Who & How to Try Out Watersports in Northern Ireland!

Posted on July 28, 2016 @ 1:09 PM in AdventureCanoeing

Watersports in NI: For Everyone, With Anyone!

Watersports in Northern Ireland are often one of those ‘hidden gems’ that people often don’t realise how enjoyable they can be - until they’re actually in the water – or how they go about participating in one. Well, FlowNI is a great initiative to get you trying them out! With lots of clubs throughout Northern Ireland welcoming new people along and offering beginners courses, many at a reduced cost and some completely free, it’s the perfect time to see just what watersports there are near you! Below we’ve listed some of the activities on offer and who you can do them with.

1)      Salty Friday’s at Quoile Yacht Club, Every Friday until 16th Sept, Downpatrick – Try it out with: The kids

Everyone jokes about owning a yacht; so why not see what all the fuss is about? This day is intended mostly for kids between the ages of 6 and 16 but adults are more than welcome as well and will be fitted out with their own keelboat.


2)      Family Canoe Trips, Saturday 30th July, 6th, 13th & 20th Aug, Portadown – Try it out with: The whole family

The picture below sums up why heading to try out one of the Family Canoe trips can be the perfect day out. Peaceful but exciting; scenic but energetic. These canoe trips will take you along parts of the countryside not normally accessible, and are something that everyone will enjoy; young and old. To make it that little bit better, it’s incredibly cheap at only £5.00 per person. 

3)      Get Going – Come Rowing, Wednesday 3rd August, 10th, 17th & 24th Aug, Enniskillen – Try it out with: Your friends

Definitely up there with some of the most popular watersports, and it’s easy to understand why. This is the perfect chance to bring a group of friends together and try out rowing on a 10 Man Bronze age curach. Not only is it a remarkably cheap evening of guaranteed entertainment at only £5.00 per person, you’ll become proficient in new skills like handling the ropes and coming into jetties – and all while basking in the natural beauty of Fermanagh coming up to sunset.


4)      Learn to Windsurf, Sunday 7th & 21st August, Craigavon Watersports Centre - Try it out with: Your friends

Windsurfing cannot be recommended enough. This course, which lasts just a few hours, will teach you everything you need to know about windsurfing. From the simple stuff of balancing on the board, to eventually sailing yourself up and around the harbour. Head along with a group of friends and enjoy laughing at each other’s attempts, before embracing the thrill of picking up a good pace and showing off.

5)       Womens Only Fly Fishing Course Sunday 14th August, & 3rd Sept, Ballyclare - Try it out with: The girls

Our final suggestion is for the girls only. This is an all-day event intended to give a group the skills to be able to go out when they want and organise their own day of fishing. Whether it’s for a friend’s birthday, a notion to try something new or with the hope of eventually joining the International Ladies Fly Fishing Team (who will be hosting the day), we know you’ll enjoy this ‘something different’ watersport.


There are lots of other training events listed on the FlowNI website for you to try including events in canoeing, sailing, water skiing, wake boarding, rowing, angling, stand up paddle boarding and diving and with no previous experience necessary there has never been a better time to get wet!

Ethan Loughrey
Ethan Loughrey  Mountain Bike Officer

Hardest thing about Mountain Biking? Definitely the trees.

Watersports Clubs open their doors for Flow

Posted on April 28, 2016 @ 12:21 PM in AdventureCanoeingBeachesLocal Outdoors

Over 20 watersport clubs are opening up their doors and offering local people the opportunity to take part in a range of taster events as part of a new initiative called Flow.

Over the weekend of 14th & 15th May participants will be able to try their hand at canoeing, sailing, water-skiing, wakeboarding, kite surfing, rowing, angling, stand up paddle boarding and diving for as little as £10 or less!

To give you a flavour of what’s happening over the weekend we’ve selected some of our favourite events!

Flow Blog Collage Image

Give Rowing a Try - £2pp
City of Derry Boating Club, Londonderry, 14th & 15th May

Enjoy an introductory rowing session on the River Foyle and be part of a crew learning new skills.

Juniors Try Canoe Polo - £3pp
Belfast Kayak Academy, Belfast, 14th May

Have a go in a kayak on the water and play a game of canoe polo. This will be a fun intro session into a great sport at a state of the art canoe polo facility in Belfast.

Team Selection Trial for Skiffie World Championships - £3pp
Dundrum Coastal Rowing Club, Dundrum, 14th & 15th May

Once in a lifetime opportunity for beginners to compete for a place in the selection squad going to the Skiffie World Championships on home waters on Strangford Lough from 25th – 30th July.

Try Sailing or Kayaking – FREE
County Antrim Yacht Club, Whitehead, 14th May

County Antrim Yacht Club are holding an afternoon of taster sessions from 1.30pm - 5pm for beginners to have a go!

Try Rowing with Lagan Scullers Club - £5pp
Lagan Scullers Club, Belfast, 14th & 15th May

See Belfast from the river and feel the sleek boat glide through the water underneath you as you learn to row.

This is just a taster of what will take place during the weekend of 14th & 15th May. For information on how to book and to see what other events and activities that are taking place visit FlowNI.com

Latest comment posted by Athens Coast on December 30, 2016 @ 12:51 PM

Thanks for sharing this post. It's good news for local people for enjoying watersport clubs. Read more >

Beverley Magowan
Beverley Magowan  Senior Marketing Officer

Beverley used to be a keen horse rider but since joining a local cycle club in 2013 she has developed a passion for 2 wheels instead of 4 hoofs! Meaning she can often be found on a bike exploring the roads across the country!

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.

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Beverley Magowan
Beverley Magowan  Senior Marketing Officer

Beverley used to be a keen horse rider but since joining a local cycle club in 2013 she has developed a passion for 2 wheels instead of 4 hoofs! Meaning she can often be found on a bike exploring the roads across the country!

Enjoying Northern Ireland's Canoe Trails

Posted on November 26, 2015 @ 4:06 PM in Canoeing

Northern Ireland was the first country in Europe to develop official canoe trails. CanoeNI.com has been delighted with the success of these trails as not only have they won awards – most importantly they have attracted people from all over the world.

Each trail has its own section on CanoeNI.com with trail guides, camping details, accommodation, canoe hire etc.

But how do you make Northern Ireland your ultimate canoeing experience?

How you venture out onto the canoe trails obviously depends on your canoeing ability but don’t worry there are plenty of options:

Learn from the best…

Learning to Canoe on Lough Neagh

If you are interested in getting out and enjoying the canoe trails but don’t know one end of a canoe from the other then why not take some lessons.  Northern Ireland has a great range of canoeing providers who can teach you all the necessary skills so you can make the most of future canoeing adventures.  Even if you want to just have a go before embarking on a course then why not check out our calendar of canoeing events  which can give you that perfect introduction.

Follow the leader…

Canoeing on Lower Bann Canoe Trail

If you don’t have the time for lessons or you’re just mad keen to get out there then why not sign up for a guided trip.  This option allows you to combine the local knowledge and safety provided by a qualified guide.  These trips can be booked by individuals joining together as a group or why not get your friends or family together.  Quite often these trips involve a night camping under the stars. Check out our range of guided trips

Just add water…

Camping on Lough Erne Canoe Trail

Maybe you already know how to canoe but don’t want the hassle of organising the trip.  Then contact a canoeing provider who can arrange an itinerary, rent equipment, drop off and collection.  All you have to do is turn up and start your adventure. The majority of providers will ask for a minimum British Canoe Union Three Star Award (or equivalent) for the craft you wish to hire.  Alternatively many will carry out a short pre-hire practical test.

Go it alone…

Kayaking on Strangford Lough

If you’ve got the knowledge and the gear then CanoeNI.com will provide all the information you need to plan your trip.  Each trail also has its own waterproof guide which can be ordered free online.

With so many options available why not explore one of our canoe trails this year. Each canoe trail is unique and will allow you explore a different part of Northern Ireland’s spectacular countryside.

Chris Scott
Chris Scott

Having 'retired' from competitive sailing he is trying to find something new to fill the void. Currently mixing it up with 10ks, trail running and adventures with his two year old son.

Hamish reflects on his Irish circumnavigation

Posted on September 24, 2014 @ 12:50 PM in Canoeing

'If you are good enough you are old enough' is perhaps most associated with Matt Busby when referring to his all conquering Busby Babes, however this famous quote can now also be applied to 19 year old Castlerock native Hamish Wilkinson who recently became the youngest person to circumnavigate Ireland by kayak.

Hamish also became the first to do so in a traditional Greenland kayak with Greenland style paddle.  In a vote of confidence towards traditional techniques, Hamish built his craft with the assistance of his father John, a renowned local boat builder.  Known as a 'Selkie' this kayak is wooden framed with a nylon skin and bar a few brass and bronze fittings there is no metal screws, fastenings or modern glues and adhesives.

Following a few weeks rest and relaxation CanoeNI.com caught up with Hamish to reflect on his amazing achievement:

CanoeNI.com: What was the most exciting element of the trip?

Hamish: The most exciting element of the trip had to be the rough weather. Particularly off the west coast, where the swell was huge. Watching waves break in deep water was definitely a highlight, and a bit of a scare all in one. The most satisfying aspect was the changing landscapes throughout the trip. It was nice to be able to get in the boat somewhere in the morning and then get out in a totally different spot at the end of the day with the mornings campsite off the horizon.

CanoeNI.com: On the flip side what was the most arduous element?

Hamish: The toughest and definitely most frustrating part of the trip was the weather. I had northerlies most of the way up the west coast, something which really started to get under my skin, particularly as I had hoped to benefit from the tailwinds from prevailing southerlies.

The real seal on this being the most difficult part  of the trip came when I turned into Donegal Bay and the wind switched to an easterly! In my face again! Easy to laugh at now but at the time it was pretty demoralizing.

CanoeNI.com: What did you most miss about home?

Hamish: I easily missed my bed most of all! What crossed my mind a lot though, was that I missed the stability of land, you could stop and rest whenever and not move with the wind and tide.

CanoeNI.com: What piece of equipment could you not have done without?

Hamish: The most essential piece of equipment is a tough one. To be honest I don't really have a definite answer. The boat immediately springs to mind but that is somewhat obvious! I guess it would be my stove, a smaller version of the Trangia. Since it was smaller I was able to boil water and cook with a minimum of fuel. Very handy as fuel was not that easy to come by in the more remote sections.

CanoeNI.com: How satisfying was it to paddle a boat you had crafted along with your dad?

Hamish: The boat element was very satisfying. It had a real positive effect on me I think. Firstly because it, in many ways was a bit of home, but more so because the boat was built for me exactly. It was not a shop bought bit of 'one size fits no one' kind of thing-the measurements for the boat were astonishingly detailed, and when I paddled it, the difference was really extraordinary. 

Also it meant if something was going wrong I only had myself to blame!

CanoeNI.com: Thinking about NI in particular - what was your favourite section of coastline?

Hamish: The best bit of the NI coastline was hands down the Causeway Coast. Maybe sounds a little clichéd as it is my home patch, but I really found it was the most scenic for me anyway. My tastes have always lent towards dramatic cliffs. That said the Gobbins deserves a mention-sadly though reconstruction was going on there when I passed and the climbing ropes and building materials festooning the cliffs took away from the view a bit.

Outside of NI a few bits caught the imagination. The Dingle peninsula with the Blaskets, Sybil Point and Mount Brandon was stunning. The cliffs off north Mayo were craggy and impressive while Slieve League was majestic even with its head in the clouds.

CanoeNI.com: What's next?

Hamish: I am not sure! I have vague plans about Iceland, but may take the chance to do something land based next year instead. Whatever happens, I think it will be my last solo trip anyway! I will take someone along to help carry the boat next time!!

Hamish spent 70 days on this expedition paddling a total of 1600km / 1000 miles.

- 3 days awaiting tracker replacement
- 3 days for Kims wedding
- 64 days actually on expedition
- 52 days on the water
- 12 days on shore weather bound

An excellent day by day account can be found on his blog

Hamish is also fundraising for Greenpeace and Action Cancer

Latest comment posted by Robin Forsythe on November 17, 2014 @ 10:32 PM

Hamish's story was very inspirational. I have been aiming to just kayak the river Bann to Castlerock but life keeps getting in the way! Read more >

Chris Scott
Chris Scott

Having 'retired' from competitive sailing he is trying to find something new to fill the void. Currently mixing it up with 10ks, trail running and adventures with his two year old son.

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