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!
February 21, 2017
February 10, 2017
February 8, 2017
January 30, 2017
January 17, 2017
Founded in 1992, East Coast Adventure is one of Northern Ireland’s leading outdoor activity providers and opened their trailhead services with the launch of the Rostrevor Mountain Bike Trails in the summer of 2013. Located in the main car park, beside the Kilbroney Park Café, East Coast Adventure offer a range of mountain bike hire, tuition courses and the official uplift service for Rostrevor’s two Downhill Trails, Black & Red Cross Country Loops.
We caught up with East Coast Adventure’s Operations Director, Ian Cumming, to find out a bit more about Rostrevor’s official trailhead provider.
So Ian with the Rostrevor Mountain Bike Trails open just over a year now how have your team at East Coast Adventure settled in?
Our Team at East Coast Adventure have got to know the local riders well and formed relationships with many of our local service providers and stakeholders. We've created a great camaraderie amongst mountain bikers and have the one and only “Micheal” The Legend as the most famous uplift driver.
What was it that made East Coast Adventure passionate about setting up these trailhead services? Are you a mountain biker yourself?
I have been mountain biking since 14 years of age and over the years have developed a love for the sport, which has taken me all over the world racing and travelling. East Coast Adventure delivered mountain biking to our customers over 15 years ago originally based from “Big Wood” in the Narrow Water Estate and so it is great to be back in the sport again.
Are there any highlights that stand out from your first year operating at the Rostrevor trailhead?
We were able to provide uplift services to the Red Bull Fox Hunt and the World Police and Fire Games which were world class events not to mention Ireland’s IDMS National Championships all of which brought many spectators and followers of the sport out in force. The success of our young sponsored riders in Scotland and the kids “Mucky Pubs” Club have also been a real highlight for us.
Your uplift service caters the two downhill trails but do you find XC riders also using this service?
We noticed over the past 12 months that many cross country riders use the uplift service to skip out the initial big climb so they can enjoy the trails which offer spectacular views over Carlingford Lough.
Your team are clearly passionate about mountain biking so are you doing anything to encourage younger kids to get involved in the sport?
East Coast Adventure has taken a group of five young riders each from different areas across to Scotland for the Scottish Power Mini Downhill Competition this year. They had four weekends to compete in time trials in an effort to secure podium positions. All five were successful and qualified and we gained two seconds and one forth position in the final which took place in Fortwilliam over the weekend of the UCI DH World Championships. This was a great achievement and proved that with correct coaching and dedication a lot can be achieved especially by young people only new to the sport.
What lies ahead for East Coast Adventure?
We would like to see a lot more world class events taking place on the Rostrevor Trails as this promotes the trails and brings local and International visitors to the area. We will continue to work with local clubs to develop the youth side of the sport in both downhill and cross country. East Coast Adventure wants to continue to provide a high level of service and welcome repeat customers and for the 2015 season, add downhill bikes to our fleet of mountain bikes and hopefully increase our uplift provision as demand increases. We’ve recently opened Pod Accommodation to complement our Bunk House facilities and run a transfer service from here to the trailhead daily for visiting mountain bikers.
East Coast Adventure currently offer Bike Hire @ £20 per afternoon and £30 per full day in Rostrevor including helmet, pump, tube and repair kit. The uplift service operates seasonal service hours all of which are on their website www.eastcoastadventure.com. They offer tuition courses catering for children and adults with an interest in mountain biking and bike fitness with bike maintenance, trail map reading, safety on the mountain and other aspects of using the trails is covered on each course.
Glamping in 2016 never looked so good!
With so many fantastic glamping sites, Northern Ireland is a must visit to get away from it all without breaking the bank. Whether you want to road trip towards an action packed weekend with your mates or enjoy a family short break in the outdoors with some added comfort Northern Ireland is the place to be. From the stunning coastline of the North Coast, to the famous Lakelands of Fermanagh, beautiful beaches, sunsets and stargazing await you on your glamping adventure!
‘Glamping’ or glamorous camping combines all the fun of camping with some of the amenities of a home so you can enjoy the tranquillity of the outdoors with the added bonus of staying dry. Give yourself more time to relax and enjoy the fantastic outdoor activities on offer.
With lots of outdoor activity providers located beside the glamping sites adventure will be right on your doorstep. So you can have a hassle free break and make it as action packed or as chilled out as you want. Here are some of our top suggestions of glamping spots in Northern Ireland.
Award Winning Glamping in Strangford
Camping Pods, Castle Ward, Strangford
Tucked away in the stunning 820 acre demesne of Castle Ward you will find four eco-friendly camping pods. Winner of the OutdoorNI Award for Best Glamping Experience in Northern Ireland these heated pods are ideal for a campout for families and groups of friends whatever the weather! Clearsky Adventure Centre's glamping & adventure package's will help you make the most of your stay, with bike hire included explore the 12km of trails and discover iconic Game of Thrones film locations.
Trannish Island Bothy, Upper Lough Erne
Escape to Trannish island for a nights stay away from the hustle and bustle. Only accessibly by canoe this is a great base for those following the Lough Erne Canoe Trail the bothy is kitted out with a cosy wood burning stove, camping platforms, toilets and solar powered showers. With the opportunity to book the Bothy for exclusive use you can even have the entire island to yourself!
Bubble Domes, Finn Lough
Drift off to sleep in a bubble after an action packed day of activities with Free Range Adventures at Finn Lough. Mountain bike to secret lakes or discover deserted islands, hidden bays and abandoned castles as you follow clues in secure of an elusive treat! The first of their kind in Northern Ireland these bubbles take glamping to a whole new level!
Luxury Glamping in Co. Derry~Londonderry
Glamping Pods, Moneymore
Ever wondered what it would be like to camp out in a Jungle?! Kick back, relax after a day of adventures and enjoy the benefits of your very own Glamping pod within the grounds of JungleNI. Each pod has access to its own BBQ area as well as having electric heating and is double glazed ensuring you are kept cosy no matter what the weather! There is even the added luxury of an outdoor hot tub!
Luxury Bell Tents & Camping Cocoon’s, Limavady
Fancy the idea of camping without having to put up your own tent? Now you can in Carrowmena Activity Centre's 'Luxury Off the Grid Solar Powered Bell Tents' or eco friendly 'Camping Cocoon's'. Situated in the Binevenagh Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty take part in lots of exciting activities including climbing, archery, canoeing & zip lining.
The Shipping Container B&B, Ballygawley
Todds Leap Activity Centre offers something a bit different for those on an adventure break looking to rest after an adrenaline filled day of clay pigeon shooting, zip lining, off road driving and much more! Spend the night in one of the brightly coloured fully fitted shipping container dorms each kitted out with their own en-suite bathroom, fridge and TV to ensure you're not short of some home comforts. Just a short dander from the onsite restaurant and bar and of course loads of adrenaline inducing activities!
Create your own adventure with Bunk Campers whose camper van rental service is ideal for couples, families and groups of friends looking for an action packed, enjoyable short break experience. Most vans come with fully functional heating, cooking facilities, iPod connectivity, and converted bed space. With the freedom of four wheels to take you anywhere for an adventure check out our top tips for activities in the North Coast and Mournes.
So what are you waiting for?! Happy Glamping!
Newry-based mountain biking legend Glyn O’Brien is one of Ireland’s most acclaimed downhill racers with a whole host of enviable accolades under his belt from an incredible career spanning the last 20 years.
A regular on the UCI Downhill World Cup circuit from 1997-2006, Glyn also came 3rd in the notorious 2003 Red Bull Rampage. In 2009 Glyn came 2nd in the World Masters Downhill Championships and latterly picked up Gold at the World Police and Fire Games in Canada (2011) and his home games in Northern Ireland (2013).
Never one to sit still, Glyn helped on the design and build Ireland’s first purpose-built downhill trails in Rostrevor, pump track in Castlewellan and impressive dirt jumps park in Barnett Demesne, Belfast. He founded FirstTracksMTB.com in 2004 and offers bike hire, coaching and guiding for groups and individuals all year round.
Watch Glyn take on the Castlewellan Mountain Bike Trails
As if this wasn’t enough, Glyn’s passion for mountain biking has led him to organise some of Northern Ireland’s most iconic MTB events on his local trails in Rostrevor including this year’s Irish Downhill National Championships which take place on 19th & 20th July 2014.
With these champs just around the corner, we thought this’d be as good a time as any to catch up with Glyn to find out what makes him tick, and tick, and tick again.
Glyn, it’s pretty obvious you like to keep ‘on the go’ but seriously where do you find the energy for all this?
When you love what you're doing things jut happen so much easier. A passion for mountain biking, being outdoors and getting people stoked on riding drives me to get anything done. Being there from the start and watching the sport grow in Nortrhern Ireland plays a key part. We now have great places to ride and the sport is getting so much recognition, I feel it’s important to have direct input into creating cool events that will keep us on the map as a mountain bike destination now and in the future. What's really important is that you have a blast when you’re doing it!
So with all this event organising have you hung up your bike now or will you be competing yourself this summer?
There is plenty of life in the old dog yet! At this point I think it’s important to have a healthy balance of racing, coaching, organising events and just riding with friends. So yes there are plans to ride the Gravity Enduro series, a round of the Enduro World Series, some downhill races with the big one being the Masters Worlds in Norway.
Describe yourself in 3 words
Happy, driven and loving life
Any nicknames that we can publish?
Most people call me OB or Glynster
Do you have any hidden talents?
I can lick my own elbow
Who would you most like to have a pint with (dead or alive)?
Proudest moment of your life?
That's a tough one. The more I think about it, it has to be coming 3rd place at the Redbull Rampage
What’s the worst injury you’ve ever had?
I've had a few along the way buts that's part of the game. The most interesting one was breaking a bone in my left hand and spraining my right wrist in Canada at the same time. No giggling please.
Live, love, Laugh
So many to choose from but I've been really into 'The Naked and Famous' this past while
Of Monsters and Men, Little talks
Fancy watching the Irish Downhill Mountain Bike National Championships in Rostrevor this weekend - click here to check out some of the Best Spectator Spots!
Whether you’re looking for an action packed weekend with your mates or a short break away with the kids then Glamping in Northern Ireland is a must!
‘Glamping’ or glamorous camping combines all the fun of camping with some of the amenities of a home so you can enjoy the tranquility of the outdoors with the added bonus of staying dry. Give yourself more time to relax and enjoy the fantastic outdoor activities Northern Ireland has to offer.
With lots of outdoor activity providers located beside the glamping sites you won’t have a chance to get bored. So whether you are looking to have some fun with your mates or spend some quality time with the kids then a glamping adventure break in Northern Ireland is the perfect choice.
Here are some of our top suggestions of glamping spots in Northern Ireland:
Ever wondered what it would be like to camp out in a Jungle?! Kick back, relax and enjoy the benefits of your very own Glamping pod and outdoor patio area equipped with a camp fire and picnic benches within the grounds of JungleNI. Each pod has access to its own BBQ area as well as having electric heating and is double glazed ensuring you are kept cosy no matter what the weather! These purpose built huts sleep up to 8 people. If you really want to ‘Glamp’ it up after a day of outdoor activities rolling downhill in the Zorbs or taking on the Jungle's High Ropes course unwind in the outdoor hot tub!
These custom made lodges are fully insulated and can sleep up to 6 people, with two sets of bunk beds, a single bed and an extra mattress. Also included is a kettle, heater, lighting and each lodge has its own picnic table. Just a short walk from the campsite is Benone Beach which hosts a number of action packed outdoor activities! How about taking a surf lesson or hiring a surf board from Long Line Surf School? You can also give Stand up Paddleboaring (SUP) a go with Long Line Water Trails.
Enjoy staying in one of Carrowmena’s eco friendly ‘Camping Cocoons’ ideal for those looking to get away from it all. Located in the Binevanagh Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty you can relax in the tranquillity of the outdoors afforded by this glamping spots location. Each Cocoon sleeps up to 6 people with discounts available for those taking part in the centres outdoor activities which include canoeing, kayaking, rock climbing and orienteering.
Glamping in Fermanagh
Trannish Island is a great base for those on an adventure break following the Lough Erne Canoe Trail. With a cosy wood burning stove, camping platforms to sleep on, toilets and solar powered showers, the Bothy avoids the hassle of carrying and setting up tents. Only accessible by canoe you are definitely in for a wild experience and with the opportunity to book the Bothy for exclusive use you can even have the entire island to yourself – eat your heart out Richard Branson!
Situated just a paddle away is Ireland’s largest multi-activity centre; Share Discovery Village, where you can hire a range of canoes or kayaks to access the island or take part in one of their many exciting outdoor activities available throughout the year.
These four eco friendly continental camping pods can be found tucked away in the stunning 820 acre demesne of Castle Ward. Offering standard and family camping these pods are ideal for those looking to get away from the hustle and bustle. Just outside your doorstop you will have over 12km of off road cycling and walking trails to explore. This package includes: Bike hire so you can explore the trails and tour round some of the film locations for Game of Thrones. Alternatively you can book the pods separately and choose from a range of activities including canoeing, kayaking, archery and Sea Safari's from Clearsky Activity Centre based onsite.
Todds Leap Activity Centre offers something a bit different for those on an adventure break to rest after an adrenaline filled day. Able to sleep up to four people spend the night in brightly coloured fully fitted shipping container dorms each kitted out with their own en-suite bathroom, fridge and tv to ensure you're not short of some home comforts. Also available onsite is The Tree House which offers a tranquil experience for small families or couples as well as Log Cabins overlooking the stunning landscape of Clogher Valley & its surrounding area. All accommodation is just a short dander to the onsite resturant and bar and of course loads of adrenaline inducing activities including off-road driving, Ireland's highest zipline, body zorbing, Giant swing, Drop Zone, Clay Pigeon shooting and much much more!
Glamping on the North Coast
There are lots of outdoor activities in this area. Catch a wave with Troggs Surf School in Portrush, go kayaking along the coast with Simply Sea Kayak, take a leap from the cliffs coasteering with Xplore Outdoors, try scuba diving with Aquaholics . All these activities and more take place just a short walk or drive from the popular campsites. For those keen to see this area of Outstanding Natural Beauty from a different angle book onto a sea safari with Aquaholics, Portrush Sea Tours or Aquasports for a fantastic way to experience the fabulous coastline and iconic sights.
Sit out under the stars outside your very own camping cabin alternatively enjoy all the comforts of Ireland’s first Geo Dome! Both are able to accommodate a family of 5 the cabins are in an ideal location for those looking to explore all that the North Coast has to offer, from stunning beaches to cliff top walks this is the ideal short break holiday location in Northern Ireland.
Just outside Rostrevor Village and only 4 miles from the Rostrevor Mountain Bike Trails you'll find the perfect location for a spot of glamping with East Coast Adventure Centre. Each pod sleeps up to 4 people (6 pods available on site) with toilets and showers on site so you can experience the outdoors with an added bit of luxury. Wake up to fantastic mountain scenery before choosing your adventure for the day. Hire Bikes and hit the trails or if you prefer watersports East Coast also offer banana boating, sailing, kayaking and pier jumping in nearby Warrenpoint on the shores of Carlingford Lough.
Create your own adventure with Bunk Campers or Causeway Campers whose campervan rental service is ideal for couples, families and groups of friends looking for an action packed, enjoyable short break experience. Most vans come with fully functional heating, cooking facilities, iPod connectivity, and converted bed space and in some cases even shower and toilet facilities.
With the freedom of four wheels to take you anywhere for an adventure check out our top tips for activities in the North Coast and Mournes where you can surf the waves on the many beautiful beaches, travel up mountainous rivers on a wet bouldering session, or take in the views whilst having a go rock climbing.
Of course, most can’t spend everyday camping but that doesn’t mean that you can’t keep up-to-date with the activity that you love so much! Read more >
No more teachers and no more books can only mean one thing...school is out for summer! If you are trying to plan a few day trips away with the kids, the team at CycleNI.com has selected a few of their favorite off road routes perfect for a great family day out.
So if your little ones have been watching any of the Tour de France Grand Depart on the tv over the past few days and want to become the next Chris Froome then pack the bikes into the car, choose a destination from one of the family friendly routes below and off you go!
The Comber Greenway is one of the most popular traffic free cycling routes in Northern Ireland. Starting in Comber, join the greenway just off the A22 and cycle to Dundonald which is approximately 3-4miles in length. At Dundonald, leave the Comber Greenway at access point 15 and continue up the Comber Road (please note this road can be busy) towards Belfast where you will find an award winning café called Nosh that serves up many delights.
Another favorite with many cyclists is the Lagan and Lough Cycle Way. Starting at Stranmillis (just beside Cutters Wharf) the towpath follows a flat wide path and if you cycle towards Shaw’s Bridge, which is approximately 3 miles away, you will come across the Lock Keepers Cottage where you can stop for a bite to eat. If you’d prefer to stop in Stranmillis after your return journey, a new bicycle themed coffee shop called ‘5A Lockview Road’ has just opened on Lockview Road which has some amazing reviews!
Similar to the Lagan and Lough Cycle Way, this very popular, traffic free towpath runs from Portadown to Newry and totals 20 miles in length. Start at Scarva and follow the towpath in the direction of Newry, enjoying the stunning views over Acton Lake before reaching Poyntzpass, this section is approximately 3 miles long. Refreshments are available in Poyntzpass but if you return to Scarva, a fine favorite with many cyclists is the highly acclaimed Tea Rooms in Scarva Visitor Centre.
One of Northern Ireland's most famous lakes, a stunning Victorian Castle, incredible panoramic views and lots of different cycling trails is what is to be expected at Castlewellan. Castlewellan Forest Park’s green and blue mountain bike trails are suitable for families with the green trail being the easier of the two and are both around 2.5 miles in length. Urban Coffee, located on Castlewellan’s main street offers friendly service, excellent food at reasonable prices and amazing coffee!
This 2.5mile cycle route will take you through stunning woodland and farmland as well as past the 15th century Audley's Castle. After your bike ride relax with a cup of coffee or refuel with a bite to eat in the onsite café which serves light lunches, delicious homemade cakes and excellent coffee.
Located on a private estate in the picturesque Clogher Valley, this unique trail centre caters for cyclists of all ages and abilities with a range of wide flowing blue trails (2.5miles) perfect for families and a pump track where the kids can really test their bike skills. At weekends, a pop-up Pedal Stop Coffee Cabin opens serving coffee and divine homemade cakes. A great place to refuel, warm-up or just relax and enjoy the views.
For a full list of off road cycling routes in Northern Ireland please visit CycleNI.com
I think these are some of the best cycling routes for kids. All the destinations have something unique and appealing tin them. I am sure one of the most thrilling routes on the list is Castlewellan ... Read more >