Posted on August 27, 2014 @ 7:46 PM in
Whether your journey takes you along coastal paths, forest trails, or into the mountains, there are few things more rewarding than being surrounded by the outdoors. To aid those getting out for a days walk, Hikersblog have put together some basic information on kit, clothing and food that you’ll need for a day out on the hills...
It is important to remember that the environment and weather you plan on walking in will have a big say in the clothes you need to bring or wear. Remember to bring extra layers and spares in the colder winter months and perhaps consider zip off trousers or shorts in the summer, should you get too hot.
The most common method of protecting yourself from the elements while outdoors is the layering system. This normally consists of a breathable base layer and a warm insulating layer, topped with a waterproof coat.
Footwear is another important part to get right, arguably one of the most important – nobody enjoys blisters! To decide on what footwear to choose for your walk, consider what the ground may be like. For rough, uneven and wet terrain, walking boots may be the best choice, offering ankle support and waterproof properties. If the ground you plan on walking is flat and even, then perhaps consider wearing lighter walking shoes instead.
Along with wearing the appropriate clothes when walking, it is also important to carry some extra pieces of kit. Some of this may never be needed, but it is important to remember to bring them for safety.
Head Torch – You could be outside longer than expected, and a lightsource could be vital to help you find your way. It can also be used to highlight your location in an emergency.
Emergency Bivouac Bag or Bothy Bag – Useful if injured and awaiting rescue, these pieces of equipment will help you stay warm when sitting still. Bothy bags are available for multiple people and are great to eat lunch in when it is raining, raising morale as well as keeping warm!
Map and Compass – Essential pieces of kit, as is the knowledge of how to use them.
Whistle – Six blasts at one minute intervals is the standard call in a emergency.
Sun Cream – So you don’t end up like a strawberry head while out walking in the sun!
First Aid Kit – A basic FAK is more than enough for dealing with minor injures. Anything major will probably require assistance from the mountain rescue etc. For example carry: plasters, 1 large bandage, 1 triangular bandage and a 2 pairs of rubber gloves.
Mobile phone – Fully charged, turned off inside a waterproof bag.
Rucksack Liner – To keep the contents of your bag dry.
For shorter trips a sandwich and some fruit may suffice, a small lunchbox will protect them from getting squashed or soaked during your walk! Avoid simple sugars in your main meals, instead opting for complex carbohydrates, such as oats. Having a non-perishable sugar source in your pack such as Kendal Mint Cake provides a safety net should a member of your group suddenly experience severe fatigue, but don’t rely on these as a staple.
A good trail mix with a variety of dried fruit and nuts can provide a slow release of energy and protein to help sustain you between main meals. Be sure to have this within easy reach, as it works best when eaten in small, frequent portions throughout your walk.
Hot beverages such as tea and coffee, though providing little nutritional benefit, can be great for raising morale and providing a psychological boost when hiking. A small vacuum flask is easily carried to provide these when out and about.
We hope this guide has given you an idea for what to carry when walking outside. Remember that practice makes perfect, and that this guide can be added to, to suit your individual needs. Above all enjoy your time outdoors, stay safe, and leave no trace.
Posted on August 25, 2014 @ 3:40 PM in
The North Coast is most famous for one thing (no I’m not thinking of Barry’s amusements or Morellis ice-cream although both strong contenders!); it’s all in the name, of course I’m talking about the fabulous coastline! With sea stack cliffs, historic castles, beautiful beaches and a famous geological phenomenom there are lots of impressive sights to behold in this part of the world. With so much to see the best view is definitely from the water as I would soon find out on my trip with Portrush Sea Tours who offer exhilarating tours of the famous coastline by boat.
Window wipers on I began my journey from Belfast to the North Coast one not so sunny Saturday excited for my tour on the ‘high seas’. Heading up ahead of schedule I made time for an obligatory ‘99’ (it’s never too early for ice-cream) just in time for the sun to come out, and for me to enjoy the views from Portrush East Strand.
Conveniently located right on the North Pier (next to Ramore Wine Bar a great place for a bite of lunch, dinner or a drink or two after) it was easy to find Portrush Sea Tours shop. It was here I met Crawford and Pearl; Mr and Mrs Portrush Sea Tours - a dynamic duo and our skipper and tour guide for the morning. After a friendly welcome and a cup of coffee everyone was soon assembled eager to get aboard. Kitted out with life jackets, Crawford gave a safety briefing and we hopped on the Stormforce 11, a fast RIB (rigid inflatable boat) which would treat us to some exciting speeds at the same time remaining very comfortable and stable on the water. With a cover for the boat allowing us to still have full view there was no need to let the threat of rain put a dampner on the day and more importantly us! All aboard, as no one else seemed to be fighting for it I was straight up the front beside the captain.
The captain doing what he does best; a famous face hidden within the Skerries
Pearl explained the plan for the tour and give us a rough run down of what we would be seeing then with a whir of the engine we were off leaving the harbour behind us as Crawford got the tunes going. Passing the impressive Ramore Head our next stop was the Skerries; a small group of islands scattered just off the Portrush coast, formed from cooled volcanic lava. Pearls knowledge of the area was fantastic and both she and Crawford had a great awareness of the wildlife pointing out Iderback ducks and grey seals which I would have missed. Pearl had plenty of fascinating facts about this particular spot including famous faces hidden within the rocks, tails of freedom fighters and the secret of how the rabbits got to the skerries! Sorry guys my lips are sealed – you’ll just have to go on the tour to find out.
Pearl telling us some interesting facts about the area
Accelerating along the water with the sea air in our hair we headed to Portballintrae harbour also known as the fictional town of Lordsport in the television series Game of Thrones. After admiring the distinctive white church high above us on the headland more impressive sites awaited us in the form of Dunluce Castle and the White Rocks. Perched right on the edge of basalt cliffs, towering above us Dunluce Castle was a particular highlight for me. It was amazing to stare up at the mighty structure from the sea and take it in from an entirely new and impressive perspective. Built on the site of an ancient Irish fort, the Scottish style castle was occupied by the MacDonnells of Antrim and the MacDonalds of Dunnyveg, Scotland, providing no shortage of fascinating history for Pearl to share with us including tales of the kitchen which fell into the sea in 1690 and the ghosts that were left behind.
The awesome views continued as we zoomed beside the White Rocks stretching from Dunluce Castle to East Strand, an impressive array of limestone cliffs with caves and arches only accessible from the sea – something I would have never knew existed or have been able to witness from dry land. After waving at a group coasteering; jumping from the cliffs and exploring the caves, we headed back towards Portrush to take in the sandy beaches and impressive dunes.
Born and bred in the North Coast Crawford and Pearls passion for the area really came through as they shared local knowledge, history and folklore helping to bring each location to life ensuring everyone was entertained both kids and adults throughout. After taking in all the sites it was then time for Crawford to show us what the Storm Force could really do as he told us to hold on tight and notched up the speed for a fantastic spin which got everyone’s heart racing and the adults onboard fighting the kids for a coveted place at the back!
Crawford and I back on dry land
After a few laps at speed and skimming through the waves it was time to head back with the hour having flown in. Once back everyone was raving about the trip keen to find out when they could go again. We had experienced the Bay to Bay Sea Tour however other trips include the Giant’s Causeway tour and Rathlin Island tour as well as the opportunity to go further afield to the Scottish islands of Juraand Islay so there was plenty of reason for everyone to come back for more. It was a fantastic experience made all the better by Crawford and Pearls welcoming and friendly nature with everyone learning a lot and getting to experience never before seen views of the coast. Whether you are a regular visitor to this part of the world or are here for the first time I would definitely recommend this trip as I know Crawford and Pearl will guarantee you won’t be disappointed! You don’t just have to take my word for it however, as theTripadvisor reviews speak for themselves.
Portrush Sea Tours
Bay to Bay Sea Tour (approx 1 hour)
Cost per person: £20
Know someone who might like to give this a go? You can purchase this and other tours online from the OutdoorNI.com Gift Voucher page.
Posted on August 21, 2014 @ 10:19 AM in
You have reached the August Bank Holiday Blog for 2014. Click here to read out August Bank Holiday Weekend 2015 Blog!
From splashing good fun in the water to knee trembling heights there are lots of action packed activities taking place during the August Bank Holiday Weekend 2014, ideal for those looking to make the most of the last weekend of summer with friends or family before school starts back!
August Bank Holiday Family Fun
This bank holiday weekend will not disappoint when it comes to fun-filled, action-packed activities to keep the kids entertained!
Belfast is a great location to start the fun. Visit Mobile Team Adventure at Shaw's Bridge, just a short drive from the city centre where you can enjoy a morning out on the water during a family canoe/ kayak open session. Later in the afternoon, why not hire bikes and hit the family friendly mountain bike trails in Barnett Demesne.
Ever thought about spending your bank holiday weekend in a Jungle? Now you can during a Family Fun Day at the Jungle NI. Find your inner Robin Hood during an archery session, scale the climbing wall or experience the thrill of speeding along on two wheels on one of JungleNI’s segways!
For those with kids aged 12 years and up seeking the adrenaline rush of something a bit more adventurous then Family Coasteering with Clearsky Adventure Centre is the ideal family activity. Supervised by experienced instructors, dive right into this action packed activity as you walk, scramble, jump and sometimes crawl along the Strangford coastline.
August Bank Holiday Adventures With Your Mates
Its a long awaited three days of work! So grab a couple of mates and head to on of the many great action packed activities sure to get your adrenaline pumping!
Whether you are new to surfing and keen to catch your first wave or if you are a seasoned pro, enjoy a ladies only day out on the waves during Northern Ireland's Roxy Ladies Surf Day on Sat 23rd and Sun 24th Aug at East Strand Watersports Centre, Portrush. Take part in a 1 hour surf lesson followed by a 1 hour Stand Up Paddle Board (SUP) and on board yoga session.
Join Simply Sea Kayak for a half day Introduction to Sea Kayaking course on Sat 23rd or Sun 24th Aug. Aimed at newcomers to the world of paddle sport. This is a fun and informative session out on the water which can be enjoyed individually or with friends.
Get competitive as your time yourself against the clock to navigate the obstacle course and race through the forest trails during the Segway Off-Road Experience with Segway NI.
Check out OutdoorNI Fun with Friends for even more fantastic activities!
Exam Results Gift Ideas
A fantastic reward for a job well done! OutdoorNI have a number of exciting Gift Vouchers for you to choose from to reward the hard work put in by all those who have got or are waiting on exam results.
Learn to Surf with expert instruction from Long Line Surf School. Learn the basics needed catch your first wave! All equipment is provided during this 2.5 hour lesson so all you have to do is turn up and enjoy the surf!
Share the driver's seat with 2 friends during an Off-road Driving Taster Experience with Todd’s Leap as you conquer the muddy climbs, drops & hazards of an exhilarating 8 mile off road course guided by a qualified instructor. Finish the day being driven round the course at Rally Competition speed! With no age restrictions or need for a driving licence for this experience everyone can have a go.
Experience the Tarzan Tree Top Adventure Taster Session at The Jungle NI. Take on 12 challenging elements set at varying heights above the ground, some up to 70ft high, concluding in spectacular fashion with the exhilarating 200m zipline and gravity-defying Power Fan Drop.
Have a great August Bank Holiday Weekend 2014!
Posted on August 15, 2014 @ 10:52 AM in
Outdoor Concepts is a leading outdoor activity provider specialising in mountain biking and multi-activity adventure across Northern Ireland. They opened their mountain bike specific trailhead services at the Davagh Forest Trails in the summer of 2013 and offer a range of bike hire and tuition courses not to mention some of Northern Ireland’s finest brownies.
We caught up with Managing Director of Outdoor Concepts, Craig McCullough (pictured middle) to find out a bit more about Davagh Forest’s official trailhead provider.
So Craig, how has Outdoor Concepts settled into its new role as official trailhead provider at the Davagh Forest Trails?
We have had a great first year. First and foremost mountain bikers come to Davagh because of the excellent trails - hopefully we add to people's visit by providing some trail advice, selling some basic supplies and of course providing bike hire. We have really enjoyed getting to know a lot of the regulars and generally most folks come to over to us and have a chat over a coffee either at the start or end of their session.
Why Davagh Forest? What was it about this particular trail centre that grabbed your attention?
To be honest it was not somewhere I had biked before. The first time I came here with a bunch of friends not really knowing what to expect - and we were all blown away by how good it really was. Cookstown District Council and Architrail have produced fantastic trails for all abilities in a stunning location. Yes, for a lot of people it is a little bit of a drive but once you get here you realise it was well worth it for the smile factor!
What is the most unusual request or obscure issue that your team has had to deal with since opening here at Davagh Forest?
We have had people email us to book their brownie, just to make sure there will be some left by the time they finish their biking!
Are there any highlights that really stand out from your first year operating at the Davagh Forest trailhead?
The main highlight without a doubt has been the people! Whether it is the regulars who always call over for a chat or the first timers looking trail advice, there is a real buzz around the trailhead car park at the weekends and it is great to be part of that.
Have you found more people wanting to get started in mountain biking since the trails have opened here at Davagh Forest?
Definitely - with the trails open now for over a year and a half you will still regularly hear people saying things like, "my mates told me I had to give this mountain biking a go" or "we decided as a family to go and get some mountain bikes". We regularly hire out bikes to first timers who just love it and want to go out and buy their own bike.
Can you describe the Davagh Forest Trails in three words?
Long Flowy Reds
What future plans do you have for Outdoor Concepts @ Davagh Forest?
We will be bringing out our third fleet of bikes in September so keep an eye out on Facebook for the announcement selling the old fleet! We want our clients to have the best possible experience so in line with other trail centres in England, Scotland and Wales we plan to keep updating our fleet regularly. We will expanding our trailhead stock and watch out for some more courses and events coming up over the autumn months.
Outdoor Concepts offer bike hire from as little as £20 per person (half day) as well as a range of tuition courses on the Davagh Forest Trails. With 15" to 21" frame sizes, they cater for all those aged 11 and upwards. They also offer tea, coffee, ‘unbeatable’ brownies and some basic bike spares from their trailhead HQ at weekends. Visit www.outdoorconcepts.co.uk for more information.
Posted on August 12, 2014 @ 4:59 PM in
The beauty of the Castlewellan Mountain Bike Trails is that there are a host of welcoming cafes, bars and restaurants just minutes from the trailhead however one coffee house that stands out from the crowd when it comes to providing a truly first class mountain biker friendly service.
Urban Coffee opened in the autumn of 2012 (approx 6 months before the trails in Castlewellan officially opened to the public) and ever since owner Caitriona McCabe and her team have fully embraced the trails and always welcome us dishevelled mountain bikers with open arms …mud and all!
We were biking down in Castlewellan this week and so popped into Urban Coffee to find out a bit more about Caitriona and to see if she has been bitten by the mountain biking bug yet herself!
1. So Caitriona, with Urban Coffee open almost two years now, how are you settling in?
Thanks to the support of our local community and due to our team's unfaltering enthusiasm for quality food and customer service, we have to say that time has flown in since we opened our doors. As a company, we pride ourselves on proactively implementing and maintaining everything that enhances our patrons in-store experience e.g. creative specials, discount deals, loyalty cards and a dedication to personalised service.
Moreover, all of our staff have received Barista training to ensure that every cup of coffee is nothing short of perfection. Our customers have been there every step of the way, offering encouragement and constructive feedback - which has ultimately contributed to Urban Coffee's success. We plan on sustaining our sensitivity to discerning locals to ensure Urban Coffee continues to create value to new and loyal customers alike, for many years to come.
2. Has Castlewellan always been ‘home’ for you?
In a way, the entire Mourne Area has always been home. After having been born and raised in Newcastle, I immigrated to Southern California in my early teens. It was quite a culture shock at the time but in many ways these were the years when my passion for gourmet food (that could be both nutritious and tasty), quality coffee and good business sense began to take root. I lived and worked in California for years and it was only on one of my visits home that I met Niall.
In time, we married and had four boys. There was intermittent travelling but Castlewellan has been home ever since we met. Though I cannot pretend to deny my American influences, I seized and revelled the opportunity to amalgam my experiences in the US with my new life in Castlewellan. And in my own small way I accomplished this by adding a touch of 'Urbanization' to the somewhat rural to create an entirely new dining experience.
3. Can you put your finger on why Urban Coffee seems to have become a real hit with cyclists?
We think Urban Coffee has been an instantaneous hit with the locals because of the 'home from home' we have created. Very quickly we realised that we had established a niche as the local provider of home baked foods coupled with high end coffee in an extremely relaxed environment. This combination was relatively new to the Castlewellan area; thus our unique offering was greatly appreciated.
Urban Coffee benefits from several features that are naturally attractive to all those involved in outdoor pursuits: early opening, late evenings, ample outside space (not only to park up your bike but also to enjoy your meal), free wi-fi, top up service, an extensive menu of homemade food and a 'West Coast' California feel that would be difficult to emulate anywhere else in the town.
4. Is your Mountain Bikers’ Bagel & Coffee Combo popular?
Our 'Bacon & Cream Cheese Bagel and Coffee' combo is a real hit with our cyclists. However, our home baked scones (Crunchie, Walnut, Pear, Mint Aero Cranberry etc...), lemon tarts with cream, filled baked potatoes and anything sugary are also all very popular!
5. Are you a fan of two wheels yourself?
Taking time out to cycle is something valued in my family and also a pastime and form of exercise I enjoy with friends. Niall is an avid cyclist and I try to get out as often as I can, though running a Cafe that is open 7 days a week often demands a large portion of my time! We do, however, free up time regularly to ensure that we avail of the fantastic facility that we have on our doorstep. Indeed, going up the park (whether it be on the trails or the bumps) is an instrumental part of my kid's summer. There truly is something for all ages and all abilities and we are lucky to live and work close proximity to such an up and coming hub of activity.
6. What do you recommend before and after a blast around the Castlewellan Trails?
Our most popular pre-ride choices would have to be the trusty Rocky Road, Carrot Cake or Caramel Square with one of our expertly prepared flat whites. Post-ride and stop offs for those who cycle on the road would have to be our 'Fry Inside a Bagel' or 'Bacon & Brie' Gourmet sandwich with rocket leaves, caramelized onion chutney and jalapenos.
Our cyclists have also been among the first to try to the new Japanese method of brewing coffee, using the Hario Drip Filter (a beverage we offer in-store)-which is clearly indicative of their adventurous inclinations! Our Milkshakes made with Morelli's ice-cream are also great for a much needed sugar rush. Whether it be something sinfully sugary or wholesome and satisfying - our cyclists always seem pleased with their choice!
Urban Coffee is located on 74 Main Street in Castlewellan, beyond Lower Square and across the road from Zebedees Take-Away. Open from 08:30 – 17:00, 7 days a week, Urban Coffee offers a range of healthy food options and great coffee in a relaxing environment. Visit www.mountainbikeni.com/food-and-drink/11/urban-coffee for more information.