Helen LawlessMartin DunneAran Sheridan
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Best Bluebell Walks In Northern Ireland

Posted on April 29, 2019 @ 11:07 AM in Walking

It’s that time of year when it’s all about the Bluebells! These pretty little flowers have started to make an appearance across Northern Ireland's countryside and forest floors. To help you discover new and exciting walks with some of the best bluebell displays check out a few of our favourite spots below.

Bluebells Northern Ireland

Castle Ward, Strangford, Co. Down
There are around 5 miles of bluebell trails waiting to be discovered in this stunning 820 acre demesne complete with 18th century mansion and over 13 miles of multi-use trail. 

Minnowburn and Giant’s Ring, Belfast, Co. Antrim
Wander through the woods in spring to see a haze of bluebells at this tranquil refuge next to the Lagan river.

Downhill Demesne, Castlerock, Co. Derry~Londonderry
A magnificent clifftop walk, affording rugged headland views across the North Coast. Discover Mussenden Temple and the striking 18th-century ruins of Downhill mansion. 

Scrabo Hill & Killynether Wood, Newtownards, Co. Down
Enjoy some of the best views over Strangford Lough and North Down from the iconic Scrabo Tower, one of Northern Ireland's best known landmarks built in 1857 before indulging in a woodland walk.   

Glenariff Forest Park, Co. Antrim 
Specular waterfalls, breath-taking glens and wild woodland scattered with bluebells await. 

Bluebells Northern Ireland

Clare Glen, Tandragee, Co. Armagh
A delightful walk along the banks of the River Cusher in County Armagh. Hazel is abundant, with oak, ash and wych elm over a stunning ground layer of wood anemone, wild garlic and bluebells as well as several different species of orchid.

Castle Coole, Co. Fermanagh
An 18th century mansion surrounded by ancient wood where you will be captivated by a carpet of native bluebells. 

Castlewellan Forest Park, Co. Down
One of Northern Ireland's most famous lakes, a stunning Victorian Castle, incredible panoramic views, scenic walking trails the forest park comes alive in Spring. 

Bluebells Northern Ireland

Murlough National Nature Reserve, Co. Down
Home to one of the most stunning beaches in County Down with paths running through the dunes and heathland you’ll witness carpets of wildflowers in spring.

Mount Stewart Newtownards, Co. Down
The mild climate around Mount Stewart with its recently restored neo-classical house allows a wide range of plants to grow, from the Mediterranean specimens to the bluebells which are the stars of the show in Spring.

If you spot Bluebells on your next walk make sure to send us your pictures using #WalkNI on Instagram, Facebook & Twitter.

Latest comment posted by Rosie Smyth on May 1, 2019 @ 6:01 PM

Portglenone forest is bluebell stunning 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.

A Day at the Giant’s Causeway Coast Sportive

Posted on April 25, 2019 @ 9:58 AM in Cycling

Is this your first time signing up for the Giant’s Causeway Coast Sportive? Are you wondering what a typical day at Ireland’s most scenic sportive looks like? Read on as we take you through what to expect on the day when cycling the 115-mile route.

 

6:20am: Bleary-eyed, we reach for the alarm just as it goes off and hit snooze. 5 more minutes.

6:25am: Must get up, must get up. This will likely be your second most challenging task today – but you can do it! Summoning enough willpower to get out of bed, we stagger to the shower, quickly get changed into our best cycling kit before fuelling up with a big breakfast for the day ahead.

 

7am: We set off for Event HQ at Páirc Mac Uílín GAA Pitch from our accommodation for the weekend, An Caisleán (there are a number of accommodation providers which you can find here). It only takes 5 minutes from the centre of Ballycastle to reach Event HQ. By this time, there’s already marshals on hand at Event HQ to help us find a good parking space. The familiar buzz of preparing for a big event finally overtakes the desire to go back to bed. Let’s do this!

 

7:05am: In the clubhouse, there are big sheets with the 1000+ participant names laid out alphabetically, so it’s easy to find your name. We quickly sign on and scope out the new jerseys for this year’s sportive.

7:10am: At Event HQ, there’s also a big board showing all 4 routes: 30 | 60 | 85 | 115 miles, and where the famous 4 feed stations are. There’s time for a chat now with the other participants:

‘Which route are you trying?’

‘Are you doing Torr Head?’

‘What was the highlight last year?’

The atmosphere is growing and the craic is one of the best parts of the day.

 

7:35am: We have time to squeeze in a last-minute pre-ride banana and double check the bike is in perfect condition with the Decathlon mechanical support team.

 

7:45am: Marshalls call our wave together – it’s finally time to head out on the 115-mile route of Ireland’s most scenic sportive!

8:30am: Pit-stop for a selfie along the Causeway Coast road – blue as far as the eye can see.

10:00am: We arrive at the first feed station at Ballinlea Road. It’s great to be able to catch a breather and see if these feed stations are worthy of all the praise you’ve heard. They are. Optionable: eat own bodyweight in jellybeans. 3 cups of tea later it’s time to head back out.

 

11am: Flash a sweet dab in Game of Thrones territory at the Dark Hedges for one of the official event photographs. Say ‘Winter is Coming!’.  

 

2.30pm: A final stop at the 4th and final feed station of the day in Cushendun. This is right before Torr Head, and the nervous excitement is palpable – should we tackle Torr Head or opt for the bypass? We can hear our stomachs rumbling at this point so it’s good to stock up on fruit and biscuits before drinking our 76th cup of tea for the day.

 

2.40pm: Torr Head it is! Our legs are definitely feeling the burn, but the views are worth it. Also the marshalls at the junction gave us an amazing 15 second pep talk as we approached. This also means we get to take part in the KOM/QOM segment, a 1.2 mile stretch on Torr Head where the fastest man and woman wins King and Queen of the Mountain. To enter, we simply join the Giant’s Causeway Coast Sportive on Strava and upload our times.  

4.30pm: With a final push, we cross the finish line. We’re back where we started at Event HQ, legs heavy with exhaustion but thrilled we finished the route. There’re loads of spectators around now, adding to the atmosphere. We collect our medal and freebie and opt for a quick rub down from one of the physios. Picture time! Then it’s off for a well-deserved hot meal inside and shower.

 

8.30pm: Time for the After-Party in O’Connor’s in Ballycastle – we’ve never looked forward to a drink so much in our lives! Highlights play on the walls as we over in intricate detail the ups and downs of one of the best days we’ve ever had out in the saddle. Cheers!

 

Dominic Lyttle
Dominic Lyttle  Assistant Marketing Officer

Dominic has recently joined the ORNI team following completion of a MSc in Marketing from Queen’s University Belfast.

In his spare time, Dominic enjoys trekking, travelling to new and exciting places, and playing basketball, alongside drinking far too much coffee!

Have a Go at Watersports for £20 or less

Posted on April 15, 2019 @ 2:14 PM in AdventureCanoeing

If you've always wanted to have a go at something adventurous on the water, we have some good news for you! Clubs all across Northern Ireland will be running 'taster' watersport sessions over the weekend of Saturday 11th and Sunday 12th May as part of Get Wet NI 2019, and all of events are £20 or less, with most of the events either free or under £10. You don't need any experience, all equipment is provided and all of the activities are suitable for all abilities, no matter what your interest is!

Sailing

Push the Boat Out: Try Sailing Taster Day, Carrickfergus Sailing Club, Carrickfergus, Co. Antrim, Sat 11th May, Free 

A great opportunity to get out on the water for free and try your hand at sailing! 

Push the Boat Out: Sailing & Kayaking Taster Sessions for Adults And Children, County Antrim Yacht Club, Whitehead Promenade | Marine Parade, Whitehead, Sat 11th May, Free

Free taster-sessions give you the chance to experience crewing a sailing dinghy or taking a sit-on kayak out for a paddle. 


Rowing

Community Currach Rowing on the River Lagan, Lagan Currachs, River Lagan, Stranmillis Mooring Dock, Governors Bridge, Belfast, Sat 11th & Sun 12th May, £5

Join the Lagan Currachs on their community built traditional currach and experience being part of a mixed age and abilities crew as they row the River Lagan.

Have a Go Row Dundrum, Dundrum Coastal Rowing Club, Dundrum Inner Bay, launch site opposite Dundrum Inn, Sat 11th & Sun 12th May, £3

A great way to have fun and keep fit. Get instruction on rowing from the current Skiffie World Champions and find out about the fun events and challenges you could be taking part in.

Give Rowing a Go, Portavogie Coastal Rowing Club, Portavogie, Sat 11th May, £3

Have a splash on the water and try your hand at rowing on their St. Ayles Skiff boat on the sea. 

Water-Skiing + Wakeboarding

Learn to Waterski/Wakeboard With the Experts, Meteor Water Ski Club, Lough Henney, Bresagh Road, Sun 12th May, £15 for under-18’s & £20 for 18+

Come and try water skiing or wakeboarding in a safe and controlled environment!

To check out more events taking place, and to keep updated throughout the summer check out GetWetNI.com and follow us on Facebook.

This campaign has been funded by Sport Northern Ireland, with support from the National Governing Bodies of watersports in Northern Ireland.


 

Latest comment posted by Hazel Keys on April 21, 2019 @ 3:10 PM

Are there any activities in the west or northwest? We live in Strabane. Read more >

Dominic Lyttle
Dominic Lyttle  Assistant Marketing Officer

Dominic has recently joined the ORNI team following completion of a MSc in Marketing from Queen’s University Belfast.

In his spare time, Dominic enjoys trekking, travelling to new and exciting places, and playing basketball, alongside drinking far too much coffee!

5 Reasons You'll Love Wild Adventure Weekend!

Posted on April 3, 2019 @ 3:45 PM in Local Outdoors

Mid Ulster's Wild Adventure Weekend will take place on Saturday 13th and Sunday 14th April, all across Mid Ulster. If you haven't heard about it yet, we've listed some of the reasons to get excited for it below!

 

1.       Most of the events are free or at a reduced cost

We all love a good deal. In fact the only thing we love more than a good deal is a freebie! And Wild Adventure Weekend has plenty of both. Some of the free events include bike hire at Davagh Forest MTB Trails, the Angling Taster Experience, Canoe Taster Sessions at Ballyronan Marina, Golf Taster Sessions at Tobermore Golf Centre and any of the countless walking trails available.

Mid Ulster is home to some of the most stunning walking trails in Northern Ireland

There are also deals on events such as Zip Trekking at Todd’s Leap (50% off), Airsoft at Torrent Warfare (reduced to £15pp), MTB Hire at Blessingbourne Estate and a range of activities at The Jungle NI.

 

2.       Events for everyone!

It can be difficult to run an event that fits everyone’s taste. Some events are suitable mostly for the children (such as the Kids Tree Top Adventure at the Jungle NI); others are ideal for people looking for a relaxing and social experience – and others still for people looking to get their next adrenaline kick.

This is one event not suitable for people looking for a relaxing activity

Wild Adventure Weekend however accommodates everyone. Hill walkers can find something to love, whether they’re a complete beginner or a seasoned pro. Adrenaline junkies meanwhile have plenty to keep themselves entertained, whether that’s at Portglenone Paddler’s Introduction to Canoeing and Kayaking, or a Tree Top Adventure with the kids at The Jungle NI.

 

3.       Events are taking place all across Mid Ulster

With so many activities taking place over Wild Adventure Weekend (nearly 40!) the great thing is that nobody will have to travel too far to enjoy an event. One of the benefits of being at the centre of Northern Ireland!

Blessingbourne Estate has beautiful grounds for exploring

Those living in Fermanagh will have events at Blessingbourne Estate at their doorstep, while people travelling from Omagh have the likes of Todd’s Leap and Davagh Forest close by. Coming from the North Coast, your first port of call could be the popular Eagle’s Rock Trail at Moydamlaght Forest or possibly 9 holes and an introductory golf lesson with a PGA pro at Tobermore Golf Centre.

 

4.       Meet new people and make friends

Many of the weekend’s activities are social, whether for yourself or the kids. Events such as the Breagh Tours Low Level Walk will see people from all over coming together to explore the stunning Goles Valley in the Sperrins, with expert tour guide Brendan Adams. For those who fancy something a bit more uptempo, nothing bands together a group of people as quickly as modern urban warfare in the form of Airsoft, which you can try out at Torrent Airsoft’s day of fun.

Airsoft has become an increasingly popular alternative to paintballing

 

5.       Supporting local clubs and businesses

We can often be tempted to look abroad for an adventure; but allow yourself to be surprised by Northern Ireland and explore what your local community has to offer. Local groups such as the Portglenone Paddlers (and plenty of others) run events entirely organised by volunteers, while larger businesses help to attract tourism and bring increased spending to Northern Ireland.

Staff can also provide some reassurance when needed!

 

You can find all the information for Mid Ulster's Wild Adventure Weekend here. Don't forget to book early onto any events that require it, as well as use the #WildAdventureWeekend and #HowFarWillYouGo!

Latest comment posted by Cope Techs on April 15, 2019 @ 2:03 PM

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Ethan Loughrey
Ethan Loughrey  Mountain Bike Officer

Hardest thing about Mountain Biking? Definitely the trees.

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