Ed McCannChris ScottAndrea Harrower
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Colin Ross Reflects on his trip to Blessingbourne Estate

Posted on August 31, 2018 @ 2:59 PM in Mountainbiking

We had the pleasure of chatting to Colin Ross after he returned from acheieving the small feat of becoming the World Master's Downhill Champion (no biggie, right?). After the madness of that, and another win at home Colin spoke to us about his connection to Blessingbourne Estate's Mountain Bike Trails.

It was great to make the trip down to Blessingbourne Estate again this year with the family, as we have been a few times in the past and the kids are always asking to go back! With having two boys (5&2yrs old) who are mad into bikes and a wife and daughter (7yrs old) who aren't, it's hard to get somewhere that works for everyone.

With Blessingbourne being one of the flatter trail centres in the country this means no big climbs and that whatever bikes the kids are on, (including my 2 year old's balance bike or my wife's touring bike, we can get around most of the trails as a family!

That being said, I do have a 5 year old (Rosco Junior) that loves to get his wheels off the ground and ride some good descents with great corners - and that's exactly what Blessingbourne has! They don't have a big hill but with a little thought in the design, they have came up with some great short 'downhill' sections that have great flow with some tabletops and well made berms that I really enjoy when knocking out a couple of laps of myself.

The pump track is always a winner with the kids and with the picnic area right beside it it is a great place for a lunch break as you can let the kids work away while you eat!

The other big attraction is that Blessingbourne is a child friendly farm and my lot love to walk around looking at the animals or maybe even getting to sit on a tractor! They also have a play park, games room and tennis court which are all very well looked after and good fun! There are extensive walks around the estate or you can even hire a boat and go for a paddle on the lake.

Owners Nick and Colleen make your visit, whether it be a day or longer, very welcoming and nothing is ever too much for them. They have created a fantastic place that is both fun and safe and I always look forward to going back.

For more information on Blessingbourne Estate, please visit MountainBikeNI.com

Latest comment posted by Scott on September 7, 2018 @ 6:26 AM

Nice place to visit with the family. Although for any bicycle accessories you will contact us :- http://www.foilwheels.com Read more >

Colin Ross
Colin Ross  World DH Master's Champion

Colin is a 3 time winner of the Red Bull Foxhunt and current Master's World Downhill Champion.

Castleknock CC's Journey to the Giant's Causeway Coast Sportive

Posted on August 20, 2018 @ 4:30 PM in Cycling

We've always been fasincated by all of the small stories that go on in the background in the lead up to the Giant's Causeway Coast Sportive. This year we've got an ear to the ground with one cycling club from Dublin. Noelle and Mark will be keeping us up to date on all their preparations from now right the way until the big day on September 8th. Follow along and share your own stories on the Giant's Causeway Coast Sportive Facebook page!

Fiona Reidy: Events Officer, Castleknock Cycling Club, Dublin. 17th August

'The Road to Antrim'

From one “Castle” to another “Castle” – Castleknock to Ballycastle. From Castleknock, Caisleán Cnucha, meaning "Cnucha's Castle” to Ballycastle  - Baile an Chaistil, meaning "Town of the Castle".

January is a hibernation month for a lot of people, but not for Castleknock Cycling Club (“CCC”)!  When other people were contemplating joining a gym, to visit only a couple of times, at CCC we were having chats about where to go on our annual club weekend away later in 2018. In fact Paul Mullins, our Committee Secretary jumped right on it and had The Marine Hotel in Ballycastle booked before you could say “Giant’s Causeway Coast Sportive!"

CCC is just over 3 years old and was formed in April 2015. We currently have 125 club members led by 7 Committee members, including one highly intelligent, witty lady who is the Events Officer ..Moi  :o)

The Main Committee members are:

Liam Twomey                                   Chairperson

Paul Mullins                                       Secretary

Shay Kearns                                       Treasurer

Erick O’Neill                                       Spin Co-ordinator

Tony Nulty                                         Gear Co-ordinator

Fiona Reidy                                        Events Officer

Brian Casey                                       Safety Officer

Andrew Griffith                               Public Relations Officer (“PRO”)


Since the main Committee have enough on their saddles! Boom!  We decided that a Sub-Events Committee was needed to help organise the “Giant’s Causeway Coast Sportive” and other club events during 2018.

So this is when “The Mob” (Sub-Events Committee) was born !

Fiona Reidy – Mob Boss - The Pink Lady  

Brendan O’Brien – Cool Mr B

Jane Bohan – Miss Compliance Lady….also known as Scarlet Overkill :o)

Noelle Rohan – Miss Kerry


Mark Ruddy – Mr Ah Sur It’ll Be Grand

Jenny Kirwan - Miss Chatty

Barry Gleeson- Mr Get-Away- Man With a Van


The first “Mob” meeting went something like this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vayksn4Y93A

We were taking no prisoners!  We had lots to do:  names to gather, who is “sleeping with who” (we had to watch how that was written!), money to collect, information leaflets to write, quiz questions to prepare and prizes to gather.

A “WhatsApp” was sent to all CCC members and great interest was shown for the “Giant’s Causeway Coast Sportive”. Finally we have 50 people travelling from CCC to BallyCastle.

Ethan Loughrey from the “Giant’s Causeway Coast Sportive” Organising Committee was our first port of call.  At this stage, I feel like I’ve known Ethan all my life and that’s saying a lot considering I have yet to meet the man! He was a great help in getting everyone registered and supplied with an Early Bird T-Shirt.

Andrew Griffith our PRO modelling the T-Shirt

Lists upon lists were made and MANY reminder “WhatsApps” were sent until in July we had the final list of people making the trip to Ballycastle. Payments were collected, dinner was booked, menus were chosen, room layouts were organised and secure bike storage was arranged with the Marine Hotel. We have now become best friends with the front desk staff in the Marine Hotel. We also booked 4 people into a local B&B; Corratavey Guest House (a short walk from the Marine Hotel).

Over the past few weeks the team have also been great in pulling together an information leaflet for what will be happening during the weekend and on the actual Sportive day itself.

All CCC members will be gathering at the front of the Marine Hotel at 7.30am on the morning of the Sportive for a group photo before heading off on their chosen routes.

It will be a packed weekend of “Selfie” and “Best Song of the Day” competitions, with dinner in the hotel on the Saturday evening followed by a mind blowing quiz with jaw dropping prizes to be won!

The excitement is now building and everyone is looking forward to a great weekend of cycling and fun!

A big thank you goes out to the Sub-Events Committee team for all their help and attendance at meetings to get everything ready for the annual club weekend away.

All that is left to do now is for everyone to enjoy themselves!

To a great weekend at the Giant’s Causeway Coast Sportive!!!!


Noelle: 28th July

So these Saturdays we’re rolling out at 08:00 and it’s a great start to the day to get a good cycle under our belt and be home for around 12 noon. This week we headed towards to the Royal county, first through Blanchardstown and onto Dunshauglin under the great guidance of Jim Healy. We went through Ongar, Clonee, Dunboyne and Batterstown area.

There’s been a change in the weather now which is bringing a bit of rain, badly needed by the farmers but I’ve to say I miss the sunshine.
The rain was on our back about 10km into the cycle and wasn’t leaving us unfortunately on this route. There was 6 in the group,we kept tight and were doing 22-24 km an hour. There’s not much Jim misses fair play from stops, to on coming traffic at roundabouts to fur coats (dead rats) on the road!! There was a good bit of chat on route mainly talking about the change of weather.

Nearing Dunshauglin one of the cyclists was complaining her hip was score so decided to turn back after we had a quick stop in the shop for some sweets. Another person turned back here with her and headed home. The cycle here was cut to around 40km for 2 and the other 4 completed around 65km.

When back in Carpenters town we bailed into Insomnia drenched wet for a hot tea and a scone - well deserved! So 40 or 65km it was great to be out be it in the rain and getting fresh air into the lungs.


Mark and Noelle: Saturday 12th May

Welcome back! So what a day we got for the Castleknock Cycling Club 100km to the Hill of Tara, someone knew we meant business. It was glorious. There was staggered departure times so that we would all arrive roughly around the same time to Maguire’s Café for tea and scones at the Hill of Tara (10:50)  – needles to say I was in the elite group! We started at 8:15 – figure out which group I was in!

22km/hr group departure 08:15

24km/hr group departure 08:40

26km/hr group departure 08:50

28km/hr group departure 09:00

So Kathleen took the helm of our group of 10 as the leader, which was great as she runs a steady ship and keep things moving. John who was out for a while with an injury also joined us for some of the cycle, it was great to see him back with us on Saturday.

The route took us through Dunboyne, Summerhill, Dunsany, and Kilmessan and onto the Hill of Tara. The roads were relatively quite most of the way. Spring has finally arrived; the country has gone ‘green’ over night. In Meath I noticed a lot of cattle out grazing, as a farmer’s daughter great to see, the poor animals were in for too long over the winter.

55 cyclists descended on Maguire’s Café around 10:50 and thanks to the great organisation by CCC’s event’s coordinator, Fiona Reidy, we were all fed and watered within 20 minutes. It was really nice for all the different groups to meet here and just relax and have a chat. Andrew drove from Castleknock to take some pics of us and see we all arrived alive! and Jim Healy drove up to give some mechanical support where needed. Prior to departure there was the obligatory photo shoot of the group and then we all set off back home. At this stage we had 52 km complete before we set off again, good to have the back broken of it so to speak. On the way back we acquired 2 extra cyclists, Roisin and Clare and lost 1 to the 24km group – Martin couldn’t keep up with us! Fiona, Kathleen and Jackie also took their own route home as a group of 3. Now Roisin stepped up to the plate as leader and did a fine job taking us through Skryne, Ratoath, Fleenstown, Mulhuddart and back to base – Insomina in Carpenterstown for more tea and scones. On arrival here we had completed 100km on the nose.

So to recap it was a fantastic day, so well organised and every one in great form.

Oh I also was wearing a better pair of cycling shorts – made me notice the sunny day more!


Mark and Noelle: Saturday 28th April 

A huge gang of about 25 of us assembled in the Carpenter car park ready to take advantage of the almost perfect weather conditions which were dry and bright but slightly cold so it was hard to decide on the right amount of layers for the cycle. The 22k group were heading towards Kilcock, Summerhill and then  back through Dunboyne. The 24K group was heading towards Kilteel via Athgoe and back through Celbridge and Lucan. I decided to go out with the 24k group which was being lead by Erick who did a fantastic job of keeping everyone safe.

In total there were 12 of us in the 24K group we started at a good pace that we were all comfortable with. We went out past Lucan to Newcastle and onto Athgoe. As always everyone found the hill at Athgoe to be quite challenging. The climb helped everyone to get nicely warmed up and on the decent we took in some amazing views over Dublin City. We again had another challenging hill as we made our way up towards Kilteel and we stopped for a quick sip of water at the top and allowed everyone to catch their breath.

As we worked our way back to Celbridge we had a few other climbs that caught us by surprise...I think by the time we got Celbridge I think the group were happy to know there were no more hills on the route. In total we had 600 meters of climbing which is pretty respectable for a 70K cycle. We made our way back via Lucan golf club and Erick had one more surprise in store for us...a climb up Somerton Lane which spent the last of any energy that we had left!!

Overall really nice challenging route with a nice mix of hills and views over Dublin and a great bunch to do it with.


Mark and Noelle: Saturday 7th April

Again we had fine conditions starting off our cycle and the numbers were great we had around 25 of us assembled in the carpenter pub car park ready to get going. Again we split into 4 groups but this time most people opted to go with the 24k group so that had to be further divided into two groups of 7 cyclists. Both the 22K and 24K groups were heading towards Kilbride and Rathoath doing a 50K spin and the 26 and 28k groups had a longer and more challenging 86K spin heading out towards Maynooth, Kilcock and Enfield. 


This week I headed out with the 24K group and we started out at a solid pace out past the Blanchardstown centre and heading towards Hollystown. Although it was not raining the ground was a little wet so we had careful to be on roundabouts ect.

We had the wind in our faces as we headed out the Rathoath road so we kept in a tight formation and changed the leader to keep the good pace we had going. We ran into the other 24K group as they were heading in the same direction as us, the roads were also busy with other groups of cyclists. We managed to avoid any mechanical mishaps this week but we did take one or two wrong turns which did slow us down a little. Crossing over the M3 motorway we passed along the back of the airport which is well known for being a hard drag with a strong head wind so that took the last of our energy.


Overall a really enjoyable cycle with a good bunch and a nice route through Meath and North Dublin. The weather seems to have changed at last and as a group there a feeling the maybe the eternal winter is over and that we can now get going with some long spins. Rumour has it we are going to go for our first adventure to the Dublin mountains next week, that will be a great test for our fitness early in the year.



Mark and Noelle: Saturday March 24th

Following a few weeks of inactivity due to adverse weather conditions the numbers signing up for this weeks spins were huge. There was almost 25 of us assembled outside the carpenter ready to enjoy the bright but cold weather. We were split into four groups a 22K, 24K and two 26K (as we had reached the limit of 12 persons per group for that speed). So under instruction from our spin leaders we set off. All of us were heading for Kildare the 22s and 24s were heading towards Maynooth-Straffin and then back through Celbridge covering 55K in total. Both 26s were heading out over the n7 towards Athgoe and back also through Celbridge covering a distance just shy of 70K. 

I was with the second of the 26K groups being headed up by our fearless spin leader Tom who kept us safe and sound. We started out at a strong pace to keep the cold at bay, after going through Lucan and Newcastle we hit Athgoe. What I didn't know was that just outside Athgoe there is a huge hill that drags for a good 500 meters. After a serious workout getting to the top we took a much needed break for a few minutes to get some food and liquids in. I was dead last to the top of the hill- a few weeks off the bike was really taking its toll on me and I was lagging at the rear of the group. We had another break when one of our team had a puncture just outside of Clane however with some expertise and the use of some modern toys (i.e pocket gas) we were back on the road less than 10 minutes later.  


Coming back through Maynooth we caught up with the 22s and 24s and we all got to the coffee shop at about the same time for a cappuccino. Overall a very enjoyable spin with bright but cold conditions and a good marker for this time of year.

Mark and Noelle: 17th March 18

So today our organised spin was cut from 50km to 33km due to the snowing / sleety conditions ...not that I was complaining! Our Irish winter seems to want to take an extended holiday here and doesn’t want the sun to come out.

So 2 great leaders took the reigns today - Brian and Tony. They kept a tight ship and got us 8 "hardy bucks"around safely.
It was real cold but must say very enjoyable and the tea after was so welcome.

Again I’m not wearing the correct gear and a lot of comments on my inadequate shorts being short and not long so deffo need to get that sorted.


Mark and Noelle: 15th March 18:

So tonight we had our first meeting to organise the 'Castleknock Cycling Club’s' weekend away to Antrim for the 'Giant’s Causeway Coast Sportive' on the 08 Sept 18.

The meeting was headed up by a proud Kerry woman who had 7 diligent attendees. Tasks were divided out accordingly and I and my Mayo counterpart got tasked with organising the quiz for the weekend away. I love quizzes not that I’m any good, just nosey!

We had a gear fitting also post our meeting. There was all sizes of any thing stretchy with loads of padding. I myself am taking the plunge, splash out as you may and going to invest in a proper pair of club cycling shorts so after that there’s no stopping me, Antrim here I come!

We'll update this page with all of the club's antics as the big day comes closer. If you'd like to keep us updated on what your club is doing coming up to the big day, we'd love to hear from you! Email us to info@cycleni.com and tell us your plans.

Noelle Rohan
Noelle Rohan  Cyclist with Castleknock Cycling Club

Last Chance to Get Wet in NI

Posted on August 16, 2018 @ 12:58 PM in AdventureCanoeing

As we approach the end of summer (parents rejoice; children despair!), the huge number of water sport events from Get Wet are beginning to wind down. But don’t panic – there’s still time left to dip your toe into a potentially life changing new hobby! Dive in with us one last time as we look at "Have a Go" water sports events happening soon. 

A Fermanagh extravaganza first! There's loads happening all over Northern Ireland in the next few weeks, but Lough Erne in particular has several events still to be enjoyed:

Stand Up Paddleboarding – Erne Paddlers: Lakeland Forum Canoe Steps, Sat 18th and Wed 29th August


Erne Paddlers are one of the many clubs to have recognised the huge growth in popularity in stand up paddleboarding. In an hour long session, you’ll be introduced to the sport via games designed to make you comfortable on a paddle board and gradually develop the skills that will allow you do go solo. At only £15 for non members, this event is fantastic value – just make sure you book in advance.


Inclusive Paddles - Erne Paddlers: Lakeland Forum Canoe Steps, Thurs 23rd and 30th August

Man, woman or child can take part in these events, enjoying the incredible scenery of the Erne. Specifically intended for people who have never paddled before, it is also suitable for anyone with disabilities. All of your equipment will be provided for you - your job is just to enjoy yourself!


Paddle Power - Erne Paddlers: Lakeland Forum Canoe Steps, Friday 17th, 24th and 31st August

Intended for parents and children who have some experience paddling, maybe having done some of Erne Paddler's earlier "Give it a Go" sessions. You'll be learning via the "games with aims" method, which is really just a fun way of something to say you'll pick lots up through fun games!


Don't worry if you don't live in the Lakeland County though - there are plenty of other events happening elsewhere, such as:

Rowing – Lagan Currachs: Lagan Lookout Marina, Belfast, Sat 18th and 25th August


Lagan Currachs’ weekly rows through Belfast have proven consistently to be one of the most popular events with newbies to water sports. Participants say that in addition to the fun of rowing and the health benefits of a good workout, even the act of being in a traditional currach boat is a brilliant experience. Their final Saturday row takes place on Saturday 25th August, booking is advisable.


Sailing – Donaghadee Sailing Club: Donaghadee Sailing Club, Shore Street, Sun 19th and 26th August


Sailing is another sport that has exploded in popularity in recent years, particularly amongst women. In a bid to help more girls get into the sport, Donaghadee Sailing Club are running a Women on Water Sailing Programme. It is designed for people with no experience of sailing, so if you’re worried about not knowing your stern from your starboard – you’ll be in good company!


Dinghy Sailing – Coleraine Yacht Club: Coleraine Yacht Club, The Marina, Wed 22nd and 29th August

Another sport ideal for a mixture of skill and fun, this dinghy sailing course promises a huge amount of both. Suitable for adults and juniors, in addition to a boat you’ll learn from some of the top coaches in the province. Bookings can be made online in advance.


Sculling – Lagan Scullers: No.8 Lockview Road, Belfast, Sun 2nd, 9th, 16th and 23rd September


Rowing’s more challenging sibling. Sculling is a fantastic way to keep fit and this 4 week course is ideal for introducing newcomers to the sport. Using a rowing machine to begin, you’ll soon be brought out onto the boat to learn the importance of synchronicity on the water, as well as how to launch, turn, stop and recover boats.

For a full list of the water sports events taking place between now and September, check out the GetWetNI website, or follow us on our GetWetNI Facebook page.

Ethan Loughrey
Ethan Loughrey  Mountain Bike Officer

Hardest thing about Mountain Biking? Definitely the trees.

Shining A Light On Northern Ireland's Great Lighthouses

Posted on August 1, 2018 @ 11:08 AM in Walking

Down through the centuries Lighthouses have helped guide ships and sailors safely along the coastline avoiding perilous rocks. Dotted along the stunning coastline on various walking routes, Northern Ireland boasts 5 Great Lighthouses waiting to be explored! 

The Bumblebee Lighthouse

St John's Point Lighthouse courtesy of Malcolm McGettigan

Image: St. John's Point Lighthouse courtesy of Malcolm McGettigan

Overlooking Dundrum Bay in the coastal town of Killough, you can't miss St John's Lighthouse. Located on section 4 of the Lecale Way between Ardglass and Tyrella, St John's is the tallest onshore lighthouse in Ireland, designed by acclaimed designer George Halpin Senior. It's striking tall tower is marked with vibrant bumblebee bands of yellow and black. These vivid colours, which distinguish it from other lighthouses, are known as its daymark. 

The Little Lighthouse

Blackhead Lighthouse courtesy of Malcolm McGettigan

Image: Blackhead Lighthouse courtesy of Malcolm McGettigan

Sitting on the edge of a cliff overlooking Belfast Lough, Blackhead Lighthouse is located only half an hour from Belfast. Built in 1902, the lighthouse has guided many famous vessels to safety during Belfast's golden age of shipping, including RMS Titanic. As well as exploring the inside of the lighthouse, visitors can follow the dramatic coastline by walking the 2.4 mile linear (one way) Blackhead Path which takes you past a series of sea caves and coves towards the Victorian seaside resort of Whitehead.

The Upside Down Lighthouse

Rathlin Island

Image: Rathlin Island West Lighthouse courtesy of Tourism NI

Whether you love wildlife, are a bit of a history buff or simply want to experience life on an island and feel the wind in your face, Rathlin West Lighthouse is the place for you. At just six miles long, one mile wide, the west lighthouse is one of two lights which can be found on the Island. Known as being Ireland's only 'upside down' lighthouse, it can be accessed via the 4 mile linear (one way) Rathlin Trail. Be sure to take a tour of the lighthouse and embrace the views from its cliff-face vantage point to get a real insight into lightkeeping life. The Island is not only home to this unique lighthouse, but also one of the largest seabird colonies in the UK which can be admired from the RSPB Seabird Centre. 

Lighthouse On The Pier

Donaghadee Lighthouse

The character of Donaghadee is intimately joined to its most well known landmark Donaghadee Lighthouse. Since its construction in 1836 this limestone lighthouse has been a symbol of pride to the town's inhabitants. From it's lofty parapet, there's a seagulls eye view of the harbour and town which you can discover by following the 1.5 mile, Donaghadee Town Trail.

The Great Light 

Titanic Light

Image: Titanic Light courtesy of Titanic Foundation

The Great Light in Belfast's Titanic Quarter is one of the largest optics of its kind ever built in the world, and is around 130 years old. Weighing 10 tonnes and measuring 7 metres tall, the optic is a unique maritime heritage object with significance to Belfast's economic, maritime and industrial past. It is totally irreplaceable and is an exceptionally rare maritime artefact. It produced one of the strongest lighthouse beams ever to shine - a truly GREAT LIGHT. You can discover this light for yourself by following the 500 metre Titanic Walkway on Victoria Wharf, which connects the Titanic Slipways to HMS Caroline and the Thompson Dock.

For more coastal walks in Northern Ireland check out WalkNI.com for details.

Latest comment posted by Denis Campbell on October 6, 2018 @ 10:46 AM

Mary, I guess they have included only the visitable ones. The photo of Blackhead shows a small building with a radar scanner (for Belfast Harbour Traffic Control) on top. It was the fog signal ... Read more >

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 outdoorni.com walkni.com cycleni.com canoeni.com