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!

Kids Go Wild for Nature Play

Posted on April 30, 2015 @ 3:43 PM in AdventureLocal Outdoors

Adventurous and fun loving mum Gail headed to the brand new Nature Play areas in Tollymore and Castlewellan Forest Park for a fun family day out with the kids.  Here’s how they got on…

Nature Play

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.

Tollymore Nature Play

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.

Castlewellan Play Park

Castlewellan Play Area

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.  

For anyone planning to visit, ‘Animal Wood’ in Castlewellan Forest Park is located beside the Peace Maze and the ‘Big Deer’ can be found beside the lower car park in Tollymore Forest Park. 

Gail Martin
Gail Martin  Primary School Teacher / Mum

Gail is a Primary School teacher and Mum to two active, young boys. She enjoys any activity involving the great outdoors, especially those where the boys can get involved. Gail is a keen runner and cyclist, both road and MTB and likes to push herself to take on new challenges.

May Bank Holiday Adventures

Posted on April 22, 2015 @ 11:46 AM in Adventure

It's not often we get a three day Bank Holiday weekend so make sure you don't waste it staying inside! With events and experiences ideal for both family and friends seeking adventure there is lots on offer across Northern Ireland during the May Bank holiday weekend.

May Bank Holiday

Bank Holiday Family Days Out

Surfs Up, Sat 2nd- Mon 4th May, Long Line Surf School, Benone, Co. Derry~Londonderry
Jump in a wetsuit, pick up a board and head down to the beach for a surf lesson under the mighty Binevenagh Mountain. For those looking to keep the kids entertained while you chill out, sign them up to this years May Bank Holiday Kids Camp where they will be taught to surf in a safe and fun environment. 

May Bank Holiday Family Fun, Sun 3rd May to Tue 5th May, The JungleNI, Moneymore, Co. Derry~Londonderry
Offering a colourful carnival of exciting activities including archery, body zorbs, and boat rides to name just a few there is a little something for everyone. Pack in more activities and stay onsite in a family Glamping Pod

Bank Hol' Blowout, Mon 4th May, Carrowmena Activity Centre, Limavady, Co. Derry-Londonderry
3 for 2 entry on activities including, climbing, zip lining, archery, kayaking and more. Glamping available onsite for those looking to extend the fun.

Family Watersports, Sun 3rd May, East Coast Adventure Centre, Warrenpoint, Co. Down
Take to the helm and learn to sail on Carlingford Lough taking in awesome views of the Mournes or have a splash canoeing and pier jumping.

May Bank Holiday

Bank Holiday Adventures with Friends

Sea Kayak along the Causeway Coast, Sat 2nd May, Simply Sea Kayak, Portrush, North Coast
Take in sights and scenery only accessibly by kayak along the stunning Causeway Coast as you learn the basics of sea kayaking.

Game of Thrones Archery, Sun 3rd May, Clearsky Adventure Centre, Castle Ward, Co. Down
Dressed as a Member of the Knights Watch and take aim in the very spot where young Bran was taught archery by Jon Snow in Game of Thrones. Extend the adventure with Game of Thrones Glamping in one of the luxury heated Glamping Pods.

Rathlin Island Sea Tour, Sun 3rd May, Portrush Sea Tours, Portrush, North Coast
Explore the spectacular Causeway Coast, visiting locations including the Giant's Causeway and Carrick-a-rede Rope Bridge before crossing to Rathlin Island.

Faughan Valley & Lough Foyle paddle, Sat 2nd- Wed 6th May, Far and Wild, Derry~Londonderry
Explore the less visited areas of the beautiful Lough Foyle and the mouth of the Faughan River in a stable double sea kayak. 

Looking for the ultimate weekend away?

It’s time to get Glamping! Whether you want to roadtrip towards an action packed weekend with your mates or enjoy a family short break in the outdoors with some added comfort Northern Ireland is the place to be. Check out our selection of top glamping sites in Northern Ireland all next to action packed activities so you can have a hassle free adventure in the great outdoors. 

Jayne Woodrow
Jayne Woodrow  Marketing Executive

Jayne joined the marketing team of Outdoor Recreation NI in March 2014. She is interested to see if marketing outdoor activities on a daily basis and being surrounded by sporty colleagues rubs off, and stirs up a love for the outdoors (once she conquers her fear of heights of course!).

Eggcellent Easter Adventures 2015

Posted on March 30, 2015 @ 4:59 PM in Adventure

There is no need to struggle with ideas to keep the kids and teens amused over the Easter break. Check out our list of outdoor activities on offer this year to ensure you have an eggcellent Easter. Whether you plan on joining in on the fun for a family day out or are looking to leave the kids to it at one of the many adventure camps taking place there is lots happening in the outdoors over the holidays. Easter 2015

Easter Activities for Families 

Easter 2015

Easter Sea Safari, Sun 5th & Mon 6th Apr, Clearsky Adventure Centre, Strangford, Co. Down
Hold on tight as you whizz across Strangford Lough in a high speed boat. Take in the spectacular views of this area from the water as you travel out to the Sea Gen and spot seals and whirlpools.

Easter Trail & Cruise, Sun 5th & Mon 6th Apr, Share Discovery Village, Lisnaskea, Co. Fermanagh
Find the Easter treats and surprises hidden along the trail by the Easter Bunny before hopping on board a boat to cruise around the lough. 

Easter Family Madness '3 for 2', 3rd, 6th, 7th & 10th Apr, Carrowmena Activity Centre, Limavady, Co. Derry~Londonderry
Enjoy 3 for 2 entry to an action packed family day out climbing, kayaking, archery, zip lining and more.  

Easter Family Fun Day, Mon 6th & Tue 7th Apr, The JungleNI, Moneymore, Co. Derry~Londonderry
With a whole range of activities including body zorbs, archery, climbing, paintball target shooting, segways and more, nobody will be complaining of being bored this Easter break at the JungleNI.

Easter Kids Camps

Leave the kids to it with friends their own age for a few action packed days of outdoor adventures.
Kids Easter Camps Northern Ireland

Kids Easter Surf Camp, Fri 3rd- Sun 5th Apr, Troggs Surf School, Portrush, Co. Antrim
Come down to the beach and enjoy a weekend of professional surf instruction to introduce the kids to surfing. Pay per session or book all 3 at a reduced rate. Minimum age 8 years old.

Kids Easter Mountain Bike Camp, Fri 10th- Sat 11th Apr, East Coast Adventure Centre, Rostrevor, Co. Down
The kids will be introduced to the skills needed to hit the trails confidently and safely during this specially designed mountain bike kids camp. Suitable for children aged 7 to 14. 

Easter Activity Club, Wed 8th- Fri 10th Apr, Bryson Lagansports, Belfast, Co. Antrim
Drop your kids off, on the way to work, for three fun filled days of activities in the heart of the city. Suitable for ages 8 and over they are sure to have an exciting few days of activities including canoeing/kayaking, orienteering, archery and having a go walking on water in Water Roller Zorbs. 

BAC Easter Scheme, Wed 8th- Fri 10th Apr, Belfast Activity Centre, Belfast, Co. Antrim
Avoid boredom setting in and drop the kids off for a couple of days of action packed fun at Belfast Activity Centre during the Easter holidays. Activities will included: caving, climbing, mountain biking, bushcraft, team games, nightline, archery, easter egg hunt and more. 

For even more events happening over the Easter break check out OutdoorNI.

Jayne Woodrow
Jayne Woodrow  Marketing Executive

Jayne joined the marketing team of Outdoor Recreation NI in March 2014. She is interested to see if marketing outdoor activities on a daily basis and being surrounded by sporty colleagues rubs off, and stirs up a love for the outdoors (once she conquers her fear of heights of course!).

Are You Ready for an Action Packed Adventure? – 50 % Off Outdoor Activities during Northern Ireland Adventureland Weekend 2015

Posted on March 11, 2015 @ 11:55 AM in Adventure

On 28th and 29th March 2015 Northern Ireland is being transformed into an action packed adventureland.  With outdoor activities for just £10 and a massive 50% Off normal prices there has never been a better time to have an adventure. 

No experience is necessary and you don’t need a big group to book so round up your mates or go it alone this is one weekend of events you don’t want to miss!  With fantastic activities at such great prices the events will sell out fast so make sure to book your place now.

Northern Ireland Adventureland Weekend 2015

Here are just a few of the thrilling adventures you could be experiencing:

Portrush Surfing Experience – 50% Off
Troggs Surf School, Portrush, Co. Antrim, Sun 29th
Make a break for the beach and get set to catch your very first wave as you learn to surf with Northern Ireland’s only Quiksilver approved surf school. Experiences instructors will teach you how to paddle, pop up and surf safely with confidence during this 2 hour session. 

Segway Skills & Speed Course – 50% Off 
SegwayNI, Co. Armagh, Sat 28th & Sun 29th March
Test yourself around a Segway skills course followed by an off road challenge!  You’ll spend the session getting to grips with the unique and thrilling two wheeled machines, honing your skills before heading off on a guided off road adventure.  compete against others, or bring your friends along to see who will be crowned champion.

Sea Safari Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge & Rathlin Island – 50% Off
Aquaholics, Ballycastle, Co. Antrim, Sat 28th & Sun 29th March
Feel the wind in your hair as you leave Ballycastle Harbour behind and take in the beautiful cliffs of the North Coast.  See Kinbane Castle as you head up to Carrick-a-rede Rope Bridge, before crossing over to Rathlin Island where you will have the chance to go ashore and explore this unique island.

Stand Up Paddleboarding on Lough Henney – 50% Off
Cable and Wake, Hillsborough, Co. Down, Sat 28th & Sun 29th March
A fun, exhilarating yet relaxing activity Stand Up Paddle Boarding involves standing or sitting on a long board and propelling yourself across the water using a paddle. You will be shown the basics of balance and using the paddle before taking a tour around the scenic lake. 

Tarzan Tree Top Adventure Course– 50% Off
Jungle NI, Magherafelt, Co. Derry~Londonderry, Sun 29th March
A unique obstacle course set in the canopy of The Jungle NI's forest. Will you be able to tackle the 50 exciting obstacles up to 70 feet above the ground?! Obstacles such as rope bridges, scramble nets, zip-lines, Tarzan swings and the Power Fan Drop will be sure to keep your adrenaline pumping!

Adreanline Playzone – Drop Zone, Zip Line & Hill Rally – 50% Off
Todds Leap, Ballygawley, Co. Tyrone, Sat 28th March
Experience pulsating action on Todds Leap’s most extreme outdoor activities – take a giant leap of faith from their 30ft Drop Zone, zoom down a 500 metre zip line and finish with a white knuckle, high speed hill rally!

First Step Climbing Wall Skills Course – £10pp
Tollymore National Outdoor Centre, Bryansford, Co. Down, Sat 18th March
Perfect for those with little or no previous experience who want to become more independent in using an indoor climbing wall.  You’ll get to learn the basics before finding the best route to the top! A great introduction so you can head back and enjoy indoor climbing on your own with confidence.  

Sailing on the North Coast - £10pp
Causeway Coast Sailing, Ballycastle, Co. Antrim, Sat 28th & Sun 29th March
The fantastic scenery of the North Coast will provide the perfect backdrop as you get involved with hoisting and trimming sails and learn how to pilot the boat from your onboard skipper.  Perfect for beginners or for those who've already had a go at sailing and want to get more time on the water.

Game of Thrones Film Set Archery Experience – 50% Off
Clearsky Adventure Centre, Castle Ward, Co. Down, Sat 18th & Sun 29th March
A must for any Game of Thrones fans, step into Winterfell and recreate the famous scenes by having a go at archery in the very place where the BAFTA award winning TV show was filmed.

Introduction to Sea Kayaking on the North Coast - 50% Off
Simply Sea Kayak, Portrush, Co. Antrim, 28th & 29th March
Introduce yourself to the adventurous world of sea kayaking on the stunning North Coast. Experienced instructors will teach you in the safety of the harbour before guiding you along part of the North Coast Sea Kayak Trail.

Wet Bouldering – 50% Off
Outdoor Concepts, Newcastle, Co. Down, 28th & 29th March
Wet bouldering is all about the water – make your way up a river, jump into pools and climb up waterfalls on this wet and wild experience.

Adventureland NI

With too many events happening to mention make sure visit the Northern Ireland Adventureland Website for a full list of what’s on offer.  What are you waiting for?! Let the adventure begin…

Latest comment posted by Gareth Stirling on April 17, 2015 @ 11:15 AM

Hi Sarah, Good job on your latest blog! I will be using this info for some trips over the summer. I was hoping you can help. I am currently recruiting for a Copywriter. I require someone who ... Read more >

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!

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