Chris Armstrong Mountain Bike Officer
Chris looks after all things mountain biking in Northern Ireland ...it's a tough job but someone's gotta do it!
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48 hours in the North Coast and Glens of Antrim
When people talk about the highlights of Northern Ireland's North Coast, the Giant's Causeway UNESCO World Heritage site is often top of the list, closely followed by Carrick-a-rede Rope Bridge and the Bushmills Whiskey Distillery. However 'Beyond the Causeway' there lies breathtaking landscapes and spectacular walking routes just waiting to be explored!
With stunning cliff top paths and deep, magical glens, this region still remains largely untouched despite boasting some of Northern Ireland's most famous tourist attractions. This 48 hour itinerary showcases some fantastic walking opportunities, great lunch spots and places to visit, satisfying those post-walk indulgences. Click here for a full list of quality walks in The North Coast and Glens of Antrim.
Saturday: Any trip to the North Coast of Northern Ireland should start with a visit to the geological spectacle of the Giant’s Causeway. Here, you can learn about the natural history of this unique area and indeed hear of the myths and legends which this landscape has inspired for hundreds of years.
However, after you have satisfied your explorations of the Causeway and decided on your own theory of how it all came to be, head East towards Benbane Head and enjoy the stunning coastline, hidden bays and rocky outcrops that await you just minutes from the visitor’s centre. This 5 mile cliff top walk boasts idyllic views out to Scotland’s Mull of Kintyre and the Hebridean islands of Islay and Jura with unique opportunities to get up close and personal with fulmars, jackdaws and black guillemots which nest in the sea cliffs of the Causeway Coast.
You will pass Port na Spanaigh, the wreck site of the Girona, one of the ships of the ill-fated Spanish Armada which foundered here in 1588 as well as an old fisherman’s cottage lying in the secluded Port Moon Bay which is currently being converted as basic accommodation for sea kayakers on the North Coast Sea Kayak Trail.
As you approach Dunseverick Castle, the cliffs gradually fall in height and you will finish your walk looking out over open farmland. The Causeway Rambler Bus Service picks up walkers at Dunseverick Castle and brings them back to the Giant’s Causeway throughout the summer months. Click here to read the full route description for the North Antrim Cliff Top Path.
Don’t just take our word for it…
‘The nicest walk/hike I've ever taken. Breathtaking. Dunseverick castle magnificent”. Posted on WalkNI.com by Catherine McConaghy on February 12, 2010
Sunday: Explore ancient woodlands and beautiful waterfalls on this 6 mile circular walk through the magical Glens of Antrim and discover why Glenariff enjoys the title ‘Queen of the Glens’. The Scenic Trail through Glenariff Forest Park, includes some steep sections, especially descending down the Inver River Gorge, however walkers are rewarded with stunning views of the Ess-na-Crub Waterfall with upper sections of the walk boasting jaw dropping vistas out to the Mull of Kintyre.
Many enjoy walking through Glenariff when the bluebells are blooming in the Spring or when the hills come alive with yellow gorse and red fuchsias later in the summer. However, in truth, the Scenic Trail through Glenariff offers pleasant walking through beautiful backdrops all year round. Click here to read the full route description for Glenariff Forest Park Scenic Trail.
Don’t just take our word for it…
‘Walked this trail at the start of November with a group of friends - what a fantastic walk… Surely one of the top forest walks in the Province’ Posted on WalkNI.com by Mark on January 8, 2009
Well I have been asked again for a little buokgrcand behind the image so here it is. . . . . I was just scanning through a bunch of scouting images I had taken for NITB. I really was just looking for ... Read more >
The nominees battled it out throughout November and December to win the coveted titles.
We are now pleased to announce that the wait is finally over and without further ado we give you the 2011OutdoorNI.com Award winners.
Drum roll please…
Best Family Activity Provider – Awarded to the activity provider offering the best family experience
When asked about the secrets behind the success of Alive Surf School, founder Ricky Martin explained, “Our emphasis has always been on teaching through fun. We are passionate people, about surfing and about the North Coast which is finally being recognised as one of the top surfing coastlines in the world.”
Northern Ireland’s longest running surf school provides lessons throughout the year for all ages from 5 years old, hence it truly caters for all the family.
Best Newcomer – Awarded to the best activity provider added to OutdoorNI.com during 2011
This innovative Belfast based tour company has been growing from strength to strength since their launch last summer. After speaking to founder Jerome O’Loughlin, it is not hard to see how they managed to take the crown. “Belfast is an incredible city, steeped in culture with a story to tell on virtually every corner. We love being able to share these stories and our tours seem to be going down well which is great. On our low rider style ‘Californian Cruiser’ bikes we can explore parts of the city which are inaccessible on regular bus and taxi tours which hopefully make the Belfast visitor experience a much more memorable one.”
Adventure Icon – Awarded to the individual or team from Northern Ireland who achieved something amazing in Northern Ireland’s outdoors
Elaine ‘Shooter’ Alexander
Elaine Alexander affectionately known as Shooter, who last year successfully circumnavigated Ireland by Kayak in a fundraising challenge for the Share Holiday Village in Lisnaskea, won over forty percent of all votes in this much coveted category. Miss Alexander proved she is more than deserving of her NI Adventure Icon status as she described the challenge she undertook, “I knew it was going to be tough but didn’t appreciate how much the trip would take out of me. I shed over a stone and lost count of the number of blisters on my hands during the period I was on the water but it was all worth it for the incredible coastlines and fantastic people I met along the way”
Visit our blog to learn more about Elaine’s epic adventure.
Best New Outdoor Activity Venue / Product – Awarded to the best outdoor activity venue / product opened in 2011
Tollymore National Outdoor Centre was awarded ‘Best New Outdoor Activity Venue’ for their purpose-built mountain bike skills track in County Down. Launched in the summer of 2011 the 1.5km trail has been specifically designed to enable bikers to develop their personal skills and experience. Upon receiving the award Centre Manager, Trevor Fisher explained, “We are delighted to have won the award and would like to say a 'big thank you' to everyone who voted for us. We look forward to welcoming everyone here in 2012 to try out our mountain bike skills course.”
Best Thrillseeking Provider – Awarded to the activity provider offering the best thrill seeking experience
The Jungle NI, based in Magherafelt, Co. Londonderry clinched the ‘Best Thrillseeking Provider’ award. Whether it’s hurtling down a hill at high speeds in a zorbing ball, dodging the bullets on a paintballing session or tackling Ireland’s only Tree Top Adventure Course the Jungle has plenty to offer when it comes to thrill seeking adventure. Sarah-Louise Carmichael, from the Jungle NI commented, “We are absolutely delighted to be recognised by the public as the best thrillseeking provider. We were up against some fantastic activity providers who are all doing great things across Northern Ireland so to come out on top is amazing”.
Visit our blog to find out how OutdoorNI.com got on when they experienced one of the Jungle NI’s many thrill seeking activities or check out some of the many activity ideas on offer at the centre that are guaranteed to get your adrenaline pumping.
Best Adventure Website / Publication – Awarded to the best Northern Irish Outdoor Adventure Website / Publication
A forum dedicated to bringing anyone with an interest in outdoor activities in Northern Ireland together, NI Wild won the ‘Best Adventure Website/Publication’ award. A truly interactive site, family friendly and free to join there are always plenty of chats and debates happening on all aspects of outdoor life in Northern Ireland. A spokesperson from NI Wild explained, “We want everyone to have a good time and encourage people to use NI-Wild to meet new people and get into the outdoors for some fun. Being a site that is reliant on public interaction we were thrilled to be voted by the public as the best adventure website”.
Best Outdoor Event – Awarded to the best mass participant challenge event in Northern Ireland’s outdoors in 2011
In its first year the Giant’s Causeway Coast Sportive took the coveted prize for ‘Best Outdoor Event in Northern Ireland’ and is fast becoming the most talked about sportive on the Irish cycling calendar. Beverly Pierson from the Giant’s Causeway Coast Sportive commented “We had a fantastic event in our first year with over 600 cyclists taking part. We wanted the route to really push cyclists whether they were attempting their first cycle on the 57km route or taking on the 182km Giant Killer option. We are delighted to have won the award and would like to thank everyone who voted, we’re looking forward to welcoming you over the finish line in 2012!”
Nick Stevenson, founder of Surf Mountain extended his congratulations to the award winners stating, “We at Surf Mountain have always prided ourselves on being from Northern Ireland. All our staff are outdoor enthusiasts and so we were delighted to have the opportunity to support fellow adventurers, local events and progressive outdoor providers. All the category winners and indeed nominees should be incredibly proud of their achievements this year.”
OutdoorNI.com would like to extend a massive congratulations to everyone who won and a big thank you to all those who took the time to vote. We are looking forward to an even bigger and better OutdoorNI.com Awards in 2012. Who knows, we may even have a red carpet…