May Bank Holiday Adventures in Northern Ireland

Posted on April 29, 2013 @ 11:08 AM in Adventure

You have reached the OutdoorNI.com My Bank Holiday blog for 2013 but don't worry there's still plenty of adventure activities happening this year too!  Check out our latest blog May Bank Holiday Adventure for loads of events happening in 2015.

It’s not often everyone gets a long weekend away from work so make sure you make the most of the three day weekend by spending some quality time with the family or having a laugh with your mates in the great outdoors this May Bank Holiday Weekend.

Here is just some of what Northern Ireland’s great outdoors has to offer over the 4th-6th May 2013...

There are plenty of options when it comes to family activities happening in Northern Ireland over the bank holiday weekend, here are just a few of our favourites:


Bank Holiday Family Fun Day, Jungle NI, Moneymore, Co. Londonderry, 6th May
Enjoy some quality time with the family at the Jungle NI as they celebrate the bank holiday with an exciting array of adventure activities. From archery to karting, segways to climbing walls and body zorbs to llama trekking there are loads of activities happening from just £3pp and suitable for children as young as 5 years. 

Surfing, Long Line Surf School, Benone Beach, Co. Londonderry, 4th-6th May
Join in on the fun on the Family Surfing Day on the 5th May or drop the kids off and let them have an adventure with children their own age on the Kids Surf Camp running from 4th-6th May.  Created solely for families, the family surfing day is a great way to try something new together and with Long Line providing all equipment you won’t even have to worry about packing up the car simply head to the beach and get ready to have some fun!  Alternatively leave the kids to have fun on the beach while you go away and relax for a couple of hours knowing they’re in safe hands on the kids surf camp - an experience the children will remember forever!

May Day Activity Shindig, Action Outdoors, Delamont Country Park, Co. Down, 6th May
Based in Delamont Country Park, on the edge of the stunning Strangford Lough, Action Outdoors is offering 5 great activities including canoeing, kayaking, climbing, archery and grass sledging.  Can’t decide which one to do?  At such great value you’ll be able to have a go at them all! 

Strangford Sea Safari, Clearsky Adventure Centre, Strangford Lough, Co. Down, 5th May
Hop aboard Clearsky’s Rigid Inflatable Boat (RIB) for an exhilarating sightseeing boat tour of Strangford Lough. See the Angus Rocks Lighthouse, the SeaGen (world's first tidal turbine) and some of the many seals at Cloughy Rocks Nature Reserve. If you’re lucky you might even get to see a pod of porpoises or even a Basking Shark!

Binevenagh Activity Weekend, Benone Complex, Co. Londonderry, 4th- 6th May

With loads of activities from hovercrafting to surfing and horse riding to kayaking being offered for discount prices Benone will be the place to be when it comes to adventure over the May Bank Holiday Weekend.  Sessions will run in the morning and afternoon with a shuttle bus taking everyone from the hub at Benone Complex to a whole host of different adventures.  Make sure to pack a picnic! 

For the thrill seekers out there if you want to get your adrenaline pumping this May Bank Holiday then Northern Ireland is the place to be!  Check out the events section for a full list of adventures, here are just a few to provide you with some inspiration:  

20 % Off Rock Climbing & Coasteering, Teambuild Ireland, North Coast, 4th & 5th May

If you want to get your heart racing then Teambuild Ireland can sort you out.  They are hosting an action packed day with rock climbing and abseiling in the morning followed by a wet and wild coasteering session in the afternoon.  Test your limits and over come your fears scaling new heights before jumping off the cliffs of the rugged north coast...and the best part is they are offering 20% off! 

Segway NI Titanic Tour, Belfast, Co. Antrim, All Weekend

Guaranteed to be the most exciting sightseeing tour you will ever experience. Visit where the famous Titanic was built and discover its fascinating history all whilst gliding along on your very own Segway!  The tour will visit all the key sites of the famous ship's history including the Titanic Dock and Pump House.

Barnett Demsene Trails & Jumps Park, Belfast, Co. Antrim, All Weekend

The long weekend is the perfect chance to try out the newly opened Barnett Demsene Mountain Bike Trails.  With 3.4km green trail and a 3.9km blue trail with 3 red loop options (1.5km) there is something for everyone, from novices to experts, to try for free.  If you’re feeling daring then you can pay a visit to Ireland’s first official dirt jumps park under the shadow of the Mary Peters Track.

Davagh Forest Trails, Cookstown, Co. Tyrone, All Weekend

Located approximately 6 miles north west of Cookstown, Davagh Forest offers gentle mountain biking and walking trails as well as an impressive 16km red trail with some rock slab drops you will never forget!  Starting on wide forest roads, the green trail is the perfect way to get to know your mountain bike and get a feel for riding off-road trails in a forest environment whereas the exhilarating red trail offers heart-racing singletrack, berms, rock drops and extreme slab features for the more experienced to try.

Experience Canoeing, Teambuild Ireland, Lough Neagh, 4th May

Take to the largest body of fresh water in Ireland and have a go at canoeing.  This session is aimed at those who want to try canoeing in a safe environment with qualified staff. No previous experience is necessary and all "the basics" will be taught as you go, making it perfect for trying something new over the May Bank Holiday Weekend. 

Have a great May bank holiday weekend 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!

Putting Spring in your Step - Top Things to Spot on Spring Walks

Posted on April 23, 2013 @ 4:38 PM in Walking

With Spring finally in full swing, Conor McKInney from the Ulster Wildlife Trust has put together a fantastic blog on what everyone should be looking out for when it comes to wildlife this Spring....

Spring has finally arrived to Northern Ireland and the recent episodes of good weather have stimulated our resident wildlife into a flurry of activity. The term “spring” itself is deemed to have originated from the spikes of green shoots that appear in woodlands as our days begin to lengthen and I really can think of no better place to spend warm spring days than in some of the fine examples of woodland habitats that we have throughout Northern Ireland. 

By now the early weather has awoken some of the earlier rising woodland butterflies who will be frantically chasing potential mates and seeking out food sources. The orange tip butterfly is one of our earliest risers and can be seen flitting between patches of bluebells and red campion, two of our most common woodland flowers. The speckled wood is another early riser and can often be seen feeding on honeydew, dandelion and cuckooflower. For such a delicate looking butterfly they are actually highly territorial and can often be seen perching in prominent sunlit perches where they will try to entice passing females or chase off rival males.

Spring Walking Northern Ireland

Photo Courtesy of Les Binns

Another alluring aspect of our woodland habitats is the sheer volume of bird call. At this time a lot of our species are busy singing their little hearts out to advertise themselves to potential suitors as well as establishing and defending territories, in short our woodlands are full of the sounds of avian sex and violence. Now is a particularly good time to start to learn to identify particular species by their calls as foliage cover is patchy at best.  Among some of our best songsters is the little wren, which despite only weighing the same as a £1 coin can hammer out a song at 92 db – roughly equivalent to the noise from a passing lorry! Mainly the male wrens sing and interestingly each has several phrases in their repertoire that will change according to region, much like the change in local accents and sayings thoughout Northern Ireland.

Although any woodland is a pleasure at this time of the year there are a few that are real jewels in Northern Ireland’s crown. I am going to shamelessly plug 2 of Ulster Wildlife’s nature reserves at Straidkilly and Glenarm because of the importance of some of the flora and fauna there and the beauty of each site. Straidkilly in particular has some wonderful glades a little off the beaten track that host a phenomenal range of butterflies including the newly discovered cryptic wood white butterfly. Glenarm is one of only 2 different sites in Northern Ireland that has the stunning wood cranesbill, both sites also boast rarities such as toothwort, a rather fetching parasitic plant and of course the charismatic red squirrel which will be commonly seen ground feeding at this time of year as it enthusiastically tries to build up it’s fat stores. These sites also boast some of our common favourites such as wood anemone and bluebells which create sweeping blue and white carpets across the woodland floor.

Spring Walking Northern Ireland

Photo Courtesy of  Adam Cormack

Another excellent woodland walk, and one close to my heart, is NIEA’s Ness Country Park just outside of L/Derry. Right now the wood is alive with birdsong from our migrants such as willow warblers, black caps and chiff chaffs as well as our resident tits and thrushes, it is also a great spot to see the dipper dutifully bobbing away. Outside the allure of our songbirds it is also a great place to spot signs of secretive otters who leave regular signs along the banks of the Burntollet river. These include flattened bank-side vegetation that marks their regular haul out areas as well as scat in prominent areas that otters use to mark their territory. Badgers will also leave signs of excavation as they vigourously clear out communal setts after a period of relative inactivity over the winter. During the months of April and May badgers will also be introducing starry eyed cubs to their new woodland homes so secretive dusk watches can often herald remarkable sights of badger cubs playing and badger clans snuffling. Among the frantic match-making going on occurring between our “birds and bees” it is probably worth while mentioning that the Ness waterfall is believed to be the highest in Northern Ireland and has also been voted as one of the most romantic places in Britain, so why not take a picnic and join in the with the spring romanticising, it is well worth the trip.

Spring Walking Northern Ireland

Visit WalkNI.com for route descriptions, maps, transport and facility information for over 230 quality walks including the ones mentioned above. 

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Conor McKinney
Conor McKinney  Ulster Wildlife Trust - Living Landscapes Manager

Conor works to conserve Northern Irelands key habitats and species by restoring, recreating and reconnecting key habitats. He also works to reconnect people to the landscapes surrounding them. He believes that healthy fully functioning landscapes can play a key role in making us a healthier, wealthier society.

He is a keen outdoor enthusiast and regularly treks and camps in the outdoors and plays a wide range of sports. He is also an avid barn owl and merlin enthusiast and undertakes raptor conservation work in any available free time.

Davagh Forest... Delivered!

Posted on April 22, 2013 @ 3:05 PM in Mountainbiking

Over 500 mountain bikers of all ages and abilities took part in a series of events on the brand new Davagh Forest Trails powered by Chain Reaction Cycles last weekend. Cookstown District Council's aptly named 'Davagh Delivered' initiative was a huge success and a great way to launch the first of Northern Ireland's three national mountain bike trails centres opening in 2013.

Davagh Delivered Weekend

A big thanks to the Northern Ireland Mountain Biking Alliance (NIMBA) who kicked off the weekend with a social 'Ride-Out' on the trails. As usual the craic was mighty and great to see such a variety of riders from far and wide out enjoying the trails @ Davagh.

NIMBA

Outdoor Concepts were on hand throughout the weekend with free bike hire and skills sessions for those looking to get started in mountain biking with trail sponsors Chain Reaction Cycles busy sorting people out with free demos of the latest Vitus and Ghost mountain bikes - very popular!

Davagh Enduro

The weekend was topped off on Sunday with the first ever Davagh Forest Enduro which saw over 150 mountain bikers from all across Ireland pushing themselves right to the limit on a lung-busting enduro course designed by race organisers Mickey Regan and Ivan Park from Causeway Coast Adventure Racing.

Davagh Enduro

The Davagh Enduro was a resounding success with all but two riders completing the gruelling course and fantastic feedback on the Davagh-Enduro Facebook Page! Check out race report from local club - Carn Wheelers. Congratulations to Gareth McKee, ChainReactionCycles.com, who added the Davagh Forest Enduro to his ever increasing list of competitive accolades.

Check out the Results of the Davagh Forest Enduro

Check out Photos from the Davagh Forest Enduro

MountainBikeNI.com would like to thank Cookstown District Council for organising a truly action packed 'Davagh Delivered' weekend which successfully showcased the variety of trails now open at Davagh Forest.

Visit Davagh Forest Trails for more info and/or to buy a 'Trail Proof' Map of Davagh Forest for just £2! All income generated from trail cards is invested back into the promotion of our national MTB trails centres helping to make Northern Ireland the next 'must visit' mountain bike destination across the UK and Ireland!

 

Chris Armstrong
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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