Amy ColvinEthan LoughreyElizabeth Rogers
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A Walk in the Park

Posted on August 19, 2016 @ 12:16 PM in Walking

Whether you want a quick jaunt to clear your head on your lunch hour or fancy a short stroll in the evening to build up your step count there are lots of great parks in Northern Ireland to explore on your doorstep:

Victoria Park, Belfast, Co. Antrim – 1 mile
An oasis of wildlife the historic Victoria Park provides an inner and outer walking loop around the lake (make sure to look out for the swans!) on a mixture of flat surfaced and grass paths. Passing a small rose garden, children’s playground and BMX track, the walks pass under the shadow of one of the most iconic landscapes of Belfast; Samson and Goliath.

Victoria Park

Dungannon ParkCo. Tyrone – 1.2 miles
The Park Trail is set amongst the beautiful backdrop of Dungannon Park - a 70 acre oasis. The walk's interesting paths surround the grounds mature woodland, brightly coloured flowerbeds and the magnificent 13 acre freshwater lake. High ground offers the walker splendid viewpoints of surrounding townland and countryside with views of Lough Neagh on a clear day.

Dungannon Park

Christie Park & SomersetColeraine, Co. Derry~Londonderry – 2 miles
This pleasant riverside walk along surfaced footpaths, starts in the centre of Coleraine and finishes opposite the historic Mountsandel Fort. The walk passes through two Council parks, both with different habitats that are managed in entirely different ways. Take time along the route to enjoy the views over the Bann. Having reached the car park there is the option to cross the road and enjoy a variety of walks within Somerset Forest.

Christie Park

Ormeau Park, Belfast, Co. Antrim – 1.3 miles
An historic parkland overlooking the River Lagan, with colourful flowerbeds, an array of trees and an abundance of wildlife, Ormeau Park is a real haven within the city. A walk along well surfaced paths past a Victorian bandstand, flower beds and Victorian House, the park also has an outdoor gym.

Ormeau Park

Scrabo Country ParkNewtownards, Co. Down – 2.3 miles 
The walk takes in the summit of Scrabo Hill and the famous Scrabo Tower built in 1857, one of Ireland's best known landmarks. Soak in stunning views over Strangford Lough and North Down before descending to the disused sandstone quarries which provided building stone since Anglo-Norman times.

Scrabo Country Park

Clement Wilson Park, Belfast, Co. Antrim – 1.2 miles
A wide open park, near the Lock Keeper’s Cottage with plenty of green space to roam around. Walk along the main pathway through the park known locally as the Burma Road and across the River Lagan via the footbridge named after the artist John Luke.

Clement Wilson Park

Cladagh Glen Walk, Cuilcagh Way, Co. Fermanagh – 1.5 miles linear
Part of the Marble Arch Caves Global Geopark, this short section of the Cuilcagh Way will take you through the striking landscape of the Cladagh River gorge thickly covered by an ancient ash woodland. There are many features of interest along the route- steep limestone cliffs, cascading waterfalls, cave springs, a turbulent river and a rich treasury of wild flowers.

Cladagh Glen

Crawfordsburn Country Park, Bangor, Co. Down – 1.5 miles
One of a number of walks within the country park, the glen walk undulates through mature beech wood, closely following the course of the Crawford's Burn.  The walk encompasses views of Lanyon’s Viaduct, built in 1863 this fine, five arched sandstone railway viaduct was designed by Sir Charles Lanyon, whose most notable designs included Belfast Castle and Queen’s University Belfast.

Crawfordsburn Country Park

Annesley Garden Walk, Castlewellan Forest Park, Co. Down – 2.2 miles
The forest park's best-kept secret don't be surprised if you are the only one discovering the many secluded spots in this hauntingly beautiful garden and arboretum. The garden was founded in 1740, with the Annesley family planting the arboretum in the 19th century. Once at the entrance gate, choose between the shorter 1.1 mile walk or the 2.2 mile route which continues uphill, circling the Duck Pond and Mitchell's Lake. 

Annesley Garden Walk

Benburb Valley ParkCo. Tyrone– up to 3.9 miles
Explore and enjoy stunning natural and built heritage within Benburb Valley Park on a network of paths along the Blackwater River. The river has carved out a beautiful gorge through the countryside and is an ideal location for walking passing Benburb Priory and Benburb Castle.

Benburb Valley Park

Riverside Park, Ballymoney, Co. Antrim - 4 miles
Riverside Park offers a variety of walks through various landscapes including woodland with the Ballymoney River running through the middle of the park.  Look out for kingfishers and ducks on the pond as the riverside path takes you over footbridges and past informal woodland.  

Riverside Park

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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!

How to Prepare for a Sportive

Posted on August 15, 2016 @ 5:24 PM in Cycling

The guys at Chain Reaction Cycles share their top tips for preparing for a sportive. 

Sportive cycles – mass road rides with hundreds or even thousands of participants, sometimes on roads especially closed for the purpose – have exploded in popularity. Non-competitive in nature and generally featuring a choice of distances and/or routes, sportive riders can enjoy the peace of mind of knowing that a full support organisation, including food and drink stops plus mechanical support is always there should they need it. 

Build up your mileage

Get the miles in to suit the ride you’re taking on. Scope out the route so you know what to expect – don’t get caught out by a big climb or tough descent. Strava is a great place to research and find new routes.

Why not track your ride, compare data with friends and upload your routes with the help of a training aid? Heart rate monitors and GPS systems like this Garmin Edge 520 are perfect performance indicators, so why not log your activity throughout this year’s riding challenge?

Shop GPS Bike Computers 

Don’t let a mechanical ruin your day

You’ve prepared yourself physically and mentally, so take the same approach to your bike – make sure it’s in good working order with a kit from X-Tools.

Check that your brake pads, tyres and chainset are in good condition, and that your gears are shifting smoothly, ready for a big day in the saddle!

Shop Work Shop Tools

Bike comfort is key

Contact points, areas of your body in direct contact with the bike, are the main areas you’ll want to look after on big-mile rides.

Your handlebar, like the carbon model from Thomson, plays a key role in how comfy your ride is, offering a variety of different hand and riding positions – on the top of the bars for in-the-saddle climbing, on the hoods of the brakes for going uphill or accelerating, or on the drops for sustained high-speed effort in a lower, more aerodynamic position.

Few items of cycling equipment are more personal – or more important – than the saddle. A well-designed and well-fitting saddle, like the Astute Skyline VT Taca, will make epic days in the saddle a breeze. 

A good pair of clipless pedals, like the Shimano Ultegra SPD-SL 6800, offer a smooth pedal stroke and better energy efficiency. Don’t forget to make sure your pedals and cleats are set up properly for maximum pedal-pushing comfort.

Clothing comfort

The clothing you wear can make or break your ride, so make sure you’re wearing the right kit for the conditions.

Look for a good quality jersey, like this Endura model, that offers effective moisture management and a degree of UV protection if it’s going to be hot.

Rear pockets are perfect for carrying gels, bars or other items of clothing on long sportive rides.

Bibshorts, like these from Endura, have straps that go over the shoulders, rather than a waistband, and are regarded by many as being more comfortable as they are less prone to chafing and have no waistband to dig into the stomach. Your ass will thank you for buying a good pair after a long road ride.

It’s handy to have a pot of chamois cream at the ready – it helps reduce friction, prevent overheating and generally offers a soothing barrier which prevents chafing and pain.

Well worn in shoes, like the Shimano R171 shoes, with a comfortable fit and which offer good power transfer will make the difference. Don’t debut a fresh pair of shoes on your first long ride!

Nutrition and recovery

Hydrate yourself before, during and after your ride – whatever the distance. Eating and drinking little and often will produce the best results, so even if you don’t feel overly hungry, try to take some food on board.

Endurance: Typically loaded with high-energy complex carbohydrates, High5 Energy Source is used to maintain fuel stores prior to or during training and competition.

Hydration: Products like  High5 Zero Electrolyte tablets are aimed at efficiently replacing fluids lost during exertion as well as other key nutrients such as electrolytes (salts).

Recovery: Protein-rich recovery products like the Science In Sport REGO Rapid Recovery helps to restore tired muscles after exercise and aid in the creation of new muscle. 

Now you're prepared don't forget to enter the 2016 Giant's Causeway Coast Sportive on 10th September!

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!

Interview with the new Mournes Forest Trails Ranger

Posted on August 10, 2016 @ 11:12 AM in Mountainbiking

It's important to get to know the people who are looking after our trails. To help, we caught up with Steve Brook, the new trails ranger for Castlewellan and Rostrevor. 


Hi Steve! Our first question - what did you do before you became a trail ranger?

I’ve had a varied working life, but a common thread has been working in the countryside. I studied countryside management as a teenager at agricultural college, which led on to me working as an assistant scientific officer with the Department of Agriculture, before re-training as a tree surgeon.

In the last year I have worked with Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute surveying river systems across Northern Ireland to understand the breeding success of our native Trout and Salmon populations, and also with the Environmental Health department within Newry, Mourne and Down Council.

What do you like most about job?

I love the varied nature of the job. I could be in a meeting with an event organiser in the morning, inspecting a trail for wear and tear in the afternoon and cutting windblown trees off the trail in the evening. No two days are the same. 

Are you a mountain biker yourself? If so, how long have you been riding?

I’m relatively new to mountain biking, but have been blown away by the sheer skill of some of the riders I’ve met since starting as Trail Ranger, and I’ve had more offers to go riding than I can keep up with. 

Any favourite bit to do on the trails?

Having worked as a tree surgeon I always love to work with trees and this is a key part of the job. However, at the moment a huge part of the Trail Team’s time has been spent clearing vegetation so as to keep the trails open and enjoyable. We have a programme of improvement works for the trails planned for the autumn and I’m looking forward to getting stuck into that.

Okay, quick fire round.

Favourite film?   


TV show you're currently into? 

Walking Dead

Favourite food?


Worst injury you've picked up?

Damaged pride.

Favourite song?

Let it Go, from Frozen.

Awesome. Anything else you’d like to share with the mountain bike community? 

Yeah, myself and the trails team are here to make sure the trails are enjoyable to ride and safe. If any riders notice anything on the trails that they feel needs attention they can contact me anytime at, or stop and speak to the Trails Team if you meet them on the trails. Feedback is always welcome. 

Thanks for chatting to us Steve and best of luck with the new job!

Ethan Loughrey
Ethan Loughrey  Mountain Bike Officer

Hardest thing about Mountain Biking? Definitely the trees.

5 Adventurous Things To Do This August Bank Holiday

Posted on August 5, 2016 @ 12:26 PM in Adventure

With the bank holiday weekend approaching, making the most of the long weekend is super important. Check out our top ways to spend the bank holiday weekend this August.

1. August Open Day at Todds Leap

Zorb Football Northern Ireland

Have a go at 10 amazing action packed activities throughout the day including body zorbing, zip lining, archery, climbing, ziplining and more.  The perfect time to visit this action packed adventure centre, pay one entry fee on 29th August then have a go on your favourite activities as many times as you like! Where: Todds Leap Activity Centre, Ballygawley, Co. Tryone

2. Go Against the Flow!

Bouldering Northern Ireland

You never know what you may discover when you go against the flow this summer. Pull on a wetsuit and experience the thrill and adrenaline of coasteering & bouldering! Discover natural waterslides and traverse your way along the coastline by scrambling, climbing and jumping off rocks into nature's very own plunge pools. Where: Life Adventure Centre, Castlewellan, Co. Down

3. Family Fun Day at the Jungle NI

Zorbing Northern Ireland

Family Fun Day, Sun 28th & Mon 29th Aug, The JungleNI, Moneymore, Co. Derry~Londonderry
Grab some tickets and make the most of a day in the jungle with the kids. On Sunday 28th and Monday 29th August the JungleNI will come alive with activities including zorbing, segways, archery, paintballing and more. This is one day out the kids will be taking about for the rest of the summer!

4. Plan a weekend away (With a difference!)

Glamping Northern Ireland

Push the boat out with somehting unique and book a last minute glamping weekend away. Take a look at our Glamping Blog 'Have a Glamping Activity Holiday in Northern Ireland' for some inspiration!

5. Ride your first wave!

Surfing Northern Ireland

Make this summer one to remember by learning to pop up and surf your way into the shore on some of Northern Ireland's most spectacular stretches of coastline. Whether you're a complete beginner or have had a go before have a laugh together learning the skills and techniques to get you up on the waves. Where: Long Line Surf School, Benone, Co. Derry~Londonderry or Troggs Surf School, Portrush, Co. Antrim.

Don't forget to tell us about your summer adventures on Facebook & Twitter.

Jayne Woodrow
Jayne Woodrow  Marketing Officer & Active Clubs Coordinator for Walking

Jayne joined the marketing team of Outdoor Recreation NI in March 2014. She oversees the marketing and communication on WalkNI, OutdoorNI and Walking in Your Community Project. Most recently she has been working with Parkrun Ireland & UK to introduce the 'Walk @ parkrun' initiative.

Northern Ireland's Outdoor Adventure Blog