Posted on June 29, 2012 @ 6:45 AM in
Northern Ireland is home to a rich variety of summer walks; from sandy shorelines, to leafy paths and sprawling hills there are a whole host of routes just waiting to be discovered right on our doorsteps! With the longer days to take advantage off, WalkNI.com has put together a list of the top six ‘must do’ walks this summer. From leisurely coastal strolls to more strenuous mountain rambles – its time to get those walking boots on and explore some stunning vistas this summer season!
White Park Bay
Nothing says summer like a walk on the beach! Situated in the Causeway Coast & Glens area of outstanding natural beauty, this 3 mile linear walk will take you along golden sands and rocky shoreline. A spectacular secluded sweep of sandy beach looking out over the Atlantic Ocean, White Park Bay forms a white arc between two headlands on the North Antrim Coast and is one of the first settlements of man in Ireland. Its secluded location means that even on a busy day there is plenty of room for quiet relaxation, so you will have no problem enjoying this leisurely walk taking in the treasures of one of the most natural coastlines in Northern Ireland. As you step along the sandy shores make sure to take note of the ancient dune system, a declared area of scientific interest, and the chalk grassland carpeted in rare plants, including many orchids. Keep an eye out for willow warblers, linnets and stonechats as well as the ringed plover – a small wader bird that nests at the bay.
Click here for full route description and detailed maps for White Park Bay
If you’re looking for something more challenging to wile away the hours of a long summers day then this excellent 9 mile circular hill walk in the Sperrins is for you! As you traverse the landscape criss-crossed with hedgerows and miles of old stone walls you will be rewarded with superb views of the Bluestack and Derryveagh Mountains of Donegal, the unspoilt plain of Omagh and the magnificent High Sperrin Mountain range. Many tales are told of highwaymen who rode the post roads across the Sperrins and divided their spoils on the ridge of ‘Robber’s Table’. The good news is this popular Co. Tyrone walk is part of the largest mountain range in Ireland so you can explore the spectacular scenery of the Sperrins again and again from different angles! Check out these other great walks to see what the rest of the Sperrins has to offer.
Click here for full route description and detailed maps for Robbers Table
North Down Coastal Path
With 16 glorious miles of coastline to be walked make sure you don’t forget to pack your picnic! Mostly tarmac path, with short rugged sections, the North Down Coastal Path extends from Holywood in the east to Orlock in the west. Beginning at the Esplanade in Holywood this popular route hugs the coastline along to Orlock Point making sure the sea is never far from view. In fact if you look closely you may even spot a seal! As if the impressive coastal views aren’t enough there are also a number of spectacles to distract along the way including Crawfordsburn Country Park on the southern shores of Belfast Lough, the glistening sands of Helen's Bay and Bangor Marina – where it’s time to treat yourself to some fish and chips and enjoy them in the company of the bronze sculpture eating his pastie supper – you never know he might take the bad look off you! If you’re not feeling up to walking the full 16 miles you can choose a section of the coastal path and walk as far as your heart desires…and your feet will take you!
Click here for full route decription and detailed maps for the North Down Coastal Path
For a shorter walk – but one steeped in history head across to Fermanagh where you can choose between a variety of routes encompassing loughshore and woodland in Castle Archdale Country Park. No matter which one you pick you will be walking on history as the park was once the front line of the Battle of the Atlantic in World War II. Features within the Park include a red deer enclosure, wildfowl ponds, nature trail, butterfly garden and wildflower meadow. To make the most of your visit, be sure not to miss the Archdale Centre, which is in the corner of the main courtyard. Here you can see various exhibitions which will help you to understand the efforts made to conserve this beautiful part of Fermanagh.
Click here for full route description and detailed maps for Castle Archdale
No top summer walking shortlist would be complete without including a walk in the Mourne Mountains. At 747 metres, Slieve Binnian is the third highest mountain in Northern Ireland and it’s high, tor-capped summit dominates the countryside, overlooking both the Silent Valley and Ben Crom reservoirs. If you are looking for breath taking views then Slieve Binnian will not disappoint! This fantastic 7 mile circular walking route follows the Mourne Wall to the summit of Slieve Binnian, traversing between the spectacular South and North Tors before descending along a track past the beautiful Blue Lough, Annalong Forest and back to the car park. Be prepared for a steep ascent and an even steeper one if you want to reach the summit – which involves using your hands and taking care on the rock. Once you make it to the top however you will be rewarded with an exceedingly fine panorama of the surrounding mountains. On a clear summers day it's possible to see the Isle of Man out to sea and the Wicklow Mountains beyond Dublin. If this is your first time walking this route – it certainly won’t be your last!
Click here for full route description and detailed maps for Slieve Binnian. This isn’t the only walk which takes in this magnificent mountain, be sure to check out alternative walks incorporating Slieve Binnian
Cave Hill is a familiar sight to many in Belfast, with its visible outline stretching for miles. Often referred to as Napoleon’s Nose – due to its silhouette in the sky resembling a gigantic profile staring upwards, Cave Hill is undeniably impressive to look at from the city. There are few views more striking, that is of course until you are standing on the hill itself looking down on the spectacular panoramic views of Belfast. Rising to 368 metres above sea level, climbing to the summit of Cave Hill you can experience the wilderness of the mountain, yet look out over the busy but silent city below. Dominating the urban landscape are Samson and Goliath, the mighty cranes of the shipyard, one of Belfast’s most famous landmarks. On a clear day, you can see Strangford Lough, Scrabo Tower, the Mourne Mountains, Slemish, the coast of Scotland and the Isle of Man. A challenging 4.5 mile route, over unsurfaced paths, past the caves (which the hill is named after) to McArt’s Fort, and crossing moorland, heath and meadows you will discover much of what the park has to offer from archaeological sites and wildlife to panoramic views. Late summer is an ideal time to visit with purple heather injecting colour on the hill and meadow pipits and skylarks providing a chorus over the open moorland on warm summer days.
Click here for full route description and detailed maps for Cave Hill
Posted on June 27, 2012 @ 5:00 PM in
Today at Forme Coaching central we reflected on the initial few months of the business. What a rollercoaster ride it has been so far. Many have signed up to coaching packages, already changing how they eat after nutrition consultations with Barry whilst others are riding their bikes that bit more comfortably with Chris sorting out their bike set up. But whilst going through the business today we reflected and discussed riders who simply ride their bikes. What are we doing for them?
When I say simply...that is not to belittle or make those who don’t compete or have non competitive goals any less important. They aren’t. Everyone who chooses to ride a bike at whatever level is what Forme Coaching is about. Established to always be about the bike and helping those who have a desire to improve, is our goal. This can be a lifestyle choice of incorporating the bike into their day or weekly fitness, weight loss, a club rider who wants to improve right up to the professional rider competing in Europe.
The only two requirements we ask of you...that you ride a bike and you want to improve...the rest is up to us. Yes we have professionals in every nook and cranny of the business but this is to ensure any support we provide comes from experienced individuals who know what they are talking about and can help you get what you want.
We don’t want to get this wrong. We don’t want the message to not reach everyone. Life is hectic for us all. Being a mum of two very active young boys (5 and 7), a wife, involved in running a couple of businesses, training each week...oh! and a very important social life with cherished family and fabulous friends. So what am I saying?!? Without the coaching support I receive from the team I work with at Forme Coaching, how it fits in with my life, the hours I can exercise, the nutrition advice...it all helps me improve on the bike to reach personal goals. Otherwise I would probably be still riding a bike that was too big for me and be seriously injured by now, eating and drinking the wrong things both on and off the bike and not understanding how to gradually progress in my weekly training to improve on the bike.
So please don’t rule us out that we are only about the competitive side. We’re not. If you have a desire to want to know more about how you can improve riding your bike to maintain a healthy quality of life, enjoy the beauty of riding a bike, the scenery and gorgeous places you can travel on your bike, the potential health benefits associated with improved fitness, weight loss...the list can go on. We can help. Look out for the Forme Lifestyle Package coming soon.
Posted on June 20, 2012 @ 2:57 PM in
OutdoorNI.com does SurfSupNI.com 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.
OutdoorNI’s Sarah Nelson spent an afternoon Stand up Paddleboarding in Portballintrae Harbour with SurfSUPNI. Here’s how she got on…
For those wondering what stand up paddleboarding even is here’s a bit of background for you… Stand up paddleboarding (SUP), also know as stand up paddle surfing is an emerging global sport with a Hawaiian heritage. An ancient form of surfing (with a paddle), it re-emerged as a way for surfing instructors to manage their large groups of students, as standing on the board gave them a higher viewpoint. It is now a sport in its own right and is the latest craze to hit Northern Irish waters. A fun, exhilarating and relaxing way to explore our country’s many beautiful waterways, learning to SUP is a must!
Not only is it an ancient sport but all the celebs are at it! From Jennifer Aniston to Pierce Brosnan and Rihanna they’ve all had a go and it’s even featured in Flo Rider’s recent music video – if it’s good enough for Flo Rider it’s good enough for me! And on that note I booked my first lesson with SurfSUPNI.com.
Portballintrae was a lovely setting in itself and having arrived early I treated myself to a quick ice cream and took in the view before heading on down to the Surf SUP NI headquarters at Portballintrae Harbour.
It is here where I was met by John Bustard – the owner of SurfSUPNI.com who kitted me out with a wetsuit, some lovely new wetsuit booties and a buoyancy aid. John introduced us to our equipment including our boards…a lot bigger than a normal surfboard I had visions of myself struggling to control it out of the water never mind in it, but after being shown the correct way to hold it, we were able to carry them on our own no problem. It was great to learn the simple things like handling the equipment as it showed us how accessible the sport is to do on your own.
As we headed down to the waters edge John warned us that the only thing we needed to worry about where the Somali Pirates – I was willing to take my chances. We buddied up and all had a go getting comfortable paddling on our fronts whilst getting helpful tips such as how to use the handle to get the correct positioning, where to put the all important paddle and how to turn. After successfully negotiating our way around the shallows of the harbour, we headed back to dry land to practice our paddle strokes. John told us it was all about the core – and that if we wanted Cameron Diaz abs this was the way to get them - I don’t know about rock hard abs, but I like to think I at least worked off the ice cream!
Once John was confident we had the technique down it was time to attempt standing up. At this point I started to think it mightn’t be as easy as it looked – according to my wii fit experiences my balance leaves a lot to be desired for, this coupled with the fact that we had all just been given advice about ‘safe falling’ meant I was fully prepared to get wet! However a firm believer in ‘slow and steady wins the race’ and taking it in stages; to the knees and then onto the feet it wasn’t long until I was actually standing up with not a drop of water in site and I wasn’t the only one – everyone in the group managed to stand up on their first go. Once up it was a great feeling and I’m pretty sure it’s the closest anyone will ever get to experiencing walking on water! Enjoying my new found skills I paddled round the harbour taking in the stunning setting, thinking to myself, ‘it doesn’t get much more relaxing than this’.
However this was soon to change, not content with everyone being dry – John set us a challenge to do a 360 degree turn on the board while it stayed in position. Slowly, but surely and most definitely wobbly I managed to master it. Then it was time for a bit of fun; a race to a mark, standing up, turning around and then racing back. With my nice dry wetsuit giving me renewed confidence I was off! Soon realising there’s no time for slow and steady in a race I tried my best to quickly turn around, but then came the dreaded wobbling, all I could hear were John’s futile shouts; ‘Bend your knees! Bend your knees!’ but it was too late I was in. Well, it was bound to happen at some point!
We then ventured out further and were even lucky enough to be treated to a seal popping its head above the water, no doubt curious about the strange people floating on the water. Happily paddling along I attempted to take Johns advice of how to get better steerage by standing further back on the board but before I knew it I was submerged once again, thankfully this time no one was looking – but unfortunately there’s no hiding the splash!
It was then time to peacefully paddle back into the shore as our session was coming to an end. I can safely say that this is the perfect package for anyone who wants to try out Stand Up Paddleboarding for the first time and is a great way to learn all the basics you need to enjoy SUP on your own. Always making us feel at ease John made sure everyone was using the correct technique every step of the way helping us to lay good foundations, something which will no doubt come in handy as going by the fun everyone had I think it is safe to say that this is most definitely not the last time we will be SUPin’.
+44(0)77 9661 4844
From £35 per person – all specialist equipment provided
Posted on June 11, 2012 @ 5:09 PM in
It’s that time of year again when sons and daughters have the dreaded task of finding the perfect Father’s Day present. While mums are easily pleased with a bunch of flowers, presents for dads often require a bit more thought. Luckily OutdoorNI.com has loads of gift experiences for men so finding the perfect Father’s Day gift this year won’t be a problem!
With just a click of a button you’ll have your Father’s Day present sorted without even having to leave the house! From adrenaline pumping action activities to something more chilled out and relaxing, whatever you choose this is one experience he won’t forget!
With over 50 gift experiences available especially ‘for him’ there’s no excuse for buying yet another ‘world’s best dad’ mug! Here are just a few of our favourite gift experiences that are available to get you started:
Father’s Day Surfing Gift Voucher, Long Line Surf School, Benone Beach
When it comes to presents, it doesn’t get much better than the chance to ride the waves on the stunning North Coast. Not only will your dad love it, you’ll get to treat yourself too as the voucher entitles the person who buys the voucher to come along with their dad for free!
Half Days Sailing on the Antrim Coast, Causeway Coast Sailing, Ballycastle
A fantastic opportunity to learn the ropes of sailing or simply relax and enjoy the scenic Antrim coast aboard a 24’ yacht as it sails to Rathlin Island or Ballintoy Harbour. This voucher is valid for up to 3 people so he can share the experience with family or friends – you never know you might get to join in on the fun too!
North Coast Sea Kayaking Experience, Simply Sea Kayak, Portrush
A fantastic opportunity to sample one of the most iconic sea kayaking trails in the world. This truly unique experience includes a skills session and guided paddle along the trail, taking in the stunning views of the North Coast from the water.
Dads Adventure, Far and Wild, Derry
If you’re unsure what he’ll like let him choose himself. This great value gift experience entitles your dad to choose between a two hour session of biking, kayaking, coasteering, rock-climbing or hiking. Supported 1-1 by a professional instructor, he will be put through his paces on the river, mountain or wild sea.
Fly ‘n’ Drive Combo, Foyle Hovercrafting and Leisure, Limavady
A thrilling combination of hovercrafting and powerturn bugging. He’ll learn to fly a hovercraft and experience the thrill of blasting over land and water at speed before testing his coordination and nerve driving his very own Powerturn Buggy. A unique and thrilling combination of activities!
Stand Up Paddleboarding Taster Course, North Down
The latest craze to hit Northern Irish waters, stand up paddleboarding is a guaranteed to make your daddy cool! Within the taster lesson he will learn the safety, the warm up and the four basic steps to SUP - he'll be on his feet and paddling like a pro in no time.
Ultimate Clay Shooting Experience, Field of Dreams, Bangor
Ready, aim, fire! With 50 random targets to hit he’ll be blasting them out of the skies in no time. Kitted out with skeet jacket, safety glasses and ear defenders, he’ll certainly look the part whilst breaking the targets!
Exhilaration Experience – Rock climbing and Abseiling, Outdoor Concepts, Mournes
It's all about adrenalin on this full adventure day of abseiling and rock climbing. He’ll get the chance to belay and learn new skills before whizzing down the vertical rock face. The action packed day will take place in the stunning Mourne Mountains which offer some of the best locations in Northern Ireland for this thrill seeking adventure. This is one day out he will never forget!
Segway Off Road Experience, Segway NI, Craigavon
For a totally unique present give him a blast on a Segway. These two wheeled machines are great fun, especially when taken off road! He’ll learn to pilot this unique mode of transport before taking a guided one hour, off road adventure tour.
Off Road Driving Experience, Todds Leap, Ballygawley
Forget the daily commute – let him conquer the muddy climbs, drops & hazards of an exhilarating 8 mile off road course, set in stunning surroundings. The thrills don’t stop there as the experience also includes a white knuckle hill rally ride in a specially prepared Landrover!
This year give him a Father’s Day present he’ll love!
Posted on June 7, 2012 @ 9:45 AM in
It’s not long now until the summer holidays and while the kids can’t wait for school to finish, parents across the country are racking their brains trying to think of ways to keep them amused over the break.
If you don’t want to hear the two dreaded words ‘I’m bored’ then get your kids booked onto one of these fantastic outdoor activity summer schemes. Let them make new friends, learn new skills and most importantly have as much fun as possible in the great outdoors. All of the summer schemes are led by fully qualified and experienced instructors so your little darlings will be in safe hands as they have a blast come rain, hail or shine this summer!
With loads of outdoor summer schemes happening across Northern Ireland during July and August finding the right activity and date shouldn’t be a problem. You don’t even have to book a whole week with many of the schemes available to book by the day. To make it even easier for you we’ve put together a list of some of the top summer schemes in Northern Ireland:
Share Discovery Village, Lisnaskea
2nd July – 24th August
Now in its tenth year, Share’s popular Summer Scheme returns to attract new participants to Lough Erne. With week long skills development courses in sailing, canoeing, lifesaving, windsurfing, mountain biking and multi-activities the kids will not only have a great time but also receive a recognised qualification at the end of the week. The courses will take place Monday to Friday and are suitable for 8-16 year olds
Corralea Activity Centre, Belcoo
23rd-25th July and 6th-8th August
With a land based and water activity every day the kids will get the best of both worlds! From the classic favourites of climbing, mountain biking, canoeing and archery to the slightly more unique including caving and Corralea’s very own outdoor waterpark there will never be a dull moment during this summer scheme. Suitable for 9-15 year olds.
East Coast Adventure, Rostrevor
2nd July – 31st August
Let the kids experience a real adventure on a week long residential or drop them off on your way to work and hear all about their action packed day on the way home. East Coast Adventure is running both day and residential camps throughout July and August with camps available for all skill levels and ages from little Indians (8-10 years) to youth camps for the teenagers.
Ocean Youth Trust Ireland, Castlewellan
A great idea for the older ones (14-19 year olds) this adventure camp will take place in Castlewellan Forest Park where the Ocean Youth Trust will set up their amazing teepees for group work and cooking. During the day participants will sail on Castlewellan Lake before returning to camp to light a fire under the stars and have a laugh with a few games before bedtime. This is guaranteed to be one week filled with excitement and adventure.
Action Outdoors, Delamont Country Park
16th July – 20th July, 6th-10th August, 20th-24th August
Run in association with Down District Council this is one Summer Scheme with plenty for the kids to get excited about. They’ll hunt for clues on treasure trails, take to the slopes grass sledging and face their fears pier jumping and may even end up paddling to an island or learning some bush craft skills in the woods. Choose between a half day, full day or the whole week. Suitable for 6-13 year olds.
Clearsky Activity Centre, Castle Ward
23rd July – 27th, 30th July – 3rd August
Set in the grounds of the stunning Castle Ward Estate this is one summer scheme that promises to send the kids back tired! Activities range from climbing and bouldering to canoeing and archery and are suitable for 8-15 year olds. Don’t panic if you don’t have time to drop them off, Clearsky are running a free shuttle bus service from Newcastle, Strangford and Downpatrick each day – we have a feeling this is one bus they won’t be late for in the morning!
Mobile Team Adventure, Shaws Bridge
23rd-27th July, 30th July – 3rd August, 6th-10th August, 13th-17th August
A great way for those in the city to enjoy the great outdoors. Mobile Team Adventure’s summer scheme is jam packed with fun activities from canoeing and kayaking to water games and gorge walking. As well as archery, orienteering and abseiling they’ll have the chance to take on the slippery slope, raid the island and find their way along the blind trail. The kids will be divided into two age groups; 8-11 years and 12-15 years to make sure they get the most out of these fantastic activities.
Mini Kidz, Mobile Team Adventure, Ardnavalley Scout Centre
23rd – 27th July, 30th – 3rd August, 6th – 10th August, 13th –17th August 2012
To make sure the little ones don’t miss out on the fun Mobile Team Adventure have created a separate summer scheme especially for 5-7 year olds. Led by experienced and qualified instructors the young ones will have no need to be jealous of their big brother or sister as they too can get a taster of activities on both land and water.
Craigavon Watersports Centre
16th July, 23rd july, 6th august, 13th august, 20th august
This is perfect for all the water babies out there with plenty of fun to be had on land as well! Each session will last half a day during which the kids will learn the basic skills in sailing, water skiing, kayaking, archery, snow skiing, orienteering and climbing. Add into the mix snow tubing on the dry ski slope, golf, team games and banana boating and you’ve got an unforgettable week of action packed fun ready for the kids to enjoy. Suitable for 10 - 16 year olds.
Alive Surf School, Portrush
July & August
Alive Surf School’s Kids Camp runs Monday – Thursday every week during the summer holidays. Children from 5-18 will have the opportunity to take to the water under the watchful eyes of experienced instructors as they learn to ride the waves. Parents can join in on the fun too, watch from the beach or go for a well-deserved coffee.
Long Line Surf School, Benone Beach
July & August
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. The camp runs everyday from 10am to 12noon and is the perfect opportunity for kids to enjoy the sport of surfing with beach games, paddle races and in house surf contests.
If these summer schemes in Northern Ireland don’t cure your kid’s boredom, we don’t know what will!