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Walk Challenge Checklist 2016

Posted on January 26, 2016 @ 2:50 PM in Walking

Who’s up for a walking challenge in 2016?  We’ve put together a list of our top walk challenges for you to complete in 2016.  Some more challenging than others see how many you can tick off throughout the year…

Take on the Mourne Seven Sevens Challenge – 13th August 

Seven of the highest peaks in the Mournes in one day, covering a distance of 18 miles and an ascent of 2,495m this is no mean feat! Organised by by local walking club Spartan Red Sox this annual challenge is considered one of the toughest.  For a first-hand account from someone who completed the challenge in 2015 check out the WalkNI blog, ‘Taking on the Mourne Seven Sevens Challenge

Attend a Walking Festival 

With festivals happening in the Mourne Mountains, North Coast, Sperrins and Fermanagh there is plenty of opportunity to explore the diverse variety of landscapes and perhaps hike somewhere new with likeminded people.  Keep an eye on the WalkNI Festival calendar for information throughout the year.  

Complete the Causeway Coast Challenge Walk – 1st May 2016 

Organised by local rambling club, the Bannside Ramblers, this annual long distance walking event showcases the very best that the North Coast has to offer.  The 30km route from Portballintrae to Portbradden and back along the rugged coastal path passes the world famous Giant’s Causeway. All walk completers get a certificate and badge to wear with pride!  Check out the WalkNI blog, ‘Taking on the Causeway Coast Walk Challenge’ for a first hand account from one walking club who headed to the North Coast to take on the challenge in 2015.

Walk a Waymarked Way 

Ranging in length from 20-40 miles, these long distance walking routes pass through some of the most beautiful scenery in the country along the Ulster Way.  Signed by waymarker posts some of the routes are cross country so it is advisable to also bring a map and compass when completing these routes.  Download your free waymarked way guides

Mourne Way

Put Your Best Foot Forward for Charity

There are loads of walk challenge events taking place for charity each year.  Keep an eye out on the WalkNI events calendar for any new ones added throughout the year. Why not take on PLOD; a gruelling 50 km midnight hike in the Mournes in aid of Action Medical Research or Join Simon Community for a 10 mile "Game Of Thrones" themed sponsored walk in aid of homelessness?

Mourne Plod Action Medical Research

Summit the Highest Points

Make it your mission to visit the highest points in NI.  You can reach the highest point in Belfast without too much of a strenuous climb on the Divis Summit Trail  or tackle a more demanding county high point such as Cuilcagh Mountain in Co. Fermanagh before taking on the highest point in Northern Ireland, Slieve Donard

Slieve Donard

If you decide to take on any of these challenges throughout 2016, let us know how you get on!  Share your experiences on the WalkNI Facebook page or email info@walkni.com

Good luck!

Latest comment posted by Ashley on January 27, 2016 @ 5:13 PM

This is a great advertisement for walking in Northern Ireland. I hope I can take part in some of what's on offer here. Read more >

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!

Walks to Clear Your Head

Posted on January 25, 2016 @ 3:56 PM in Walking

Are you in need of blowing the cobwebs away?!  Check out these fantastic walks along stunning coastline, sandy beaches and hill tops with panoramic views that are sure to clear your head.  Perfect for a winter stroll:

Slemish, Co. Antrim – 1.2 miles
The site of the St Patrick’s slavery, where he spent 6 years herding livestock for Mulchi, the local chieftain you can be up and down the mountain taking in jaw-dropping views within the hour. After following a grassy track to the base of the mountain, walkers can then pick and choose their own path over rocky terrain to the summit, some 1437 feet above sea level. This short ascent is reasonably strenuous however your efforts are more than rewarded with fabulous views which are sure to re-energise any tired legs. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for Irish Hares in the surrounding plains and bird lovers will enjoy spotting any number of Wheatears, Ravens and Buzzards hovering above.


Slievenaslat Trail, Castlewellan Forest Park, Co. Down – 2.7 miles
This steep climb through the forest to the summit of Slievenaslat (272 metres) is most definitely worth it for the iconic views of the Mourne Mountains.  Take in the panoramic views of Northern Ireland’s highest mountain range and surrounding drumlin landscape of Co Down.  If that hasn’t tired you out then there are lots of other walks to choose from with a walk trail network totalling 7.5 miles throughout the forest park.


Whitepark Bay, Co. Antrim  - 1.4 miles (one way)
There’s nothing better than a blustery walk on a beach to blow the cobwebs away during the winter months. This spectacular sandy beach which forms a white arc between two headlands on the North Antrim Coast is in a secluded location meaning that even on a busy day there is plenty of room for quiet relaxation.

White Park Bay

Divis & Black Mountain, Belfast, Co. Antrim  - 4.2 miles
The 4.2 mile circular Divis Ridge trail located in the Belfast Hills offers spectacular skyline views over Belfast as well as the Mourne Mountains, Scotland and the Isle of Man. At an elevation of 478m (1,568ft.) it is the highest point in the Belfast Hills (increasing your chances of spotting some snow!) however the walk itself is on relatively flat paths on tarmac, boardwalk and stone pitched gravel. 

Divis Ridge Trail

Roe Valley Country Park, Co. Derry~Londonderry – 2 to 7 miles 
The Roe Valley Country Park offers a variety of routes along the River Roe or Red River (from the Irish ‘Abhain Ruadh’). This 7 mile walking trail circles both banks of Red River, which originates amidst the peat bogs of the Sperrins Mountains, offering an explanation for its red colour. With the path running through an enchanting oak forest, combining legend with industrial and natural heritage, the park has great appeal. Winter sees the snow settle on the river’s banks and as walkers pass through the forest it is only the call of mallard ducks that breaks the silence. In winter, Roe Valley is a truly special place.

Roe Valley Country Park

Robbers Table, Co. Tyrone – 6.5 miles 
This is an excellent off-road, winter hill walk across rolling hills and frosty moorland. The highest point of this route opens up superb views of the Bluestack and Derryveagh Mounatins of Donegal to the west and the High Sperrins to the north east. As the route climbs south over Ballynatubbrit Mountain it passes Robbers Table, the site where supposed local seventeenth century Highwaymen (Rapparees as they were known) met up to divide their spoils after raiding the postal carriages that traversed this upland landscape.

Robbers Table

Latest comment posted by Vivek sarawgi on January 31, 2016 @ 7:36 PM

Slemish is always a wonderful experience, We have taken many visitors to it, highly recommended. Divis and Black mountain is another National Trust gem. I love it the dog loves it, what more can ... Read more >

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!

The Best in the Land... chosen by you

Posted on January 8, 2016 @ 12:55 PM in Mountainbiking

The Rostrevor Mountain Bike Trails and associated MTB-friendly businesses were the big winners from the MountainBikeNI.com End of Year Awards for 2015.

Scooping all but one of the categories this year highlights the popularity of this national trail centre on the shores of Carlingford Lough and recognises the hard work of the local dedicated MTB-Friendly operators in the Mourne Mountains. 


Trail Centre of the Year – Rostrevor Mountain Bike Trails

Rostrevor Mountain Bike Trails

With 32% of all votes cast, the Rostrevor Mountain Bike Trails clinched the coveted 'Trail Centre of the Year' award for the third year in a row, seeing off a strong challenge from the Castlewellan Mountain Bike Trails on 27% and the Davagh Forest Trails on 23%. 


Favourite Trail Section – Home Run, Rostrevor

Home Run, Rostrevor

In one of the closest fought categories, Northern Ireland's Favourite Trail Section went to 'Home Run' in Rostrevor with 16% of votes. The Great Escarpe in Castlewellan was runner up with 14% followed by the Stream Trail in Davagh Forest on 13%.


Favourite MTB View – Kodak Corner, Rostrevor

Kodak Corner Rostrevor

New for 2015, Kodak Corner stormed to victory in the 'Favourite MTB View' category with a whopping 58% of all votes cast. 


Favourite Trailhead Provider – East Coast Adventure, Rostrevor

East Coast Adventure

Neck and neck right up until the final few hours of voting, East Coast Adventure (Rostrevor) clinched 'Favourite Trailhead Provider' by the narrowist of margins from Life Adventure Centre in Castlewellan. The final count saw East Coast Adventure secure 40% of votes and Life Adventure Centre a close second on 39%. 


Best MTB-Friendly Café – Kilbroney Park Café, Rostrevor

Kilbroney Park Cafe

Another impressive performance by the Kilbroney Park Cafe saw Rostrevor's trailhead cafe secure 37% of votes to take the 'Favourite MTB-Friendly Cafe' award for the third year in a row. A strong late surge saw Urban Coffee in Castlewellan finish second place on 26% with the Lock Keeper's Inn (near the Barnett Demesne Trails, Belfast) voted third on 15%.  


Best Spot for Apres-Ride Pint – Maginns of Castlewellan

Maginns of Castlewellan

Maginns of Castlewellan, managed to break Rostrevor's grip on an awards 'whitewash' this year by deservedly topping the category for 'Northern Ireland's Favourite Apres-Ride Pint'. Maginns secured 28% of votes with the Kilbroney Bar & Restaurant second on 25% and last year's winner, The Shepherd's Rest, third on 20%. 


Favourite MTB Event of 2015 – Red Bull Foxhunt, Rostrevor

Red Bull Foxhunt

2015 was another great year for mountain biking events across Northern Ireland however it was the Red Bull Foxhunt which was voted 'Favourite MTB Event of 2015' with 28% of votes. Growing from strength to strength, the First Tracks Enduro Cup was runner up this year on 19% of votes with the Davagh Enduro (15%) just tipping Banbridge Cycling Club's round of the Irish XC National Points Series in Castlewellan (14%) to third place. 


Favourite MTB Accommodation - East Coast Adventure Camping Pods, Rostrevor

ECA Camping Pods, Rostrevor

The final award this year for 'Favourite MTB-Friendly Accommodation' went to East Coast Adventure's quirky camping pods in Rostrevor with 21% of votes. The Shepherd's Rest was this year's runner up on 15% with the Whistledown Hotel, Warrenpoint, third on 14%.  


Many thanks to all those who voted in our MountainBikeNI.com 2015 Awards and congratulations again to all nominees and category winners. 2016 is set to be an even bigger and better year for mountain biking in Northern Ireland and we look forward to seeing you out on the trails!   

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!

OutdoorNI Award Winners 2015

Posted on January 7, 2016 @ 4:31 PM in Adventure

Votes have been counted and verified and we are pleased to announce that the wait is finally over as we reveal the winners of the 2015 OutdoorNI Awards in association with Surf Mountain. With over 1,100 votes cast by the public, the awards saw nominees battling it out throughout December to win the coveted titles. So without further ado we give you the 2015 OutdoorNI.com Award Winners. 

Best Family Activity Provider- Life Adventure Centre
Castlewellan, Co. Down

Life Adventure Centre

A highly coveted title in the OutdoorNI Awards, this year's Award was scooped up for a second consecutive year by Life Adventure Centre located in the beautiful Castlewellan Forest Park. Offering lots of great land and water based activities suitable for all ages and abilities including, as of 2015 their new Kridler Electric Mountain Bikes and Wee Hoo Kids Trailers, ideal for exploring the Castlewellan Mountain Bike Trails. 

Best Thrillseeking Provider- The JungleNI
Moneymore, Co. Derry~Londonderry

The Jungle NI

The JungleNI  offer an extensive and exciting range of unique activities ideal for any occasion and sure to get your heart racing. Not only was The Jungle Northern Ireland's first and largest paintballing site, they were the first company to bring the exhilarating downhill tumbles of Zorbing to Ireland and are home to Ireland's first high wire tree top adventure course. Nestled in an enchanting woodland in the very heart of Northern Ireland, just 45 minutes from Belfast the Jungle NI is the perfect location for thrillseekers looking to test their sense of daring and adventure.

Best Charity Challenge Event- Run Mucker Run for Cancer Focus NI
Ballymoney, Co. Antrim

Run Mucker Run

Run Mucker Run raced into first place in this year's Award for 'Best Charity Challenge Event'. Complete with 30 manmade and natural obstacles, climbing eight foot walls, crawling under netting and barbed wire and running up to 10k through mud, were just a few of the requirements for competitors taking part in the Run Mucker Run Challenge on 26th Sept 2015.

The challenge was in aid of raising vital funds for Cancer Focus Northern Ireland. A local cancer charity providing a range of services for Northern Ireland cancer patients and their families as well as funding major research and running cancer prevention schemes across the country. The next Run Mucker Run challenge will be held on Sat 30th April 2016. Click here to find out more & sign up.

Best Coastal Experience- Surfing at Troggs Surf School
Portrush, Co. Antrim

Troggs Surf School

Troggs Surf Surf School are riding high on this latest wave of success. Aiming to provide a fun, informative and safe introduction to the world of surfing, Troggs offers expert tuition to beginners looking to learn the basics, through to experienced surfers. ASI accredited and Quiksilver approved the team of expert instructors offer a wide range of courses throughout the year including kid's summer surf camps, corporate days, Hen & Stag parties, progression sessions and more.

Best Skills Course Provider- Tollymore National Outdoor Centre
Tollymore Forest Park, Bryansford, Co. Down

Tollymore National Outdoor Centre

Tollymore Adventure Centre navigated to success in this years OutdoorNI Awards recieving the accodlade of 'Best Skills Course Provider'. Located in the foothills of the spectacular Mourne Mountains, the centre offers a wide range of skills courses lead by some of Northern Ireland's best expert instructors! With course running throughout the year suitable for beginners through to those with lots of experience Tollymore's tailored course ensure partivipants get the most from their training session.

Best Unique Outdoor Experience- The JungleNI, Fright Night
Moneymore, Co. Derry~Londonderry

Fright Night Northern Ireland

Scooping up a second award this year The Jungle NI's Fright Night has become widely renowned as one of Northern Ireland's most terrifying nights of the year! For those brave enough the Jungle invites visitors to enter the 'Inbred Horror House' responsible for multiple panic attacks over the years and find out what horrible cannibalistic creatures live in the shadowy depths of a cornfield? With 6 terrifying scare zones and more being added each year look out for it in October 2016.

Best Glamping Experience- National Trust Castle Ward Camping Pods
Castle Ward, Strangford, Co. Down

Glamping Northern Ireland

Winning an this for the third year in a row is a great achievement for the National Trust Castle Ward Camping Pod's. Enjoy a mini break with a difference in the historic Castle Ward Estate. Rain, hail, sleet or shine these heated pods fully insulated guantee a cosy campout with the kids or your other half. Fans of the award winning HBO series Game of Thrones can enjoy lots of themed activities including a cycle tour to iconic film locations from the show and acess to the Winterfell Courtyard.

Best Adventure Destination- Causeway Coast & Glens

Causeway Coast and Glens

Congratulations to Causeway Coast & Glens winner of this new award for 2015. Fighting off competition from three other fantastic nominations! It's hard to complain of having nothing to do in this destination with so many adventures waiting for you whether you decided to get into the water or keep your feet on solid ground! Head to the beach for a surf or SUP lesson with Troggs Surf School or Long Line, follow the North Coast sea kayak trailtake a high speed boat tour with Aquaholics Sea Safari or Portrush Sea Tours or walk the Causeway Coast Way, the list is endless. For many cyclists both nationally and internationally an annual event in their calendar is taking on the iconic Giants Causeway Coast Sportive.

OutdoorNI would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who voted in this years Awards in association with Surf Mountain.

Jayne Woodrow
Jayne Woodrow  Marketing Officer & Active Clubs Coordinator for Walking

Jayne joined the marketing team of Outdoor Recreation NI in March 2014. She oversees the marketing and communication on WalkNI, OutdoorNI and Walking in Your Community Project. Most recently she has been working with Parkrun Ireland & UK to introduce the 'Walk @ parkrun' initiative.

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