Most of us know that Ireland is good for a drink or two. You say Irish; you hear pub. But there is far more to the Emerald Isle than most of us realise. With miles of untouched natural beauty and a killer wave every now and again, Ireland is the perfect place to take a walk on the wild side.
The possibilities are endless; whether you fancy brushing up on your mountaineering skills or taking to the sea, there’s something for everyone…
1. Kayaking in Fermanagh
If you’re a paddling fanatic, Fermanagh’s Lough Erne should be at the top of your bucket list. With 154 islands dotted through the upper and lower lakes, there are countless hidden nooks and crannies to explore. Surrounded by a spectacular backdrop of untouched countryside, you could spend hours discovering the mysterious islands.
If you need a break from paddling there is also plenty to see on land. Devenish Island promises the chance to experience one of Northern Ireland’s oldest and best preserved monastic sites. Founded in the 6th century, the site is dotted with several churches, each capturing a different point in history. We have places to stay in nearby Enniskillen.
2. Mountain biking in Rostrevor
Mountain biking really doesn’t get more awesome than Rostrevor. Picture this: a 27km red trail and a 19km black trail, a view that stretches all the way to the coast and steep descents that will get your blood pumping and your adrenaline racing. Still not convinced? With bike hire starting from just £15 at Mountain Bike NI, there’s no reason to miss out.
3. Walking through the Mourne Mountains
The landscape that inspired Narnia – that’s right, it was here in the Mourne Mountains that a young C. S. Lewis dreamed up The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe. Lewis was moved as a child by the dozens of valleys and rare flowers; for him it was a natural playground and as soon as you set eyes on it, you’ll see why. The experience is nothing short of breath-taking.
If you decide to attempt one of the stunning trails, you won’t want to miss out on seeing the Mourne Wall, the most impressive example of Ireland’s iconic dry-stone structures. There was no cement involved in the wall’s 18-year construction; it’s held together completely by gravity and winds its way through 15 mountains.
4. Carrick-a-rede Rope Bridge
An unsteady rope bridge hanging 30m above some very jagged rocks along the North Antrim coast – sounds terrifying? That’s because it is.
But if you like to laugh in the face of feeble bridges, this adrenaline rush is perfect for you. We assure you that although it’s only 20m wide it’s perfectly safe; the bridge is worked on daily to ensure that it’s not dangerous and crossing it is pretty spectacular. There’s hostels nearby in Whitepark Bay.
5. Surfing in Bundoran
Warning: Surfing in Ireland is not about getting a tan. Surprising, we know, but the west coast of the Emerald Isle is all about keeping things hardcore. Bundoran is the surf capital of Ireland, and even though the water is pretty cold (11°C to be exact), surfers still flock there every year to catch the kick-ass waves. Believed to rival the big bad waves of Hawaii and California, if you can hold your own in Bundoran, you deserve to promote yourself into surfing’s big leagues.
Of course, no surf town would be complete without a touch of party spirit…enter, Sea Sessions. This is a post-surf extravaganza that takes place every summer. Previous years have seen the likes of the Kaiser Chiefs and the Happy Mondays gracing the stage. For more info, visit the website.
Did we miss anything? Tell us about your Irish outdoor thrills in the comments…
rick baldwin said