Ethan Loughrey Mountain Bike Officer
Hardest thing about Mountain Biking? Definitely the trees.
February 21, 2017
February 10, 2017
February 8, 2017
January 30, 2017
January 17, 2017
As part of our theme this month of making a Mountain Biking Bucket List, we’re asking people’s opinions on what are the 'Must Do' features, trails or activities when you're out on the bike. We'll be adding more to the list regularly, so be sure to check back!
One of the first people we got to asking is Newry based, Mountain Bike legend Glyn O'Brien.
“There are so many hidden gems in Rostrevor, I have a new favourite depending on the season and the mood. Recently I have been enjoying the last section of trail before Yellow Water.
I think its because I know all the climbing is behind me, the views of the valley to your left is spectacular and its all downhill from here!
We'll have more Bucket List suggestions from Glyn, amongst others, in the coming weeks.
In the meantime - we'd love to hear your own ones! Email your suggestions to email@example.com (Bonus points if you attach a picture!)
Watersports in NI: For Everyone, With Anyone!
Watersports in Northern Ireland are often one of those ‘hidden gems’ that people often don’t realise how enjoyable they can be - until they’re actually in the water – or how they go about participating in one. Well, FlowNI is a great initiative to get you trying them out! With lots of clubs throughout Northern Ireland welcoming new people along and offering beginners courses, many at a reduced cost and some completely free, it’s the perfect time to see just what watersports there are near you! Below we’ve listed some of the activities on offer and who you can do them with.
1) Salty Friday’s at Quoile Yacht Club, Every Friday until 16th Sept, Downpatrick – Try it out with: The kids
Everyone jokes about owning a yacht; so why not see what all the fuss is about? This day is intended mostly for kids between the ages of 6 and 16 but adults are more than welcome as well and will be fitted out with their own keelboat.
2) Family Canoe Trips, Saturday 30th July, 6th, 13th & 20th Aug, Portadown – Try it out with: The whole family
The picture below sums up why heading to try out one of the Family Canoe trips can be the perfect day out. Peaceful but exciting; scenic but energetic. These canoe trips will take you along parts of the countryside not normally accessible, and are something that everyone will enjoy; young and old. To make it that little bit better, it’s incredibly cheap at only £5.00 per person.
3) Get Going – Come Rowing, Wednesday 3rd August, 10th, 17th & 24th Aug, Enniskillen – Try it out with: Your friends
Definitely up there with some of the most popular watersports, and it’s easy to understand why. This is the perfect chance to bring a group of friends together and try out rowing on a 10 Man Bronze age curach. Not only is it a remarkably cheap evening of guaranteed entertainment at only £5.00 per person, you’ll become proficient in new skills like handling the ropes and coming into jetties – and all while basking in the natural beauty of Fermanagh coming up to sunset.
4) Learn to Windsurf, Sunday 7th & 21st August, Craigavon Watersports Centre - Try it out with: Your friends
Windsurfing cannot be recommended enough. This course, which lasts just a few hours, will teach you everything you need to know about windsurfing. From the simple stuff of balancing on the board, to eventually sailing yourself up and around the harbour. Head along with a group of friends and enjoy laughing at each other’s attempts, before embracing the thrill of picking up a good pace and showing off.
5) Womens Only Fly Fishing Course Sunday 14th August, & 3rd Sept, Ballyclare - Try it out with: The girls
Our final suggestion is for the girls only. This is an all-day event intended to give a group the skills to be able to go out when they want and organise their own day of fishing. Whether it’s for a friend’s birthday, a notion to try something new or with the hope of eventually joining the International Ladies Fly Fishing Team (who will be hosting the day), we know you’ll enjoy this ‘something different’ watersport.
There are lots of other training events listed on the FlowNI website for you to try including events in canoeing, sailing, water skiing, wake boarding, rowing, angling, stand up paddle boarding and diving and with no previous experience necessary there has never been a better time to get wet!
With mountain biking becoming increasingly popular in Northern Ireland, isn't it about time you got a handle of it?! Find out how OutdoorNI’s Bev Pierson got on when she spent a day learning the basics at Tollymore National Outdoor Centre.
Having bought a shiny new mountain bike last year (but not really knowing how to ride it properly) I booked myself onto Tollymore National Outdoor Centre’s First Step Mountain Bike Skills Course, which is an introductory course to the skills required to ride mountain bike trails safely.
Tollymore National Outdoor Centre is located on the edge of Tollymore Forest Park with a beautiful backdrop of the Mourne Mountains. Making the setting even more spectacular was the fact that on the day of my course there wasn’t a cloud in the sky and the sun shined all day!
After arriving at the centre and waiting for the others to arrive, I was able to have a quick chat and a coffee with others who had arrived before me as I was curious to see why they had booked onto the course. Some of them had heard about the new mountain bike trails and wanted to give them a go and thought this course would give them the confidence, one lady had been bought the course for mother’s day and some of the women just wanted to get out and try something new. Our two instructors for the day were Emma and Amy, who were both excellent at delivering and tailoring the course to the group but were also very approachable making the day really relaxed and comfortable.
But before we were able to do any mountain biking it was off to the stores to get sized up for some essentials…a bike, a helmet and some gloves.
We started the day off in the centre’s car park practising the position of the pedals on a bike (which should be in the same position of the arms on a clock if they were placed at 9am and 3pm) and shifting our weight back and forward on the bike to improve our balance. To put our skills into action we were given a limbo kind of exercise to try, instead of having to explain it I made sure I took a photo of one of the ladies doing it…
Next up was to give the weight shifting a go on the centre’s skills course, which has been designed for this exact reason. I found it’s really only once you get onto this type of terrain that you really feel the difference when you apply the skills you’ve just learnt. Before our mid-morning coffee break we spent some time learning to ‘pop up’ onto kerbs in order to gain the skills to help get over rocks and obstacles whilst out mountain biking. The next item on the agenda was to master the art of braking and cornering as these are very important skills to have when out on the trails and again we practised them in the car park before using our new found skills out on the skills course. This took us all the way up to lunch where we rewarded with a delicious bowl of homemade soup and sandwiches. Though what I was really looking forward to was the famous chocolate brownies that the instructors had been talking about all morning which we enjoyed on the terrace of the centre with a cup of coffee whilst the sun beamed down on us.
After lunch it was time to pull everything together that we had just learnt and put it all into practise on the trails around the centre. This was definitely the highlight of the day for me as we got to mountain bike through the dense and dark forest with the sun glimmering down through the trees and at one point even encountered some buzzards circling above us. The trails we were riding really tested us on all the skills we had learnt that day especially when having to shift our weight backwards so we could tackle a steep downhill section - which we all tried and succeeded in not falling off!
Once back at the centre everyone was raving about their day and were even enquiring about the next course they could do. I think everyone on the course will agree with me when I say that I learnt far more than what I expected to from the day and tackled obstacles and drops off that I never thought I would have been able to! All thanks to Emma and Amy!
Beginner, intermediate and advanced courses are available at Tollymore National Outdoor Centre whether you are coming alone or looking to book in a group for a session. As well as mountain biking the centre deliver a range of courses including, canoeing, navigation and climbing. So don't miss out and contact the centre directly to find out more.
Click here to read part 2 of this blog series and find out how OutdoorNI's Sarah Nelson got on when she attended one of Tollymore's First Steps Canoeing Skills courses- 'First steps towards Adventure- Canoeing Skills with Tollymore National Outdoor Centre'
It’s all about fabulous food and wonderful walks on the Causeway Coast. This 2 day itinerary of awe-inspiring views and deliciousness features the best spots to eat combined with fabulous short walks to work it all off!
Rise and shine, having travelled up from Belfast and stayed the night before it’s time for breakfast on the beach at Harrys Shack. A quirky beach shack with fairground lights slung from the ceiling, wood burning stove and big windows so you don’t miss out on ‘that view’. Situated on Portstewart Strand a walk on the beach will set you up for the day!
Image: North Antrim Cliff Path, Alistair Hamill Photography
Hop in the car for 30 mins and park at the Giant’s Causeway before taking the Translink Causeway Rambler Bus Service (402) to Dunseverick. It’s now time to witness some of the best coastal walk Ireland has to offer on the North Antrim Cliff Path (note this can be walked in either direction). Just under 5 miles in length the route is part of the longer Causeway Coast Way. Leave the trail of visitors behind as you pass by attractively named headlands such as Port na Spaniagh, The King & his nobles, Plaiskin Head, Hamiliton’s Seat, Benbane Head, Bengore Head, Portnabrock and Port Moon Bay to experience one of the Causeway Coast’s best kept secrets. Ending with the best panoramic views of the iconic Giant’s Causeway take time to explore the UNESCO site before heading back to the carpark.
Enroute back to Portrush have a bite of lunch and something sweet at the fabulous Doras Tearoom where the moto is ‘there is always time for tea and room for cake!’ With Mars Bar and Peanut Butter scones on the menu after your clifftop walk there will be no need to feel guilty about indulging!
Image: Alfresco dining at Dora's Tea House
A pit stop on the way back to Whiterocks Beach is a great way to burn off some calories with incredible views. The limestone cliffs of the Blue Flag beach stretch from Curran Strand to Dunluce Castle creating a labyrinth of caves and arches.
After a quick freshen up it’ll be time to head to the renowned Ramore Wine Bar - a vibrant waterfront spot with a relaxed vibe serving a cosmopolitan menu, delicious cocktails and humongous deserts! Finish the day off at the Gin Bar upstairs at the Harbour Bar where they serve every combination of G&T imaginable with a side of live music.
Stay the Night: Atlantic Way, Portrush – a home from home this self-catering accommodation is stocked with everything you could possibly need from freshly cut flowers to fresh orange juice the reviews speak for themselves.
Image: Homely touches at the Atlantic Way
Refreshed and ready to embrace the day head to Bushmills for breakfast at the French Rooms for some French bistro classics like Eggs Benedict and Croque Monsieur or pick up a treat in shop or deli.
Fuelled for the day, walk the Heritage Railway Path in Portballintrae. This short 1.5 mile walk follows the line of the former Giant's Causeway Tramway taking in stunning coastal scenery against the backdrop of the River Bush, Runkerry Strand, the Giant’s Causeway and Bushmills Heritage Railway.
Image: heritage Railway Path
10 miles along the coast road passing Whitepark Bay enroute you’ll reach the famous Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge. Under 2 miles in length, walk along fabulous coastline with turquoise waters and cross the 30 metre high rope bridge to an idyllic island where the seabird colonies will provide a noisy welcome to views of Rathlin Island and the distant Scottish Isles.
Just a 10 minute drive away Ballycastle is the perfect pitstop for lunch and an icecream. Enjoy some tasty fish and chips on the harbour form Mortons or tuck into delicious freshly baked bread at Ursa Minors independent Artisan Bakehouse.
Image: Glenariff Waterfall Walk
Driving back along the causeway coastal route to Belfast take a quick detour to Glenariff Forest Park. Meaning ‘Queen of the Glens’, 19th Century English novelist William Thackeray penned it as “a Switzerland in Miniature”. Explore the striking landscape via 4 circular scenic walks ranging from 0.4 to 5.9 miles (0.6 – 9.5 km). Be sure not to miss out on the impressive double-drop Ess-na-Larach Waterfall one of the many dramatic waterfalls that punctuate the deep sided gorge of the Nature Reserve.
This looks amazing I'm definitely going there with my walking buddies Read more >
Northern Ireland holds nothing back when it comes to fun and excitement this summer...
Whether you're zipping through the air on Ireland's longest zip line or following in the footsteps of your favourite characters from Game of Thrones, there is a unique experience to be had for the thrill-seeker and explorer in you. So get ready to put down your tablet and turn off the TV with this handy guide to the ultimate summer adventures!
Intense? Yes. Scary? Possibly. Awesome? Absolutely. A day out at Todds Leap this summer promises not to disappoint when it comes to getting your heart racing and a rush of adrenaline into your blood stream. Home to Ireland's longest zip line, a giant swing, a muddy marvellous off road course and much much more! what are you waiting for?
Location: Todds Leap Activity Centre, Ballygawley, Co. Tyrone
Put on a wetsuit and get tready to experience the thrill and adrenaline of Coasteering/ Bouldering! Popular with hen & stag parties alike, this activity is fantastic fun and gets better each time you try it! Traverse, climb and scramble you way up river or along the coastline to jump into deep pools and uncover natural waterslides.
Location: Life Adventure Centre, Castlewellan, Co. Down
If your summer isn't being spent on a topical beach or you're looking to get over your holiday blues join Troggs Surf School who will have you riding waves better than you ever imagined! With private and group lessons available for all skill levels there'll be nothing stopping you.
Location: Troggs Surf School, Portrush, Co. Antrim
It may be summer but "winter is coming"! Game of Thones fans among you may recognise Clearsky Adventure Centre's Courtyard from the award winning HBO TV series. Dressed as a member of the night's watch take aim at the bullsey in the very place where young Bran was taught to shoot a bow and arrow by Jon Snow.
Location: Clearsky Adventure Centre, Castle Ward, Co. Down
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'. The perfect place to rest your head after an action packed day canoeing on the River Roe.
Location: Carrowmena Activitiy Centre, Limavady, Co. Derry~Londonderry
Renowned for its spectacular coastline, head off the tourist trail this summer and discover a lesser know (but even more breathtaking!) views of coastline with Xplore Outdoors. Whether you are new to kayaking or keen to progress your skills further these tailored guided tours are perfect for individuals and groups.
Location: Explore Outdoors, Coleraine, Co. Antrim