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Christmas Gift Ideas for Couples 2012

Posted on November 29, 2012 @ 9:51 AM in Adventure

You have reached our 2012 Christmas gift ideas for couples blog however don't worry we have loads of great gift ideas for 2015! Head over to our Christmas Gift Ideas for Couples 2015 blog for some fantastic gift ideas for couples.

To make finding the perfect present even easier we have put together some of our favourites:  

Learn to Surf for Two, Long Line Surf School, Benone Beach, Co. Londonderry

Learn all the basic skills needed to paddle, pop up and surf the waves right to the shore.  Your lesson will take place at Long Line Surf School based on 7 miles of sandy shore at Benone Beach where your expert instructor will coach you both from the very beginning and show you all the skills you need to ride a wave.

Segway Couples Treat, Segway NI, Co Armagh

A distinctly unique outdoor adventure.  This hour long tour is a fantastic way to get out in the great outdoors and spend some quality time together.  From the moment you step on the Segway you’re in for a treat!

Couples Thrill Seeking Experience, Todds Leap, Ballygawley, Co. Tyrone

Find out who really is the better driver as you take it in turns behind the wheel on an off road driving experience.  The adrenaline pumping action doesn’t stop there however as the experience also includes a zoom down a 500m Zip line and a heart racing white knuckle hill rally ride.

Sunset Sail, Causeway Coast Sailing, Ballycastle, Co. Antrim

A fantastic way to see the Causeway coast in all its glory. Sit back, relax and enjoy a complementary glass of wine as you watch the sun set from your very own yacht – it doesn’t get much more romantic than this…

Couples Stand Up Paddleboard Experience, SurfSUPNI, Portballintrae, Co. Antrim 

Enjoy a romantic side by side paddle – if you can keep your balance that is! This Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP) session is aimed at beginners and provides the perfect opportunity to try something completely different. 

Swing n Roll, The Jungle NI, Magherafelt, Co. Londonderry

Definitely a gift with a difference; scale new heights together as you take part in Northern Ireland’s only tree top adventure course.  After coming back to the ground on the exhilarating 200m zip line you’ll then blast down the hill together in a giant zorbing ball.

North Coast Sea Safari, Aquaholics, Co. Londonderry

Hold on tight to one another as you zoom across the water taking in the sites of the spectacular North Coast including Dunluce Castle, the stunning Portrush beaches, the sea caves at Whiterocks, the seals at Skerries Islands and maybe even a dolphin or two!

Couples Boating Trip, Manor House Marine, Lough Erne, Co. Fermanagh

Enjoy a romantic boat trip on the Lower Lough Erne with this full day boat hire voucher.  Driving your very own boat, float along the idyllic waterways, explore the islands, do a spot of fishing or simply anchor up, sit back, relax and enjoy the splendid scenery together

Coasteering for Couples, Ardclinis Outdoor Adventure, North Coast, Co. Antrim

Not for the faint hearted this is one experience they’ll never forget! A cliff jumping, sea swimming and rock scrambling session that is guaranteed not to be boring.

Guided canoeing on Lough Erne, Four Elements Adventure, Co. Fermanagh

Explore the beautiful Lough Erne, one of the largest waterways in the UK together.  Enjoy the solitude and wilderness of this stunning area as you paddle along the majestic trail with an expert guide.


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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!

My Favourite Walk -Slieve Bearnagh

Posted on November 15, 2012 @ 4:25 PM in Walking

Ross Millar, keen hill walker and Chairperson of Moutnaineering Ireland shares with WalkNI.com his favourite walk...

I am reliably informed that I first started walking at 11 months. Nothing terribly serious at that stage but then, as now, a voyage of exploration.  I was born with a love of the outdoors and still value few things more dearly than the sights, sounds and most smells of the countryside. My love of the outdoors was nurtured by being a ‘cub’ and then a ‘boy’ scout from the ages of 7 until 18. The things we got up to would be deemed so ‘risky’ now that they would be banned or someone would at least be prosecuted but I still remember them with fondness. Cut knees; a broken arm; a couple of scars, so what?

I started ‘hillwalking’ in my mid-teens, cycling to the then nearby Sperrins and walking over the moorlands. I liked the space to think, still do. On that, I am not alone as it has been the practice of many artists, photographers, poets and philosophers to take to the hills. However, given that I claim to be none of these, I can safely say it is a matter of personal choice as to why you go hillwalking and that for many it is a chance to socialise and meet new people. However, enough on the whys and wherefores, I would recommend ‘The Joy of Hillwalking’ by Ralph Storer as an amusing read on the subject.

After spending my student days attending art college ‘across the water’ I came back to Northern Ireland and started earning a living bringing my love of both hillwalking and the great outdoors with me. My career path was quite deliberate. It had to involve the outdoors, so as a by then ‘Town Planner’, I deliberately specialised in rural planning and in that sense got to know almost all the countryside of Northern Ireland fairly intimately over the next 20 years. When I first ventured to the Lake and Peak Districts and then Snowdonia in the 80’s, what was so obvious was the sheer numbers of people and all the paraphernalia of cafes, B&B’s and outdoor gear shops. There was nowhere in Ireland that had anything to compare with this.

However, what we did and still have throughout Ireland is a hugely diverse landscape with glorious hills and mountains embracing the weather and often just kissing the sea. There are endless places to discover and little competition for space (unlike Snowdon!).

I have enjoyed countless beautiful and memorable walks all over Ireland. In the North, I love the sheer splendour of the Mournes, the freshness of the Causeway Coast with the sea breezes, headlands and glimpses of Scotland and the Isles, and Fermanagh will always hold a special place in my heart because of its own magic of contrasts. Add to all that the changes in the seasons and the light and, somewhat like being on Desert Island Discs. I would find it really hard to choose my favourite but I have been asked to so I have chosen Slieve Bernagh in the Mournes.


Slieve Bearnagh

My Favourite Walk -Slieve Bearnagh

Bearnagh or ‘Gapped Mountain’ is one of the 6 highest peaks in the Mourne range. Whilst at 739 meters it is not a huge mountain, to me it is just so striking. Those rocky tors and the magnificent slabs on its northern face; the (Mourne) Wall almost defying gravity in places, you cannot help but want to go to its summit where you have magnificent views in all directions.

Like all mountains there is more than one way to reach the top. Most people will take the well-established (and relatively dry) route leading from Trassey car park, up the Trassey Track to the quarry and from there take the partially stone pitched path to the Wall at the saddle between Bearnagh and Meelmore.

I prefer the longer approach to the same spot following the ridge from the ‘Ulster Way’ car park to the summit of Meelbeg. As you near the summit Bearnagh majestically appears. From there down to the saddle between Meelbeg and Meelmore and you can take the contour track round.

You then can choose to more or less go straight up (through quite difficult scree) or take one of a number of contoured paths breaking for the summit when you feel able. It’s simply a beautiful mountain.

There are a number of quality walks on WalkNI.com which take in Slieve Bearnagh including ‘Bearnagh and Meelmore’ and the challenging ‘Slieve Donard, Commedagh and Bearnagh’ routes.  Visit WalkNI.com for descriptions, images and maps.

In this latter part of my life, I am keen not only to ensure that such places remain accessible and enjoyed but that they are valued and looked after. That is why I give of my time to Mountaineering Ireland and other bodies. I myself am a bit of a ‘lone walker’ or a small group man at most. I like the space and the ability to dawdle if I want. I’m with Hippocrates in believing that “Walking is man's best medicine”. My father was sadly unable to walk for most of his life due to a debilitating bone disease, so to me it is simply a blessing.

Aldous Huxley said his father considered a walk among the mountains as the equivalent of churchgoing. It certainly means that to me and I recall a funny incident when asked by a local Councillor for whose organisation I was then working “What Church do you attend?” the look of sheer bewilderment when I replied “Jesus Christ and Latter Day Mountains”. He probably thought I was a Mormon!

Latest comment posted by Francis Murtagh on March 13, 2016 @ 9:37 PM

Made my way to Bearnagh today but I went around by a quarry and got to its summit from the side facing Ben Crom I descended to the Hares Gap It so lmpressed me I will have to make a return trip ... Read more >

Ross Millar
Ross Millar  Chairperson of Mountaineering Ireland

A keen hill walker since his teens and his days in the Boy Scouts Ross Millar is current chairperson of the Mountaineering Ireland board. When he’s not out walking he is working as the Director of a ‘recreation planning’ company and is also a voluntary Director of Outdoor Recreation Northern Ireland.

Christmas Gift Ideas for Men 2012

Posted on November 15, 2012 @ 11:17 AM in Adventure

You have reached our 2012 Christmas gift ideas for men blog however don't worry we have loads of great gift ideas for 2015! Head over to our Christmas Gift Ideas for Men 2015 blog  for some fantastic ideas for your dad, husband, boyfriend or brother this Christmas.

Gift Experiences for Men

Fly ‘n’ Drive Combo – Foyle Hovercrafting and Leisure, Limavady, Co. Londonderry

He’ll learn to pilot 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.

Advanced Off-Road Driving – Todds Leap, Ballygawley, Co. Tyrone

He can choose to share the driver’s seat with friends or family or have it all to himself on this exhilarating off road course.  He’ll conquer muddy climbs, drops and hazards on the 8 mile off road course before finishing the day off in a specially prepared Landrover being taken back across a stage of the course at Rally Competition speed!

Ultimate Clay Shooting Experience, Field of Dreams, Bangor, Co. Down

Ready, aim, fire!  This is the perfect present for anyone wanting to try Clay Pigeon Shooting for the first time.  With 50 random sporting targets to blast out of the skies it is sure to get him excited.

Downhill Zorbing, Jungle NI, Magherafelt, Co. Londonderry

Let him hurtle at high speed down a hill face inside a massive inflatable ball.  This is one Christmas gift that isn’t for the fainthearted!  

Half Days Sailing on Antrim Coast, Causeway Coast Sailing, Ballycastle, Co. Antrim

Whether he chooses to learn the ropes of sailing with some hands on experience or wants to simply relax and enjoy the scenic Antrim Coast he is sure to have a fantastic time.  With room for up to three people he can even take friends or family along too!

Intro to Kiteboarding Course, NI Kitesurfing, Ards Peninsula, Co. Down 

This course is the perfect introduction for anyone wanting to experience the thrills of kitesurfing.  A truly unique activity this is a great taster to discover what it’s all about.  Fully qualified instructors will be on hand at all times ensuring he has the ultimate experience.

North Coast Sea Kayaking Experience, Simply Sea Kayak, Portrush, Co. Antrim

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. 

Surfing Lesson, Alive Surf School, Portrush, Co. Antrim

Possibly the coolest gift you can give, he’ll learn from the experts how to tackle the waves of the North Coast on this two hour surfing lesson.

Tarzan’s Adventure, Jungle NI, Magherafelt, Co. Londonderry

Allow him to release his inner Tarzan on Northern Ireland's only tree top adventure course. The course comprises of over 40 challenging elements set at varying heights above the ground where he’ll find himself tackling fun obstacles such as rope bridges, scramble nets, zip wires, Tarzan swings, and a King Louis Descent Powerfan drop.

Mountain Biking Skills Day, Rock and Ride Outdoors, Mournes, Co. Down

The perfect gift for anyone who wants to be a better biker this core skills one day course with Ireland’s top MTB tutor will teach him the essential skills needed to tame any trail whilst bringing his biking to a new level. 

Make sure you check out our Christmas Gift voucher section for even more Christmas gift ideas for him.

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!

OutdoorNI.com does…Mountain Biking

Posted on November 7, 2012 @ 11:08 AM in AdventureCyclingMountainbiking

OutdoorNI.com does Mountain Biking 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 mountain biking with Rock and Ride Outdoors at Tollymore National Outdoor Centre.   Here’s how she got on…

With Northern Ireland set to become the go to place for Mountain Biking in 2013 I decided it was time to learn a thing or two from the Mountain Biking experts at Rock and Ride Outdoors.  A collective of three of Ireland's most qualified and experienced outdoor instructors the company offers introductory sessions, skills courses, coaching and qualifications in Mountain Biking, Rock Climbing, Mountain Skills and Mountaineering. 

Rock and Ride Outdoors

I wasn’t the only keen one from the office and so it wasn’t long until a few of us were heading down to Tollymore National Outdoor Centre to meet Ian Bailey aka the Rock and Ride mountain bike expert. A biking fanatic with over 25 years of MTB experience he is one of only two qualified MBLA tutors in Ireland allowing him to deliver the industry leading Trail Cycle Leader courses, the internationally recognised MTB leadership and guiding qualification – so we knew we were in good hands!  Never one to be a ‘look, no hands’ kind of girl I have to admit I was slightly apprehensive about the whole thing.  After a quick introduction ‘Hi my name’s Sarah and I don’t like speed or corners’ it was clear Ian was going to have his work cut out, thankfully this didn’t phase him and he was confident he would make a mountain biker out of me by the end of the session.

Gloves, helmet and shin pads on (I was taking all the protection I could get!) it was time to hit the saddle.  Wanting to see how well we rode, our first mission was to ride around on the safety of flat tarmac.  As we rode about Ian kept a watchful eye on us all to see where our strengths, or in my case weaknesses lay in order to make the training as beneficial and unique to each individual as possible. 

Our first lesson of the day was all about weight shifting – one of the most basic yet essential skills needed for any mountain biker.  This involved us all having a laugh as we attempted to sit on our back wheel and ‘kiss’ our front wheel.  Next it was time for the fun part, wheelie time!  A crucial element to master before hitting any trails. Having never successfully pulled off one in my childhood I was excited at the prospect.  It’s a shame it doesn’t carry as much kudos when your 23 year olds as opposed to 7 but better late than never!  After amusing Ian with our feeble attempts he soon relented and showed us how it’s supposed to be done giving us tips and encouragement as we rode round - I’ve never seen somebody be so enthusiastic about a half an inch high wheelie!  We then tackled manuals (a type of wheelie that can be done at speed and relies on weight shifting).    As we perfected our technique, working on an individual basis Ian helped us develop our skills whether this be pushing the more experienced to go that little bit further or getting me to do a manual without bursting a blood vessel from concentration! Putting what we had learned into practice we then tested our skills on our first obstacle – the curb, proving you don’t need a purpose built trail system in your back garden to practice technique.  Manuals sorted it was then time to attempt the trickier rear wheel lift.  Explained and executed effortlessly by Ian lets just say it didn’t come as easy to some of us!  However we were reassured that this was pretty hard to tackle so practice was needed. 

Now we had learned the basics properly Ian assured us we were equipped to deal with anything that came our way on the Tollymore skills course  - a purpose built 1.5km course packed with technical features.  Although slightly tentative on my first time around the course, the time spent at the start of the session had given me new found confidence to have a go at things I never thought I could have handled on a bike previously.  After winding round the trail it wasn’t long until we all stopped to tackle the first main obstacle of our route – a narrow log ride.   One by one everyone attempted to keep their balance, at this point I was more than happy to volunteer as official photographer but after watching everyone else I decided to man up and give it a go.  Somehow I managed to not even make it onto the log, falling off on the run up instead – a new record I’m sure. However with nothing hurt but my pride it wasn’t long until I was taking inspiration from that 90s chumbawamba classic ‘I get knocked down but I get up again’!  Whilst I opted to keep trying this others in the group tackled the boardwalk berm successfully showing what some expert knowledge and the right instruction can achieve.  Second time round I knew what to expect and took on the trail with a lot more confidence.   I may not have broken any speed records but the adrenaline was most definitely still there!   

Speaking from a complete beginners point of view I learnt a lot from the session and feel one hundred percent more equipped to ride on off-road trails than I did before.  However I can also safely say that the more experienced participants in the group found it just as beneficial if not more so with the expert instruction allowing them to take their skills to the next level.  The topic of conversation in the office the following morning, it didn’t take us long to come to the unanimous decision that mountain biking with Rock and Ride Outdoors is a must! 

Activity Provider:

Rock and Ride Outdoors

Rock and Ride Outdoors

+44(0)78 0313 2381 



Gift Vouchers Now Available!

Our session was just a taster of what is covered on the Rock and Ride core skills session (which includes a few very handy maintenance tips) so whether you want to start from scratch or are a novice mountain biker who wants to up your game this is the perfect course for you! 

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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!

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