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.

Aran SheridanSally ThomasMartin Dunne
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Six Common Questions Asked by New Mountain Bikers

Posted on December 8, 2021 @ 3:24 PM in Mountainbiking

As we've mentioned in previous blogs over the past 18 months, mountain biking in Northern Ireland has seen a surge in popularity. With that in mind, we've asked new mountain bikers what their biggest questions were and tried to answer them!


Q1. How likely am I to get injured?

This is a big one and not something to immediately brush over with assurances that mountain biking is a completely safe sport. It isn't, which  is also part of the reason so many of us love it. Not only will telling a new rider that they won't get hurt be disinegenous - they'll probably just not believe you.

The best thing you can do here is to manage expectations and advise on the best way to minimise injury. Yes, it is possible you'll come off your mountain bike in the early days, but you can reduce the odds of this happening substantially by doing a few things. Firstly, only riding on trails of appropriate ability.

So, not this one then.

Stick to green trails until you get used to your bike, then to blue trails until you get used to trying obstacles on the bike. Don't be in any rush to progress - mountain bikers are incredibly supportive of new riders and everyone started out on these trails at some stage. Another tip to ensure you minimise injury if you do happen to come off, is to ensure you have the right gear. Helmets are a non negotiable and ideally a good, well reviewed helmet at that. Gloves, knee and elbow pads also help to minimise the sting.


2. How can I find the nearest mountain bike trails? 

Time for a little self promotion! MountainBikeNI.com lists all of the official trail centres in Northern Ireland. Each trail centre has it's own profile page with information about the trail and the difficulty levels you can expect, as well as other information like trailhead providers and outlines of the route.


3. Are there any local clubs to join?

Starting out can be a little intimdiating, so joining a MTB club (or a road cycling club with a MTB contingent within it) can be a good way to get out with a few experienced heads. You can find a map outlining the list of official clubs in Northern Ireland here*. Clubs often will be able to direct you to an appropriate trail and specific section of trail, will pair you up with other riders and encourage you to have a laugh while you pick up the basics.

Learning the ropes at Castlewellan MTB Trails

*If your club isn't mentioned, get in touch by emailing info@mountainbikeni.com and we'll ensure you get put on!


4.  Is mountain biking expensive?

This answer unfortunately is 'it depends'. Bikes aren't exactly cheap but a basic one can be purchased relatively cheaply. We're biased obviously but Chain Reaction Cycles, who sponsor the national mountain bike trails, have some great entry level bikes at good prices.

Once you get into mountain biking you'll not believe the number of variations you can source for your bikes 

After that, the sport is as cheap or as expensive as you want to make it. In fact, most of the trail centres are free to ride which often surprises people. The risk comes if you get into into it, then you won't be satisfied with just the one bike. Some people aren't even satisfied with two bikes. You may laugh, but you too may become that person.

Of course if purchasing a bike isn't an option, you can also hire bikes from local trailhead providers such as Belfast Activity Centre for Barnett Demesne MTB Trails; Sperrin Bike Hire for Davagh Forest; Campbase Adventures for Gortin Glen Forest Park MTB Trails and Life Adventure Centre for Castlewellan and Rostrevor MTB Trails. This can be helpful in deciding which bike you like the feel of before actually making a purchase.


5. What is the best time to go mountain biking?

Mountain biking is a year round sport, which is great for us here in Northern Ireland where 85% of the time the weather is cold and wet. It also means from a riders point of view that it's perfect for getting people out and active the year round, where as sports like road cycling  often can only be done when the days are longer and the weather less inclined to blow you into oncoming traffic.

Rain actually can add to the ride


6. What should I wear?

This was a surprising point of angst for many new riders. Our main tip - don't panic. Mountain bikers are not particularly concerned with fashion on the trails. A pair of shorts, rough trainers you don't mind getting bogged and a jacket are usually a good starting point. Knee and elbow pads are a good plus, and having a waterproof jacket with you never hurts.

Missing from image: Fashion

We hope this helps address some of the worries for new riders. If you have any questions about starting mountain biking, don't be afraid to email us to info@mountainbikeni.com or PM us on Facebook. You can also follow us on Instagram and Twitter.

Ethan Loughrey
Ethan Loughrey  Mountain Bike Officer

Hardest thing about Mountain Biking? Definitely the trees.

Riding Out in Northern Ireland

Posted on October 13, 2021 @ 1:08 PM in Mountainbiking

Share the Space

The British Horse Society have launched a brand-new video aimed at educating users of shared space and multi-user* routes in Northern Ireland.

Enjoy, share and remember – be polite, say hi! and stay on the #RightSideOfOutside


*Multi-user is defined as Walkers, Cyclists and Horse Riders


Top Tips for Mountain Bikers

  • “Be nice, say hi” – be polite and respect others
  • Ensure you pass horses and others safely – if you’re unsure, stop
  • Keep dogs on a lead and under close control
  • Look after the places you love
  • Leave no trace of litter


Did you know...

  • There are not enough safe off-road places for equestrians to access in Northern Ireland. Despite being ‘Horse Country’ there is a staggering lack of legal Public Rights of Way which include equestrian rights.
  • A total of under 1% of the Public Right of Way Network in Northern Ireland provides access for equestrians. This is considerably less than the neighbouring countries of England and Wales where 22% of the network is available, 5% of which is accessible to carriage drivers.
  • Horse riders are vulnerable road users, just like walkers and cyclists.
  • Sadly, there have been 4,140 incidents in the UK reported to the BHS since 2010
  • 76% were in rural areas
  • 89% involved vehicles passing too close or too fast to the horse.
  • In 2020, there were 46 horses killed on rural roads, 118 horses and 130 riders injured as a result of a collision with a vehicle.
  • The vast majority of equestrians use the road as they have no safe off-road alternative. Some hack to, or transport a horse to an access site such as a forest or beach; however these type of sites are not readily or sufficiently available throughout Northern Ireland.


What are The British Horse Society doing about it?

The BHS are working hard with the Northern Ireland government on a national and local level, engaging with key stakeholders including The Ramblers, The Disabled Ramblers, Sustrans, Cycling UK and landowners to open and protect safe off-road access for equestrians. The majority of these routes are multiuser and are therefore places that are also shared with and enjoyed by walkers and cyclists. Together, we have been making very positive progress. Watch this space.

To learn more about our work to improve access in Northern Ireland click here: www.bhs.org.uk/ireland

To support the great work achieved by the BHS, join as a member here from as little as £7/month: www.bhs.org.uk/membership 

Elizabeth Birtley
Elizabeth Birtley  Executive Project Lead & Communications at British Horse Society

Open Day with Antrim Boat Club

Posted on August 18, 2021 @ 11:29 AM in Canoeing

Arriving at a water sport open day can initially feel slightly daunting. Your mind tends to tell you that not only are you surrounded by seasoned pros, and you are literally the only person who won’t be able to do the activity, but that the activity itself is going to be way beyond your capabilities.

In reality, an open day is literally for beginners. There are going to be plenty of people in the same boat as you (ha!), excited to dip their toe (ha!) and feeling like they haven’t a clue what to do.

That’s where clubs come into their own.

Water sports clubs have a structure that understands the needs of people that are trying a sport for the first time. So, when I arrived at Antrim Boat Club who were running an introductory open day as part of the #GetWet campaign, it took only a minute or two before a friendly member stopped to ask if they could help.

“I’m here to try the gig boat?” I don’t really know what a gig boat is, but the girl smiles and tells me where to wait.

A short time later we’ve met our crew. Katie, Michael, Fintan, Rachel and Deirdre are an amazing advertisement for their club. They’re like the cast of a cool TV show, each with their own unique style and approach. After helping us on board, we pushed off from the dock and set out into the belly of Lough Neagh.

The departure was a lesson in itself – the gig boat needs rowed, and at probably 30 feet long with a relatively small crew, that means a BIG row. It’s a full body movement, synchronised by Katie who took the lead for this section of our trip.

Whilst a small part of me felt bad that I wasn’t pulling my weight (again, literally – water sports really lend themselves to these sayings) it was hard not to fall in love with the feeling of heading out into the water with a crew that really knew what they were doing.

A few minutes later and everyone swapped places on the boat to raise the sails and Michael took over the command.

He explained this group had been sailing together for years abroad and had competed (successfully on numerous occasions) while representing Northern Ireland.

I got sucked into the joy of sailing as Michael explained all of this, particularly as we got further out from shore and the relaxing swell of the Lough rocked us gently back and forth. The rest of the crew were able to relax as well now, sitting down for a chat and a laugh while Michael continued to explain the various parts of how the boat worked.

For a beginner, he explained, it would all be relatively straightforward to start. They would do just as we were doing – coming out with a crew and watching what they did, but mainly developing a love for the feeling of being in the water. Gradually, you will be given small jobs to do – help to row, hold a rope etc. – until you feel comfortable with those. After that, there are any number of things to go on to learn and specialise in, from tying knots to hoisting sails, to directing the operations.

It genuinely was fascinating, and this from someone from land locked Omagh where a water sports club seemed like a foreign concept.

After a while, the weather was beginning to make its presence known with a couple of warning rolls of thunder. Even that though made for good fun, as the crew laughed at my no doubt slightly concerned face.

Getting off the boat, I was left with no doubt as to why someone would want to join a group like Antrim Boat Club.

Their base of operations is a lovely secluded bit of land that lends itself to some incredibly dramatic sunrises and sunsets. They have a club house, currently being renovated, with all the facilities you could imagine (including a very reasonably priced bar) and great connections with all of the other local groups involved in the water.

If you want to give yourself a treat, please try the club out. Contact them on Facebook, explain that you’d heard about sailing and you’d like to give it a go and I promise, you’ll not regret it.

Ethan Loughrey
Ethan Loughrey  Mountain Bike Officer

Hardest thing about Mountain Biking? Definitely the trees.

Get Wet This Weekend

Posted on June 9, 2021 @ 3:37 PM in AdventureCanoeingBeaches

As everything is finally getting back to normal, it is time for you to get out and experience something new! This weekend is the perfect time to GetWet, and with a range of events taking place, there is something for everybody! The GetWet campaign encourages everyone, no matter how much experience to come out and dip their toe into the water (sports).



The St. Ayles skiff rowing for beginners is the perfect taster for you to get into rowing. Held at Killyleagh Harbour, catering for two age ranges over two days, we can guarantee you will find your new love for water sports.


The open day will last one hour and will consist of basic land-based training to get you prepared for the water. You will then finally get out on the water and give it a go for real. The session will then conclude with a recap of everything you learned on the day. It doesn’t stop there, as they encourage you to come back and train with them for Skiffs on the Lake, Skiffie Strangford and or for Skiffie Worlds which takes place in June 2022 in the Netherlands.


The St. Ayles skiff rowing for beginners takes place on Saturday 12th June between 1.30pm to 5.30pm for those 26 years and older. Sunday 13th June between 2pm and 6pm caters for those aged 11 to 26 years old. Check out our website for more information, or PM Killyleagh Coastal Rowing Club on Facebook to book!



On Saturday 12th June, Lisnaskea Boat Club is hosting an introduction to sailing session for all young people and children. The day will consist of a 90 minute introduction to sailing, from learning how to rig in preparation for launch, to steering a sailing boat out on a course on the water. Do not worry, as a qualified instructor will be with you along the way, as well as a safety boat if you happen to get into any difficulty. You will also be kitted out with a wet suit and a buoyancy aid. This introduction is the perfect way to get into sailing, especially from a young age!


The event will take place on Saturday 12th June, with sessions from 2pm to 3.30pm, and 5.30pm to 7pm. For more information check out our website, or to book contact waveridesireland@gmail.com or call Hugh on 00447894076574 or 00353838201664.




Lagan Scullers Club is hosting a sculling event on Sunday 13th June. The event is the perfect way to try your hand at sculling and see Belfast from a different angle by sailing down the Lagan. Firstly, you will practice on the rowing machine to understand the parts of the rowing movement for 30 mins. You will then be entrusted to control the boat by yourself out on the water for 50 mins, however the instructor will be nearby to keep you right. Sculling is a very intense sport, with swimming ability and water confidence required. Once you get the hand of things you’ll be for the Olympics in no time!


The event is for anyone over the age of 12 years of age and is suitable for families. However, places are limited so if you don’t get booked for this weekend, there are other dates in June available! To find out more information visit our website or contact lscullers@hotmail.com to arrange your session!




Dundrum Coastal Rowing Club are hosting a coastal skiff rowing event. The day will consist of an hour taster session on Dundrum Inner Bay. This is the perfect opportunity to try out coastal skiff rowing, starting with the basics. You will be guided by experienced rowers and coxswains. With all equipment provided, you are encouraged to come and experience the world of skiff rowing, as well as enjoy the beautiful coastal views.


To find out more information check out or website, or to book your spot, contact wgkendall51@gmail.com . Another session will be held in late June if you are unable to get this weekend!

For future Get Wet Events, check out www.getwetni.com


Kerry Kirkpatrick
Kerry Kirkpatrick  Assistant Marketing and Events Officer

A true North Coast water baby, happiest when on the beach.

Get Ready to Get Wet in 2021!

Posted on May 20, 2021 @ 4:50 PM in AdventureCanoeingBeachesLocal Outdoors

Get Wet NI


The average person would have jumped at any opportunity to get outdoors in a fun setting this time last year, let alone doing it with other people and the ability to learn a new skill! Covid-19 has fundamentally shifted our relationship with the outdoors and created a new appreciation for the ability to do things, to enjoy ourselves and savour life.

It is the perfect time then, to GetWet – a campaign intended to introduce people to watersports in a fun and educational way. GetWetNI kicks off from the end of May with a series of free or much reduced cost taster events throughout Northern Ireland, and will run throughout the remainder of the summer. Below, we’ve listed just a few of the ones we think you might be interested in! But feel free to check them all out on our website, GetWetNI.com.

Girls in Angling

Camowen Community Anglers are running a free session on angling at Altmore Fishery in Co. Tyrone on Sunday 30th May.


All equipment is provided for you on the day, you just need to bring your own wellies and waterproof gear. Better still, the organisers are running a competition and have prizes to be won throughout the day! If you’re interested in attending, it runs between 11am and 3pm; just drop them an email to camowenanglers@gmail.com

Quoile Yacht Club Taster Events

The Quoile Yacht Club in Downpatrick are running multiple taster events that include dinghy sailing, paddle boarding, canoeing, and cruising. If this doesn’t get you excited, we’re not sure what will! The day is suitable for anyone from the age of 8 up (with under 16s requiring a parent or guardian to be present), and will be lead by qualified instructors.

Again, this event is completely free so you’ll never have a better opportunity to experience these incredible watersports than this. Sessions run between 11am and 12:30pm, 12:30pm and 2pm and 2pm and 3:30pm, and you’ll be able to speak to members and officers of the club throughout the day as well.

To get involved in the day, simply email info@quoileyachtclub.com and indicate your preferred session time, how many people are in your party and if any are under 18 and provide a contact mobile number for yourself.


Sculling for Water Enthusiasts

Lagan Scullers Club are offering the chance to try your hand (both hands actually, and your arms… also your legs) at rowing in the Lagan, again providing an amazing opportunity to both develop a new skill, get some good exercise in and also see Belfast from a completely different perspective.

A little bit of ‘water confidence’ is needed for this course as, to reduce physical proximity, you’ll be in a single boat, with a coach in another boat just alongside you to keep you right.

The sessions themselves are limited to only 4 places per day so the spots will book up fast. With only four places, it means you’ll be receiving a significant amount of training over the two hours (one of which you’ll spend in the water, the other out of the water). You’ll get to see the variety of boats on offer, try the rowing machine, learn the different rowing movements and then – how to control your boat on the water! These sessions are £10 and will run every Sunday throughout June. To book, email lscullers@hotmail.com


Try Kayak Racing

Belfast Canoe Club are the only club in Northern Ireland currently offering tuition in the Olympic discipline of kayak racing. Running on Sunday 6th June and Wednesday 9th June, it’s a fast moving, exciting and energetic sport that the people who do it live for. You’ll not be tackling any rapids in this session though, don’t worry. Instead, you’ll be on the placid water of Lough Henney, outside Lisburn which is uniquely suitable for this sport.

During the session, you’ll learn the difference between kayaks and paddles used for racing and ‘normal’ kayaks; the principles of paddling fast as well as then an hour’s coaching on the water.

The training is open to everyone, but the club have advised that their equipment is generally not suitable for children under the age of 10. A maximum of 8 people can attend per session and competent paddlers and those interested in getting involved in racing will have the opportunity to join the club.

To book on, email belfastcanoeclub@gmail.com with your choice of date.


Re-Discover Watersports at Cushendall Sailing and Boating Club

This is another extravaganza of different water sports discipline and absolutely not to be missed out on. CSBC are welcoming people to come along to try out sailing, standup paddleboarding, canoeing and sea swimming, all under the eye of qualified instructors and with all equipment supplied. The sessions will run across two days, on Friday 18th June and Saturday 19th June, between 6pm and 8pm both evenings and between 1pm and 3pm on the Saturday afternoon.

In addition to the fantastic watersports opportunities, there will also be a BBQ with firepits on the club patio on both evenings, and the clubhouse bar will be open.

If you’d like to book on, you can do it via the clubs website. Visit www.csbc.co.uk now! 

For more events, head to www.getwetni.com/events 

Kerry Kirkpatrick
Kerry Kirkpatrick  Assistant Marketing and Events Officer

A true North Coast water baby, happiest when on the beach.

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