Welcome to Northern Ireland's Outdoor Adventure Blog. This blog will keep readers up to speed with all things ‘adventure’ in Northern Ireland this year. The OutdoorNI team will be posting up new and exciting information on the best ways to get out and enjoy the Northern Irish countryside whilst industry professionals will be letting us into their tips of the trade in order to get the best from Northern Ireland’s ultimate activity playground!

This blog is packed full of useful information for everybody looking to take part in outdoor activities from the hardcore adrenaline junkie to those simply looking for some fun ideas for all the family.

This outdoor adventure blog will cover a range of land, water and air based activities such as caving, coasteering, hover crafting, zorbing, surfing, sky diving and many more. You can also find more activity specific information by visiting the other three blog sections on cycling, canoeing and walking.

Brendan Monaghan & Stephen PrenticeConor McKinneyBeverley Magowan
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Family Friendly Trails to Spark The Interest in Children

Posted on October 2, 2023 @ 9:15 AM in Mountainbiking

Interested in getting your kids out on the trails, but not sure where to go? Check out some of the best trails in NI for developing fundamentals safely, before hitting the more advanced trails.


Barnetts Demesne

Barnetts Demesne offers a 3.4km green trail perfect for youngsters starting their mountain bike journey. This trail runs parallel to the meandering River Lagan and is wide with gentle inclines, making it ideal for young families and those giving mountain biking a go for the very first time.

When a bit more confidence is instilled, try out the blue trail. This trail consists of tight, winding singletrack which will teach the youngsters how to handle their bike on a reasonably technical mountain bike trail.


Castle Ward

Castle Ward offers a wide variety of mountain bike trails, as well as jaw-dropping views and fantastic facilities, culminating in a second to none all round family mountain biking experience.

Shore Trail - This multi-use linear trail boasts some incredible coastal views and is wide and flat making it perfect for even the very youngest of riders. Be aware of the designated “slow zone” within Castle Ward allowing all users to safely enjoy the surroundings.

Castle Trail - Families with very young children may want to bear in mind that the second half of this trail can be a little bit steeper in places.

Farm Trail – The farm trail is the longest green trail offering at Castle Ward, offering stunning views across the bay to Portaferry, as well as a well-maintained meandering mountain bike trail perfect for beginners and casual riders.

Boundary Trail - As the youngsters develop their skills and confidence the boundary trail is 13km of blue trail perfect for those wanting to test out their skills.



 Blue Trail – The first section of the blue trail at Castlewellan offers a flowy and fun experience, allowing the youngsters to test their skills on rollers and reasonably tight singletrack. The blue trail then joins the family friendly green trail which hugs the lakeshore and passes under the shadow of Castlewellan castle.


Davagh Forest

Located approximately 6 miles north west of Cookstown, Davagh Forest offers gentle mountain biking and walking trails as well as an impressive 16km red trail with some rock slab drops you will never forget!

The gentle 3km green trail is suited to young families and those trying out mountain biking for the first time. Starting on wide forest roads, the green trail is the perfect way to get to know your mountain bike and get a feel for riding off-road trails in a forest environment.

The second half of this easy going trail winds through woodland before crossing Davagh Water and following the meandering river back to the trailhead.



The welcoming family friendly atmosphere at Blessingbourne really sets it apart as a mountain biking destination for young families.

Blue Trail - The fun and flowing blue trail can be enjoyed by riders of all abilities and can be taken as fast or as slow as you like, so is suited to families/groups holding a range of abilities.

Family breaks are Blessingbourne’s speciality, with mountain biking not being the only offering for young and energetic families to sink their teeth into. Family walks and fishing in the estate’s lough Fadda can also be enjoyed at Blessingbourne.


Ethan Loughrey
Ethan Loughrey  Mountain Bike Officer

Hardest thing about Mountain Biking? Definitely the trees.

An In Depth Look at Accessible Mountain Biking

Posted on July 31, 2023 @ 2:39 PM in Mountainbiking

MountainBikeNI recently spoke to Noel Joyce, a mountain biker who designs and rides his own accessible bike. He gives us his insight into the world of accessible mountain biking, how  
Noel, thanks for talking to us! You got in touch with MountainBikeNI after we put a call out for mountain bikers with a disability. Can you tell us about your specially adapted mountain bike and how it has enhanced your mountain biking experience?


Sure. I had my accident mountain biking almost 18 years ago and recently got back into mountain biking. The bike I originally was using came up short pretty quickly. Subsequently I worked with a company in Spain to build a carbon fibre full suspension bike which I was soon breaking! It was then I decided to design my current bike which is part of a bigger project I can tell you about later.

Each of the bikes have without doubt enhanced my experience. It was just the case that as I pushed to harder more demanding terrain they started to fall short. The current bike has 200mm of suspension travel and assistive drive to help on the hills as well as keep me out of scrapes. (essential especially as I cannot use uplifts) This bike is going really well and proving to be very capable. Reliability is critical as you need to be able to ride out of every situation when you can't walk.


 What specific features or modifications does your bike have?

My bike is more of a trike or adapted MTB is the preferred term. It has its drive mounted to the front wheel with steering on the pedal shaft, I pedal with hand pedals and also steer from there too. It has Hope hydraulic brakes on all 3 wheels all operating independently, SRAM AXS shifting to cut down on cable clutter and plenty of suspension travel. Critical as I am unable to use my legs and arms to soak up bumps. As I am in the seated position there are lots of compromises that I have had to contend with when designing the bike. I think I figured out most of them but there are always areas to improve.


How do you feel about the current provisions available for disabled mountain bikers? What areas could be improved upon?

Current provisions for disabled mountain bikers are lacking. I don't think that is surprising though as the sport is only beginning to grow for adaptive riders. Very few people expect to see people in wheelchairs on trails so how can you anticipate that? I do think that the appetite to get more disabled riders on trails is there, otherwise we wouldn't be talking today!

To me there are 2 problems.

1. The cost of equipment. Regular mountain biking is expensive, adaptive mountain biking is stratospheric in comparison. A reasonably capable bike will cost in the region of 15,000 euros and finding parts or making repairs is another story! I am trying to address that part of the problem myself by developing an Open Source Adaptive MTB at NYU as part of my work and research. Without this equipment no one can go anywhere.

2. Trails and facilities. There's no two ways about it, the majority of the trails are off limits to adaptive bikes. I myself can manage on a lot of trails. They will be blue or red graded depending on the location and can include some black or orange depending on the trail centre. The issues are not often because of single track for example but may be more to do with things like boardwalks, bridges or man made features that have been designed for a 2 wheeled bike. There is nothing more disheartening than being very far out on a trail network and getting to a bridge that's too narrow, or not being able to get to another trail due to a rock feature. I think that because there is now initiative in place to do something about this we will see a lot of these problems start to disappear. I don't expect to be able to go on every trail that exists but we can do great work in making a lot more of them accessible and usable without sacrificing the experience for able bodied riders. 


What advice would you give to anyone with a disability who is interested in trying mountain biking but may feel discouraged or unsure about their abilities?

Reach out to other riders, look for facebook groups. There is great buzz about it all at the moment. like any mountain biking, for every one person who is doing crazy stuff there's probably ten regular joe soaps like myself just wanting to get out on the trails. No one should feel discouraged. Finding someone local to where you want to ride your bike is always a good idea as they can give an account of what's possible.


Can you share any personal success stories or challenges you’ve overcome through your mountain biking journey that could inspire others facing similar obstacles?  

My own story is getting back on the bike in the first place given it was a mountain biking accident that left me in a wheelchair. I found the biggest obstacles after taking the plunge were the equipment. It's so expensive. It's why I am working to create a platform that anyone can use to build their own bike. I want to enable others to be able to build a bike in the same way as anyone able bodied could do the same. To that end I started Project Mjolnir : Open Source Adaptive MTB at NYU. So far I have built a bike in NYC and Abu Dhabi. I will follow that up with another bike in Ireland and then in Shanghai. These bikes will start life as simple rigid mtbs but can be upgraded to full suspension beasts like the bike I currently ride. The objective is to give people the ability to build a bike for under 3k and upgrade over time to suit their needs. Ultimately I would like to see one of these bikes at every trail centre in the world.


Where is your favourite trail centre? 

 I have only ridden at Rostrevor a couple of months back. That was my first experience and so is the gold standard. I look forward to trying more locations. We got down Mega mission a few times but it was not without its problems.


What is an important element someone interested in purchasing an adaptive bike should consider before purchasing?

If you can test ride a few bikes, do. There are several variations and layouts of bikes that have different compromises and quirks. I think that everyone that owns an adaptive bike will have a biased opinion on what they have based on their needs and also because no one wants to admit they spent a lot of money on something that is not a good bike. Do some research on reliability and repair lead times and also if there are any specialist components used. I know of adaptive bikes where frames break and they can cost 7 or 8k to replace and could take months. My own objective with on demand manufacture of parts for the project is to reduce that to weeks like a regular bike. Specialist components such as cranks are expensive to change if you need a different size etc


Where can people find you online?

A few places!

website https://adaptivemtbireland.com/

facebook https://www.facebook.com/groups/989594418446158/

instagram https://www.instagram.com/noelrolls/?hl=en


Project Mjolnir : https://engineering.nyu.edu/research-innovation/student-research/vertically-integrated-projects/vip-teams/project-mjolnir-gy


Big thanks to Noel for his time. If you have any messages you'd like to share with MountainBikeNI on this topic, drop us an email to info@mountainbikeni.com.


Ethan Loughrey
Ethan Loughrey  Mountain Bike Officer

Hardest thing about Mountain Biking? Definitely the trees.

5 Ways Mountain Biking is Becoming More Accessible

Posted on June 9, 2023 @ 1:46 PM in Mountainbiking

Mountain biking has seen a surge in popularity in recent years, and with this growth, the sport has become increasingly accessible to a broader range of people. From the advent of e-bikes to the development of more inclusive trail networks, mountain biking is breaking down barriers and opening up new opportunities for riders of all ages and abilities. In this blog, we will explore five key reasons why mountain biking is becoming more accessible than ever before.

  1. E-Bikes: One significant factor contributing to the accessibility of mountain biking is the rise of e-bikes. These once controversial element of the MTB scene, the electric-assisted bicycles have transformed the sport by making it possible for older individuals or those with physical limitations to enjoy the exhilaration of mountain biking. E-bikes provide an extra boost of power, making uphill climbs easier and allowing riders to cover greater distances with less effort. This innovation has opened the doors to a wider demographic, enabling more people to experience the joy and freedom of riding in the mountains. Indeed, it's a fairly common site to see riders in their 70s or even 80s going round the likes of Castlewellan now!

  2. Increased Social Aspect: Mountain biking has evolved from an individual pursuit, done for fun in your nearest woods, to a highly social activity. With the growing popularity of the sport, more people are getting involved and forming communities of riders. Group rides, organized events like the Vitus First Tracks Enduro Cup, and mountain biking clubs have become prevalent, offering opportunities for riders to connect, share experiences, and learn from one another. The social aspect of mountain biking fosters a welcoming and supportive environment, making it more accessible and encouraging for newcomers.

  3. Quad-Friendly Trails: Trail development has become more inclusive, catering to a broader range of riders, including those on quad bikes or other off-road vehicles. Many trail networks now incorporate designated quad-friendly trails, allowing riders of different machines to coexist and explore the mountains together. This development promotes inclusivity and enables riders who may not be physically able to ride traditional mountain bikes to still enjoy the thrill of off-road adventures. For one amazing demonstration of this, check out Noel Joyce's video from Rostrevor's Mega Mission.

  4. Enhanced Safety Measures: As mountain biking gains popularity, safety measures and infrastructure have also improved, contributing to increased accessibility. Trail organizations and governing bodies have focused on trail maintenance, signage, and the implementation of safety guidelines to ensure a safer riding environment. Additionally, advancements in protective gear, such as helmets, pads, and specialized clothing, have enhanced rider safety and confidence. With improved safety measures in place, more individuals are willing to try mountain biking, knowing that they can enjoy the sport with peace of mind.

  5. Growing Industry Support and Resources: The mountain biking industry has recognized the demand for accessibility and has responded with increased support and resources. Bike manufacturers now offer a wider range of models and sizes, catering to different body types and riding preferences. Rental services have expanded, making it easier for newcomers to try out the sport without committing to purchasing their own equipment. Furthermore, coaching and skills development programs have become more prevalent, providing riders with the necessary guidance and knowledge to enhance their mountain biking abilities.

Mountain biking is breaking down barriers and becoming more accessible to a diverse range of individuals. The aforementioned elements have all played pivotal roles in making this thrilling sport more inclusive. As mountain biking continues to evolve and progress, it is essential to celebrate these advancements and encourage even more people to experience the joys of exploring the mountains on two wheels.

Ethan Loughrey
Ethan Loughrey  Mountain Bike Officer

Hardest thing about Mountain Biking? Definitely the trees.

Where It All Started

Posted on June 6, 2023 @ 10:45 AM in Mountainbiking

Everyone has their own unique story behind the beginning of their mountain bike journey, here’s some local legends letting us know theirs, with some old school photos to boot! 

Colin Ross 

“For me it all started at the age of 12 yrs old. I lived a 5min cycle from Mary Peters which became a place where me and my friends went on our BMX's to have some fun on small jumps and hang out. This is where I started seeing local Mountain bikers come and ride some features which always caught my eye. 

Not long after that Barnetts Demesne hosted an XC mtb race and I thought why not give it a go! This was my first race! I got hooked and started racing other XC events and by the following year I raced my first DH race (see pic).

For me mountain biking was about becoming part of a small community in the area. We had fun at weekends and had regular night rides. I then started to compete in races all over the country. I was so fortunate to have somewhere right on my doorstep where mountain biking really kicked off in NI and its so cool to see it still happening there.” 


Glyn O’Brien

“In our family we could ride bikes before we could walk! Weekends and family holidays were spent at BMX races and our back garden was packed with the raddest dirt jumps any kid could ask for. When BMX fizzled out in the 90's I turned to moto x to get my kicks. My passion for cycling was just too strong though. So with some encouragement from a friend my moto x bike was sold and my first mountainbike was purchased in 1995. Since then, I have travelled the world riding bikes and made lifelong friends along the way. I participate and love all Cycling disciplines, but anything gravity fed gets me fired up the most!