Posted on October 19, 2011 @ 4:42 PM in
If there’s something strange in your neighbourhood, who you gonna call? OutdoorNI.com of course! Get ready to embrace the freaky goings on this Halloween with some outdoor family adventure.
Check out our favourite family outdoor activity ideas for this Halloween!
Halloween Paddle – 28th, 29th, 30th & 31st October
Four Elements Adventure – Lough Erne, Kesh, Co. Fermanagh
Descend into the murky waters and let the moonlight guide your way as you paddle the haunted Lough Erne by canoe.
18:00 - 22:00
Cost – £35 per adult, U 16s £10, discounts for groups and families – Includes all safety equipment, food and drinks.
Halloween Activity Shindig – 29th October
Action Outdoors – Delamont Country Park, Killyleagh, Co. Down
For those afraid of the dark, enjoy the Halloween fun during the day at Delamont Country Park. Choose between 5 different activities including canoeing, kayaking, climbing wall, grass sledging and archery.
13:00 - 14:30
Cost - £3 per activity
Halloween Howler – 29th October
Share Holiday Village – Lisnaskea, Co. Fermanagh
With pumpkin carving, ghost stories, face painting and ghoulish treats this really is the ultimate Halloween party.
For those looking for more chills and thrills climb aboard the ghost ship and watch as fireworks light up the sky. If this doesn’t scare you then the thrilling speed boat rides and spooktacular night paddles will.
RampRage, Ireland's No1 Extreme Sports Road Show will be rolling in with a triple punch BMX, Skate & Blade demo as part of the celebrations.
Don’t forget your fancy dress for the ‘Tramps Ball’ and BBQ – the only disco where you’ll have to dress to un-impress.
12:00 - 22:00
Cost - £6 per child, £7 per adult, Family ticket (2 adults, 2 children) £20 ( 2 Adults, 2 Children) Under 2's go Free
Spook Night 2 – 30th October
Todds Leap - Ballygawley, Co. Tyrone
Dare to go where no man (or family) has gone before….on the Todds Leap terror trails. Watch out for spooks and surprises as you weave through eerie woodland, down hollow glens and past bubbling swamps to an uncertain finale. At the end of the night watch an epic fireworks display…If you survive the trail that is!
6pm, 7pm, 8pm, 9pm
Cost - £5 children, £8 adults, family tickets available on request
Halloween Crazy Carry On – 29th & 31st
Carrowmena Activity Centre – Limavady, Co. Londonderry
Brave All Hallows’ Eve together as you scale the climbing wall, drop to the depths below on the zipline, and learn to defend yourself against ‘things that go bump in the night’ with an archery session. Take on as many of the challenges as you dare.
10:00 to 16:30
Cost – from £8
Halloween Camp – 28th – 30th October
East Coast Adventure – Rostrevor, Co. Down
Let your little terrors get into the Halloween spirit at East Coast Adventure’s Halloween camp. Now in its 10th year, this adventure packed fright weekend is sure to get the kids screaming with excitement.
Cost - Day Activities £35, 1 Night Residential £55 or Full Weekend £99 (Fully Catered)
One HELL Of A Halloween Party! – 28th October
Bike Dock Belles - Blessingbourne Estate, Fivemiletown, Co. Tyrone
Take to the trails at night for a spooky cycle. For those who prefer to keep their feet on the ground there’ll be plenty of other Halloween activities happening under the moonlight. This is sure to be one HELL of a Halloween party for all the family.
Cost - £5 (in support of the Ulster Cancer Foundation)
Posted on October 18, 2011 @ 5:41 PM in
Nathan Kingerlee runs an adventure and outdoor training company, Outdoors Ireland, based in Killarney, County Kerry. While guiding some folks on Carrauntoohil last year, questions came up around tips and tricks to make life easier while in the mountains during the cold winter months. In this blog, Nathan has kindly noted down some tips and techniques for safely walking in the mountains this winter.
When I think back to some of the hard lessons I’ve learnt and tricks I use, here’s some ideas:
If you’ve a choice between getting a backpack that’s a little too big, or a little too small, get one that’s a little too small. That way you’ll pack only what you really need and you’ll pack in a well organised fashion.
No backpack is properly waterproof and backpack covers don’t work, so put a big lightweight dry-bag or a heavy duty plastic bin-bag inside your backpack, to keep your contents dry.
Wear a tight’ish hat that pulls down well over your ears. A loose hat may blow off your head on a gusty day. It’s happened to me!
For really cold days, or winter conditions, mittens are much better than gloves for keeping your hands and fingers toasty warm. When it’s really cold wear a pair of thin fleece gloves within your mittens. Get mittens with wrist straps, so when you take them off they’ll dangle from your wrists – one less thing to blow away. Practice doing tasks, like opening your zips or using a compass, with your mittens on; as this takes a bit of skill.
Always, always, always carry a spare pair of gloves and a spare hat, buried deep and dry within your backpack!
Don’t sweat! Start your day a little chilly as after ten mins walking you should have warmed up to a normal temperature. Avoid overheating and sweating, as this both dehydrates you and gets your base layers damp, meaning when you stop you’ll cool very quickly. Use your layers and zips to control your body temperature, also adjust your walking speed to cool down or warm up.
Continually drink water throughout the day, even if you’re not thirsty. By the time you’re thirsty you’re already a little dehydrated. Also snack on your food throughout the day, to always keep your energy levels high.
If you’re using a platypus and the temperature is cool, blow back the water in your platypus tube after taking a drink, in order to clear the tube, otherwise the water in your tube can freeze.
Keep your mouth closed! On cold, snowy days breath through your nose instead of your mouth, as the cold dry air will crack your lips and dehydrate you; especially important on multi-day trips. Sun cream and lip protection are invaluable, both for sun burn and wind burn.
Wear thermals and fleeces which are well fitted and long. Long thermals means you can tuck them well down into your trousers and they won’t ride up exposing and cooling your bare skin. Long fleeces won’t ride up your back as you’re hiking or stretching. All your fleeces and waterproof coat should have a draw cord at the bottom of them, which allows you to pull the bottom tight, preventing body heat escaping and rain seeping in. When it gets really bitter and cold tuck your thermal top into your underpants!
Especially in serious conditions think several hours ahead and adjust your backpack contents and coat pocket contents accordingly. For example, when you stop for a break, if you think you’ll need a spare fleece in an hour’s time when you reach the cold windy summit then make sure it’s at the very top of your bag. If it’s going to get dark in two hours and you’ll still be on the mountain have your head torch and food ready in your pockets; you don’t want to be fumbling in the dusk looking for your torch.
Don’t let your feet get wet, if at all possible; by not stepping into streams, etc and also carrying plenty of spare socks. If your feet get sore when you stop for breaks take off your boots and socks for five mins to allow them to breath. Be careful though; you don’t want to have a sock blown away or give your toes frostnip!
Carry a pair of tight’ish sunglasses or cheap snow goggles with you. They’ve so many uses, from protecting your eyes from dazzling sun on snow, to allowing you to see against driving rain/hail mixed with wind. On bitter days they even keep that often exposed part of your face warm. Wear a buff around your neck for full facial protection.
For details of Mountain Skills Courses which Nathan runs throughout the year visit www.outdoorsireland.com
WalkNI.com would like to thank Walking and Hiking in Ireland for allowing the reproduction of this blog article.
Posted on October 17, 2011 @ 4:53 PM in
OutdoorNI.com does Coasteering Northern Ireland is the latest in our regular blog feature ‘OutdoorNI.com does…’ which is our opportunity to showcase the exciting outdoor activities available in Northern Ireland.
Find out how OutdoorNI.com’s newest recruit Sarah Nelson got on when she embarked on an afternoon’s coasteering with CoasterringNI
Having exhausted all the usual birthday ideas for my sister an afternoon spent clambering over the rocks of the North Coast and jumping into the sea seemed like the perfect gift. Not only did it mean there was no need to attempt to wrap anything, it also gave me an excuse to free load on the birthday bandwagon.
Realising we wouldn’t be able to go until October, I was pleasantly surprised to find that coasteering is offered all year round, a quick email to CoasteeringNI and we were good to go. The meeting place of Ballintoy harbour was a treat in itself with spectacular views and a beautiful sandy beach making this whole jumping into the sea thing seem surprisingly very appealing. We met Stephen, our instructor for the day, and two others who had booked on to the session. After our introductions we were kitted out with wetsuits, buoyancy aids, helmets and gloves. There were wetsuits for all shapes and sizes and Stephen made sure everyone was comfortable and happy with their kit.
A short cross country walk (where everyone took great care to stay away from the puddles despite the fact we were minutes away from being submerged!) brought us to our starting point. On the beach Stephen gave us a safety briefing and then came the question – is anyone afraid of water or heights? A water baby at heart, the crashing waves and salty sea water I could handle, but heights on the other hand…The question was met with silence, nobody wanting to admit they weren’t the ‘cool adrenaline seeking types’. Even so we were all assured that if there was anything we didn’t want to do then there would always be another way – we were all there to have fun!
Before getting into the water there was time for a quick photo opp (because who doesn’t want a photo of themselves in a skin tight wetsuit complete with MJ style white socks and Bob the Builder helmet?). Then the moment everyone was waiting for – time to get wet! After the initial cold first waves hit us it wasn’t long before the wetsuits had us nice and warm. We swam towards our first challenge of the afternoon – a climb up a rock surface protruding from the sea. Once everyone was assembled at the top we were briefed on the proper way to jump so we wouldn’t hurt ourselves. Before we knew it Stephen had jumped off the edge and was preparing to film our not so elegant jumps into the secluded pool. Somehow I had managed to be first up. A deep breath and a leap of faith and I was in. So this is what an adrenaline rush feels like?! – having a fear of speed, heights and a hatred for anything that remotely reassembles a roller coaster, this was something that had so far eluded me.
The next hour was spent amongst the waves, climbing out onto the rocks – which sometimes proved quite the challenge. With the waves constantly changing the water level it was all about timing. Every time you thought you’d made it the waves came down around you and you were left dangling attempting to hold your body weight - unless you have Madonna like biceps this was not an easy task! We all soon got the knack, realising it was all about using the force of the water to lift you up – third time lucky and a few laughs later I had made it. Once out it wasn’t long before we were back in and time for our next challenge; imagine the travelator from hit 90’s show Gladiators – only the water version and this was what we were up against. The narrow passage into a rounded pool had created a forceful suction that seemed impossible to swim against, however timed right you were easily pelted into the calm waters beyond. Once in it was time to float about and laugh as everyone else tried with all their might not to be defeated.
It was now time to jump off our highest point yet; thankfully during the steep climb to the top everyone had great patience for me and my slow rock climbing! Every sport I have ever tried I have been told ‘you are going to hurt yourself’; my cricket coach begged ‘please don’t try and catch the ball’, in my short lived hockey days I had my fair share of falls, and let’s not forget that time I managed to injure myself whilst waiting to even get on the boat! Unfortunately for me coasteering was looking to continue my trend ‘I think you are going to face plant’ are the reassuring words I heard from Stephen as we assembled at the top of our 15ft drop. All joking aside we were reminded how to jump safely and avoid the dreaded belly flop. One by one we stepped onto the ledge, composed ourselves (some taking longer than others!) and took the plunge. After building our confidence with two jumps from this height it was time to go higher! How high is ‘higher’? was my immediate reaction before deciding to at least climb on up and see for myself. Once at the top I was most definitely certain that I would fall attempting to climb back down so jumping of the edge seemed like the best option. Wobbly kneed and heart racing I tentatively steeped towards the ledge, a deep breath and a scream later and I had faced my fear.
The session flew in and before we knew it, it was time to head onto the shore. On the walk back we still didn’t enter the puddles – after you’ve just gone coasteering, jumping into two inches of water just isn’t going to cut it! All in all it was a great way to spend a rainy Saturday afternoon and I can’t wait to do it again, so if you’re reading this sis – I think I know what I want for my birthday!
Check out OutdoorNI.com’s coasteering and bouldering section for even more options.
£45 per person – all specialist equipment provided
Posted on October 14, 2011 @ 3:15 PM in
OutdoorNI.com Does… Mountain Biking in Tollymore is the latest in our regular blog feature ‘OutdoorNI.com does…’ which is our opportunity to showcase the exciting outdoor activities on offer across Northern Ireland.
OutdoorNI.com’s Chris Armstrong spent an afternoon with friends (Clare and Liam) mountain biking around the new purpose-built trails course and pump track at the Tollymore National Outdoors Centre in the Mourne Mountains; just one of the many Activity Ideas available on OutdoorNI.com.
I will begin by stating that as much as I would love to label myself a hardcore mountain biker, sadly, this is by no means the case. Instead the reality is much less impressive. I would say I’m the definition of a fair weather mountain biker always dreaming of getting myself more involved in this adrenaline activity however if truth be told my bike spends most of the year feeling underappreciated and neglected in a corner of my garage.
The handful of times when I have been out this year has included a blast around the new cross country trails through Castle Ward in County Down and an afternoon testing out my (very limited) tricks and skills on the Blessingbourne Estate pump track in Fivemiletown. From chatting to friends, the natural progression for me was to go and work on my technique on some of the more challenging features at the new Tollymore Mountain Bike Skills Course in the Mourne Mountains.
Located in the grounds of Tollymore’s newly refurbished National Outdoor Centre we arrived and parked in front of the high ropes course where we could see the skills course weaving in and out of the wooded area next to the centre. After paying at reception (£3 per adult, £2 per child) and fixing are bikes up we set off on a quick reccie for our first glimpse of what this 1.5km course had to offer.
First impressions were good. The course rolls really well and all three of us were pleasantly surprised with how much was on offer. The very nature of this compact course means that you are only ever pedalling for a few metres before coming up to your next obstacle. Whether it is rock gardens, rollers or table tops, the course will certainly keep you on your toes.
Consisting of intermediate red loops and a more advanced black route, signage is clear and easy to follow throughout the course. Clare and Liam spent this initial run eying up some of the tastiest drop offs on the menu whereas I was keeping a mental note of a possible route which might give me the best chance of not ‘dropping off’ after our warm up lap.
Needless to say my routes for the afternoon were very much dictated by the red arrows around the course. Technical features are just as abundant on these red loops only not quite as severe as on the blacks - much more suitable for those less experienced mountain bikers. That being said, after my first few loops, even I was managing to pick up a decent head of steam throwing myself around tight corners, between trees and carefully placed boulders.
As for Clare and Liam, the more advanced black loops did not disappoint, delivering some pretty hairy elements for even the most experienced of mountain bikers to conquer. One particular section of log roller which dropped onto a seemingly gravity-defying section of northshore (boardwalk) proved to be Liam’s own personal nemesis for the afternoon!
From the perspective of someone who is quite new to mountain biking, this skills course is challenging and needs to be ridden with caution. Undoubtedly, it is a lot of fun and when you navigate your way along a slippery, wet log roller with just inches on either side of your tyres and realise you’ve made it across - the feeling is hard to beat.
From watching Clare and Liam, I cannot recommend the skills course enough for avid mountain bikers looking to hone their skills and techniques. There is nowhere else in Northern Ireland which has the same shear volume of technical features which will test your bike handling skills right to the limit. Be under no illusions, despite being a short skills course, both routes include some tough sections for bikers of every level.
In conclusion, the skills course is a must for mountain biking enthusiasts looking to fine tune their techniques and under the right supervision is a perfect facility for less experienced and/or younger mountain bikers looking to develop their skills and indeed feel the adrenaline of mountain biking in a safe environment.
The Tollymore Mountain Bike Skills Course is open 7 days a week, year round, from 9.30 a.m. – 5.00 p.m. From May – September, it is also open on Tuesday – Friday evenings until 9.00p.m.
Tollymore National Outdoor Centre
£3 per adult, £2 per child
Posted on October 13, 2011 @ 3:08 PM in
The paddling community in Northern Ireland has been a great support to CanoeNI.com in the development, maintenance and promotion of Northern Ireland’s canoe trails. However, every once in a while we hear a story of an inspirational individual who has went that extra mile to help maintain the high standard of these unique trails.
A CanoeNI.com fan, Andy recently sent us his blog on the few days he spent ‘tidying up’ Salt Island on the Strangford Lough Canoe Trail.
Andy has kindly allowed us the reproduce his blog originally posted on theNI Wild Forum
Salt Island is an excellent resource for the paddling community and it is really important that paddlers like Andy help maintain it. If you would like to help out, why not sign up for the next Salt Island Clean Up Day! If you cant make this one, be sure to sign up for the CanoeNI.com e-newsletter or ‘like’ CanoeNI.com on Facebook to keep up to date.
Thanks again Andy – I hope the rest of you enjoy the blog.
I was going stir crazy stuck in the house . The bloody wind just didn't seem to be letting up - XC Weather was forecasting a lull on Wednesday . Packed my kit into the landrover and threw the yak onto the roof on Tuesday night , sacrificed two small children to appease Poseidon and prayed XC had got it right
My weather station (tree outside my window) indicated that indeed they had got it right. ate a quick breakfast and drove to Killyleagh . loaded the yak and set off on the short crossing to Salt Island
Carried my kit up into the forest behind the bothy and set up camp
Since my last trip to the island . I had a few new purchases that I wanted to test , but my main reason for the trip was to do a bit of tidying up.
I camped on the island a few weeks ago for the first time in a year , a serious illness had put me out of action for ten months and I was quite shocked/annoyed at the state of the place . the island is a fantastic resource, one of the few islands on the Lough that kayakers can legitimately camp . Why people litter the place , take stones out of the perimeter walls to build fire rings, strip the bark from trees etc I have no idea ...it really really annoys me.
I had brought some bin liners, a pair of leather work gloves and a few other bits and pieces with me. I started off by collecting most of the rubbish, beer tins/ bottles, discarded kettles, foil and the mesh from disposable BBQ's, tin foil, crisp packets etc etc . I managed to fill two bin bags from the bothy grounds and the forest.
My kayak was fully loaded, perhaps even overloaded so I couldn't carry this rubbish back with me. So I dug a hole and buried the rubbish. I will retrieve it the next time I'm out for a day paddle.
In the evening after my meal and a pot of coffee, I lay in the hammock read a book and caught up with the shipping forecast for the next day, by the sounds of it I wasn't going anywhere for a while
Thursday morning and I awoke to a fantastic sunrise
I got the stove lit and the coffee on . I cant function until at least one double espresso
The wind had swung round from the west to a southerly and the forecast had indicated it would stay that way for the next few days so I had to move my camp 90 deg to keep the wind off me
After breakfast I resumed the cleanup
There was a dead sheep at the gate of the bothy and it was rank. so i decided to leave it until my breakfast had settled a bit
First job was to repair the wall at the BBQ area , the strones from which had been used to build a fire ring
Next up was the wall at the other side of the bothy across from the water butt, again the stones had been used to build a fire ring
That done I removed another fire ring at the rear of the bothy and repaired the wall at the side gate
I was getting hungry at this stage so went back to my camp baked a fruit soda type thingy , made more coffee and mulled over the problem of the leaking waterbutt
On the previous days litter gathering exercise I noticed quite a few of the pine tress had been producing resin to cover the wounds inflicted by the people who don't know the difference between dead wood and living wood
So I gathered some of this resin and melted it down in a Lidl's finest spam can
Removing the valve assembly from the barrel was easy enough , I cleaned the valve seating area inside and out . replaced the valve and then used the resin to seal it
I took the barrel down to the shore and filled it to check the repair was water tight and cleaned the barrel inside and out
The resin worked a treat
Next up was the thistles .. An improvised sickle made short work of them
The final job was the dead sheep... not a particularly pleasant job although I did manage to keep my lunch down , It now resides in a bed of thistles a hundred yards from the bothy
Happy with the days work I retired to camp, read a bit and carved another spoon
Packed up on Friday and paddled back to the launch spot
Good to get away for a while