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.

WalkNI Award Winners Revealed

Posted on January 15, 2018 @ 5:27 PM in Walking

The results are in and we are excited to announce the winners of the 2017 WalkNI Awards as voted by the public, showcasing the best of what Northern Ireland has to offer when it comes to walking. 

Mourne Mountains

'Favourite Walking Destination'...The Mourne Mountains
The highest and most dramatic mountain range in Northern Ireland, with 42% of the vote, the Mournes has once again topped the poll holding onto its title of 'Favourite Walking Destination'. This compact yet impressive mountain range offers endless routes for walkers to explore and breath-taking views. From rocky outcrops on the summits and stunning reservoir views to the distinctive Mourne Wall the entire Mournes Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) is simply unique.  

Slieve Bearnagh

'Most Epic View'...Slieve Bearnagh (Photograph By Alistair Hamill Photography)
With so many spectacular views to choose from, this is always a closely fought contest in the awards. However, we are delighted to announce that the Mournes are officially home to the 'Most Epic View' in Northern Ireland. The winning view from Slieve Bearnagh was taken by the talented Alistair Hamill. One of the most distinctive mountains in the Mournes renowned for the granite tors on its summit it can be accessed via the Trassey Track from Meelmore Lodge car park.

Causeway Coast Way

'Favourite Coastal Walk'...Causeway Coast Way
With its secluded stretches of sandy beaches, interesting rock formations and cliff top paths it was no surprise that the Causeway Coast Way in Co. Antrim got 73% of the votes in this category to be crowned 'Favourite Coastal Walk'. A walk along this 33-mile waymarked way reveals many wonders including quaint villages and harbours such as Portbradden & Ballintoy; made famous by Game of Thrones, The Giant's Causeway; Northern Ireland's only UNESCO World Heritage Site and historical gems like Dunserverick & Dunluce Castle.

Castle Ward

'Favourite Country Park/ Estate'...Castle Ward
A popular choice in this year's awards the vote for 'Favourite Country Park/ Estate' goes to the historic 18th century mansion and estate of Castle Ward. Looking out over the tranquil waters of Strangford Lough in Co. Down the estate boasts over 34km of trails including woodland rich in wildlife and rare plans, farmland and coastal paths ensuring there is something for everyone. Visitors can expect to discover something new around every corner from Temple Water & stunning ornamental canal to Audley’s Castle a 15th century tower; made famous by HBO in their award-winning show Game of Thrones.

Mourne International Walking Festival

'Favourite Walking Festival/Event'...Mourne International Walking Festival
Holding onto its title of 'Favourite Walking Festival' this internationally recognised event organised by Newry, Mourne & Down District Council attracts walkers from around the world. Taking place every June the guided & self-guided walks in the mountains and surrounding countryside showcase the best of the area. As well as offering excellent walking opportunities, festival goers can enjoy the social opportunities surrounding the festival to experience local hospitality and get to know fellow walkers.

Murlough National Nature Reserve

'Favourite Nature Reserve'...Murlough National Nature Reserve
A closely fought contest with Glenariff Nature Reserve, Murlough National Nature Reserve located on the Co. Down coastline near the popular seaside town of Newcastle was crowned 'Favourite Nature Reserve'. A haven for walkers and nature lovers alike, the reserve owned by the National Trust features a fragile 6,000 year old sand dune system and boasts spectacular views of Slieve Donard, the highest peak in the Mourne Mountains and Dundrum Bay.

Castlewellan Forest Park

'Favourite Family Friendly Walk'...Castlewellan Forest Park
With just over 50% of the votes, Castlewellan Forest Park, Co. Down is a must- visit for families looking to pack a picnic and enjoy a fun day out together. There are a range of walking trails within the park which boasts a lake, castle, one of the world's largest permanent hedge mazes and incredible panoramic views it won't dissapoint. The park features 'Animal Wood' a natural play structure designed for 4-11 year olds which is sure to capture their imaginations.

Visit WalkNI.com for more information on the winning trails, upcoming walking festivals, events and downloadable guides. 

Latest comment posted by billie on January 17, 2018 @ 11:18 PM

we've got it all for sure; everything is beautiful. Read more >

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.

MountainBikeNI's Top Videos of 2017

Posted on December 18, 2017 @ 1:31 PM in Mountainbiking

If a picture tells a thousand words, we're pretty sure a video must tell... a lot more words?


Below you'll find a list of our favourite mountain bike videos from 2017. Maybe you missed it when it was first posted it. Maybe you just want to watch it for the twentieth time. Either way, we hope you enjoy and we'll see you back again in 2018!


1. Kelan Grant and Killian Callaghan RideNorth

We don't like to brag, but we're pretty sure our two models for this video couldn't have been better picked. Kelan, who rides for Team WideOpen Mag, just happened to beat some of the best in the world by winning the Red Bull Foxhunt in October, and Killian picked up the title of U.21 Men's Enduro World Champion earlier this year also. Not bad! Watch the lads tear around Castlewellan, Davagh Forest and Rostrevor MTB Trails.

 

2. Rob Warner Interviews Loic Bruni for MountainBikeNI

Speaking of the Red Bull Foxhunt, we got chatting to two of the biggest names in the business when it was taking place down at Rostrevor MTB Trails. Current DH World Champion Loïc Bruni and all round MTB legend Rob Warner joined us, with Rob kindly agreeing to interview Loïc. There's some name calling and accusations of cheating, but all in good fun of course.

 

3. Greg Callaghan Rides Davagh Forest

Greg Callaghan has arguably done more for the sport of mountain biking on the island of Ireland in the past few years than anybody. His performance at this year's Enduro World Series was phenomenal. Despite holding the overall lead on a number of occasions, he was pipped in the final rounds and finished an extremely respectable third.

We were delighted then that when he got back, he'd head to try the trails on Davagh Forest for some R&R!

 

4. Colin Ross Talks to MountainBikeNI at the Red Bull Foxhunt

As if more big names were needed in this list, we've also got a clip of Colin chatting to us just after his run at the Red Bull Foxhunt. An incredible biker and currently riding with our friends at Chain Reaction Cycles, Colin is possibly the most beloved mountain biker in Northern Ireland. His description of his first time riding as a Fox is well worth a watch.

 

5. Welcome to Davagh Forest

We're back to Davagh Forest again for a pretty epic montage video if we do say so ourselves. Totalling only around 40 seconds, this video highlights the incredible scenery and riding on offer in Davagh Forest, in the heart of the Sperrins. If you haven't been, this will get you in the mood.

 

You can find plenty more great content like this on the MountainBikeNI YouTube page.

We'd also love to see some of your clips from the trails in Northern Ireland! Drop an email to info@mountainbikeni.com and show us what you can do.

Ethan Loughrey
Ethan Loughrey  Mountain Bike Officer

Hardest thing about Mountain Biking? Definitely the trees.

Top Rated Walks of 2017

Posted on December 8, 2017 @ 2:31 PM in Walking

Where was everyone walking this year?  We take a look back at some of the best comments left on WalkNI to find out where you loved exploring in 2017.  With testimonials from those who have explored the trails first hand, WalkNI commenters share their thoughts and opinions to help you decide where to take a hike next.

WalkNI

Carrick-A-Rede

Carrick-A-Rede, 0.7 miles linear (one way), Ballintoy, Co. Antrim
"The most beautiful place I've ever seen, will always hold a special place in my heart..." Lee Minton-Cannell (Feb, 2017)

Slieve Binnian

Slieve Binnian, 7 miles circular, Annalong Village, Mourne Mountains, Co. Down
"The views from the top were simply stunning and the walk along the ridge was well worth the climb!" Sheila Jamieson (March, 2017)

North Antrim Cliff Path

North Antrim Cliff Path- Dunseverick to Giants Causeway, 4.8 miles linear (one way), Bushmills, Co. Antrim
"Simply the most scenic coastal walk in the world!" John McCurdy (March, 2017)

Orlock Point

Orlock Point, 3 miles circular, Donaghadee, Co. Down
"One word AMAZING!" David Dolce (April, 2017)

Moyle Way

Moyle Way, 26 miles linear (one way), Ballycastle, Co. Antrim
"Great experience, beautiful scenery and a real sense of peace and solitude" A Walker (June, 2017)

Killard

Killard National Nature Reserve, 1.3 miles circular, Strangford, Co. Down
"An easy walk, beautiful coastal views and rock pools." Caroline Murphy (June, 2017)

Lough Navar Forest Park

Lough Navar Forest: Blackslee Waterfall Walk, 4 miles circular, Derrygonnelly, Co.Fermanagh
"Saw deer and found wild strawberries and raspberries along the way...A lovely afternoon walk." Margarita (July, 2017)

Fairhead Northern Ireland

Fairhead, 1.5- 3.4 miles circular, Ballycastle, Co. Antrim
"Beautiful scenery of the north Antrim coast, Rathlin and out to Scotland. Relatively easy walk which is well marked . Well worth the visit." Mags (July, 2017)

Ronan's Way

Ronan's Way, 0.9- 3.4 miles circular, Cushendun, Co. Antrim
"The red route was one of the best walks of my life (I'm 72!)" John Rayman (August, 2017)

Rathlin Island

Rathlin Island Roonivoolin Walk, 4 mile circular, Rathlin Village, Co. Antrim
"One of the most beautiful and best birding spots I have ever been to." Antonio Salvadori, Canada (October, 2017)

Find out what people are saying about other walks across Northern Ireland on WalkNI. Don't forget to add your review to walks you enjoy.

Latest comment posted by Michael on December 15, 2017 @ 12:50 PM

Moyle Way!! I doubt it :-D Read more >

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.

Meet the Nominees for MountainBikeNI Volunteer of the Year Award

Posted on December 7, 2017 @ 11:37 AM in Mountainbiking

The MountainBikeNI Awards, powered by Chain Reaction Cycles, exist to highlight and recognise the best and brightest in the world of mountain biking in Northern Ireland. This year, we've introduced a new category that acknowledges the volunteering efforts of some of the MTBNI Trails Team who selflessly give up their time to help with the upkeep of our mountain bike trails.

Below, we've given you a very brief introduction to all of those nominated!

 

Donal McKendry


Why do you help out at the maintenance days?

"It is a simple case that I help out on maintenance days or separate site days to give a little back to a venue provided to us all as free to use at any time. The facilities & trials are excellent and it is in our interest to do what we can to ensure the trails stay that way. 

We all want a good days mountain biking, getting speed up and negotiating our way down the trails, and don’t want to have to deal with pot holes or loose stones or debris that could injury or harm to us (and the bike).

Plus it is always a good days craic, a bit of graft and everyone is there for the genuine reason of giving back – it’s only a few hours."

 

Where is your local track?

I choose to use Davagh Forest Mountain Bike Trails as they are 20 min drive for me and provides me with a good mix of blue red & black trails, fresh air and the chance to chat to someone. 

I currently mountain bike instead of the road bike now as it provides me flexibility of when I go out on the bike, how long I ride for, I can decide my pace depending on fitness on the day. And you ride cooler bikes."

 

Jonathan Martin


Why do you help out at the maintenance days?

"I enjoy helping at maintenance days as it’s a good way to keep the trails in peak riding condition.  Entry to the trails are free so spending a day digging is a small price for such a variety of trails and trail centres. 

I enjoy hearing from the trail builders about what sections could be improved or suited better to the flow of the trails, learning what makes trails sustainable and as always there’s plenty of craic and slagging.  The post digging lunch is always a big bonus. "

 

Where is your local track?

"My local track is either the Rostrevor trail centre or Tollymore Forest.  I love the rush MTBing brings, the physical exertion riding up the hill followed by ripping down trails, down drops and sometimes clearing jumps.  It’s a great way to get the heart pumping and the head cleared.

It has a fantastic community side too, everyone helps each other and are happy to donate inner tubes or spend a day digging trails."

 

Stuart Hamilton


Why do you help out at the maintenance days?

"I help out at the trails days at Davagh as it's a way I can return some time and energy into such good trails that have been provided for me to enjoy. The trails are fun and flowing and I enjoy giving my energy so the trails are kept in good condition for when I return to them."

 

Where is your local track?

"My local trail is Davagh Forest, as it is the closest trail to me, it takes me an hour to travel to and from, but Davagh enables me to improve my fitness and skills on my bicycle. I also regularly visit Ballykelly forest, and Banagher reservoir for closer circuits."

 

Wayne Brownlee

Why do you help out at the maintenance days?

"I guess the main reason for attending the maintenance days are that i really enjoy giving a wee bit back i suppose. As every rider knows there is nothing worse than riding a trail to be constantly wacked in the face by an overhanging tree branch and if i can spend a bit off my spare time helping with the maintenance then i am only happy to.

You also get to meet your fellow trail users and even a ride out when finished for the day. (oh and the lunch provided is pretty awesome too lol)"

 

Where is your local track?

"I live ten minutes away from Barnetts Demesne which is handy for a quick few laps but when i have more time to ride then its off to Castlewellan MTB trails which i love. 

I enjoy biking as being a type 1 diabetic of 27 years it helps me to keep active and doing something that you enjoy doesn't make it feel like a workout."

 

Niall Convery


(Image courtesy of Martin Kennedy Photography)

Why do you help out at the maintenance days?

"I do the volunteering as the trails are brilliant facilities which provide me and my friends with safe and fun places to mtb and they are free of charge so it is very easy to do and it is nice to give something back. Also the days are good craic, camaraderie and the volunteers are friendly, outgoing sort who are easy to get on with.

The work itself is physical which I enjoy and you see the improvements to the trails at the time which is again a boon. I also enjoy taking the journalists out as I am proud of the trails and its nice to show them around."

 

Where is your local track?

"Main track is mainly Davagh Forest and Barnett Demesne though love them all."

 

Sam Thompson

Sam has been helping out at Castlewellan maintenance days for years. Despite regularly travelling hundreds of miles in a week for his job, he will always make time to come down to the trails at Castlewellan for either a session on the bike or to help keep them in shape. 

 

Where is your local track?

"I ride Castlewellan regularly just for fun and my own sanity. "

 

We're incredibly grateful to the entire MTBNI Trails Team for everything they do to help keep our trails in top shape. If you'd like to join the team, visit MountainBikeNI.com to learn more. 

Voting for the MountainBikeNI Awards closes on Friday 5th January at 12:00 - Vote now here!

Ethan Loughrey
Ethan Loughrey  Mountain Bike Officer

Hardest thing about Mountain Biking? Definitely the trees.

Ulster Way Highlights- The Mourne Way

Posted on November 21, 2017 @ 11:22 AM in Walking

The brainchild of Wilfred Capper MBE who in 1946 had the inspiration to create a circular walking route through the six counties of Northern Ireland, the Ulster Way covers some of the best landscapes NI has to offer. Made up of a number of quality walking sections you don't have to complete the entire route in one go. In this upcoming series of blogs, we will be highlighting the key quality sections worth exploring in just 2 or 3 days.

Mourne Way

The 26-mile long Mourne Way is a marvellously varied, two-day walk from the coast at Newcastle across the edge of the Mourne Mountains, and back to the sea at the opposite side of the range. This route explores the foothills of the Mournes following following forest trails and mountain tracks, ensuring you experience the magnificent views without the major climbs.

Mourne Way

Walking The Mourne Way

Day 1: Newcastle to Ott Car Park, 8 miles (12.8 km)
Following the Shimna River out of the bustling seaside town of Newcastle the route heads towards Tollymore Forest Park. Oak wood from this forest was the preferred material for the interiors of the mighty White Star shipping liners, including the ill-fated Titanic built in Belfast in 1911. From here you will soon reach the ‘Brandy Pad’ an old smuggler’s trail which leads to Fofanny Dam Reservoir the first of two important reservoirs in the area. With an underground water treatment works capable of processing 52 million litres of water a day. This days walking finishes not far from here at Ott car park.

Mourne Way

Day 2: Ott Car Park to Rostrevor, 18 miles (29 km) 
The 2nd day of walking begins at the saddle between Butter Mountain and Spelga Mountain. Crossing the Rocky River before making your final descent down into Rostrevor village with spectacular panoramic views out over Carlingford Lough

Walker’s Highlight: 

“Having walked up Butter Mountain, along the Mourne Way, the highlight for me is descending Spelga where the views really open up along the valley at Spelga Pass. Beneath, the River Bann meanders from its source near Slieve Muck, through Spelga Dam and on to Lough Neagh. It’s a great point to view the next section of the walk heading around Hen Mountain and on towards Rostrevor”. WalkNI.com Development Manager Clare Jones

Mourne Way

Where To Stay

There are a wide range of walker friendly B&Bs, guesthouses, hotels and hostels in Newcastle and Rostrevor, at both ends of the Mourne Way. We recommend choosing one place to stay and availing of transport on each day of your walk. The popular Meelmore Lodge offers hostel accommodation, camping and a coffee shop approximately 7.5 miles (12km) along the route. More accommodation information can be found on pg. 17 of the Mourne Way Guide.

Where To Eat

After a hard days walking, some good food and drink is a must. A list of great suggestions can be found on pg. 20 of the Mourne Mountain Walkers Guide including Niki's Kitchen, Newcastle a great place to pick up a packed lunch to enjoy later on the hills and Kilbroney Bar, Rostrevor which promises great atmosphere and entertainment.

Getting Around

There are a number of ways in which you can travel around the Mournes ideal for those who wish to base themselves in one location and avoid the hassle.

Translink operate a dedicated Mourne Rambler bus service through the Mournes in the summer months only. Other bus services are available in the area and can be planned using the Translink Journey PlannerMournes Shuttle Services (AIMSS) is a bespoke shuttle and support service available to walkers. For more information or to book, contact Peter Magowan on 075 16412076A number of local taxi companies can pick up and drop off at the start and end of your walk each day. For contact details on all of the above please check out pg. 20 of the Mourne Mountains Walkers Guide.

Mourne Way

Please be aware that this walking route passes through areas of open land such as hillside, working farmland and working forests. Livestock may be present, ground conditions may be uneven or wet underfoot and all forestry signage should be adhered to. Please refer to the ‘Walk Safely and Responsibly’ Guide.

Although this walk is waymarked walkers are always advised to carry the relevant map and ensure they are prepared for changeable weather.

More information on this walk can be found for free in the downloadable Mourne Way Guide.

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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