Posted on June 20, 2013 @ 4:07 PM in
This month’s blog comes courtesy from guys at hikersblog.co.uk. With the Summer solstice meaning the days are at their longest Stephen aka ‘Spud’ from hikersblog.co.uk decided to take on the marathon task of walking all 26 miles of the Mourne Way in just one day. Read on to hear a first hand account of his journey along this stunning Way Marked Way in the Mourne Mountains.
The view of the track in front of me blurred, as one or more of the rivulets of sweat streaming down my face, mixed with what was left of the factor 30, found its way into my eyes. The stinging necessitated a quick pit stop and a fumble for something, anything, to wipe my face, so I could see where I was going again, and resume my walking, my word it was warm!
I have a saying, “you can pick the day, but you can’t pick the weather”. This is usually rolled out after heading home to dry out after a prolonged soaking in the hills, but today, exactly the opposite was true. There were times where a shower of rain would have been welcome, but there was no sign of that in the hazy blue sky, where only a few cotton wool wisps lazily and effortlessly made their way along, oblivious to the sweating eejit making his way along the Hen track in the western Mournes.
I had decided a couple of weeks previously that I was going to tackle the Mourne Way in a day. I had never done the whole route, but had walked most of it at one stage or another, and was confident that with a long days walking, I could get it ticked off the ever growing list of walks that I intend to do “some day”. The weather had been fantastic the whole week, and the forecast was for another scorcher, which actually troubled me more than a forecast for rain and wind would have! My plan was to start as early as possible and get as much walking done in the relative cool of the morning, as I knew when the sun really got going, then it would be a tough slog for me to complete the 26 mile route from Newcastle to Rostrevor.
My brilliant wife dropped me off in newcastle just after 6 am, and off I went. The mournes looked glorious, and it was warm, even though the sun had only started its long journey across the deep blue sky. I made my way towards tollymore, smiling when I saw folks on their way to a days graft, while I was going to spend a lovely day enjoying some walking. The thick forest shaded me as I made my way through tollymore, and it was a great way to start the walk, allowing me to get warmed up without getting too warm!
I made good time, and soon found myself making my way up the Trassey Track. Usually I would be making my way into the hills from here, but instead bore right, travelling under the bulk of meelmore and meelbeg, with hardly a breeze strirring. I made it to the far end of Fofanny reservoir, and stopped for a snack, it was just after 10 am, I hadnt seen a single soul the whole way to there from Newcastle, and I felt good sitting in the morning sun enjoying some well needed refuelling.
On I went, making my way up the road to the Ott carpark, a brief brush with civilisation, as a gang of cyclists on what looked like an organised ride swished past on their way down the hill, their effortless speed contrasting with my slower progress going the opposite way. “Morning” “Morning” Morning”, it was to be the longest conversation I would have from now to the end of my walk! Then it was a steep pull up Slievenamuck, round behind Spelga and Spaltha, and across the River Bann. I stopped on the small bridge that crosses it for a while, marvelling at the fact that this small rocky river eventually winds its way right up to the north coast.
The Western Mournes came next. I love this part of the mountains, and the view up the Hen track was something to behold, even though, as previously mentioned, I was finding it difficult to see at times! The Sun was blazing down, with only an occasional warm breeze providing any sort of relief from its glare in the shelter of the mountains. Walking into the sun now, I was glad of the fact that I had packed my sun hat and had brought plenty of fluids! I must admit, I was finding the heat tough, and my pace slowed considerably. The Rocky and Rowan Tree rivers glistened in the sunlight, their deep pools almost hypnotising me, the urge to just jump in and lie in them had to be fought more than once!
I could see my path ahead of me when I crossed the Rowan Tree River, and I knew that when I made it to the col between Rocky and Tornmarock, that it would be pretty much all downhill to the finish in Rostrevor. The breeze had picked up as I made my way up, and its cooling effect combined with the easier downhill walking, buoyed my spirits. Another refuelling stop overlooking Leitrim Lodge was enjoyed, and on I went. As I descended down the valley, pockets of trees provided cooling shade, but I wasn’t out of the woods yet, literally! The last few miles of the walk were on forestry tracks, and their hard surface was tough on my tired feet. It was along one of these tracks that I caught my first glimpse of Rostrevor down on the glistening coast, but it still looked quite far away!
From there it was one foot in front of the other stuff, and the further I walked and the closer I got to the town, the more people I saw. The delighted squeals of children having water fights as parents barbequed their dinner was quite a contrast from the solitude I had experienced on my trek, but it was good to know that I had almost done it. I arrived in Rostrevor about 1730, 11 hours after I had started out in Newcastle, tired but happy.
There was only one thing left to do, and that was to treat myself to a cold pint of cider and ice in one of the bars, it was honestly one of the best things I have ever tasted, and I felt I had more than earned it! The Mourne Way is a fantastic walk, and I plan to do it again, though hopefully in cooler weather this time!
If Spud has inspired you to give the Mourne Way a go yourself – either in one day or over a few then visit WalkNI.com for full route details including walking directions and downloadable maps.
Posted on June 14, 2013 @ 2:40 PM in
Castlewellan Mountain Bike Trails have unfortunately been affected by an outbreak of 'Larch disease', the infection caused by Phytophthora ramorum. The trails will reman open with diversions in place from Tuesday 18th June 2013.
As a measure to reduce the risk of further spread of the disease, 100 hectares ( a hectare is approximately the size of a football pitch) of trees will be felled within Castlewellan Forest Park.
Mountain bikers can continue to act responsibly to help reduce the risk of a further spread of the disease by:
Adhering to trail diversion signs
All current diversions to the Castlewellan Mountain Bike Trails are indicated on MountainBikeNI.com. Adhering to trail diversion signs will not only stop you riding through infected areas but also avoid heavy felling machinery.
Wash your bike
Forest Service NI and the Northern Ireland Mountain Bike Alliance have produced the following flyer outlining the simple steps to take
Thanks for your support
Posted on June 6, 2013 @ 3:21 PM in
This is OutdoorNI.com’s Summer Scheme blog for 2013 but don’t worry we’ve got a brand new blog with details of exciting Summer Schemes for 2016 'Your Ultimate Guide to Summer Schemes 2016'
With just a few weeks left until the end of school it’s time to start thinking about how you are going to keep the kids entertained over the summer holidays. Thankfully there are loads of outdoor activity summer schemes happening across Northern Ireland so when the novelty of doing nothing wears off, the kids will have something to get excited about.
These summer schemes will allow them to make new friends, learn new skills and most importantly get them out of the house and having as much fun as possible in the great outdoors. All summer schemes listed below take place with accredited providers so you can be rest assured that your kids will be in safe hands as they have their adventure this summer.
With tonnes 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 as many of the schemes are available to book by the day. Here is a list of some of the top summer schemes taking place in Northern Ireland over the school holidays:
Share Discovery Village, Lisnaskea
1st July – 23rd August
Share’s popular Summer Scheme based on the shores of Lough Erne returns this summer with no less than 17 summer schemes to choose from! 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.
Life Adventure Centre, Castlewellan Forest Park
1st July – 23rd August
New for this year is the Adventure Summer Camp which will run throughout July and August 2013 for age groups ranging from 9 to 14 year olds. With the aim of giving every participant the opportunity to have new experiences, make new friends, learn new 'Life' skills and have an awesome time doing so. Their summer camps will involve a range of activities including survival skills, kayaking, canoeing, archery, orienteering, abseiling, raft building and team games.
East Coast Adventure Centre, Rostrevor
1st July – 30th August
Let the kids experience a real adventure on a week long or half week residential or send them to the day camp and drop them off on your way to work and hear all about their action packed day on the way home. Both day and residential camps will run throughout July and August with camps available for all skill levels and ages from little Indians (8-10 years) to youth camps for 14-16 year olds.
Teambuild Ireland, Mourne Mountains
22nd – 25th July & 19th – 22nd August
With two activities happening each day in the Mourne Mountains including rock climbing, abseiling, wet bouldering, mountain hikes, ghost walks, zip lining, canoeing and beach days this is set to be 4 days of non stop action. Both residential and day camp options are available - no matter which you choose the kids are sure to have an adventure!
Action outdoors, Delamont Country Park
15th July – 16th 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 5 day week. With a low ration of kids to instructors and early drop off and late collection available there are plenty of reasons to send your 6-13 year olds to Action Outdoors summer scheme.
Clearsky Adventure Centre, Castle Ward
22nd - 26th July & 29th July - 2nd 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 coasteering to canoeing and archery and bushcraft to body boarding. 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! Suitable for those aged 8-15yrs old.
Mobile Team Adventure, Shaws Bridge & Ardnavalley
22nd July – 16th August, Overnight Camp 20th – 22nd 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. The kids will be divided into two age groups; 9-15 years and 5-8 years to make sure they get the most out of these fantastic activities. They are also running an Overnight Camp consisting of two overnight stays in a tent and three days of fun outdoor activities for a truly wild time!
Teambuild Ireland, Lough Neagh
1st July – 29th August
Run from the Team Build Ireland site in Glenavy this 4 day camp with 1 night sleep over under the stars is sure to be an experience they will never forget! All specialist safety equipment is provided, as is transport to and from the activities so all the kids have to worry about is embracing the outdoors and having an adventure.
Ardclinis Outdoor Adventure, Cushendall
1st July – 28th August
Ardclinis are offering 3 adventurous activity days each week throughout the months of July and August. Mondays will be spent at the Garron Point centre with team challenges, archery and climbing. Tuesdays will involve abseiling, raft building and laser tag with Wednesdays spent on the North Coast rock climbing, abseiling and coasteering. With so much variety the days are sure to fly by! Suitable for ages 8-18.
Troggs Surf School, Portrush
1st July – 30th August
Possibly the coolest summer camp around, Troggs Surf school are running their surf camp from Monday to Friday throughout July and August. Kids aged 6-14 will spend each morning (10:00 – 12:00) or afternoon (14:00-16:00) on the beach with surf lessons, surf safety and the chance to be selected for the elite youth surfing team.
Carrowmena Activity Centre, Limavady
15th July – 19th July, 5th – 9th August & 19th – 23rd August
Choose between one day or 5 days of non stop activities including team games, high ropes course, kayaking and zip lining to name just a few of the activities on offer for 8-15 year olds. The fun doesn’t end there however with an optional night spent underneath the stars on the Thursday night where the kids will experience a night walk before cooking their dinner on the camp fire.
If these summer schemes in Northern Ireland don’t cure your kid’s boredom, we don’t know what will!
Posted on June 4, 2013 @ 9:48 AM in
When an offer came into the office to attend the launch of a new food cycle trail in the Mournes I jumped at the chance to go after reading about all the yummy food that would be on offer throughout the day.
On the morning of the launch, after waking up I remember quickly looking out my bedroom window expecting it to be cold and wet, given the recent weather, but to my surprise and of course delight there was lots of glorious sunshine and blue sky which got me thinking…what a great day to get out of the office, get on a bike and eat lots of nice food!
On arrival to the Enniskeen Country House Hotel, where the trail starts, we met with our guide for the day and were taken in a shuttle bus up to Spelga Dam in the Mournes where we were quickly kitted out with bikes and helmets as we took in the view of the Mournes. This part of the trail can either be taken in the shuttle bus or can be cycled…it’s up hill all the way so sneakily I was glad we were able to choose the not so strenuous option!
From Spelga Dam we free wheeled all the way down to Patterson’s Farm with only one or two turns of the pedals…maybe we should have cycled up to Spelga Dam to try and burn off some calories to make room for what food was to come!
At Patterson’s Farm we met up with Desy during feeding time to talk about his Mourne Lamb and the difference in its taste depending on the grazing locations. After talking with Desy we were all eager to get to the next stop on the trail (for obvious reasons if you read on) which was back at the Enniskeen Hotel for delicious Mourne Honey themed afternoon tea. Whilst enjoying the spread that was laid out for us on the terrace of the hotel, overlooking the Mourne Mountains, we were given a short talk by bee keeper and guru, Joe Thompson, who told us all about Mourne Honey and the different types of honey that is made depending on what flora and fauna the bees thrive on.
Back on the bikes, for a short trip into Newcastle where we stopped off at Café Crème for some homemade Abernethy Fudge as well as the Cookie Jar to try their famous wheaten bread with Abernethy butter spread on top. Time to cycle onto the Down Royal Golf Club where we stopped to indulge on our Abernethy Fudge before stopping off at Murlough Farm, located beside Dundrum Bay, to collect some free range eggs, which saved me a trip to Tesco to pick up some food for dinner that evening!
The final section of the day was spent testing the tasty treats that the Mourne Sea Food Bar and the Bucks Head in Dundrum had prepared for us which included crab cakes, brill, langoustines and crab claws which was washed down with local stout from the Mourne Sea Food Bar as well as mussel soup, venison, lamb and sweet potato terrain and baked oysters from the Bucks Head.
If all this talk of food is making you hungry then why not get down to the Enniskeen Country House Hotel just outside Newcastle to try out the new trail?!
The Mourne Foods Cycle Trail is a fully self guided trail with bike hire and maps available from the Enniskeen Country House Hotel. Priced from £30 per person - includes bicycle hire, bike pannier storage compartment, trail pack and FREE shuttle bus up to Spelga Dam.
Mourne Food Cycle Gift Vouchers are also available to purchase online from OutdoorNI.com