Ross MillarElizabeth RogersPeter Lennon
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Blog ethics Award Winners 2012

Posted on January 14, 2013 @ 4:51 PM in Adventure

The 2012 Awards in association with Surf Mountain saw 1145 votes cast by the public on’s Facebook Page.  The nominees battled it out throughout 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 2012 Award winners.

Drum roll please…

Best Newcomer – Awarded to the best activity provider added to during 2012

Segway NI   

Receiving a quarter of all votes, entrepreneur and owner Wesley Jameson from Segway NI explains why he thinks his business has earned the winning position, “The business has always been about offering a fun, cool and unique way to explore Northern Ireland’s outdoors and we believe this has been the foundation of our success. Pretty much anyone can get onto a Segway and master it within minutes! Coupling its low price and accessible location means it appeals to a very wide audience”.

Check out our OutdoorNI does…Segway NI blog to find out how one member of the team got on when they gave it a go.

Segway NI

Best Family Activity Provider – Awarded to the activity provider offering the best family experience

Alive Surf School

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.  The surf school originated from a love of surfing so to me and my team it’s not just about running a business but it is about trying to get as many people into and enjoying the sport as much as we do and there is no better place to do this than on the North Coast.”

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 New Outdoor Activity Venue / Product – Awarded to the best outdoor activity venue / product opened in 2012

Port Moon Bothy

Picking up the award, Robin Ruddock from the Causeway Coast Kayak Association, who were one of the key players in its restoration, commented “We believe the bothy offers an unforgettable experience for canoeists in a truly unforgettable location. When restoring the building we wanted to create a homely feel so that visitors would not just see it as a bed for the night but also appreciate and look after it and we are sure that this is what sets it apart”.  

Click here to find out more about the Port Moon Bothy situated on the North Coast Sea Kayak Trail

Best Thrillseeking Provider – Awarded to the activity provider offering the best thrill seeking experience

Coasteering NI 

On receiving the award, Stephen Brown explained, “Coasteering is growing rapidly in Northern Ireland which will have certainly contributed to our success but we definitely believe the success ultimately lies in our delivery of this exhilarating activity including our friendly instructors to guide the brave and the not so brave and the range of scenic locations we use giving people the opportunity to see parts of the coastline from a different perspective”.

Check out our blog does…Coasteering NI for a first hand account.

Coasteering NI

Best Outdoor Event – Awarded to the best mass participant challenge event in Northern Ireland’s outdoors in 2012

The Giant’s Causeway Coast Sportive scooped up the coveted prize for the second year in a row with event organiser Beverley Pierson from Outdoor Recreation NI explaining, “This event is now in its second year and has surpassed all our expectations and we believe its success lies in the ongoing determination of our team to always better the event, the magnificent scenic and challenging route, its ability to cater for all levels of cyclist and the welcoming atmosphere in Ballycastle village”.

For more information and details of how to sign up to the 2013 event visit the Giant’s Causeway Coast Sportive website

Best Innovation - Awarded to most innovative introduction to Northern Ireland's outdoors in 2012

The Jungle NI’s Fright Night 

Having received over a third of all votes, Sarah Louise Carmichael commented, “The idea for our fright night was obviously generated around the time of Halloween but because it has been so popular we are now having to offer it at other times of the year. A lot of work has gone into the fright night experience including getting the right props, the right lighting, the right sounds and the right effects so we believe it is the finer details that has now made this event award winning”.

Make sure to check out the Jungle NI’s event page  to keep up to date with the latest Fright Night dates.

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.” 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 Awards in 2013!


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Sarah Nelson
Sarah Nelson  Marketing Officer

Sarah joined the marketing team of Outdoor Recreation NI in 2011. A firm believer in giving anything a go at least once (unless it involves jumping out of a plane at 6,000ft!) she is always looking for new adventures in the outdoors and can often be found wandering the Mournes or Glens of Antrim attempting not to get lost!

Top Tips for Hill Walking Safety

Posted on January 9, 2013 @ 1:53 PM in Walking

A keen hill walker and outdoor pursuits enthusiast Pauline Mc Gurk completed the 6 peaks challenge in June 2012 - a time when the weather should have been reasonable for hiking...but not in N.Ireland! Along with her partner in crime Emma McCann, she completed the challenge in the most horrendous weather; including gale force winds, rain and sleet.  Fortunately they were well prepared with lots of changes of gear and plenty of food and hot drinks which was a major contributing factor in allowing them to complete the challenge in just 21 hours. 

Given her experiences and the fact that Pauline is a volunteer with North West Mountain Rescue Team, we thought there was no better person to ask advice for walking in the hills safely now that Winter is in full swing.  There are many wonderful mountains and hills in Northern Ireland waiting to be explored however the importance of approaching the hills with extreme care and good preparation can not be stressed enough.  Using guidance from the North West Mountain Rescue website Pauline has given the following advice to anyone hoping to enjoy a safe and fun day out hiking in the hills:

Walking Safety

Mountains can be killers without proper care. The following points cover the minimum precautions you should take if you want to avoid getting hurt or lost or, in the event of an accident, minimise further harm.


  • Plan before setting out!
  • Consider the equipment, experience, capabilities and enthusiasm of the party members
  • Check the weather forecast and local conditions
  • Remember night encroaches early in the winter
  • Learn first aid
  • Many accidents occur towards the latter part of the day when both your energy levels (and phone battery!) will be run down. Did you remember to charge your battery before setting out?


  • Wear suitable boots with a treaded sole which provide support for ankles
  • Clothing should be colourful, warm, windproof and waterproof
  • Take spare warm clothing and perhaps a hat and gloves; it is always colder on the tops


  • In addition to the usual sandwiches take chocolate, dates, or similar sweet things, which restore energy quickly. Even if you don’t need them yourself, someone else may!
  • If you run out of water remember streams on hills are drinkable as long as the water is fast-running over stony beds


  • A map, compass (and the ability to use them), and at least one reliable watch in the party should always be carried
  • If you carry a GPS, at least know how to read your current position. It could save a lot of hassle in an emergency when speaking to the Mountain Rescue Team
  • In all conditions, it is wise to carry a whistle, torch, spare batteries and bulbs
  • Climbers and mountain bikers are all urged to wear helmets at all times


  • If in groups, make sure party leaders are experienced; do not let the party become separated
  • Take special care of the youngest and weakest in dangerous places
  • If you prefer to go alone, be aware of the additional risk. Let people know your route before you start, stick to it as far as you can and notify them of any changes.


  • Be prepared to turn back if conditions are against you; even if it upsets your plan
  • If you have a serious problem, Dial 999 and ask for mountain rescue as soon as possible. Prior to dialling 999 be prepared to state your contact number (so that the Mountain Rescue Team can contact you), your location if known (if unknown state your starting point and any known landmarks within your vicinity), the nature and number of injuries if any
  • Keep injured/exhausted people safe and warm until help reaches you. If you cannot contact anyone, use six whistle blasts or torch flashes, repeated at minute intervals, to signal an emergency. Report any changes of route or timetable to someone who is expecting you


  • Do not rely on a mobile phone to get you out of trouble. Signal coverage in mountainous areas is very unreliable. Mountain Rescue Teams have many years of experience in calls from mobile telephones and, whilst they are excellent when they work, there are many things that can go wrong. Even moving a few feet in the mountains can mean losing the signal. You will be advised of best practice when contacted. If you are able to summon help using your mobile phone keep it switched on so you can be contacted


  • Precipices or Cliffs
  • Slopes of ice or steep snow
  • Very steep grass slopes, especially if frozen or wet
  • Unstable boulders
  • Gullies, gorges and stream beds
  • Streams in spate
  • Snow cornices on ridges or gully tops
  • Exceeding your experience and abilities
  • Loss of concentration, especially toward the end of a long day


  • Weather changes - these can be sudden and more extreme than forecast
  • Ice on path (carry an ice-axe and crampons - and know how to use them)
  • Excessive cold or heat (dress appropriately)
  • Exhaustion (know the signs; rest and keep warm)
  • Accident or illness (don't panic - if you send for help, make sure you stay put and the rescuers know exactly where to come)
  • Passage of Time - especially true when under pressure - allow extra time in winter conditions

Always remember it is no disgrace to turn back if you are not certain. A party must be governed by the capabilities of the weakest member.

Now you’re prepared with the knowledge of how to stay safe in the hills, check out for a whole host of walking routes in Northern Ireland’s majestic mountains.  Happy Hill Walking!   

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Pauline Mc Gurk
Pauline Mc Gurk  Public Relations Officer with North West Mountain Rescue Team, Hill walker & cyclist

Pauline started hill walking in 2004 and has trekked in the Himalayas & Vietnam. She is also a keen cyclist having cycled over the Andes from Argentina to Chile and in Brazil.

Pauline became a volunteer with the North West Mountain Rescue team 4 years ago and enjoys the outdoors in all weathers. When she's not volunteering she enjoys walking and skiing in Switzerland & Austria.

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