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 Sperrins

Posted on April 24, 2017 @ 4:22 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 Sperrins on your next mountain bike trip!

 

Only 2.5 hours up the road from Dublin (and 1.5 hours from Donegal), Davagh Forest is easily accessible from all parts of Ireland. Often looked at as a 'hidden gem' for mountain bikers in Northern Ireland, Davagh makes the most of incredible natural trails. It is best known however, for it's famous rock slab drops. Be sure to ask the locals about Eagle's Rock and Boundary Rock.

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

 

ACCOMMODATION OFFERS

Cobblers Cottage

 

Offer: 3 Nights for the Price of 2

Bio: One of the closest accommodation sites to Davagh Forest Trails, Cobblers Cottage is a renovated 200 year old home away from home. In addition to plentiful secure bike storage space, there is a bike wash, laundry facilities and the idyllic wood/turf burning stove. Equally however, you’ll still get 4G coverage (with 02) and WiFi!

 

An Creagan Cottages 


Offer: 3 Nights for the Price of 2

Bio: With 8 cottages at An Creagán (ranging between one bedroom and three bedrooms) you and a squad of friends can stay in comfort only a 10 minute drive from the trails. An Creagán itself has plenty to enjoy while you’re there including a forest trail of its own, the option to hire bikes and a restaurant on site. It also provides free Wi-Fi and plenty of parking.

 

 

 

FOOD AND DRINK

The Auction Room

 

 

Offer: 10% Off

Bio: The Auction Room is one of the most popular new cafés in Northern Ireland. Winner of the Fréd Award for NI Cycle Café of the Year 16 / 17, spend a few minutes inside and it’s easy to see why. In addition to incredibly friendly staff, their eclectic interior and delicious food, they love to see mountain bikers and cyclists coming through their door. 

 

Shepherd’s Rest 

 

Bio: A family run pub and campsite, the Shepherd’s Rest is well known to all of the local mountain bikers and has been consistently voted as one of the most popular venues in the “Recommended Apres-Ride Pint” category in the MountainBikeNI Awards. With the upcoming Davagh Enduro sure to mean it will once again be jammed with visiting mountain bikers, the Shepherd’s Pub is a great shout the year round.

To avail of all of these offers, use the code "RideNorth" when booking or purchasing.

 

To plan your mountain bike road trip to the Sperrins 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.

Top things to see at Sir Thomas & Lady Dixon Park

Posted on April 13, 2017 @ 9:32 AM in AdventureWalking

Discover Sir Thomas & Lady Dixon Park just a stones throw from Belfast City Centre. Donated to the people of Belfast in 1959 by Lady Dixon in memory of her late husband, Sir Thomas, the park covers more than 128 acres and boasts rolling meadows, woodland and gardens.

With 3 newly signed routes, a coffee shop full of delicious treats and fantastic playpark to explore we've picked out some of the top things to see during your visit. 

The International Rose GardenRoses Belfast

The International Rose Garden has made the park world famous, and contains over 20,000 blooms in the summer, the garden also displays the best of the roses from local breeders. Each year thousands of visitors enjoy the rose gardens and associated events during Rose Week in July. In addition, the garden has trial and display beds of cluster and large flowered, miniature, shrub and climbing roses as well as a Princess Diana memorial garden

The Japanese GardenJapanese Garden

The Japanese-style garden with water features for quiet contemplation is ideal for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the City.

Golden Crown FountainGolden Crown Fountain

Commissioned for the Queen's Golden Jubilee The Golden Crown Fountain is a hidden gem within the park for those exploring the newly signposted Garden Trail.

The Magnificent MeadowMeadow Trail

The newly signposted 1.78 mile meadow walking trail follows the parks perimeter and is perfect for those looking to enjoy the flora and fauna on offer in the magnificent meadows filled with orchids, peedweeks, clovers and hayrattle.

The Woodland
Woodland Walk

The new 1.93 mile woodland walking trail takes you through dense woodland before rewarding  you with a spectacular view over the entire park.

Wilmont House
House

In the mid-1800s, the estate was bought by the Bristow family. Wilmont House was built as the family home, designed by Thomas Jackson and completed in 1859. 

The park is also a great base for exploring Lagan Valley Regional Park if you want to keep exploring.

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.

Make A Splash for £10 or less!

Posted on March 30, 2017 @ 12:06 PM in AdventureCanoeing

Make a splash this may and 'Have a Go' at a range of watersports for as little as £10 or less over the Get Wet weekend on Saturday 6th & Sunday 7th May 2017.

Get Wet Northern ireland

Over 20 watersports clubs based all over Northern Ireland will be hosting the taster events to local people with no previous experience necessary. With activities including canoeing, sailing, waterskiing & wakeboarding, rowing, angling, stand up paddle boarding and diving, there has never been a better time to get on the water and get wet!

With so many fantastic events to choose from we have handpicked a few to help you get started!

For those who "cannot wake" to get out on the water

£10pp, Meteor Water Ski Club, Lough Henney, Co. Down, Sun 7th May
Experience the thrill of waterskiing/ wakeboarding on a beautiful lake, as you learn from expert coacges the tips and tricks needed to confidently get up on the water. 

Race a Skiff Boat down Strangford Lough

FREE, Killyleagh Coastal Rowing Club, Killyleagh, Co. Down, Sat 6th May
Challenge yourself to do something new this Spring and have a go rowing a Skiff with Killyleagh Coastal Rowing Club. Get fit, enjoy the scenery and have fun at this taster session. 

Bushcraft & Nature Canoe Paddle

£10pp, C3 Paddlers, Portadown Boat Club, Co. Armagh, Sun 7th May
Make the most of the great outdoors with this brilliant combination of canoeing and bushcraft. Gain a better understanding of nature's resources and how to use them with a paddle on a local waterway. 

Row Like A Dog

£30 per team, Row The Erne, Lough Erne, Co. Fermanagh, Sat 6th May
A fun Curragh Boat Race for any organisation/ group who would like to enter a team of 9 people. Come and have a go at coastal rowing with a competitive spirit! 

Get Wet Northern ireland

Give Rowing A Try

£2pp, City of Derry Boating Club, River Foyle, Co. Derry~Londonderry, Sat 6th & Sun 7th May
Enjoy an introductory rowing session on the River Foyle. Combining a mixture of indoor and outdoor skills sessions to develop posture, grip and boat handling skills so you can confidently row down river. 

Angling For Women

FREE, Omagh Anglers Association, Newtownstewart, Co. Tyrone, Sat 6th May
Have a go at flyfishing for trout on the River Strule. This fun intro session for women is a fantastic way to learn the basics.

Try Rowing with Lagan Scullers Club

£5pp, Lagan Scullers, Belfast, Co. Antrim, Sat 6th May
Feel the sleek boat glide through the water underneath you, and enjoy being part of a team learning new skills. See Belfast from the river!

May Splash Down- Stand Up Paddleboarding for Beginners

£5pp, Erne Paddlers, Castle Island Canoe Centre, Co. Fermanagh, Sat 6th May
You don't have to travel thousands of miles to try the most popular watersport in Hawaii. Learn to Stand up paddle board (SUP) taking in the beautiful scenery around Lough Erne.

With too many to mention make sure to visit GetWetNI.com for a full list of the events on offer in your local area.

These taster events are being offered as part of a wider campaign called Get Wet NI. This campaign is an ideal way for those with no background in watersports to learn the basics under the watchful eye of qualified instructors. The weekend of taster events will be closely by a series of training programmes for those looking to continue in their chosen sport. Visit GetWetNI.com or follow the Facebook Page so you don't miss out.

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.

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: 10 Discount Off!

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.

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