August Bank Holiday Adventures 2015

Posted on August 20, 2015 @ 11:27 AM in Adventure

With August coming to an end many of us are wondering ‘where did the summer go?’  But don’t worry it’s not over yet! With the August Bank Holiday Weekend just around the corner make sure you make the most of the last weekend of summer and an extra day off work with friends or family on an outdoor adventure.


Bank Holiday Family Fun

Family Climbing & Archery, Mon 31st Aug, Mobile Team Adventure, Belfast, Co. Antrim
Just minutes from Belfast City Centre join Mobile Team Adventure at Ardnavalley for a bit of competitive family fun.  Race to the top of the mobile climbing wall and see who can hit the bulls-eye as you take aim at archery on this family afternoon out with a difference (suitable for ages 4 and up). 

Bank Hol' Blowout, Mon 31st Aug, Carrowmena Activity Centre, Limavady, Co. Derry~Londonderry
Set at the foot of Binevenagh along the Causeway Coastal route, Carrowmena Activity Centre is having a ‘Bank Hol' Blow Out’ for all the family with 3 for 2 entry. Have a go canoeing, reach new heights on the climbing wall, defy gravity on their zipline or get to grips with a bow and arrow (minimum age 6).  You can also extend the family fun with a night in their glamping pods.

Family Mountain Bike Hire, Outdoor Concepts, Davagh Forest Park, Cookstown, Co. Tyrone
With its blue, green, red grade mountain bike trails, skills park and jumps track the kids wont be complaining of getting bored during this day out. With bike hire available from the trailhead from Outdoor Concepts avoid the hassle of putting your bikes onto the car and pack a picnic instead to refuel after a day on the trails. 

Family Fun Days, Sun 30th & Mon 31st Aug, The Jungle NI, Moneymore, Co. Derry~Londonderry
Get yourself some tokens and enjoy an action packed family day out in The Jungle with activities including zorbing, archery, segways, treasure hunts and more the whole family are sure to stay entertained. 

Adventures With Your Mates

Stand Up Paddle Boarding, Sun 30th Aug, Long Line Water Trails, Limavady, Co. Derry~Londonderry
For those wanting to try something unique, chilled out and fun then sign up to a Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP) session (an ancient form of surfing with a paddle) with Long Line Water Trails. Paddle down the idyllic River Roe alongside a knowledgeable instructor providing you with tips and sharing local heritage as you travel along remote parts of the river under the shadow of the beautiful Binevenagh Mountain.

Coasteering, Clearsky Adventure Centre, Strangford Lough, Co. Down
Continue the fun on the water with a high energy coasteering session with Clearsky Adventure Centre which will see you traversing the stunning Ballyhornan coastline scrambling over sea cliffs, crawling and even jumping off rocks into the sea lead by your instructor.

Shoot Out, Todds Leap Activity Centre, Ballygawley, Co. Tyrone
An action packed day out you won't want to miss! Kick off your day at Todds Leap learning to Clay Pigeon shooting under the watchful eye of your qualified instructor, followed by 2 hours of back to back combat paintballing an activity certainly not for the faint hearted! Before finishing your day hitting bullseye during an archery session. 

Mountain Bike & Kayak Hire, Life Adventure Centre, Castlewellan, Co. Down
Avoid the hassle of attaching bikes to your car and get ready to hit the Castlewellan blue, green and red mountain bike trails. Spend the afternoon out on the lake in your very own kayak practicing your paddling skills and. Kitted out with everything you need by Life Adventure Centre at the trailhead for a day of adventure with your friends!

Whatever your Adventure have a great August Bank Holiday Weekend!

For more information on the above events as well as a whole range of exciting outdoor activities and events happening throughout the year visit www.OutdoorNI.com 

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.

Short Break Ideas for Couples in Northern Ireland

Posted on July 23, 2015 @ 10:37 AM in Adventure

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.


Forest Hideaway

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 Lakeland Escape

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.

Explore the North Coast

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. 

Glamp it Up

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!

Majestic Mountain Break

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.

Just a 7 minute drive to Newcastle indulge in a spot of luxury at the Slieve Donard Resort and Spa or for something a bit out of the ordinary relax and unwind at the soak seaweed baths

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.

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.

Flying High Todds Leap Adventures (Part 1)

Posted on July 20, 2015 @ 4:39 PM in Adventure

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.

Clay Pigeon Shooting Northern Ireland

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.

Giant Swing Northern Ireland

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.

Drop Zone

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!). 

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.

Action Packed Summer Schemes 2015

Posted on June 11, 2015 @ 12:03 PM in Adventure

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.

Summer Schemes on the Causeway Coast

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.

Dates:
(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

Summer Schemes in the Mournes

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. 

Dates:
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

Summer Schemes in Derry~Londonderry

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.

Dates:
Monday 13th- Friday 17th July
Monday 10th- Friday 14th August

Summer Schemes in Strangford

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.

Dates: 
Monday 27th- Friday 31st July
Monday 3rd- Friday 7th August 

Summer Schemes in Belfast

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.

Dates:
(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!

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.

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

admin@outdoorconcepts.co.uk

www.outdoorconcepts.co.uk

Cost:

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!

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