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.

RideNorth Offers in the Mournes

Posted on March 20, 2017 @ 4:17 PM in Mountainbiking

If you’ve seen the recent below video of Irish Vitus Factory Team rider Killian Callaghan and WideOpen Mag rider Kelan Grant tearing up the trails in Northern Ireland, hopefully it has inspired you to come to the Mournes on your next mountain bike trip!

Only 1 hour 15 mins up the road from Dublin, and easily accessible from all parts of Ireland.

To help encourage you that little bit more, we’re happy to share with you some of the many offers going for mountain bikers booking between now and the end of April!

Rostrevor Mountain Bike Trails

Accommodation as a mountain biker can be tricky. We’re usually covered in mud and looking for somewhere to safely store the bike. Here are some local recommendations for where to stay close to the mountain bike trails that are offering discounts to mountain bikers using the code “RideNorth”.

ACCOMMODATION OFFERS

The Mourne Lodge 

Offer: £40 per night for a single room, £60 for a double room, £90 for a quad room. Quote “RideNorth”!

Bio: Sitting just a minute drive from the mountain bike trails at Rostrevor, the Mourne Lodge is a long-time friend of the MountainBikeNI team. Featuring a variety of bedroom sizes, ensuite bathrooms, a bike wash, secure bike storage, drying facilities, take away lunches and more!

Mountains of Mourne – Hanna’s Close

Offer: 3 Nights for the Price of 2, with the code “RideNorth”

Bio: Hanna’s Close is another well-established destination with mountain bikers. They what makes life easy for us; tiled floors in the kitchen, a full laundry service, a hose for washing your bike at each of their traditional cottages. Add in the free Wi-Fi and secure bike storage, and you’ll understand why mountain bikers love Hanna’s Close.

CAFÉ AND RESTAURANT OFFERS

Kilbroney Park Café

Offer: 10% Off Breakfast Before 11am on Weekdays

Bio: Having recently won the MountainBikeNI 2016 Award for ‘Best MTB-Friendly Café’ sponsored by Chain Reaction Cycles, the Kilbroney Park Café is ideally situated for visitors to the Rostrevor Mountain Bike Trails. Right at the trailhead, this family run business probably receives more mountain bikers than any café in the country. As such, they don’t care in the slightest if you’re walking in covered in much and soaked to the skin – they’ll have a tea, coffee and some great food handy for you. Just as an extra, they keep a bike pump and repair kit for mountain bikers; just in case. 

Kilbroney Bar and Restaurant

Bio: Another victor in the MountainBikeNI Awards, the Kilbroney Bar and Restaurant is ideal for visiting both before and after riding the trails at Rostrevor. They provide take away lunches and bike storage and are great for a quick hi-carb bite before the long climb up to #KodakCorner. It excels however with the return journey, where you and your friends can phone an order in for a quick turn around and wash down their great food with a pint in a great atmosphere.

Castlewellan Mountain Bike Trails

ACCOMMODATION OFFERS

Meelmore Lodge

Offer: Receive 10% off your food bill at their café with the code “RideNorth”

Bio: Meelmore Lodge are a jack of all trades, providing the ability to have a ‘rough and ready’ camping holiday with bed and breakfast; or offer a luxurious retreat in their popular holiday cottage. In addition to doing the all-important early breakfasts, you’re assured of laundry services, free Wi-Fi, and good quality showers.

Gracey’s Barn

Offer: Book 3 Nights for the Price of 2 with the code “RideNorth”

Bio: Having recently been refurbished, Gracey’s Barn is a 2-bedroom barn that provides the perfect accommodation for mountain bikers that enjoy a little more comfort during their stay. It is self-catering and provides plenty of car parking, a full garden, a separate wet room for your gear and is only a 15 minute drive from the trails at Castlewellan. They also provide a bike wash and storage, as well as Wi-Fi. 

CAFÉ AND RESTAURANT OFFERS

Urban Coffee

Offer: Receive a free bottle or can with any food bought worth over £6.95

Bio: Another one of those locations that mountain bikers know and love, Urban is only about a two-minute drive from the Castlewellan Mountain Bike Trails. They regularly have their “Muddy Feet Welcome Here” sign outside to entice mountain bikers, who once inside, are treated to an incredibly relaxed open café that places a slight emphasis on health food and – most of all – good coffee. They also provide gluten free and vegetarian options.

Maginns of Castlewellan

Bio: Dating back to 1919, Maginns makes the most of being situated so close to the trails. The provide mountain bikers with a bike wash, secure bike storage while you enjoy yourself inside, and free Wi-Fi. A family owned establishment, you can be guaranteed of a warm welcome and an optional low down on the history of the town.

To plan your mountain bike road trip to the Mournes visit MountainBikeNI to see travel times, suggested itineraries and more recommendations on where to eat, drink and stay. 

Ethan Loughrey
Ethan Loughrey  Mountain Bike Officer

Hardest thing about Mountain Biking? Definitely the trees.

5 Reasons to go to the Mourne International Walking Festival

Posted on March 9, 2017 @ 2:45 PM in Walking

A fantastic opportunity to explore the Mourne Mountains for the first time or try out new routes and challenge yourself. Taking place between Friday 23rd & Sunday 25th June 2017.

Here are 5 reasons why this award winning festival ('Best Walking Festival' 2016 in the WalkNI Awards) should not be misses this summer.

Mourne International Walking Festival

1. Spectacular Scenery

Attend the festival and you’ll get to witness views like this first hand (and trust us they’re even more breath taking in real life!) The Mourne Mountains and Ring of Gullion offer some of the best walking in Ireland with epic views, diverse wildlife and a landscape steeped in fascinating heritage, myth and legend.

Explore Slieve Gullion home to ancient burial cairns, take in the stunning reservoir views of Ben Crom and Silent Valley from Slieve Binnian and Doan or follow the Ulster Way through forest and country lanes and witness the stunning landscape of Rostrevor and Warrenpoint. With 10 walks to choose from both guided and self guided from 9 to 20km, whether you’re new to hiking or a seasoned pro now is the time to explore the Mourne Mountains and witness the best of what it has to offer! 

Image: David Doyle Photography

2. It’s a Bargain- Only £6 a Day

It's only £6 a day if you pre-book your place, at that price, it would be rude not to! Price includes transport to and from walks and guides where necessary. Pre-booking also means you can use the 'fast track' registration system on the day so there will be no hanging back in queues. Thinking of getting a group together or want to head to the festival as a club? Discounts are available on bookings of 10 or more participants, contact the Festival Office on +44 (0) 28 4372 2222 or email info@visitmournemountains.co.uk for more info. Registration is also available on the day for an increased cost.

3. It’ll be Great ‘Craic’

A festival wouldn't be a festival without a good party. After a day in the hills enjoy the many bars and restaurants in Warrenpoint and don't miss out on the highlight of the weekend ‘The Blister Ball’. Held in the Lough and Quay, Marine Parade, Warrenpoint on Saturday 24th June, enjoy an evening of ceili and set dancing to traditional music as well as a hot buffet supper (Entry is £12/€15 and pre booking is advisable). 


4. It's not far from Belfast or Dublin

Just 1hr from Belfast and 1hr 30 mins from Dublin by car you'll be in the mountains in no time! With a wide range of walker friendly accommodation nearby make the most of the weekend and variety of walks on offer. Check out WalkNI.com or visitmournemountains.co.uk for a list of walker friendly accommodation.

5. Free T-Shirt for all walkers!

Who doesn’t love a freebie? All festival goers will be given a t-shirt to remember the event.

For more information visit www.visitmournemountains.co.uk/Mourne-International-Walking-Festival. For walking routes and further information please contact the Festival Office on +44 (0) 28 4372 2222 or email info@visitmournemountains.co.uk

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.

Top 10 Mother's Day Walk Ideas

Posted on March 7, 2017 @ 4:15 PM in Walking

With Mother's Day just around the corner we have some suggestions of how you can make the day extra special! With the long-awaited arrival of Spring finally here and plenty of blue skies, it’s time you and your family enjoy a new season treat and some family time in the great outdoors. 

 Gortin Lakes Northern Ireland

The majestic lakes of Gortin provide the perfect backdrop to any picnic offering spectacular views across the Sperrins landscape. Location: Gortin Lakes, Co. Tyrone

Waterfalls Northern Ireland

What would you wish for if you had the chance? The breathtaking beauty of Northern Ireland's largest waterfall in Glenariff is sure to leave everyone in amazement. Location: Glenariff Waterfall Walk, Co. Antrim

Florence Court Northern Ireland

Make her feel like royalty for a day during a visit to one of Northern Ireland's Stately homes. There is something to keep everyone entertained whether it be a tour of the house, a stroll around the walking trails or exploring the play park. Location: Florence Court, Co. Fermanagh

Mount Stewart Northern Ireland

Forget about walking around a garden centre and come and explore the beautiful secret gardens of Mount Stewart. The garden exudes a strong Mediterranean feel, while the woodland supports a range of plants from all corners of the world. Location: Mount Stewart Lake & Garden Walk, Co. Down

Bird watching Northern Ireland

A whole new world of discovery awaits you and your family on the shores of Strangford lough. Meet some of the world's most endangered birds before your little explores enjoy the adventure playgrounds. Location: Castle Espie, Comber, Co. Down

Take in the views

For mountain views without the mountain climb the Slievenaslat Trail is perfect for a Mother's Day Walk. The viewpoint at the top offers one of the most spectacular views of the Mourne Mountain Range so remember to bring your camera! Location: Slievenaslat Trail, Castlewellan Forest Park, Co. Down

Botanic Gardens Belfast

For those visiting the Ulster Museum this Mothers Day, take a stroll around the iconic Botanic Gardens. Explore the Victorian Greenhouse before discovering the blossoming spring flowers growing in the gardens. Location: Botanic Gardens, Belfast, Co. Antrim

 Victoria Park Belfast

Escape to an oasis of calm just a stones throw from Belfast City Centre. Recently redeveloped as part of the Connswater Community Greenway project, the park has become popular with locals and visitors alike. Location: Victoria Park, Belfast, Co. Antrim

Whitemark Bay Northern Ireland

For those heading up to the spectacular Causeway Coast for the day, take some time to stroll along the white sandy beach of Whitepark Bay. Location: Whitepark Bay, Co. Antrim

Tollymore Forest Park Northern Ireland

If she is a fan of Game of Thrones she will soon recognise this location. Follow the river trail taking some timeout to explore the ivy-covered hermitage before hop, skipping and jumping your way across the stepping stones. Location: Tollymore Forest Park River Trail, Co. Down

For even more ideas check out WalkNI.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.

MountainBikeNI's Top Five Events of 2017

Posted on February 28, 2017 @ 3:49 PM in Mountainbiking

From about February onwards, the mountain biker's calendar doesn't let up. Below are just a handful of the big events coming to the trail centres around Northern Ireland this year.

Ulster XC Series

With Round 1 kicking of this year's Ulster XC Series at Tollymore Forest on 19th March, it will progress until the height of summer. Round 3 will be happening on the 7th May at Davagh Forest and Round 4 at Castlewellan mountain bike trails. The Ulster Championships will also happen at Castlewellan, on 30th July.

For more information on the XC Series and registration, visit their website here.

Vitus First Tracks Enduro Cup


If this picture from Glyn doesn't make you want to sign up for the Vitus First Tracks Enduro Cup, we don't know what will. Consistently voted as one of the favourite local events of the year, the Vitus FT Enduro is back again for another 4 Rounds for the intermediate and advanced riders. While Round 1 is happening at the start of April, Round 4 will be taking place at Castlewellan on the 16th and 17th September.

Expect this to test your skill, fitness and mental resiliance. We can't recommend signing up enough. To do so, visit the Vitus First Tracks website here.  

Davagh Enduro and Davagh Youth Enduro 


 A blind event this year, the Davagh Enduro will take place (unsurprisingly, at Davagh Forest) on Saturday 24th and Sunday 25th June. The adults race will be happening on the Saturday, and the much loved Youth Enduro on the Sunday. More information on this event will be released as the date gets nearer, but in the meantime if you have any questions about it then please email Michael Regan

10 In the Glen


10 in the Glen will take place on Saturday 22nd July this year.  This leg crushing challenge isn't for the faint of heart. Bring plenty of jaffa cakes and gels as you tackle Rostrevor mountain bike trails as many times as you can in a ten hour period. Give it a go on your own (we salute you) or as part of a team of 2 or 4 (we still salute you). Organised by the guys at 26 Extreme, this is definitely one to go along to if you have the day free. For more information on registration, visit the 26 Extreme website.

Red Bull Foxhunt


Usually taking place the second weekend in October, the Red Bull Foxhunt has become one of the largest sporting events in the calendar year. Drawing thousands of people to Rostrevor Mountain Bike Trails every year, 2017 promises to be even more spectacular. Following three successive wins by Rosco, the organisers have added elevated him to 'Fox' status, along with World DH Champion Gee Atherton, and effectively are unleashing double the pandomonium as the guys go 'elbows out' with 400+ mountain bikers. Keep an eye on MountainBikeNI's Facebook page for updates on this bad boy.

To keep up to date with all the mountain bike events taking place this year, follow the Events section on MountainBikeNI.com!

Ethan Loughrey
Ethan Loughrey  Mountain Bike Officer

Hardest thing about Mountain Biking? Definitely the trees.

Bike Lights and Daylight Visibility: Why Cyclists Should Be Seen at All Times

Posted on February 21, 2017 @ 2:07 PM in Cycling

In our newest blog, our friends at SeeSense explain why bike lights aren't just important for night riding.

What do you look for when buying a bike light? You might consider brightness and decent battery life as being important features, or you might want a light that offers good visibility in the dark. But what about being seen during the daytime? How much emphasis do you place on daylight visibility?

It is a crucial aspect of cycling safety that many people tend to ignore when making their purchase. But when you consider that 80 per cent of cycling accidents happen during the day, and with a significant increase in fatalities within a 10-year period, it’s become evident that visibility during the day is now just as important as being seen in the dark.

A greater onus has been placed on cyclists being seen during daylight hours. Companies are designing bike lights specifically for daylight visibility, and it makes sense when you look at some of the research that has been conducted into road safety in recent years.

Following a study of 184 cyclists previously involved in collisions, Australian researcher Phillipe Lacherez found motorists had “looked but didn’t see” the cyclist before it was too late. He suggested that a solution to this was both wearing reflective clothing and fitting a light which works during the daytime and also at night. Many cyclists sport high-visibility gear when on the roads, but hi-vis clothing only offers visibility during daylight hours as it reflects UV rays from the sun. Lacherez suggested the use of reflective strips on your knees and ankles that allows the lights from cars to bounce back and signal a cyclist’s movement.

In another survey conducted in Denmark, 4,000 cyclists were enrolled in an experiment that again proved the benefit of daytime visibility. In the survey, 2,000 only used their lights during the hours of darkness, while the other 2000 participants used their bike lights all day. The results showed that there was a 47 per cent decrease in accidents when lights were used throughout the day.

Also, since 2011, all new cars in Europe are required to be fitted with daytime running lights because of the proven safety benefits. If large vehicles like cars need to be seen during the hours of daylight, then surely it makes sense for a cyclist to also require high visibility?

Most accidents have been found to happen during the hours around dawn and dusk. This is partly due to rush-hour traffic, and also because of factors including changing ambient light conditions which can make it more difficult for motorists to spot cyclists. Bright, visible bike lights can help counter that problem by giving cyclists more of a presence during the day.

Almost half of fatalities occur on rural roads , making them particularly dangerous for cyclists. There are various factors which contribute to the high volume of accidents. Not only does the speed limit tend to be higher, but isolated routes can also be unlit or have poor lighting. Having a bike light that flashes brightly from both front and rear can alert drivers of a cyclist’s presence before they get too close to you, reducing the risk of a collision or near miss.

Motorists have a vital role to play in helping reduce the number of cyclist fatalities and accidents on our roads. Research has found that 60% of major collisions happen at junctions, with drivers commonly reporting that they ‘failed to look properly’. Better awareness of other road users is a crucial factor of road safety for motorists and cyclists alike.

A cyclist also has to be aware of the traffic around them, and by making themselves more visible they are taking an important step towards improving their own road safety. See.Sense ICON and ICON+ lights have been designed with twin CREE LED lights and a fresnel lens to offer unique visibility during the day. Our lights have a 15-hour run-time with optimised battery use, all which can be monitored and controlled from your smartphone and recharged by USB.

Improving cycle safety isn’t just important for reducing fatalities, it can also encourage more people to take up cycling. And the more cyclists we have on the roads, the better cycling infrastructure can be developed to improve the overall cycling experience. Cambridge University found that 85% of local cycling correlated with the provision of better cycle routes. So if we cycle, they’ll build it, and if they build it, we’ll cycle more.

 

Gareth Fullerton
Gareth Fullerton  Works at SeeSense

older articles >
Northern Ireland's Outdoor Adventure Blog outdoorni.com walkni.com cycleni.com canoeni.com