Chris Armstrong Mountain Bike Officer
Chris looks after all things mountain biking in Northern Ireland ...it's a tough job but someone's gotta do it!
April 13, 2017
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March 7, 2017
With summer just around the corner, many Irish walkers are already planning how they may spend this year’s holidays. In an attempt to gauge general opinions of the walking fraternity, WalkNI.com recently caught up with Dublin-based Patrick Harraghy to find out what makes him tick and to see if a walking break to Northern Ireland would be high up his agenda this summer.
Have you always lived in Dublin?
No. I lived in South Donegal/North Leitrim up to 1975. I then moved to Co. Monaghan and lived there for around 3 years. I finally moved to Dublin in 1978 and have lived here ever since. If I’m honest I feel more at home now in Dublin but love going back to Donegal.
Have you always enjoyed hill walking or is this a pastime you’ve taken up in recently?
I grew up on a farm and have always had a love of nature. When you move to a city environment you begin to appreciate the countryside and the freedom of the hills even more than when you lived there. I would say that I have had a real interest in hill walking for about the last fifteen years. It’s the perfect way to escape the hustle and bustle of city life and just get back to the basics of nature.
What is it that keeps you hooked on walking?
For me, hill walking is all about experiencing true freedom and enjoying nature and I would say that I’m kept hooked by being able to share these experiences with other like-minded walkers.
Is there a particular walk which best showcases the landscape on your doorstep?
If I am going local I would generally take in the area around Lough Dan in Wicklow. There are some great walking routes here with fabulous views.
Compass or GPS?
If I was heading on a long-distance walk I would generally reach for my map and compass although I sometimes would put my GPS in the rucksack as a backup.
How often do you walk with your local club?
We would generally get together at least once a week and then would probably take a trip away within Ireland every bank holiday weekend. The club tries to travel abroad for walking trips around twice a year.
Do you ever walk in Northern Ireland? If so, do you have a favourite area?
I would say that I take day trips up to the Mourne Mountains about ten times a year and would generally spend about two weekends there every year. It is a stunning mountain range with unique rock formations and spectacular views. Underfoot is nice and solid and the entire range is so easily accessible from Dublin, so it would be an easy favourite for me.
Have you ever attended any walking festivals in Northern Ireland? How did you get on?
I have done The Mournes Seven Sevens for the last 4 years. This event summits seven peaks over seven hundred metres in the Mourne Mountains and so is quite a challenge but it is so well organized and there is always a great festive atmosphere in the area.
How do you normally find out about new walking routes, events and festivals?
I participate in most of the challenge walks in Ireland and I mark the dates in my diary at the beginning of the year. I find out the dates from chatting to other walkers, from websites such as WalkNI.com and of course from Walking World Ireland.
What would you say to those who have never before been walking in Northern Ireland?
You don’t know what you’re missing.
What does the future hold?
Our club is planning on bringing twenty-five walkers up to the North Coast of Northern Ireland for the weekend soon and some of us are also planning to partake in a local challenge walk while we’re there. I’m also organising a trip to the Mournes for the weekend of the Seven Sevens again this year.
Visit www.walkni.com for detailed route descriptions, images and maps for over 300 quality walks across Northern Ireland.
very nice place to visit.. Read more >
It’s not long now until the June Bank Holiday Weekend and thanks to the Queen celebrating her Diamond Jubilee there’s double the fun to be had this bank holiday!
Make the most of your extra long weekend with an outdoor adventure. Whether you are looking for something you can enjoy with the kids or want to get an adrenaline fix with your mates, there is plenty happening across Northern Ireland.
Kids & Family
The perfect way to keep the kids amused over the break while mum and dad relax. Especially designed for 6-12 year olds the kids will learn everything from surf history and beach environment to how to ride the waves into the shore.
Choose from the classics including canoeing, archery and climbing or something a little different such as banana boating, combat corps, sailing and circus skills. With so much on offer you can mix and match the activities to create a hassle free and exciting day everyone will enjoy.
Have a fun day out trying various outdoor activities. Watch Dad get red in the face, have a laugh at mum, encourage the little ones and capture the memories with a 2.5 hour session giving you a taster of activities such as Canadian canoeing, archery and orienteering.
Explore Castlewellan Lake with the kids. This fantastic canoe rental offer allows you to create your own adventure on the water. With canoes big enough fro 2 adults and 2 children the whole family can join in on the fun – just try not to get splashed by the kids!
Race your little monkeys to the top of Action Outdoor’s outdoor climbing wall. With different ways to get to the top (some more difficult than others!), there will be an instructor on hand to rope you up and guide you to victory.
Fun With Friends
It’s hard to think of a better way to spend the bank holiday weekend than chilling out on the beach with your friends, learning how to surf. With this great offer you can take to the waves for a bargain price. Free water photography is also included so you can relive the good times again and again!
If you and your mates are looking for a real adrenaline rush then coasteering is for you! An action packed water activity, coasteering involves walking, scrambling, jumping, swimming, and sometimes crawling, around the coast. Starting off on easy climbs and jumps before building to the big ones it won’t be long until you are egging each other on to take the plunge!
Learn the basics of Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP) on the spectacular Causeway Coast! Take advantage of this special discounted offer and get to grips with the latest craze to hit Northern Ireland. A fun and easy way of riding a surf board on flat water, you’re sure to find Stand Up Paddleboarding an exhilarating experience.
Want to DO Something Different? Something Fun? Something Adventurous? Then head down to Life HQ in Castlewellan Forest Park for an outdoor adventure. Choose between a whole range of activities including kayaking, rock climbing, mountain biking, abseiling and bouldering…the list is endless!
Enjoy a Zumba session on the beach before heading out to the waves for an hour long surf lesson – both under the supervision of qualified instructors. As if that wasn’t enough, lunch is provided and there will be a live DJ to get you in the party mood. Sorry guys, this is a ladies only event!
Have a great June bank holiday weekend 2012!
This is OutdoorNI.com’s kids birthday parties with a difference blog for 2012 but don’t worry we’ve got a brand new blog with details of exciting kids birthday parties for 2016 'Unique Birthday Party Ideas For Kids'
You’ve already done the bouncy castle, bowling and cinema parties – if you’re struggling to think of something different for your kids birthday party then OutdoorNI.com has the answer.
It’s hard enough to keep your own kids amused never mind all their friends too – but don’t worry there’s no need to panic OutdoorNI.com has put together a list of some great outdoor adventures that are sure to provide the perfect solution to your kids party problems. These great activity ideas are perfect for 8-12 year olds and with group discounts on offer they are not only fun but affordable!
Make their day memorable by giving them a birthday party with a difference. Here are some great ideas to get you started…
When it comes to birthday parties for boys it doesn’t get much better than this – treat them to a session on the grassy slopes at the one and only Mountain Boarding centre in Ireland. With boards, safety gear and training included they are sure to have an unforgettable time.
Make sure your kid’s feet don’t touch the ground on their birthday with a zip-wire session. Everyone is sure to be screaming with excitement as they warm up on the leap of faith before zooming down the 375m zip wire. It doesn’t get much more thrilling than this!
Choose between a half day or full day of activities. With a minimum of 4 activities available a party at Carrowmena is guaranteed to be action packed. Choose between climbing, archery, team challenges, low level ropes course, maize maze, orienteering or canoeing to name just a few! Book 8 or more friends and the birthday boy or girl will go free!
For a totally unique birthday party head down to the one and only water park in Northern Ireland. Comprising of no less than three water trampolines all connected by various walkways and logs, this floating obstacle course and see-saw is sure to be a real hit with the kids. There’s no need to wait for the sunshine – everyone is guaranteed to have a splashing good time whatever the weather as the centre provides wetsuits and buoyancy aids for all sizes.
Let someone else tire them out! Fill the day with a choice of 3 activities including treasure hunts, raft building, crate climbing and outdoor laser tag and that’s only the start of it! With loads more activities to choose from the birthday boy or girl can pick and choose their favourites.
The laughs are sure to be plenty with activities such as earthball (a giant inflatable ball), archery, nightline, parachute games and catapulting tennis balls! With hot lunch, snacks and drinks provided as well as a barbecue available on request this is a great way to take the hassle out of the day so you can enjoy it too! Suitable for those aged 11 and up.
A beach party with a difference; it doesn’t get much cooler than a surfing party! The kids will be in safe hands with the Alive Surf School instructors as they teach them how to ride the waves on the North Coast. Lessons last for 2 hours and include all equipment, tuition and a snack for afterwards.
Based on the North Coast Xplore Outdoors have everything you need for an unforgettable birthday party. With camp craft, canoeing, orienteering and body boarding just some of the activities on offer - you’ll be spoilt for choice!
Get ready to give your child the best birthday party ever!
Hi Tracey, Thank you for your comment on OutdoorNI unfortunately mountain boarding is no longer available however, there are still lots of fantastic activities the kids are sure to enjoy not too ... Read more >
OutdoorNI.com does Surfing 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 Sarah Nelson got on when she embarked on an afternoon’s surfing with Long Line Surf School.
My family have spent many a year having a rainy picnic on the beach; mum and dad sheltered in the car while my sister and I body boarded the waves doing our best Baywatch impressions. However despite always heading straight for the sea on holidays and living with a beach on my doorstep for four years I have never actually had a go at surfing.
So when Long Line Surf School recently launched on the North Coast I couldn’t wait to have a go. Based at Benone Beach, away from the hustle and bustle of the seaside towns Long Line Surf School is situated in the perfect natural setting for that chilled out vibe that comes hand in hand with the sport. Long Line HQ – a purpose built distressed wood cabin situated right on the boardwalk beside Benone Tourism Complex adds to the whole surfing experience. It is here where I and a few others who were taking part in the group session met our instructor for the lesson, head coach and owner of Long Line Surf School, Dan Lavery.
After a warm welcome Dan kitted us out with wetsuits and booties before everyone had a quick change, eager to get to the beach. We were also given stylish Long Line branded rash vests for over the top of our wetsuits – so at least for a few minutes I looked the part – however it’s safe to say any such illusions were soon to be shattered once I was in the water!
We were then introduced to our surf boards and buddied up to carry them a short distance along the board walk to the beach – a treat in itself with the stunning Binevenagh Mountain as the backdrop to our walk and indeed the whole lesson. As we came through the grassy dunes there it was; a stunning 7 mile stretch of sandy beach complete with crashing waves making it easy to see why Northern Ireland is one of Europe’s premiere surf spots..
Once on the beach we had a brief safety chat where Dan assured us that we were in safe hands - all Long Line surf instructors are fully trained surf coaches with ASI (Academy of Surfing Instructors) and hold Beach Lifeguard qualifications. Next it was time to get to grips with our boards and learn the lingo so we knew the correct terminology for the different parts. Before we knew it, it was time to hit the waves for some body boarding to get used to handling the boards in the water. As we headed into the sea it didn’t take long for the first cold waves to heat up thanks to our cosy wetsuits. If it wasn’t for the dark clouds…and the rain… and the wind we could have almost been in Hawaii. All joking aside the session proved you don’t need fantastic weather to head down to the beach – with the right equipment the chance to have a go at surfing is reason enough!
After about 15 minutes of experiencing the rush of the waves speeding us into the beach it was time to head back to the sand to learn the one thing crucial to surfing –learning how to stand up. Dan gave us all a demo before we practiced the positions on our boards. Just about managing to stand up on the security of dry land, I quickly came to the realisation that this whole standing up on the water thing mightn’t be as easy as it looks…Thankfully Dan helped us put everything into perspective, explaining how long the average surfer spends on their feet and that even if we managed to get on our knees that would be encouraging enough– although I couldn’t help but have the feeling that this was directed at some more than others! He also took the time to show us what not to do – some great tips to try and save us the hassle of working it out the hard way.
Now it was the moment we’d all been waiting for – the chance to have a go ourselves. Armed with determination and my all important surf board I headed in. After my first few attempts it was clear that ‘If at first you don’t succeed…’ was to become my personal mantra for the afternoon. It didn’t take long to accept that I would be spending the majority of my time in the waves as supposed to riding them but luckily for me - falling in was half the fun! I eventually managed to progress onto my knees – an achievement in itself. Others in the group were a lot more successful with the majority managing to stand up so at least I was able to live vicariously, acting as an all important witness and joining in on the celebrations whenever somebody successfully stood up and rode into the shore.
Dan spent his time in the water dividing his attention between us with an enthusiasm that quickly rubbed off on those taking part. When he wasn’t giving us tips and shouts of encouragement he was taking footage on the schools Go-Pro camera. This latest technology allows those priceless moments that are normally restricted to memory and forgotten with time to be captured for friends and family to see. For the more serious surfers hoping to progress their skills this technology is also a great tool for analysing technique. Unfortunately I think the only thing any footage of me will be useful for is to serve as a reminder of what not to do. Well, either that or for blackmail purposes!
Before I knew it Dan was giving the signal for one more go and I was reminded of my younger days when I would stubbornly object to such calls from my mum and dad however having realised this was not quite appropriate I headed in with the others. To be honest my arms where pretty knackered anyway! Back at the cabin Dan put on some chilled music and we all got changed. Throughout the whole session Long Line’s Surf School’s aim to ‘encourage a lifestyle... not just a sport’ was put into practice with an emphasis on having fun in a beautiful, stress free environment. This was perfect for someone like me who doesn’t have a competitive bone in their body when it comes to sport (which is probably a good thing given my ‘surfing’ performance). Saying that, there was still plenty of opportunity for those with a competitive nature to set their own personal challenges.
All in all it was a fantastic afternoon - if I had this much fun only getting half way there, then imagine what it will be like when I finally manage to stand up! I will most definitely be rounding up a few mates and heading back for another lesson– even if it is in the hope that they will take the bad look of me!
Long Line Surf School is open all year round
From £25 per person – all specialist equipment provided
yeah! go Dan! Long Lines Surf School is our new neighbour and Dan is a super instructor for all ages and abilities, a real assest to Downhill/Benone. -McCall, from Downhill Hostel aka THE beach ... Read more >