Jayne Woodrow Marketing Executive
Jayne joined the marketing team of Outdoor Recreation NI in March 2014. She enjoys getting out and exploring the fantastic adventures on offer across Northern Ireland.
July 23, 2015
July 22, 2015
July 20, 2015
July 16, 2015
June 25, 2015
From the stunning coastline of the North Coast, to the famous Lakelands of Fermanagh, beautiful beaches, sunsets and stargazing there are endless possibilities for adventure in Northern Ireland this summer.
Put your trust in each other and do something crazy together, here are our top 5 active summer short breaks that are sure to inject some excitement into your life and leave you feeling reenergised.
Tucked away in the stunning 820 acre demesne Castle Ward in Strangford, Co. Down is home to four eco friendly continental camping pods.
Just outside your doorstop you will have over 12km of off road cycling and walking trails to explore based on the stunning shores of Strangford Lough. Take advantage of onsite activity provider Clearsky Adventure Centre’s package which includes a night glamping with bike hire and archery or canoe hire so you can explore the trails including some of the filming locations for hit series Game of Thrones. If you really want to recreate the magic then have a go at their Game of Thrones archery experience in the Winterfell courtyard.
The next day why not hop aboard the high speed Strangford Sea Safari? Watch your knuckles go white as the RIB takes you to shipwrecks, whirlpools and sea colonies to view Strangford Lough from a whole new angle.
Fermanagh is famous for its Lakelands so there is no better way to explore it than by boat. Enjoy a trip on the Lower Lough Erne with boat hire from Manor House Marine. Explore some of the finest castles, gardens and heritage sites, do a bit of fishing or alternatively sit back, relax and take in the splendid scenery anchored up in your peaceful surroundings.
Make a weekend of it and head to Blessingbourne, a private estate in the picturesque Clogher Valley in Fivemiletown just a 40 minute drive away. With a range of self catering options from the 3* appartments in the courtyard to the 5* gatelodge a good nights sleep is guarantteed before heading out to explore the mountain bike trails.
Northern Ireland’s most spectacular coastline is bursting with fantastic activities for you to enjoy together. Book a session with Troggs Surf School, Portrush and catch a wave together during a surf lesson. Alternatively if you want something a bit more chilled out then skip the waves and try out a spot of stand up paddle boarding. After an active day at the beach check in for the night at the Shola Coach House B&B. Enjoy the sunset after dining at the Ramore Wine Bar renowned for its fantastic tasting food and lively atmosphere.
The next day pay a different sort of visit to Carrick A Rede Rope Bridge. You may have already crossed the famous landmark but have you ever been underneath it? With Simply Sea Kayak you can explore the North Coast by kayak.
Home to Northern Ireland’s only tree top adventure course, play Tarzan and Jane at The Jungle NI as you swing from the trees. Or why not take a tumble together with some extreme downhill zorbing?! You can also enjoy a spot of clay pigeon shooting or have a blast round the forest on a Segway.
With so much happening onsite it makes sense to stay put and with the Jungles quirky glamping pods you can do just that. Relax in the splendor of the great outdoors and get toasting those marshmallows in your very own outdoor patio equipped with a camp fire and picnic benches before unwinding in their outdoor hot tubs!
When it comes to an outdoor adventure break the Mourne Mountains have it all; fabulous mountain walks, beautiful beaches and enchanting forests. Take a trip to Castlwellan forest park where you can create your own adventure with bike or canoe hire from Life Adventure Centre. Hire a canoe and head out on the lake or get down and dirty on the mountain bike trails.
We all know food is the way to anyone’s heart so the next day why not head out on the Mourne foods cycle trail? A self guided food tour by bike with the Mourne Mountains as your backdrop you’ll get to experience the wonderful artisan food and spectacular scenery of the area.
What's your idea of a really great day out?! At OutdoorNI.com we are always on the look our for action packed activities on offer across Northern Ireland to help you plan "the best day out ever"! Whether you're in search of ideas for a hen, stag or birthday party or looking to make the most of a day off with your mates.
Our journey from Belfast began early on a sunny Friday morning as we jumped into the car to head down the M1 towards Todds Leap Activity Centre in Ballygawley, Co. Tyrone just over an hour’s drive from Belfast City Centre. We arrived to a warm welcome, delicious scones and a cup of tea the ideal fuel ahead of our action packed day of activities. It was here we met with our first instructor who gave us the rundown of what activities we would be having a go at during our day onsite.
First up was clay pigeon shooting an activity I can’t say I’ve had much experience of! The firing range looked out across the valley over a small forest of trees to give a brilliant setting and feeling of a real country shoot! Here our instructor talked us through the safety and how tos of handling the gun. Having made it sound easy enough I was quick to hit my first clay on my practice shot before a bit of competitive fun began. With two points up for grabs for those who hit the clay with their first shot and one point for hitting it with the second I quickly realised my first successful shot was more a case of beginners luck...even with some top tips throughout the session from Todds Leap's resident clay pigeon shooting expert.
At the end of the session we were met by another instructor who directed us uphill past the assault course and log cabin accommodation towards the ‘Giant Swing’ which we had been told was just like our old playground favourite (but bigger! much bigger!). Climbing into our harnesses and dividing into groups of 3 we cautiously made our way over to the instructors to be clipped into the swing. The floor soon moved away from our feet as we were slowly pulled up to what can only be described as a “knee trembling height”.
This activity puts you (or your friend) in control, as it's up to your when to pull the release to swing high out over the cliff edge...so make sure you choose your friends wisely! The freefall moment of the drop takes your breath away but soon the sound of “ahhhhh’s” is replaced with the sound of laughter! The “superhero” which sees you clipped onto the swing by the back of your harness was a favourite amongst us all as we struck our best superman poses for the camera during the freefall.
Buzzing from the adrenaline of the Giant Swing we made our way back down towards the car park to have a go on the 'Drop Zone'. From the moment we parked the car at Todds Leap it was hard to miss the Drop Zone's high tower and ‘Big Air Bag’. The first purpose-built recreational free fall stunt jumping facility in Europe this is definitely not an activity for the weak kneed or faint hearted!
Running through the safety briefing with our instructors and with the promise of an epic photo to share on our Instagrams and Facebook later, we nervously followed our instructor up the stairs to the lower intermediate level platform to practice our ‘jump technique’. Having managed to land successfully three times we were allowed to make our way to the 30ft free fall platform. It takes nerves of steel to walk along the platform and make the jump from the tower but the thrill of flying through the air feeling like a stunt artist in an action movie was the only incentive we needed!!
And that was only until lunch time!
Keep an eye out for part 2 of our Todds Leap Adventure blog series where we share how we got on heading off-road (at speed!).
The summer holidays are edging ever closer and while the kids may be looking forward to eight long weeks off school you may be starting to stress about ways to keep them entertained.
Don’t press the panic button just yet! With so many brilliant summer schemes on offer across Northern Ireland we have handpicked some of the best outdoor programmes with more than enough adventure to avoid boredom setting in. Make it a summer they'll never forget with one of these fantastic summer schemes.
Kids Surf Camp, Long Line Surf School, Benone & Portstewart Strand
Drop the kids off this July to Kids Surf Camp at either Benone or Portstewart Strand where wee ones aged 6-12 will spend 5 days making new friends, working on their surfing skills and playing beach games during these 2 hour sessions with the qualified and fully trained instructors and lifeguards from Long Line Surf School.
(Benone & Portstewart Strand) Monday 29th June- Friday 3rd July
(Portstewart Strand only) Monday 6th- Friday 10th July
Kids SUP Summer Camp, Portrush
Drop your kids off at the beach each day for 5 days of stand up paddleboarding with Troggs Surf School (Northern Ireland's first ASI Accredited SUP instructors). During these 2 hour beginner lessons you child will learn the basic paddling skills and techniques needed to get started in a few easy and fun steps before setting off on an adventure around the harbour.
Dates: Weekly throughout July & August
East Coast Adventure Centre’s summer camps, Rostrevor, Co. Down
Back by popular demand East Coast Adventure Centre’s summer camps are set to run Monday to Friday each week throughout July and August. These camps are the ideal solution for families looking for day, weekend or mid-week boredom busting solutions. With a wide range of activities available this programme caters for all ages from 'Little Indians' 8-10 years of age to 'Youth Camps' for 14-16 year olds.
Day Camp (Various dates throughout July & August): Drop the kids off each morning for an action packed day of activities before picking them up on your way home from work.
Residential Camp (Various dates throughout July & August): Who says the fun has to stop at dinner time stay for the week and toast some marshmallows on the campfire.
Weekend Camp (Friday 3rd- Sunday 5th July): Enjoy a weekend of Action packed activities! Friday 3rd- Sunday 5th July
Wet & Wild Kids Summer Week, Life Adventure Centre, Castlewellan Forest Park
Returning every week throughout July & August Life Adventure Centre's Wet & Wild Kids Summer Week for children aged 8 to 14 years of age, promises action packed adventure. Drop your kids off on your way to work for a week of mountain biking skills on the Castlewellan MTB trails, water sports including canoeing and kayaking on the lake and lots of land activities including group games and archery.
Dates: Weekly throughout July & August
5 Day Summer Camp, Carrowmena Activity Centre, Limavady
Choose between one day or a week full of adventurous activities from high ropes, climbing, zip lining and kayaking to hill walking across Binevenagh to name just a few of the activities on offer for 8-15 years olds. With the option to spend Thursday night camping underneath the stars your kids will head off on a night walk before cooking their dinner on the camp fire, sure to be an unforgettable experience. Special discounts apply for sibling/multiple bookings so book early to avoid disappointment.
Monday 13th- Friday 17th July
Monday 10th- Friday 14th August
Adventure Camp, Clearsky Activity Centre, Castle Ward
Set in the ground of the stunning Castle Ward Estate this is one summer scheme that promises to send the kids back tired and ready for a good night's sleep! Clearsky's adventure camp is suitable for those aged 8-15 years old. Activities range from climbing and pier jumping to canoeing, archery and mountain biking with the week concluding with a family BBQ. Don't panic if you don't have time to drop them off on your way to work, Clearsky will be running a free shuttle bus service from Newcastle, Strangford and Downpatrick each day.
Monday 27th- Friday 31st July
Monday 3rd- Friday 7th August
Mobile Team Adventure Summer Scheme, Shaws Bridge, Belfast
With early drop off from 8.30am and late pick up until 4.30pm this is the ideal soloution to keep your kids entertained while you are in work. They are sure to have a fantastic week learning new skills and making new friends with an action packed programme of activities including mountain biking, rock climbing, kayaking, river tubing and orienteering to name just a few.
Adventure Kidz (5-15 years old)
Mini Kidz (5-8 years old)
Dates: Weekly throughout July & August
BAC Summer Schemes, Belfast Activity Centre, Belfast
For those looking for action packed adventure in the city check out the summer schemes on offer with the team from Belfast Activity Centre (BAC), the perfect setting for your kids to experience the great outdoors just minutes from the city centre. Running weekly Monday to Friday throughout the summer months the multi-activity programme is ideal for those aged 8-12years. During the week they will get the chance to explore the centre's artificial cave, take on the high ropes challenges and complete team games. For those looking to get out on the water and learn to kayak/canoe then join BAC for their Summer Paddling Programme for some splashing good fun!
Dates: Various dates throughout July & August
The team at BAC also run a highly popular Access Ability programme which tailor's activities for those with disabilities.
(14 to 17 year olds) Monday 17th- Friday 21st August
(18 to 25 year olds) Monday 24th- Friday 28th August
For even more ideas of summer schemes and adventures across Northern Ireland check out OutdoorNI.com. Have a fantastic summer!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
+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)
Along with hundreds of other families we visited Tollymore and Castlewellan Forest Parks on Easter Sunday as part of a stay in nearby Newcastle, Co. Down. The play structures in both forest parks certainly added an extra dimension for our little outdoor enthusiasts, Joshua (7) and Adam (5). Not your typical play parks, made by natural materials they fit in well with the surroundings.
‘Big Deer’ a Big Hit at Tollymore Forest Park
We visited ‘Big Deer’ in Tollymore and the boys were amazed at the size of the structure. After walking through the archway into the park area you see a huge, wooden deer in front of a wooden fairy-tale castle with towers and bridges. My boys, being the seasoned-tree climbers they are, made straight for the highest points finding different ways to climb up each time. There are bridges, poles, ropes, stairs and climbing walls inside the towers, a slide and swing along with balancing logs - plenty to keep the kiddies occupied during a picnic at the deer-shaped picnic tables or, as we did, after a walk up the river to the Stepping Stones . There are beautiful carvings of animals and plants to decorate the wooden structure and stimulate young imaginations. The play structure is set in a large, enclosed area making it safe and also providing plenty of space to run around. Adam loved the fact that it was all made from wood and thought the big deer was ‘awesome’. Joshua really liked the woodcarvings and the secret door which took him up the tower.
Wonderment at ‘Animal Wood’ in Castlewellan
After a fun 30 minutes finding our way through the Maze at Castlewellan we found the play area, ‘Animal Wood’ tucked into the woodland above the Maze. From this area there are stunning views towards the Mourne Mountains and also towards the sea at Newcastle. These structures were based on animal homes and habitats and again the boys had a great time climbing over, under and through various tunnels, bridges, ladders, nets and even a large squirrel drey which was set several feet off the ground. The boys were inquisitive about the names of the animal homes whilst playing on them so this was a great talking point. There was also a fox den with tunnels to crawl through, a spider and web to climb on, and a badger with a set to climb through. There is also a fort structure with stairs and a rope-bridge. Both boys had a super time and even had enough energy left to ride the green mountain bike trail around Castlewellan Lake and race each other on the pump track.
Both play structures are well worth a visit and add to the activities already available at both locations. With phrases like ‘epic’, ‘so fun’ and ‘so cool’ being uttered there is no doubt the boys will want to return again soon.