Sat 11th May, Free

Free taster-sessions give you the chance to experience crewing a sailing dinghy or taking a sit-on kayak out for a paddle. 


Rowing

Community Currach Rowing on the River Lagan, Lagan Currachs, River Lagan, Stranmillis Mooring Dock, Governors Bridge, Belfast, Sat 11th & Sun 12th May, £5

Join the Lagan Currachs on their community built traditional currach and experience being part of a mixed age and abilities crew as they row the River Lagan.

Have a Go Row Dundrum, Dundrum Coastal Rowing Club, Dundrum Inner Bay, launch site opposite Dundrum Inn, Sat 11th & Sun 12th May, £3

A great way to have fun and keep fit. Get instruction on rowing from the current Skiffie World Champions and find out about the fun events and challenges you could be taking part in.

Give Rowing a Go, Portavogie Coastal Rowing Club, Portavogie, Sat 11th May, £3

Have a splash on the water and try your hand at rowing on their St. Ayles Skiff boat on the sea. 

Water-Skiing + Wakeboarding

Learn to Waterski/Wakeboard With the Experts, Meteor Water Ski Club, Lough Henney, Bresagh Road, Sun 12th May, £15 for under-18’s & £20 for 18+

Come and try water skiing or wakeboarding in a safe and controlled environment!

To check out more events taking place, and to keep updated throughout the summer check out GetWetNI.com and follow us on Facebook.

This campaign has been funded by Sport Northern Ireland, with support from the National Governing Bodies of watersports in Northern Ireland.


 

Dominic Lyttle
Dominic Lyttle  Assistant Marketing Officer

Dominic has recently joined the ORNI team following completion of a MSc in Marketing from Queen’s University Belfast.

In his spare time, Dominic enjoys trekking, travelling to new and exciting places, and playing basketball, alongside drinking far too much coffee!

5 Reasons You'll Love Wild Adventure Weekend!

Posted on April 3, 2019 @ 3:45 PM in Local Outdoors

Mid Ulster's Wild Adventure Weekend will take place on Saturday 13th and Sunday 14th April, all across Mid Ulster. If you haven't heard about it yet, we've listed some of the reasons to get excited for it below!

 

1.       Most of the events are free or at a reduced cost

We all love a good deal. In fact the only thing we love more than a good deal is a freebie! And Wild Adventure Weekend has plenty of both. Some of the free events include bike hire at Davagh Forest MTB Trails, the Angling Taster Experience, Canoe Taster Sessions at Ballyronan Marina, Golf Taster Sessions at Tobermore Golf Centre and any of the countless walking trails available.

Mid Ulster is home to some of the most stunning walking trails in Northern Ireland

There are also deals on events such as Zip Trekking at Todd’s Leap (50% off), Airsoft at Torrent Warfare (reduced to £15pp), MTB Hire at Blessingbourne Estate and a range of activities at The Jungle NI.

 

2.       Events for everyone!

It can be difficult to run an event that fits everyone’s taste. Some events are suitable mostly for the children (such as the Kids Tree Top Adventure at the Jungle NI); others are ideal for people looking for a relaxing and social experience – and others still for people looking to get their next adrenaline kick.

This is one event not suitable for people looking for a relaxing activity

Wild Adventure Weekend however accommodates everyone. Hill walkers can find something to love, whether they’re a complete beginner or a seasoned pro. Adrenaline junkies meanwhile have plenty to keep themselves entertained, whether that’s at Portglenone Paddler’s Introduction to Canoeing and Kayaking, or a Tree Top Adventure with the kids at The Jungle NI.

 

3.       Events are taking place all across Mid Ulster

With so many activities taking place over Wild Adventure Weekend (nearly 40!) the great thing is that nobody will have to travel too far to enjoy an event. One of the benefits of being at the centre of Northern Ireland!

Blessingbourne Estate has beautiful grounds for exploring

Those living in Fermanagh will have events at Blessingbourne Estate at their doorstep, while people travelling from Omagh have the likes of Todd’s Leap and Davagh Forest close by. Coming from the North Coast, your first port of call could be the popular Eagle’s Rock Trail at Moydamlaght Forest or possibly 9 holes and an introductory golf lesson with a PGA pro at Tobermore Golf Centre.

 

4.       Meet new people and make friends

Many of the weekend’s activities are social, whether for yourself or the kids. Events such as the Breagh Tours Low Level Walk will see people from all over coming together to explore the stunning Goles Valley in the Sperrins, with expert tour guide Brendan Adams. For those who fancy something a bit more uptempo, nothing bands together a group of people as quickly as modern urban warfare in the form of Airsoft, which you can try out at Torrent Airsoft’s day of fun.

Airsoft has become an increasingly popular alternative to paintballing

 

5.       Supporting local clubs and businesses

We can often be tempted to look abroad for an adventure; but allow yourself to be surprised by Northern Ireland and explore what your local community has to offer. Local groups such as the Portglenone Paddlers (and plenty of others) run events entirely organised by volunteers, while larger businesses help to attract tourism and bring increased spending to Northern Ireland.

Staff can also provide some reassurance when needed!

 

You can find all the information for Mid Ulster's Wild Adventure Weekend here. Don't forget to book early onto any events that require it, as well as use the #WildAdventureWeekend and #HowFarWillYouGo!

Latest comment posted by Cope Techs on April 15, 2019 @ 2:03 PM

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Ethan Loughrey
Ethan Loughrey  Mountain Bike Officer

Hardest thing about Mountain Biking? Definitely the trees.

Mountain Biking and Mental Health

Posted on March 27, 2019 @ 12:51 PM in Mountainbiking

Following the publication of an article on the BBC which spoke of the huge benefits mountain biking can have for your mental health, MountainBikeNI wanted to delve a little deeper into the many potential benefits of the sport we love.

 

The stats on mental health can be quite scary. One in four people will experience a mental health condition at some stage in their life, and if anything, those figures are slightly higher in Northern Ireland than elsewhere in the UK.

Mountain biking should be fun above all else

A specialist in mental health (and avid mountain biker), Eamonn Duffy spoke to MountainBikeNI about some of the many benefits mountain bikers experience:

In recent years, the positive impact regular exercise (like mountain biking) can have on our mental health is an increasingly researched topic. It is well documented that regular exercise can promote good mental health via reducing social isolation, promoting the release of endorphins (or your ‘feel good’ hormones) and promoting a healthy weight which in turn improves self-esteem and confidence, alongside much more.”

 

An Outlet for Stress

One of the most commonly identified ways in which mountain biking improves mental health is by providing an outlet for stress. This was a recurring theme amongst MountainBikeNI followers, who contacted us in their dozens to agree with the findings.

One rider wrote about how mountain biking was a healing factor for him as he and his partner go through their first round of IVF.

I’ve been welcomed into a few groups and have ‘cycling mates’ who support each other in WhatsApp groups, and who I’ve been able to vent while huffing and puffing my way up fire roads. As a man in my 30’s, that outlet is invaluable, and getting into the habit of talking over where my head’s at is something I know can help in all aspects of life.”

Exercise, being with nature and the satisfaction of a good spin are all beneficial to mental health

Another explained how it gave him ‘smiles per miles’ after having suffered with depression for years. “For me it was a way of relaxing…and leaving everything behind. It gave me something to focus on. Now this year I’m racing in a XC fat bike race for 6 hours. Life’s good, I’m on the up. Everyone who is trying hard to get back to themselves… you can do it. It’s hard yes, but it can be done.”

Work too can play a big factor. Desk jobs can result in a sedentary lifestyle that’s hard to combat. As one mountain biker put it, “I try not to let my work overpower me nor take it home, but sometimes that just doesn’t happen… For me MTBing is my release.”

 

Making Friends

The social side of mountain biking can be just as important as the physical benefits. Making friends can be difficult as an adult as most people don’t even know where to begin. In the world of mountain biking it is relatively straightforward.

There's something about mountain biking that makes it easy to speak to complete strangers

Meet someone once or twice on your local trails and the next thing you know you’ve been added into a message group of 40 likeminded people probably in a similar situation – just looking for someone to ride with. Don’t be under the assumption that everyone in that group is a high flying, super shredding DH or EWS champion. In reality, they’re likely in the same boat as you.

You can also begin to meet other mountain bikers by joining the MountainBikeNI Trails Team, sponsored by Chain Reaction Cycles. This group meets up a few times a year to help with trail maintenance and litter picking.

As another MountainBikeNI commenter put it, “The social side to mountain biking is fantastic. A big problem in your head going out for a ride, shared with a mate might turn out to be a small problem. A different outlook on a solution to problems, maybe some ideas you hadn’t thought of. The biggest thing is chatting – it doesn’t even need to be about problems or issues, just talk.”

 

Finding Help

If you need help making that first step into mountain biking, one great resource can be found in the organisation Mind Your Mate and Yourself, formally known as PIPS. They organise a men’s group to ride the Castlewellan Mountain Bike Trails every Wednesday. If you'd like to join, simply turn up at Life Adventure Centre in Castlewellan at 9:30am any week. A Ladies group will also be starting at the end of May. For more information on this, follow their Facebook Page.

Some of those who attend the group told MountainBikeNI how beneficial it was. "It gives structure to my week... gets me out, breathing fresh air, burning fat and gaining muscle." "Keeps me from becoming isolated".

 

Some of the Men's Group from Mind Your Mate and Yourself

Other resources available include:

Aware (another excellent national organisation which provides help for people with depression)

Stop, Breath and Think (a mindfulness based app to help with anxiety and depression)

Lifeline (excellent for a listening ear and advice. They can signpost you to appropriate agencies and / or provide free counselling sessions).

Samaritans (also great for a listening ear / advice and signposting)

 

We would like to thank Eamonn Duffy for his invaluable input, Jill and all the team at Mind Your Mate and Yourself, as well all the mountain bikers who wrote to us to tell us their stories. Also to the team at Arc Fitness, dedicated to addiction recovery through fitness coaching.

If you would like to create a MTB group or find one in your area, you can visit MountainBikeNI or contact us and we’ll assist you with connecting with others.

Latest comment posted by Cope Techs on April 15, 2019 @ 2:03 PM

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Ethan Loughrey
Ethan Loughrey  Mountain Bike Officer

Hardest thing about Mountain Biking? Definitely the trees.

Onwards and Upwards- Two Tough Climbs with Amazing Views

Posted on March 27, 2019 @ 9:00 AM in Walking

Previously on WalkNI we shared our favourite ‘Little Hills With Big Views’ but what about those tougher climbs in the Mournes, that are well worth the extra effort for those breath-taking views? While many of the walks in the high Mournes require extra huffing and puffing, there are two iconic peaks that are a firm favourite amongst walkers.

Tough Climbs in the Mournes

Slieve Donard

Slieve Donard

Voted walkers favourite Mourne Summit in the 2018 WalkNI Awards, at 850m (2,789 ft) Slieve Donard is the highest mountain in the Mournes. A tough climb well worth the effort for its spectacular and extensive views on a clear day across Northern Ireland the Isle of Man, Wicklow, Donegal, Wales and Scotland.

There are two routes to choose from to reach the summit views:

Slieve Donard (via Glen River), 2.9 miles Linear (one way)

The most popular route for walkers exploring Slieve Donard from the seaside town of Newcastle, follow the river uphill from Donard car park through the forest. Emerging from trees the trail continues following the river past the Ice House to the Saddle between Donard and Commedagh. From here follow Mourne Wall as it rises steeply uphill to the tower on the summit of Donard.

Slieve Donard from Bloody Bridge, 3.2 miles Linear (one way) 

Starting from Bloody Bridge Car Park located on the sea side of Donard, again this trail follows a riverside path uphill crossing the river further up via a set of boulders. This twisting trail opens up onto broad track which boasts views across the valley. From this point Slieve Donard is largely hidden, but continue to follow the trail as it zig-zags uphill before reaching an old quarry track which extends 1.4km into the upper valley before skirting (right) along the north side of the quarry. Beyond the quarry the path meets the Mourne Wall at 750m. From here Slieve Donard can be reached by following the Mourne Wall uphill for 1km to the summit.

Slieve Binnian

Slieve Binnian

Slieve Binnian, 7 miles Circular

One of the most popular walks shared with us using #WalkNI on Instagram, it's easy to see why Slieve Binnian is a tough walk that appears on the must explore list of any walker. At 747m (2449 ft) the summit boasts several large granite Tors which provide the perfect resting stop and shelter to enjoy those well-earned views.

Your journey to the summit begins at Carrick Little car park, following a clear, stony track rising gently between fields. Crossing a stone stile beside an iron gate, turn left and follow the Mourne Wall uphill. You will soon feel your leg muscles working as the Mourne Wall rises steeply on the slopes of Slieve Binnian. This is an obvious line to follow for most of the way to the summit. However, before the point where the wall runs into a bare face of granite you should drift to the right and aim for the notch in the top of the mountain. This section involves using your hands and taking care on the rock.

The reward is a spectacular panorama views of the surrounding mountain. In clear weather it’s possible to see the Isle of Man and the Wicklow Mountains beyond Dublin. Pick your way carefully around the base of the Summit Tor and continue walking along the ridge of the mountain following a clear path past the Back Castles. There are a handful of wrinkly little tors that you don’t have to grapple with. Simply enjoy the views as you walk past them. The North Tor is a monstrous outcrop of granite towards the end of the crest, and the path passes it on the left side. 

The ground slopes away more steeply as the path wanders through the heather, past boulders and outcrops of granite on the way down to a prominent gap - the col between Slieve Lamagan and Slieve Binnian. At the col turn right and follow a clear path downhill. This passes close to the Blue Lough and by keeping right at junctions with other paths, you'll be led down to a clear track passing a corner of Annalong Wood. Simply follow the track alongside the Forest fence and return to the iron gate in the Mourne Wall. Cross the wall using the stile and follow the track back to Carrick Little car park.

Don't forget to share your colourful walks with us of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using #WalkNI

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.

Meet the Team Behind the Giant's Causeway Coast Sportive

Posted on March 22, 2019 @ 5:24 PM in Cycling

It can be easy to assume that cycling events such as the Giant's Causeway Coast Sportive just come together themselves. In actual fact, our small team works hard for months in advance - so we thought we'd introduce ourselves!

 

Beverely Magowan

Beverley is the Commander-in-Chief of the Sportive. A founder of the event, it has been her baby since it began in 2011. Everything from the number of toilets rolls, to the number of exclamation marks in a Facebook post right down to the mechanical expertise for bikers, you can trust her to know inside out. An avid cyclist herself, it was also Beverley who created our brand new 60 mile route for this year’s event!

 

 

Sylvia Watson

Sylvia is one of the lesser known faces of the Sportive but she plays an integral role in its success. Coordinating feed stations, volunteers and staff rotas are all part of her task, not to mention ensuring our whole team is fed, watered and sheltered during our time in Ballycastle. You can usually find her at Feed Station 3 in Glenarm.

 

 

Aideen Exley

The voice behind the phone. Aideen is another founder of the Giant’s Causeway Coast Sportive and works hard behind the scenes ensuring our riders make it home safe and sound. Coordinating with the onsite paramedics and mechanical assistance crew, it’s Aideen you’ll speak to if you ever need to call the emergency number.

 

 

Jayne Woodrow

Probably the most recognisable member of our team! Jayne is often selling our jerseys, giving out medals and generally cheering participants on over the course of the weekend. She loves meeting as many people as possible at the Sportive, so if you see her at this year’s event be sure to come up and say hello!

 

 

Dominic Lyttle

Dominic is our marketing guru for the Sportive. All the Facebook posts, Instagram stories (yes, we’re on Instagram now!) and other adverts you see peppered across the interwebs in the months leading up to the event are down to him.

 

 

Diane Crookes

There are a whole squad of other helpers at our Event HQ and feed stations. Diane is one of those, and likely to be among the most familiar having helped out at the Sportive since it started. Usually to be found at Feed Station 3, she (and all our team) are there to support you as the legs start getting tired.

 

 

Robert Downes

Robert is Chairman of the Causeway Cycle Club and a long time supporter of the Giant’s Causeway Coast Sportive. We work closely with Robert and the club every year to ensure all eventualities are prepared for. Causeway CC provide many of the marshals and motorcycle marshals for the sportive. Robert is happiest when at the intersection of Torr Head, driving riders to take on the epic challenge.

 

If you'd like to join us all for Ireland's most scenic sportive on Saturday 22nd June, visit the Giant's Causeway Coast Sportive website and sign up now!

Ethan Loughrey
Ethan Loughrey  Mountain Bike Officer

Hardest thing about Mountain Biking? Definitely the trees.

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