Martin DunnePauline Mc GurkRoss Millar
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Blog ethics Does Wet Bouldering

Posted on June 21, 2011 @ 12:47 PM in Adventure Does… Bouldering in the Mourne Mountains is the latest in our regular blog feature ‘ does…’ which is our opportunity to showcase the exciting outdoor activities on offer across Northern Ireland.

OutdoorNI’s Chris Armstrong spent an afternoon bouldering up the Bloody Bridge River with Outdoor Concepts; just one of the many Activity Ideas available on


The Mourne Mountains are well known for being the highest and most dramatic range of mountains in Northern Ireland. They are popular amongst hill-walkers for an unrivalled network or paths and tracks allowing endless exploration and views that would easily rival any others in the UK and Ireland.

That being said, walking is not the only activity available in this spectacular corner of County Down. This summer, OutdoorNI’s Chris Armstrong took some friends along to meet up with Craig McCullough from Outdoor Concepts to literally ‘test the waters’ Bouldering - the adventure activity everyone seems to be talking about.

“Just walk to the edge of this drop and relax; close your eyes and let yourself fall back.”

These were the reassuring words Craig soothed me with as he coaxed me over to the edge of the rocks with the gushing white water of the Bloody Bridge River swirling below. After a minute or so I gathered myself, reluctantly loosened my grip around Craig’s shoulders and dropped into the icy-cold river in a fashion that can only be described as ‘grace-less’.

Thankfully I resurfaced and after a few short, sharp breaths and a distinct feeling of numbness, my efforts were soon focussed on maintaining a ‘doggy-paddle’ type swimming stroke to try and regain some feeling on warmth in my toes.

I was soon saved by adrenaline and the welcome distraction of my mates quivering high above me. There is something strangely warming about watching five fully grown men becoming less and less confident about their ‘macho-ness’ as they near closer to the front of the queue for the drop!

Donned in full wetsuits, buoyancy aids and helmets all of the group eventually plucked up the courage to plunge into the deep waters beneath Bloody Bridge and we started making our way up stream following our intrepid guide who was reassuringly armed with his trusty ‘Baywatch style’ safety float and rope.

Needless to say the banter was soon flowing as fast as the river we were traipsing through and our group began to work as a team, giving each other a helping hand; supporting them as they took on tough sections of the river and hurling abuse at them when they lost grip and crashed into the water.   

All the time Craig kept a watchful eye over us and managed our ever growing egoes, setting us trickier more technical tasks throughout the session. Following Craig’s lead, we scaled waterfalls, climbed through tight rock passages and built a human damn which ended up nearly sweeping us all away down stream.

After a further hour packed full of leaps, crashes, splashes and laughs we finally pulled ourselves out of the water about 500 metres upstream and made our way back down to the Bloody Bridge car park recounting stories of spectacular falls and embarrassing slips.

There’s no doubt that the river was cold as we first hit the water but our minds were soon preoccupied, focussing on the next challenging climb or scramble that lay ahead. Honestly, the cold seemed to fade into insignificance.

Our bouldering session was specifically for adults however Outdoor Concepts also cater for families and groups of young people who want to have a go at this exciting new adventure activity. As one of those adventure activities to tick off the list, I couldn’t recommend it enough!

Activity Provider

Outdoor Concepts (NI) Ltd
+44 (0)28 9753 1343


From £18 per person for a 2 hour session.

Sutiable for

This activity is perfect for a group of mates, ideal for that Hen and Stag do’s adevnture however there are also family friendly sessions available for kids aged 8 years and up.


Chris Armstrong
Chris Armstrong  Mountain Bike Officer

Chris looks after all things mountain biking in Northern Ireland's a tough job but someone's gotta do it!

2 comments have been posted in reply to this article

Posted by Ellen on July 17, 2011 @ 10:42 PM

So true. Hosetny and everything recognized.

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