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Going Against the Flow - Wet Bouldering with Outdoor Concepts

Posted on May 8, 2015 @ 4:18 PM in Adventure

A firm believer in not letting Northern Ireland’s notorious weather quite literally rain on my parade it was exactly this attitude that led me to standing in a car park… in March… in the freezing cold rain…trying to convince my friend that it was definitely a good idea to go and jump in a river.

Don’t worry sporadic submersion isn’t part of my usual weekend plans we were at the foothills of the Mourne Mountains to try out Wet Bouldering with Outdoor Concepts. This adrenaline pumping activity involves walking, scrambling, jumping, swimming and sometimes crawling along a river making the most of rock slides, plunge pools, mini waterfalls and fast flowing water.

The day started with a short 50 minute road trip from Belfast to Newcastle, Co. Down; ipod shuffle blasting out guilty pleasures with wild abandon.  Always keen to incorporate food where possible we stopped at the Anchor Bar in Newcastle for a bite to eat, leaving plenty of time to digest before heading to our meeting place at Bloody Bridge car park, less than a 5 minute drive out of Newcastle along the coast, window wipers in full flow. 

mournes outdoor activities

The highest mountain range in Northern Ireland, the Mourne Mountains are best known for the many spectacular walking routes however the combination of sea and mountains and the fact it is home to Bloody Bridge River make this the perfect location for wet bouldering in Northern Ireland.

With the rain not looking like it would ease off anytime soon this was actually a rather good incentive to get changed into our wetsuits for the afternoon – so at least the water could warm us up!  Everyone in the group got changed and the instructors kitted us out with everything we needed including wetsuits, helmets & buoyancy aids.  Nobody denied it would be cold but everyone was still keen and raring to go.  After a few introductions we had a safety briefing and a quick chat over what we would be doing (the water level was higher than normal so the session had to be adapted slightly however with the instructors knowing the river like the back of their hand there was still plenty of action to be had). We headed along the Mourne Coastal Path for a 2 minute walk to get to the river - despite the drab day the shoreline was still stunning with the Mournes showing off their unique position beside the sea and the river cascading down in between.

mournes wet bouldering

At our starting point and all nervously waiting to get in, our instructor Simon told us there was only one way to do it (and whatever ‘Simon Says’ you do, right?)  This involved a ‘trust fall’ back into the water (with some clinging onto Simon longer than others!) to discover the river was not so trusting as the cold water trickled in.  One by one everyone took turns to get submerged and sadistically enjoy everyone’s reactions as they emerged from the icy water in a not so graceful manner. 

Wet Bouldering Northern Ireland

Once the initial shock of the water subsided it didn’t take long for the wetsuits to get to work and warm us up.  Next was a quick scramble up the river to our first water slide down a flat slab of rock; into the white water below.  Continuing up the river we headed through a large tunnel with the Mournes towering above providing an impressive sight on the other side.  After a charming tale of a massacre that tainted the river red to give it its name we followed Simon to our next challenge. 

Mournes Wet Bouldering

Working as a team we conquered a section of fast flowing river by using a rope to pull against the current before scaling a small section of rock beside a waterfall.  Simon was on hand at all times to show us the best and safest places to put our feet and hands and to provide any literal shoves in the right direction. One of the last to go I heaved myself up over the edge to see my audience watching as I made something relatively easy look immensely hard but I got up none the less and at least my efforts provided some entertainment for everyone along the way!  The session continued with a cannon bomb competition before learning how to cross over fast flowing parts of the river without flying downstream. For those whose balance was questionable there was a safety rope in place for reassurance.  A few of the group even faced their fears by squeezing through a seemingly impossible tight rock passage.  Although in our groups case most challenges were met with excitement there was never any pressure for anyone to do anything they didn’t want to.  Dubious about whether we would all fit, once the first person manned up and went through it wasn’t long until everyone wanted a go. 

mourne mountains outdoor activities

After an hour of scrambling, jumping, laughing and general tomfoolery in the water we made our way across the river one last time to the path and back to the car park – everyone buzzing about the experience.  After a quick change we jumped in the car; heaters blasting the whole way home we reminisced about the afternoon as in true Northern Irish style the sun finally came out.

Activity Provider:

Outdoor Concepts

+44 (0)28 9073 7271


Cost per person £30 per adult £25 per child for a 3hr session.

(includes all specialist equipment,  no experience required)

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!

1 comment has been posted in reply to this article

Posted by Carleen shanks on October 5, 2020 @ 10:49 AM

Wet bouldering for 3 adults would like to book for this month.

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