Brendan Monaghan & Stephen PrenticeDuane FitzsimonsClaire Overend
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5 Festive MTB Treats

Posted on December 18, 2018 @ 3:19 PM in Mountainbiking

1. Sign up for the Christmas Trail Quest at Castlewellan Forest Park

This fun yet challenging quest takes you around the Castlewellan MTB trails, alongside the stunning scenery of the surrounding Castlewellan Forest Park. The quest will give you the opportunity to test your MTB skills, as well as planning, navigation, and teamwork.

A 2-hour maximum event, the Quest is suitable for Novice and Experienced cyclists alike, and you can enter as a Solo rider or a Team of any number (including families).

Find out more about this event here, and you can book online by following this link:

Essential details:

  • Friday 28th December 2018; 10:00-13.00
  • £10/£7 advanced booking online only - ***closing date extended to 5pm on the 27th December*** - PLEASE NOTE PRE-BOOKING IS REQUIRED THIS YEAR

For friends not questing (your team support), whilst not out and about spectating, the Life Adventure centre will be open with fire roaring and both fresh coffee and free Wifi flowing!

As a Quest participant you'll also get complimentary use of the trailside centre with changing/hot showers and access to the cosy coffee dock with free Wifi.


2. Visit a new trail centre this Winter

Why not visit a new MTB trail centre that you’ve never been to before this Winter in Northern Ireland? Whether it’s one of the national trail centres like Rostrevor, regional centres such as Blessingbourne, or a local MTB facility like Tollymore, there’s plenty of mountain-biking opportunities to explore in Northern Ireland.

There’s also two brand new trails in Gosford Forest Park that are officially opening to the public in January 2019. Start the New Year off by exploring two brand new trails. Discover the wider Gosford Forest by following the Green or Blue graded family mountain bike trails, including optional technical sections, a Skills Loop and a Pump track.

Check out the trails here!


3. Ride out with the squad to the local

Meet up with friends that are home for Christmas or maybe take a friend out to the trails that hasn’t mountain-biked before – then treat yourselves to a few après-ride pints and well well-deserved grub. Remember that the trails are 100% free to use, and you can check trail conditions before you go on

MountainBikeNI has a range of suggestions for food and drink options available here that are close to the three National MTB trail centres in Northern Ireland: Davagh, Rostrevor, and Castlewellan, alongside suggestions for accommodation if you want to stay over close to the trails.


4. Vote in the MountainBikeNI Awards

The MountainBikeNI Awards celebrate the very best of Mountain Biking in Northern Ireland.  This year, MountainBikeNI has teamed up with official sponsors Chain Reaction Cycles to showcase all things great about Mountain Biking in Northern Ireland. 

This year we have also included two brand new categories; “Best Squad Leader" which recognises the person in your group always hounding friends to get out on the bike; and “Trail Centre You’re Most Looking Forward to Riding”. 

Vote here for your favourite MTB trail sections, favourite MTB cafes and accommodation, best MTB event of 2018 and more to be in with a chance of winning a Garmin VivoSmart Heart Rate and GPS Activity Tracker.

Voting closes at 11.59pm on Sunday 6th January.

Good luck to everyone nominated!


5. Enter MountainBikeNI’s competition to win this amazing prize!

Win 3 Top Prizes from Chain Reaction Cycles! Fill in your details here to be in with a chance of winning a Muc-Off Premium 3 Step Valet Kit; a LifeLine Pavo 2000L Front Light, and a LifeLine Aero Beam 25 Lumen Rear Light.

The winner will be selected on Monday 14th January at 12pm and will be contacted via email.

Ethan Loughrey
Ethan Loughrey  Mountain Bike Officer

Hardest thing about Mountain Biking? Definitely the trees.

Meet the Sponsor: Decathlon, Belfast

Posted on December 18, 2018 @ 11:34 AM in CyclingLocal Outdoors

In the first of a series of upcoming interviews with our event sponsors, we sit down with the main event sponsor of the Giant’s Causeway Coast Sportive – Decathlon Belfast. These interviews are intended to help put a ‘face’ to the often-corporate branding, so that our participants know about the strong connection our sponsors have to cycling and the Sportive World.

For Week 1, we sat down with Lee Aston, Belfast Cycles Department Manager from the store.


Hi Lee, thanks for speaking to us! Would you mind telling us a bit about your role at Decathlon?

Hi Ethan. So, my role in Decathlon Belfast is that of the Cycles Department Manager. I've been working in the Belfast store for over 2 years now and have a keen interest in most forms of cycling, mostly road and MTB. My role varies from day to day - one day I could be building the countless number of bikes we get into store on a daily basis (especially now at Christmas time when building and selling never stops) or it could be dealing with customers wanting a cycle scheme which is run through their work place and helping them find the perfect bike. I also help out with the different store events we have and sometimes get to take part in them myself. So yeah, my day to day is never really the same if I'm honest.

Some of Decathlon Belfast's impressive cycling stock


Sounds ideal for knowing about all things to do with a Sportive! What impressed yourselves about the Giant’s Causeway Coast Sportive / prompted you to get involved with it?

What doesn't impress me is the better question! After taking part in the event last year, all be it a bit wet at the start, it was easy to see why it is so popular. The location, the people, how it's set up and the excellent food stops and service stations along the way make it extremely appealing to us as a store. In store we have a large range of road bikes which suit a lot of those who take part in sportives and there is no better way to let people know we have these bikes than sponsor this massive event and spread the brand to all those who take part.


Decathlon Belfast are offering an Early Bird Offer – could you tell us a bit about it?

The Early Bird Offer consists of a brake and gear adjustment and a tyre and bolt check. Perfect to get the competitors bikes in tip top shape for whichever of the 4 routes they decide to take on. 


What else might people be interested in picking up when they call in store?

Within Decathlon Belfast we have over 70 different sports under one roof, from cycling to hiking to horse riding; we cover all areas. While customers are in buying their cycling essentials for the event like energy gels, co2 canisters and tool kits they may be able to try out a new sport they have never thought about previously. As our moto goes, ‘Decathlon makes sport accessible for the many.’ 

If you're stocking up on your gels, co2 cannisters or multi-tools, Decathlon is the place to go.


Have you taken part in the event yourself? If so, what was your favourite part?

Yes I took part in the event last year for the first time. I did the 35mile route and it was outstanding. My favourite part of it was the coast road going towards Bushmills as the views were just excellent (especially once the rain stopped!)


One of our photographer's snapped Lee during his route! 


Finally, Decathlon Belfast are also providing mechanical support at next year’s event. What does this involve for yourselves?

This will involve myself and the team helping fix punctures, provide gear tune ups and bolt checks along with any other quick fixes we can do there and then to help competitors. We will be on the road in 3 different vehicles along with our support at the event HQ, so nobody has to worry if you get stuck half way round!



You'll see plenty of Decathlon vans on the day as they respond to any problems riders may have on the course.


Thanks for speaking to us Lee! People can find the Decathlon Belfast store on Facebook.

Ethan Loughrey
Ethan Loughrey  Mountain Bike Officer

Hardest thing about Mountain Biking? Definitely the trees.

RNLI: Stay Safe In Your Kayak

Posted on December 17, 2018 @ 1:04 PM in Canoeing

RNLI Lifeboats has been proactively engaging with to share some basic top tips and kit recommendations to help paddlers stay safe whilst enjoying their paddling experience.

Whilst the RNLI recognises many paddlers undertake plenty of training and ensure they carry all the relevant safety equipment, there has also been a significant increase in more casual users taking up the sport.

In addition to providing further information within this website, CanoeNI will be distributing copies of the ‘RNLI Sea Kayaking Safety Pack’ within all mail ordered copies of the Strangford Lough Canoe Trail Guide.


RNLI Sea Kayaking Safety Pack


How to stay safe

  • Always carry a means of calling for help and keep it within reach: If it can't be reached in an emergency, it's no help.
  • Wear a personal flotation device
  • Check the weather and tides.
  • Tell someone where you’re going and when you'll be back.
  • Wear appropriate clothing for the conditions and your trip.
  • Get some training: Contact your local canoe club and look for coaching sessions run by Canoe Association of Northern Ireland

Further information is available at


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Chris Scott
Chris Scott

When not boring everyone about his little kids’ latest antics, Chris enjoys sailing and cycling, if only to offset his love of eating out and Marlborough Cabernet Sauvignon..

WalkNI Awards 2018

Posted on December 3, 2018 @ 4:34 PM in Walking

Have you voted in this year's WalkNI Awards? With lots of new categories competition is heating up and every vote makes a difference! Check out our guide to this year's Awards.

WalkNI Awards 2018

How to vote

Voting in this year's Awards is quick and easy you can do so here: WalkNI Awards (Vote Now)

Why You Should Vote

Who wins is decided by the public and in the most hotly contested categories every vote matters! This year by voting in the Awards you can also enter into our competition to win a £515 walking outfit from this years sponsor Jackson Sports, Belfast.

The Categories

Favourite Walking Destination of 2018

Strangford Lough
Mourne Mountains
Causeway Coast & Glens
Sperrin Mountains

Favourite Family Friendly Walk

Gortin Forest Park & Pay Structure
Sir Thomas & Lady Dixon Park
Montalto Estate Trails, Tree House & Natural Play
The Giant's Lair, Slieve Gullion
Magic Ink Pot, Mount Stewart

Favourite Place To Watch A Sunrise / Sunset

Slieve Meelbeg, Mourne Mountains (Hibernia Landscapes by Stephen Wallace)
Manannán Mac Lir, Binevenagh Mountain (Neil Moroney Photography)
Giant's Causeway (Alistair Hamill Photography)
Kilbroney Forest Park (Jaime Collins Photography)

Favourite Place to watch a sunrise / sunset 

Favourite Summit In The Mournes (6 Highest Peaks)

Slieve Donard
Slieve Binnian
Slieve Bearnagh
Slieve Commedagh
Slieve Meelbeg

Favourite Place To Walk On The Causeway Coast

White Park Bay
Mussenden Temple & Downhill Demesne
Giant's Causeway

Favourite Walker Friendly Coffee Shop

Synge & Byrne (Slieve Gullion)
Sea Shed (Benone Strand)
Purple Heather Mobile Coffee Unit (Culicagh Boardwalk)
Lock Keepers Cottage (Lagan Towpath)
Ground Espresso Bar, Portadown (Newry Canal)
Courtyard Coffee Shop (The Argory)

Favourite Coffee Shop

Favourite Place To Walk Your Dog

Castle Ward
Lagan Towpath
Scrabo Hill
Benone Strand
Gosford Forest Park
Blessingbourne Woodland Walk
Castle Archdale

Favourite Walking Festival / Event     

Mourne Seven Sevens Challenge
Sperrin & Killeter Walking Festival
Boots N Bogs Walking Festival
Castlerock Walkfest
Walk the Glens Festival
Wee Binnian Walking Festival
Causeway Coast Challenge Walk
Omagh & Sperrins Walking Festival
Glenarm Walking Festival
Mourne International Walking Festival

Charity Walks 2018

Best Charity Walk Of 2018

Mood Walk's (Aware NI)
The Bra Walk (Action Cancer)
Moonlit Walk's (Cancer Focus)
Memory Walk (Alzheimer's Society)

Favourite Nature Reserve

Murlough Nature Reserve
Island Hill & North Strangford Nature Reserve
Bog Meadows
Cladagh Glen
Oxford Island
West Lighthouse, Rathlin Island

When The Winners Are Announced

Voting closes at 11:59pm on Wednesday 12th December 2018. Winners will be announced early in the new year via the WalkNI Facebook Page & Website. The winner of the competition by our sponsor Jackson Sports, Belfast will be contacted in the new year (see terms and conditions for details)

The Most Important Part- Spread The Word!

Every vote makes a difference so don't forget to spread the word by sharing our posts on Facebook or telling your friends!

Latest comment posted by Adele Walker on December 6, 2018 @ 5:42 PM

My favourite walk is Castle Archdale Read more >

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.

Northern Ireland's Outdoor Adventure Blog