Rain, Hail or Shine- Activities to do whatever the weather

Posted on April 27, 2016 @ 2:59 PM in Adventure

Northern Ireland is well known for its mix of weather conditions in a day let alone each season. But don't let a bit of bad weather put you off your next adventure! Here are some fantastic activity ideas that you can do rain, hail or shine.

Surfing on the North Coast

Surfing Northern Ireland

Summer heat waves may be few and far between but that's still not an excuse to avoid the beach - some of the best surf comes when the sun isn't shining. Grab a surf board and wetsuit and run towards the water - the best waves to surf can be found on the North Coast of Co. Antrim and Co. Derry~Londonderry.  Book a session or rent a board from experienced instructors at Long Line Surf School or Troggs Surf School who will teach you the best tips and tricks to see you riding your first wave into the shore!

Off Road Driving on Tyrone's Toughest Terrain

Off Road Driving Northern Ireland

With rain comes mud and so you might as well make the most of it! Grab some friends and share the driver's seat at Todds Leap Activity Centre as you head off road to conquer the muddy climbs and downhill descents of Northern Ireland's most exhilarating terrain in a Land Rover. The muddier the better!

Coasteering & Wet Bouldering

Coasteering Northern Ireland

When it rains you're going to get wet anyway so why not embrace it and submerge yourself in water?! Pull on a wetsuit and make a splash along some of Northern Ireland's most spectacular coastline! With no experience necessary and all the best kit to keep you warm follow your instructor as you climb, scramble and jump off rocks into the sea along the spectacular coast (coasteering) or up rivers (wet bouldering). Check out some of the fantastic experiences to explore the coast with Outdoor Concepts, Life Adventure Centre or Clearsky Adventure Centre.

Paintballing & Combat

Paintballing Northern Ireland

If you're a real warrior the weather won't stop you from going to battle! Whether you are planning the ultimate Stag weekend or just a day out with friends a paintball session will be sure to separate your friends from your enemies. With a number of specifically designed paintballing and combat providers across Northern Ireland all with creatively themed paint balling game zones to choose from, this is one activity guaranteed to get your adrenaline pumping.  

Mountain Biking

Mountain Biking Northern Ireland

Bad weather is no excuse to leave your bike in the shed. With 3 purpose-built national trail centres and 3 regional trail centres to choose from across the country, fun and challenging riding is on offer whatever the weather to riders of all abilities. Each season brings with it different riding conditions making for a new, exciting and memorable experience with each visit.  With bike wash facilities and mountain bike hire available there's no need to worry about a bit of muck getting into your car!

If you're out enjoying our wild and wonderful outdoors make sure to send us your pictures @OutdoorNI on Twitter or via the OutdoorNI Facebook Page

Jayne Woodrow
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.

6 Ways to Get into the Outdoors this Spring

Posted on April 20, 2016 @ 10:42 AM in Adventure

You’ve been indoors most of the winter and now the warmer weather and sunshine is calling you outside. But what should you do once you get out there? With that in mind we wanted to share a few tips of how to make the most of the outdoors this spring. With no experience necessary and all levels catered for, there really is nothing stopping you.

Try Something New

Mountain Biking Northern Ireland

Try a new activity for the first time. Whether you are looking to have a go on the mountain bike trails, take aim during an archery session or paddle down river in a kayak/canoe there are lots of activities for you to try for the first time across Northern Ireland this spring. Click here to find out what's on.

Go With the ‘Flow’

Try out watersports in your local area for free with 'Flow- Get into watersports campaign'

Over the weekend of Sat 14th & Sunday 15th May 2016 there will be over 20 watersport clubs based all over Northern Ireland offering local people an opportunity to ‘Have a Go’ in a range of watersports for as little as £10 or less! To see what’s happening in your local area visit FlowNI.com

Sign up to a beginner’s course

Learn Something New Northern Ireland

Spring into action and make 2016 the year you learn a new skill from the experts! With a whole host of courses designed specifically for beginners and led by qualified and experienced instructors you're sure to pick up lots of new skills & techniques for your next adventure. Designed to suit your busy lifestyle courses vary from 1 day to multi day and evening sessions, so there really is no excuse. See here for a list of courses.

Keep it local

Zip Lining Northern Ireland

You don’t have to spend hours travelling across the country in search of your next adventure. Whether you are looking for a day out just a stone's throw from the city centre or high up in the mountains we have the perfect list of activities for you. Check out our Top Tips in North Coast, Derry~Londonderry, Sperrins, Belfast, Fermanagh, Mournes, Strangford to find out what's on your doorstep this spring.

Take on a challenge

Charity Challenges Northern Ireland

Whether it's a personal challenge or doing something different for charity, there are lots of challenge events to choose from across Northern Ireland this year. From the lofty heights of an abseil from Northern Ireland's tallest building to a muddy marvellous run our calendar is sure to keep you up to date with the next challenge on the horizon! Visit the Take on the Challenge for some inspiration and motivation

Buddy Up

Skydiving Northern Ireland

Memories can be made, fears can be fought and the laughs will be louder with a friend by your side. For those seeing an adrenaline rush, our list of experiences won't be forgotten about in a hurry! From skydiving and off road driving to zip lining and paintballing the hardest part of planning this adventure will be deciding what activity to try first. To plan an epic day out with friends Click here to discover what experiences await!

Tell us about your adventures on facebook & Twitter.

Jayne Woodrow
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.

Must Try Watersports for £10 or Less!

Posted on April 14, 2016 @ 12:54 PM in AdventureCanoeingBeachesLocal Outdoors

Over the weekend of Saturday 14th and Sunday 15th May there will be over 20 watersport clubs based all over Northern Ireland offering local people an opportunity to ‘Have a Go’ in a range of watersports for as little as £10 or less!

With no previous experience necessary and taster events in canoeing, sailing, water skiing, wake boarding, rowing, angling, stand up paddle boarding and diving there has never been a better time to get on the water and get wet!


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

'Push the Boat Out' Sailing Taster - FREE
Cushendall Sailing & Boating Club, Cushendall, 14th May
Sailing has everything, from being a sociable relaxing experience to a high adrenaline, high action sport. Experience the adrenaline buzz of skimming across the water in a small dinghy or be part of a team in a larger keelboat. Come and ‘have a go’ at Cushendall Sailing & Boating Club for free!

Learn to Paddle your own Canoe - £3pp
Broighter Paddlers Canoe Club, Strathfoyle, 14th May
Learn the fundamentals of how to paddle a canoe and then give the rapidly growing team sport of canoe polo a go in this fun introductory session. A women’s only session is also available from 3pm - 4.30pm, subject to demand.

Discover Kitesurfing on the Beach - £10pp
Irish Kite Surfing Association, Tyrella Beach, 14th & 15th May
Let’s go fly a kite on an introductory session led by qualified kite surfing instructors on dry land. This event will take place on Tyrella Beach and is designed to elevate you into kite surfing! On the day you will be taken through a range of skills and techniques to get you launching your own kite.

Introduction to Fly Fishing for Women – FREE
Irish Ladies Fly Fishing Association, Ballyclare, 14th May
Angling is a male dominated sport but this all-day taster event will give women the chance to find out what it's all about. Taking place at Straid Fishery which is a 20 acre lake, participants will benefit from the presence of some of the 2016 International Ladies Fly Fishing Team being on hand to guide participants.

Row the Lagan – £5pp
Lagan Currachs, Belfast, 14th & 15th May
Enjoy a leisurely row on a traditional wooden boat on the River Lagan finished off with a visit to 'T13' in the Titanic Quarter of Belfast where you will get a guided tour of the build of a 33ft 10 man currach rowing boat.

Learn to Waterski/Wakeboard with the Experts - £10pp
Meteor Water Ski Club, The Temple, 14th & 15th May
Have a go and experience this exhilarating water sport with encouraging instruction given at all times to ensure success.

Stand Up Paddling Taster for Beginners - £5pp
Erne Paddlers, Enniskillen, 14th & 15th May
Take in the scenery around Lough Erne as you try your hand at Stand Up Paddleboarding with Erne Paddlers. This is a fast growing paddle sport providing a great fun core work out with the possibility of getting wet!

These taster events are being offered as part of a wider campaign called ‘Flow – Get into Watersports’. This campaign is an ideal way for those with no background in watersports to learn the basics under the watchful eye of qualified instructors through taking part in one of the many taster events. These taster events will be followed closely by a series of training programmes for those looking to continue in their chosen sport.

With too many to mention make sure to visit FlowNI.com for a full list of the events on offer in your local area.

Beverley Pierson
Beverley Pierson  Senior Marketing Officer

Beverley used to be a keen horse rider but since joining a local cycle club last year she has developed a passion for 2 wheels instead of 4 hoofs! Meaning she can often be found on a bike exploring the roads and mountain bike trails across the country!

First Step towards Adventure - Canoe Skills with Tollymore National Outdoor Centre

Posted on February 2, 2016 @ 11:18 AM in Adventure

Every wanted to try a new activity but didn’t know where to start? Tollymore National Outdoor Centre has created a series of ‘First Step’ skills courses perfect for complete beginners.  From canoeing to climbing and mountain biking to hill walking navigation these skill focused courses are all about trying new things and gaining confidence in the great outdoors so when the opportunity came up to attend the First Step open Canoeing Skills course I was raring to go!

Tollymroe canoe course

Our instructor Amy leading the way

The course started with a coffee (as all good courses should!) where we had a chance to chat whilst everyone arrived.  We were then introduced to Emma and Amy our instructors for the session who took us through the plans for the day.  After a few intros to find out everyone’s skill level/experience we headed down to the store room to get kitted out for our day of canoeing. 

I’d been in a kayak a couple of times but never a canoe so my experience was definitely limited (illustrated by my first question on seeing the boat; ‘How do you know which way is the front?!’)  This was by no means an issue however as all the courses are designed that experience is not essential.  Everyone was there for different reasons; some were already members of clubs but wanted to gain the confidence to take their families out on their own, others wanted to improve their skills to paddle with their more competent partners (and hopefully avoid a few domestics on the water!) and the rest, including me, were there to simply get out and have fun in the outdoors.

Tollymore National Outdoor Centre has to have one of the most extensive kit stores around, so there was no need to worry about having to own any expensive gear.  The store had everything from wetsuits, helmets, buoyancy aids and cagoules to dry bags and neoprene boots (which was great if someone, say hypothetically, forgot to even bring a rain coat!).  A few people brought their own kit to try out which was also an option and a good way of putting new gear to the test in supervised conditions. 


Getting kitted out in the store 

After a quick change we headed to the storage units to get our canoes and loaded up the trailer.  The crafts were surprisingly light and with good team work and some expert knot tying skills it wasn’t long before we were ready to go.  A 20 minute drive to our starting point at Annacloy (during which I may or may not have prematurely tucked into my lunch supplied by the centre– the temptation of the homemade flapjack was too much!) we were dropped off with the gear before the bus was shuttled to our end point in Downpatrick.

Getting ready to launch the canoes; team work makes the dream work! 

We partnered up, two to a canoe and before we knew it were on the water ready to go - they say the best way to learn is by doing and that was definitely the case with this course.  Emma was on hand in her own canoe to expertly paddle between everyone keeping an eye and instructing. The river was pretty fast flowing at the start but everyone managed excellently.   Learning how to confidently stop in Eddys (my first canoeing term for the day which refers to calmer spots on the side of the river) was first on the agenda. This allowed us to wait on each other and keep everyone in sight as we paddled the meandering river downstream.  It wasn’t long before everyone was comfortable with each other communicating between the back and front of the boat.  Although the Spring time lambs were bouncing about in the fields beside us it was a cloudy, chilly day however our wetsuits and layers which we had been advised to bring kept us warm - the arm workout was also a good insulator! 

Some curious lambs on the riverbank

Once everyone’s confidence was up we were shown one of the most important canoe skills, the J stroke, which helps correct the direction of the canoe whilst paddling forward.  As we attempted to get to grips with it, Emma paddled between us checking our technique and making sure we were on the right track.  It wasn’t long before we were stopping off on dry land to stretch our legs. Realising it was already lunch time the sandwiches were opened and devoured – a picnic never tasted so good!  After getting a few more tips on our strokes on dry land it was time to hit the water and swap places in the canoe so everyone got the chance to experience steering at the back.  After lunch a group of swans led the way as we continued along the river, blue skies finally breaking through the cloud.  The journey was very peaceful as we paddled beside countryside with even a rogue seal popping up to say hello.  The chat was flowing as we took in the stunning views across to Down Cathedral before pulling up ashore to stretch our legs in the idyllic setting of Inch Abbey ruins.  After some exploring we got back in the canoes and headed towards the tunnels below Downpatrick Rd Bridge (a much talked about subject during the day) it was clear everyone had gained a lot of confidence throughout the session as we paddled on through the interesting canoe sized holes without worry.

Exploring Inch Abbey; approaching the tunnels under Downpatrick Road Bridge

On the other side it was a short paddle to the mini bus waiting for us at Jane’s Shore in Downpatrick where we loaded up and headed back to the centre for a change and a coffee.  I had a fantastic day out with a great bunch of people and felt our instructor created a very positive and chilled out learning environment with an emphasis on encouragement rather than competitiveness.  If you are looking to improve your skills, learn something new or want to do something completely different whilst having a laugh then this is the course for you!

Activity Provider:

Tollymore National Outdoor Centre
+44(0)28 4372 2158


First Step Open Canoeing Skills Course

Cost per person, per day:  £67

(Includes all technical equipment, in-course transport and a packed lunch)

For future course dates check out the Tollymore National Outdoor Centre Events Calendar 

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!

OutdoorNI Award Winners 2015

Posted on January 7, 2016 @ 4:31 PM in Adventure

Votes have been counted and verified and we are pleased to announce that the wait is finally over as we reveal the winners of the 2015 OutdoorNI Awards in association with Surf Mountain. With over 1,100 votes cast by the public, the awards saw nominees battling it out throughout December to win the coveted titles. So without further ado we give you the 2015 OutdoorNI.com Award Winners. 

Best Family Activity Provider- Life Adventure Centre
Castlewellan, Co. Down

Life Adventure Centre

A highly coveted title in the OutdoorNI Awards, this year's Award was scooped up for a second consecutive year by Life Adventure Centre located in the beautiful Castlewellan Forest Park. Offering lots of great land and water based activities suitable for all ages and abilities including, as of 2015 their new Kridler Electric Mountain Bikes and Wee Hoo Kids Trailers, ideal for exploring the Castlewellan Mountain Bike Trails. 

Best Thrillseeking Provider- The JungleNI
Moneymore, Co. Derry~Londonderry

The Jungle NI

The JungleNI  offer an extensive and exciting range of unique activities ideal for any occasion and sure to get your heart racing. Not only was The Jungle Northern Ireland's first and largest paintballing site, they were the first company to bring the exhilarating downhill tumbles of Zorbing to Ireland and are home to Ireland's first high wire tree top adventure course. Nestled in an enchanting woodland in the very heart of Northern Ireland, just 45 minutes from Belfast the Jungle NI is the perfect location for thrillseekers looking to test their sense of daring and adventure.

Best Charity Challenge Event- Run Mucker Run for Cancer Focus NI
Ballymoney, Co. Antrim

Run Mucker Run

Run Mucker Run raced into first place in this year's Award for 'Best Charity Challenge Event'. Complete with 30 manmade and natural obstacles, climbing eight foot walls, crawling under netting and barbed wire and running up to 10k through mud, were just a few of the requirements for competitors taking part in the Run Mucker Run Challenge on 26th Sept 2015.

The challenge was in aid of raising vital funds for Cancer Focus Northern Ireland. A local cancer charity providing a range of services for Northern Ireland cancer patients and their families as well as funding major research and running cancer prevention schemes across the country. The next Run Mucker Run challenge will be held on Sat 30th April 2016. Click here to find out more & sign up.

Best Coastal Experience- Surfing at Troggs Surf School
Portrush, Co. Antrim

Troggs Surf School

Troggs Surf Surf School are riding high on this latest wave of success. Aiming to provide a fun, informative and safe introduction to the world of surfing, Troggs offers expert tuition to beginners looking to learn the basics, through to experienced surfers. ASI accredited and Quiksilver approved the team of expert instructors offer a wide range of courses throughout the year including kid's summer surf camps, corporate days, Hen & Stag parties, progression sessions and more.

Best Skills Course Provider- Tollymore National Outdoor Centre
Tollymore Forest Park, Bryansford, Co. Down

Tollymore National Outdoor Centre

Tollymore Adventure Centre navigated to success in this years OutdoorNI Awards recieving the accodlade of 'Best Skills Course Provider'. Located in the foothills of the spectacular Mourne Mountains, the centre offers a wide range of skills courses lead by some of Northern Ireland's best expert instructors! With course running throughout the year suitable for beginners through to those with lots of experience Tollymore's tailored course ensure partivipants get the most from their training session.

Best Unique Outdoor Experience- The JungleNI, Fright Night
Moneymore, Co. Derry~Londonderry

Fright Night Northern Ireland

Scooping up a second award this year The Jungle NI's Fright Night has become widely renowned as one of Northern Ireland's most terrifying nights of the year! For those brave enough the Jungle invites visitors to enter the 'Inbred Horror House' responsible for multiple panic attacks over the years and find out what horrible cannibalistic creatures live in the shadowy depths of a cornfield? With 6 terrifying scare zones and more being added each year look out for it in October 2016.

Best Glamping Experience- National Trust Castle Ward Camping Pods
Castle Ward, Strangford, Co. Down

Glamping Northern Ireland

Winning an this for the third year in a row is a great achievement for the National Trust Castle Ward Camping Pod's. Enjoy a mini break with a difference in the historic Castle Ward Estate. Rain, hail, sleet or shine these heated pods fully insulated guantee a cosy campout with the kids or your other half. Fans of the award winning HBO series Game of Thrones can enjoy lots of themed activities including a cycle tour to iconic film locations from the show and acess to the Winterfell Courtyard.

Best Adventure Destination- Causeway Coast & Glens

Causeway Coast and Glens

Congratulations to Causeway Coast & Glens winner of this new award for 2015. Fighting off competition from three other fantastic nominations! It's hard to complain of having nothing to do in this destination with so many adventures waiting for you whether you decided to get into the water or keep your feet on solid ground! Head to the beach for a surf or SUP lesson with Troggs Surf School or Long Line, follow the North Coast sea kayak trailtake a high speed boat tour with Aquaholics Sea Safari or Portrush Sea Tours or walk the Causeway Coast Way, the list is endless. For many cyclists both nationally and internationally an annual event in their calendar is taking on the iconic Giants Causeway Coast Sportive.

OutdoorNI would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who voted in this years Awards in association with Surf Mountain.

Jayne Woodrow
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.

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