Awards for North Coast Surf School’s

Posted on January 15, 2014 @ 3:55 PM in Beaches

The winners of the 2013 OutdoorNI.com Awards, in association with Surf Mountain, have just been announced with two Surf Schools located on the North Coast receiving awards for the Best Coastal Experience and the Best Family Activity Provider.   

With 1500 votes cast by the public on OutdoorNI.com’s Facebook Page, the awards were the biggest and best yet with the nominees battling it out throughout December to win the coveted titles. 

Best Coastal Experience –Activity Provider offering the best outdoor activity exploring the Northern Ireland Coastline

Kids Big Day Out, Long Line Surf School, Benone Beach

The Kids Big Day Out is an initiative which allows kids to spend a whole day on the beach with trained surf instructors and life guards.  From surf lessons to swimming, and beach games to treasure trails the kids experience beach culture whilst getting outdoors and active.  On receiving the award, owner Dan Lavery explained why he thinks his event has the winning formula, “The ethos behind the surf school and the Kids Big Days Out is all about encouraging young ones to experience surfing as a lifestyle rather than just a sport.  By incorporating fun and education through games and exercise on the shores as well as the water the kids got to make the most of this fantastic beach we have at Benone and I believe this is what keeps them coming back for more”. 

Make sure to keep an eye on Long Line’s events calendar for the next Kids Big Day Out.

Best Family Activity Provider - The activity provider offering the best family experience

Alive Surf School, West Strand Beach, Portrush

This popular category created some stiff competition for Alive Surf School but they were still able to rise to the top to win the award for the third consecutive year. When asked about the secrets behind the success of Alive Surf School, founder Ricky Martin explained, “The surf school originated from a love of surfing so to me and my team its not just about running a business but it’s about introducing others to the world of surfing in a fun and passionate atmosphere with the aim of getting more and more people hooked to the sport”

With lessons available for all ages from 5 years old, why not get your family together and hit the waves with Alive Surf School.

The sponsor of the awards, Surf Mountain founder Nick Stevenson also had a few words to say, “We at Surf Mountain have always prided ourselves on being from Northern Ireland. All our staff our outdoor enthusiasts and so we were delighted to have the opportunity to support local events, progressive outdoor providers and venues such as the Lough Erne Canoe Trail. All the category winners and indeed nominees should be incredibly proud of their achievements this year.”

BeachNI.com would like to extend a massive congratulations to both Long Line and Alive Surf School for scooping these top awards. Well done guys!

Beverley Magowan
Beverley Magowan  Senior Marketing Officer

Beverley used to be a keen horse rider but since joining a local cycle club in 2013 she has developed a passion for 2 wheels instead of 4 hoofs! Meaning she can often be found on a bike exploring the roads across the country!

OutdoorNI.com Award Winners 2013

Posted on January 15, 2014 @ 12:22 PM in Adventure

Awards season has officially started, no we’re not talking about the Golden Globes, the winners have been announced for the 2013 OutdoorNI.com Awards in association with Surf Mountain! With 1500 votes cast by the public on OutdoorNI.com’s Facebook Page, the awards were the biggest and best yet with the nominees battling 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 your 2013 OutdoorNI.com Award winners. 

OutdoorNI Awards 2013 

Best Coastal Experience –Activity Provider offering the best outdoor activity exploring the Northern Ireland Coastline

Kids Big Day Out, Long Line Surf School

The Kids Big Day Out is an initiative which allows kids to spend a whole day on the beach with trained surf instructors and life guards.  From surf lessons to swimming, and beach games to treasure trails the kids experience beach culture whilst getting outdoors and active.  On receiving the award, owner Dan Lavery explained why he thinks his event has the winning formula, “The ethos behind the surf school and the Kids Big Days Out is all about encouraging young ones to experience surfing as a lifestyle rather than just a sport.  By incorporating fun and education through games and exercise on the shores as well as the water the kids got to make the most of this fantastic beach we have at Benone and I believe this is what keeps them coming back for more”. 

Make sure to keep an eye on Long Line’s events calendar for the next Kids Big Day Out.

Long Line Surf School

Best Charity Challenge Event - The best charity challenge event in Northern Ireland’s outdoors in 2013

Life Style Sports Run in the Dark

Popular charity event, Run in the Dark which is held simultaneously in 5 locations throughout Ireland and the UK won the ‘Best Charity Challenge Event’ for their Belfast event.  Primarily a fundraising event for the Mark Pollock Trust numerous other charities also used the event as a vehicle to raise much needed funds for their own worthy causes.  Event organiser, Patrick Brown from Tughans commented, “To win the Best Charity Challenge Event award is such a fantastic achievement for us and for the event which is now in its 3rd year. We were up against some very well known events, all for worthy causes, so it’s great to have Life Style Sports Run in the Dark recognised by the public as being the best charity challenge event in Northern Ireland”.

For more information and details of how to sign up to the 2014 event visit www.runinthedark.org

Best Family Activity Provider - The activity provider offering the best family experience

Alive Surf School 

This popular category created some stiff competition for Alive Surf School but they were still able to rise to the top to win the award for the third consecutive year.  When asked about the secrets behind the success of Alive Surf School, founder Ricky Martin explained, “The surf school originated from a love of surfing so to me and my team its not just about running a business but it’s about introducing others to the world of surfing in a fun and passionate atmosphere with the aim of getting more and more people hooked to the sport”

With lessons available for all ages from 5 years old get your family together and hit the waves with Alive Surf School.

Best Unique Outdoor Experience - The most unique outdoor experience in Northern Ireland's outdoors in 2013

Segway NI Titanic Tours 

 Fresh from winning Best Newcomer in last years awards, Segway NI continued their success by scooping the Best Unique Outdoor Experience award for their newly launched Segway Titanic Tours.  On receiving the award owner of SegwayNI Wesley Jameson commented, “Our Segway Titanic tours offer visitors a way to see all the key sites where the famous Titanic was built but in a completely unique way onboard their very own two wheeled gliding machine and we believe it is this element that provides an exciting aspect to the tour making it an unforgettable experience”.

Click here for details of how you can experience the Segway NI Titanic Tour first hand

OutdoorNI Awards 2013

Best Thrillseeking Provider - The activity provider offering the best thrill seeking experience for over 16’s

Todds Leap 

With multi activity centre Todds Leap receiving just under a third of all votes, owner Benny Hanlon expressed his delight by commenting, “To win the Best Thrill Seeking Provider award is such a fantastic achievement for me and my team especially when you consider the three other providers that we were up against.  Todds leap is Ireland’s number one activity centre with over twenty five thrilling activities and thanks to over 25,000 visitors last year we thrive to keep it there. Many thanks to all who voted for us”.

Click here to find out how you can get your adrenaline pumping on a day out at Todds Leap.  You can also check out our blog ‘OutdoorNI does Motorsports Madness’ for a first hand account.

Best Glamping Experience - The best place to experience Glamping in Northern Ireland in 2013

Castle Ward Camping Pods, National Trust

With the new craze of ‘Glamping' or glamorous camping sweeping Northern Ireland we had to have this new category for 2014.  Jacqueline Baird from the National Trust explained why she believed the pods have been so popular  “Our glamping pods not only offer visitors a unique way to spend a night or short break but also allow those who stay in them to have an unforgettable experience in the great outdoors, without having to give up all of their home comforts!”. 

Click here for details of how you can spend a unique night away in the stunning Castle Ward 820 acre and experience the fantastic outdoor activities on offer.

Best Challenge Event - The best mass participant challenge event in Northern Ireland’s outdoors in 2013

Mourne Way Marathon, 26 Extreme 

The Mourne Way Marathon takes place annually in June with participants able to choose from a 10k right up to a grueling 52 mile ultra marathon all set within the Mournes Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.  On wining the award Ian Cummings from 26 Extreme expressed his delight by commenting, “To win the Best Challenge Event award is such a fantastic achievement for us and for the event which is now in its 6th year. We believe that a combination of aspects set our event apart such as offering a variety of race distances, a dedicated support team on the day and simply unparalleled scenery here in the Mourne Mountains.”

For more information and details of how to sign up to the 2014 event visit the 26 Extreme Website.

OutdoorNI Awards 2013

Most Popular Outdoor Recreation Trail - The best DIY outdoor activity trail in Northern Ireland

Lough Erne Canoe Trail 

Situated in Fermanagh’s famous lakelands the 50 kilometre Canoe Trail spanning both Upper and Lower Lough Erne triumphed as the best Do It Yourself activity trail in NI.  Chris Scott from Outdoor Recreation NI, the organisation behind the development of the trail commented, “We believe the success of the trail lies in it’s ability to suit such a wide range of skill levels. Parts of the trail are ideal for families or those embarking on their first canoe trip and at the other end of the spectrum; certain areas can be challenging and are best left to the experts.”

Click here to find out how you can get paddling on the Lough Erne Canoe Trail.  You can also check out the blog ‘Lough Erne Canoe Trail What an Adventure’  for a first hand account.

The sponsor of the awards, Surf Mountain founder Nick Stevenson also had a few words to say, “We at Surf Mountain have always prided ourselves on being from Northern Ireland. All our staff our outdoor enthusiasts and so we were delighted to have the opportunity to support local events, progressive outdoor providers and venues such as the Lough Erne Canoe Trail. 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.   

 

 

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!

Across Ireland on a Bike

Posted on January 13, 2014 @ 12:12 PM in Cycling

Rusty Surginor, a keen climber and outdoor enthuasist, had been competing in a climbing competition and unfortunately injured himself. Whilst recovering at home he started to think about what he could do with the days off work and this is where the plans for his adventure across Ireland on a bike started...in Rusty's own words "They say when one door closes another opens: this time they were right..."

I had always been drawn to the idea of crossing Ireland unsupported: either by foot or by bike. Usually the plan would be outlined to non cyclists or hikers a half an hour before closing time in a pub or at a wedding. The fantasy fuelled by the warm glow of enthusiasm brought on by whiskey and usually received with polite expressions of disinterest. Hikers and cyclists know the look. The one when we know that whomever we’re talking to just doesn’t get “it”. Ask anyone to explain precisely what “it” is and they’ll usually fail. But we still know what “it” is. We still take to the roads and hills and know when we’ve found “it”. I was determined not to waste my days off and so dusted off the pipe dream and made the plan.

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The simple plan consisted of cycling coast to coast across Ireland and bivying along the way. 113 miles across the top of Ireland in as little time as possible. I had done no cycling preparations prior to setting off but the excitement had already took me and there was no stopping me now. Kit packed and with a few crude directions on my iPhone I mounted the borrowed racing bike and set off on a rainy Monday through heavy Belfast traffic.

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The incline to get out of the valley of Belfast was a shock to the system however after 30mins or so I found myself looking down over the city and heading towards Antrim. The lack of traffic and green fields of the 7 mile straight soothing my cluttered mind and as the endorphins kicked in I felt the thrill of this new adventure take told.

My bike was kindly loaned by fellow Hikers blog member Oisin and perfect for the job. Originally I had thought of using my own mountain bike. A few hours into the journey I realised that this would have been disastrous. I settled into the rhythm of the road quite well. Stopping here and there at garages and shops to fill up on high sugar snacks. My marathon experience taught me that running low on fuel could end any such trip quite quickly. Hitting the wall when the body’s glycogen reserves are depleted brings the body and mind to some strange places. The will starts to dwindle and excuses come to mind as to why you should stop. Failure stalks you in the form of rationalising to yourself why you should stop. In any endurance event learning how to avoid listening to these thoughts is key. I was able to avoid alot of this by keeping fuelled up.

The first days cycling brought me to Plumb Bridge. Just the other side of the Sperrin Mountain range. A lack of any form of rational planning meant that I had accidentally plotted by route directly over the Sperrins. Much of the route was therefore uphill and the Sperrins for all their beauty took an astonishing toll the first day. As daylight faded and I limped into the town of Plumb Bridge in search of food and a spot to make camp I was utterly exhausted but still extremely pleased.

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After a quick meal, several pints in the local pub and a hearty sleep I was back on the road before sunrise the second morning and surprisingly enthusiastic as I knew I would arrive that day. I can only describe the excitement like that of a child on Christmas Eve.

As I cycled on the Sun came up and brought with it warmth and the knowledge that I would be in a warm bed that very evening. Crossing the boarder at Strabane I cycled for hours across hills, endless fields and small towns. Letting my thoughts wonder. Content and happy in the rhythm of life on the road. Deeply meditative. The experience was very like walking the Camino de Santiago in Spain. Soaking in the silence and the scenery.

Reaching the County of Donegal I was impressed deeply by some of the stunning landscape. The barren but beautiful hills of Donegal reminded me that I was near my destination and I actually found myself slowing down to enjoy the cycle. Knowing that by afternoon the dream would be over and I’d have arrived.

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I was pleased to see the yellow directional markers on the Bluestack Way in Donegal. The yellow markers are the same as the ones used on the Camino and part of me was pleased to see the tradition being continued with the Bluestack Hiking trail in Donegal. As I pumped the pedals for a sprint finish into Ardara town I felt ecstatic. I felt like I’d just won the Tour de France! Exhausted but happy I climbed off for a well earned pint of Guinness.

The cycle in total took me a day and a half. Respectable enough however without a rucksack I’d imagine it could be done in a day with some training. Importantly though the experience reinforced the joy one can get from jumping in and going for those expeditions that we all have in mind. To go for it, not over think it and let the adventure carry you!

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For more inspiring blogs on a variety of outdoor activities from Rusty and others please visit www.hikersblog.co.uk

Latest comment posted by Mark Doherty on January 21, 2014 @ 9:42 PM

A lovely account of an excellent, impulsive, idea. It makes me long for a similar opportunity. A new challenge awaits me when it happens. The 'Wild Atlantic Way' hugs the western coast from Kinsale ... Read more >

Rusty Surginor
Rusty Surginor  Contributor to Hikers Blog

Rusty is a keen hiker of the Mourne mountains and Belfast hills, who also enjoys camping, preferably with the minimum amount of equipment required. An occasional climber and regular outdoor runner, Rusty enjoys varied outdoor pursuits and even indulges in a little quiet bird watching to relax after a few gruelling days in the hills. Rusty also trains regularly in multiple martial arts disciplines and is an enthusiastic advocate of self defence amongst others in outdoors circles.

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