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.

The Best of Walking in Northern Ireland

Posted on January 17, 2017 @ 9:32 AM in Walking

The results are in and we are excited to announce the winners of the 2016 WalkNI Awards showcasing the best of what Northern Ireland has to offer when it comes to walking. Be prepared to get inspired and be in awe as the winning list is revealed.

Favourite Walking Destination - Mourne Mountains 

The highest and most dramatic mountain range in Northern Ireland we are not surprised to see the mighty Mournes in Co. Down top the poll for favourite walking destination.  Offering endless routes for walkers to experience a beautifully wild landscape with breath-taking views this compact yet impressive mountain range has a lot to offer.  From the rocky outcrops on the summits and stunning reservoir views to the distinctive Mourne Wall the entire Mournes Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) is simply unique.  

Most Epic View - North Antrim Cliff Path, Co. Antrim 

WalkNI Awards Most Epic View

With so many spectacular views to choose from, it was a close call but we can now announce that The Causeway Coast and Glens are officially home to the ‘Most Epic View’ in Northern Ireland. The winning view overlooking Benbane Head can be accessed from the North Antrim Cliff Path, part of the 33 mile Causeway Coast Way.  Just a couple of miles from the Giant’s Causeway this stunning section of coast is less known but yet provides some of the finest coastal views in Europe.  The secret is now out so make sure to get exploring this fab path with spectacular views around every corner!

Best Walking Festival - Mourne International Walking Festival

Mourne International Walking Festival

Taking place every June this international walking festival organised by Newry, Mourne and Down District Council alternates between Newcastle and Warrenpoint each year attracting a whole of host of international visitors.  With stunning routes between 10k and 40k for all levels in the mountains and surrounding countryside the guided and self-guided walks showcase the best of the area. As well as offering excellent walking opportunities, festival goers can experience the friendly local hospitality and get to know fellow walkers in the ‘Knees Up Shindig’ on the Saturday evening. Booking is now open for the 2017 festival happening in Warrenpoint so make sure you don’t miss out!

Best Walk Challenge Event - Causeway Coast Challenge Walk

Causeway Coast Challenge Walk

With absolutely stunning coastal views to keep you motivated, getting your certificate and badge after completing this 30km long distance walk won’t be your only reward! Organised by local walking group, the Bannside Ramblers, this annual event is known for its friendly atmosphere.  The walk begins at Portballintrae, heading towards the world famous Giant's Causeway and onwards along the spectacular cliff top path to Portbradden before returning via the same route.  This year the event will take place on Sunday 30th April, get it in the diary, you won’t want to miss it! 

Favourite Walk in the Mournes - Slieve Donard via Glen River 

Slieve Donard via Glen River

With so many route options to choose from, all with their own unique charm we envy anyone having to choose in this category!  By a margain of 10%, at 853m, the highest summit in Northern Ireland peaked the poll to be crowned the public’s favourite route.  Slieve Donard can be accessed via a number of routes with this particular one following the Glen River from Donard Forest Park the people’s favourite.  We can go on and on about how great the view is from the summit but we think you should go see for yourself!  If you’re planning on standing on NI’s highest peak in 2017, send us your summit selfies. (#walkni Instagram / @walkNI Twitter)

Favourite Walk in the Causeway Coast and Glens - Ballintoy to Bushmills along the Causeway Coast Way

Favourite Walk in the Causeway Coast

With sandy beaches, interesting rock formations and cliff top paths it was no surprise that the 12.5 mile Ballintoy to Bushmills route received over 40% of the vote to win the title of favourite walk in the area.  A walk along this particular section of the Causeway Coast Way reveals many wonders including quaint villages and harbours such as Ballintoy and Portbraden, historical gems like Dunserverick and stunning stretches of sands in the form of Whitepark Bay.

Outstanding Achievement through Walking - Dermot Breen (Cancer Research UK)

Outstanding Achievement through Walking Award

Everyone in this category was definitely deserving of an award but it was Belfast man, Dermot Breen who walked the entire Ulster Way and then some in memory of his wife Jacqui who received the Award. Completing his long distance walking challenge over 38 days Dermot raised thousands of pounds for Cancer Research UK along the way. Inspired by the book ‘The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry’ (a firm favourite of the couples), in which the title character walks 627 miles to visit a terminally ill colleague Dermot (who by his own admission was no natural walker) pledged to walk even further and did so covering a distance of 652 miles, in memory of his wife.  Since completing this challenge Dermot has gone on to walk the Camino de Santiago in Spain raising even more money for the charity and the Great Wall of China in aid of NI Hospice.   You can read about his experience here, ‘the Unlikely Pilgrimage of Dermot Breen’ or follow his walking adventures on Facebook

Sarah Nelson
Sarah Nelson  Marketing Officer

Sarah joined the marketing team of Outdoor Recreation NI in 2011. A firm believer in giving anything a go at least once (unless it involves jumping out of a plane at 6,000ft!) she is always looking for new adventures in the outdoors and can often be found wandering the Mournes or Glens of Antrim attempting not to get lost!

10 Images that Prove Winter Walking in NI is Magical

Posted on December 13, 2016 @ 12:26 PM in Walking

They say a picture is worth a thousand words so we’ll let these awesome photos from Hibernia Landscapes do the talking and you can get out and do the winter walking! 

Lough Neagh

Lough Neagh Aurora - One of the beauties of winter is the longer nights, and the darker skies.  When a dark, moonless sky coincides with a solar storm, we can sometimes see the northern lights all over Northern Ireland.  This shot was taken not far outside Lurgan, on the southern shores of Lough Neagh in Co. Armagh.  The largest inland lake in Europe was completely still that night so there were reflections all the way to Aldergrove in the north east corner, where, if you look carefully you can see planes coming in to land.  I wonder did the passengers know what was going on outside?!

Mussenden Temple

Stormy Downhill  - I've photographed this scene on the beautiful Downhill Bay, Co. Derry~Londonderry in many weather conditions and it always looks different depending on the tides and the skies.  This was a particularly cold morning as the winds battered the cliffs and clouds threatened rain.

Mournes

Mourne Mist - Sometimes you can walk for hours and see nothing but darkness and thick cloud in the Mourne Mountains.  But if you walk far enough and high enough, sometimes you can get above the cloud and see a spectacular sunrise like this, from the summit of Slieve Bearnagh looking across to Slieve Donard.

Cave Hill snow

Cave Hill, Belfast - Snow on the summit of Cave Hill, looking down on Belfast at midnight.  A winter wonderland. 

Devenish Island

Devenish Island in Co. Fermanagh is one of our most beautiful but perhaps under-appreciated locations.  This was taken on a calm morning when the sun rose behind me but the colour filled the whole sky.

Mussenden Temple

Mussenden Storm - Every 10 minutes, the heavens would open, then the skies would clear and another big cloud would blow in.  This was taken at Mussenden Temple, Co. Derry~Londonderry just before another rain shower started.  A group of tourists stood and watched bemused as I voluntarily stood on the dangerous side of the wall in the rain...but hopefully you can see why!

Murlough Bay

Murlough Bay, Co. Antrim - Taken on Valentine's Day at Murlough Bay near Ballycastle, this has to be one of the greatest viewpoints we have.  

Lough Shannagh

Lough Shannagh, Mourne Mountains  - A sunset can come out of nowhere, on even the dullest and cloudiest days.  The sun can just catch the cloud and light up the sky as it dips below the horizon.  This is one of the iconic views of the Mournes and I was very happy to be hiking on Slieve Lough Shannagh during this sunset!

Ballymorran Bay

Ballymorran Bay is an idyllic little bay between the drumlins on the western shores of Strangford Lough, Co Down. This was shot at sunrise on a perfectly still winter morning.

Slieve Donard

Frozen Planet - During the big freeze winter of 2010, at sub-zero temperatures and cutting winds, this was photographed very quickly at sunrise! The snow drifts were 8-10ft in places and I've never seen icicles like that on the shelter of Slieve Donard in the Mourne Mountains  before or since.

For more incredible photographs of the beautiful landscapes of Northern Ireland visit hibernialandscapes.com or follow Hibernia Landscapes on Facebook 

Sarah Nelson
Sarah Nelson  Marketing Officer

Sarah joined the marketing team of Outdoor Recreation NI in 2011. A firm believer in giving anything a go at least once (unless it involves jumping out of a plane at 6,000ft!) she is always looking for new adventures in the outdoors and can often be found wandering the Mournes or Glens of Antrim attempting not to get lost!

What Women Really Want...For Christmas!

Posted on December 6, 2016 @ 12:56 PM in Adventure

Christmas shopping is hectic enough without having to guess what the special woman on your gift list wants this year. We've pulled together a list of our top Christmas gift ideas to help you find the perfect present to delight her when Christmas morning comes.

Christmas Shopping for Women

Tarzan Treetop Adventure Course, The JungleNI, Moneymore, Co. Derry~Londonderry
A chance for her to discover her inner Jane high as she negotiates through 50 challenges and obstacles up to 40ft high above the ground including zip lines, bridges, scramble nets and a death defying power-fan descent. 

Bay to Bay Sea Tour, Portrush Sea Tours, Portrush, Co. Antrim
A high speed boat tour along the spectacular Casueway Coastline. Join local experts aboard their high speed boat passing iconic locations inlcuding the Giant's Causeway, Dunluce Castle and the sea caves at Whiterocks. 

'Whirlpool Special' Sea Safari, Cleasky Adventure Centre, Strangford Lough, Co. Down
An exhilarating high speed boat tour of Strangford Lough passing Clough Rocks nature reserve, the lighthouse and the loughs infamous whirlpools. 

Zipline Adventure Pass, Todds Leap, Ballygawley, Co. Tyrone
Get ready to fly high across the valley over the forest and off road course below along Ireland's longest zipline. 

Christmas Shopping for Women

Try a Dive, Aquaholics, Portstewart, Co. Antrim
This is one experience that will never be forgotten as she discovers a whole other side of the North Coast under the watchful eye and instruction of an experienced coach. 

Forest Segways, The Jungle NI, Moneymore, Co. Derry~Londonderry
Roam through the forest on an off road Segway adventure.  These futuristic two wheeled machines are just as fun as they sound!

Canoeing Experience, Life Adventure Centre, Castlewellan, Co. Down  
Enjoy some time together relaxing during a morning or afternoon's paddling session out on the beautiful Castlewellan Lake. 

Sailing on the Antrim Coast, Causeway Coast Sailing, Ballycastle, Co. Antrim
Learn the ropes of sailing with some hands on experience or  simply relax and enjoy the scenic Antrim Coast. With room for up to three people they can even take friends or family along too!

Discover even more Christmas Gift Ideas for Women on OutdoorNI

Jayne Woodrow
Jayne Woodrow  Marketing Executive

Jayne joined the marketing team of Outdoor Recreation NI in March 2014. She enjoys getting out and exploring the fantastic adventures on offer across Northern Ireland.

Unique Gift Ideas for Couples

Posted on November 30, 2016 @ 12:31 PM in Adventure

What memories will you make this Christmas? Finding the perfect gift for your other half or another couple can often be a tricky task. They say the best memories are those we share so to help you put a smile on their face this christmas we have pulled together a list of some of our top Gift Experiences for Couples.

Christmas Shopping for Couples

Cosy Couples Luxury Bell Tent Glamping, Carromena Activity Centre, Limavady, Co. Derry~Londonderry
Enjoy the tranquility of the outdoors and sleep cosy in a fully furnished Luxury Solar Powered Bell Tent. Waking up to a spectacular view of the Binevenagh Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Spend an evening toasting marshmallows on your private fire pit or just kick back with a glass of fizz!

Couples Mountain Bike Experience, Life Adventure Centre, Castlewellan, Co. Down
Let them loose on the spectacular mountain bike trails in Castlewellan Forest Park. Kitted out with everything needed to get started simply book, collect and go! With lots of trails to choose from there is something for everyone whatever their ability. 

Romantic Pedal Kayak with Afternoon Tea, Free Range Adventures at Finn Lough, Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh
Discover deserted islands and hidden bays during a 2 hour self guided tour of Lough Erne on your very own pedal kayak. Sit back and relax to enjoy an al fresco gourmet afternoon tea waiting for you in a secluded spot on the river banks as you take in the beautiful views across the water.

Couples Mourne Food & Film Cycle Trail with Afternoon Tea, Enniskeen Country House Hotel, Mournes, Co. Down
With the Mourne Mountains as its backdrop, this tour pairs gentle cycling, stunning scenery and simply delicious artisan food as well as the famous filming locations. You'll recognise scenes from Game of Thrones, The Fall, Line of Duty and Dracula Untold before enjoying traditional 'Honeyed Afternoon Tea'. 

Christmas Shopping for Couples

Rathlin Island & Carrick-a-rede Rope Bridge Sea Safari for 2, Aquaholics, Ballycastle, Co. Antrim
The only way to see the legendary Causeway Coast in all its glory. Join the local experts from Aquaholics aboard their high speed boat heading over to Rathlin to view the spectacular sights of the West Lighthouse and puffins at the bird sanctuary from the water. 

Couples Pod Glamping & Adventure Package, Clearsky Adventure Centre, Castle Ward, Co. Down
A minibreak with a difference, spend the night in a cosy heated camping pod in the enchanting Castle Ward Estate after a day of exploring on bikes. Wake up the next morning and choose an additional activity to do together including Game of Thrones Archery dressed as a member of the Nights Watch or canoeing on Strangford Lough.

Couples Thrill Seeking Experience, Todds Leap, Ballygawley, Co. Tyrone
The perfect day out for adenaline junkies and competitive couples. Get behind the wheel during an off road driving experience, fly high on the 500m zip line and feel your pulse race on the Hill Rally.

Discover even more Christmas Gift Ideas for Couples on OutdoorNI

Jayne Woodrow
Jayne Woodrow  Marketing Executive

Jayne joined the marketing team of Outdoor Recreation NI in March 2014. She enjoys getting out and exploring the fantastic adventures on offer across Northern Ireland.

Christmas Gift Ideas for Men

Posted on November 23, 2016 @ 10:10 AM in Adventure

We know Christmas Shopping for the men in your life can sometimes be difficult. Avoid the classics this year and pick something completely unique! To help you out we have put together some helpful suggestions to help make your Christmas shopping experience a success. 

Zorbing Northern Ireland

Extreme Downhill Zorbing, The JungleNI, Moneymore, Co. Derry~Londonderry
Send him rolling down a purpose-built run inside a giant inflatable 3 meter ball at speeds of over 20mph. As sky and grass blend into one blur of adrenaline fuelled exhiliaration nothing can quite describe this unique experience that is guaranteed to leave him buzzing!

Stand Up Paddleboarding Lesson, SUB 6, Ballintoy Harbour, Co. Antrim
An opportunity to learn the basics of Stand Up Paddle boarding (SUP) in the very place where the award winning HBO television series Game of Thrones was filmed. During this session he'll explore the "Iron Islands" from his SUP board under the watchful eye of one of Northern Ireland's top SUP instructors. 

Kayaking Experience, Mobile Team Adventure, Belfast, Co. Antrim
Just a stones throw from Belfast City Centre, he's sure to have a lot of fun paddling the River Lagan.  No experience necessary all equipment and instruction will be provided for a fun filled session.

Christmas Shopping for men

Off Road Driving Experience, Todds Leap, Ballygawley, Co. Tyrone
Much more exciting than the daily commute he'll get a chance to take to the wheel to conquer the muddy climbs, drops and hazards alonng the 8 mile off-road driving course! Finishing off his day crossing a stage of the course at rally competition speed!

Clay Pigeon Shooting, The JungleNI, Moneymore, Co. Derry~Londonderry
He's sure to have a blast shooting down a few clay birds from the sky, whether he has never held a gun before or is an experienced shooter. This is the perfect opportunity to learn the basics or further develop his skills in the New Year. 

Mountain Bike Hire, Life Adventure Centre, Castlewellan, Co. Down
Kitted out with a Vitus Mountain Bike and helmet he's sure to have an epic morning/afternoon exploring the legendary Castlewellan MTB trails. With over 27.5km of green, blue and red grade trails a great day out is gauranteed whatever his ability. Add an extra boost to his day by booking him an electric bike.

Discover even more Christmas Gift Ideas for Men on OutdoorNI

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Jayne Woodrow
Jayne Woodrow  Marketing Executive

Jayne joined the marketing team of Outdoor Recreation NI in March 2014. She enjoys getting out and exploring the fantastic adventures on offer across Northern Ireland.

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