Friday 30 September 2016

Top 30 adventure breaks

Fran Power

Published 12/07/2015 | 02:30

Sky diving
Sky diving
Rock Climbing in Dalkey
A diver swims with a dolphin off the west coast
A young girl horse riding
Mountain Biking
A child ziplines through a forest
A young boy fishing

Forget lying on the beach - climb a sea stack or jump out of a plane, and enjoy the thrill of extreme adventure

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1 Kitesurf in Achill

You're on the edge of the world at Dugort in Achill, the country's largest island, where you can learn to ride the wind and the waves with the kitesurf dudes at the Pure Magic Lodge. Après surf at the Lodge is hopping, pizza is unbeatable, the music strong - you might well find yourself leading the session.

Where Pure Magic, 085 243-9782; puremagic.ie

When March to November

Price One-hour private kitesurf lesson, €75; foundation courses of four three-hour session, €395

Parking Free on site

Food Pizza a legend, the best coffee in Achill

Stay at B&B on site

2 Rockclimb in Dalkey

Cling to the side of a cliff - and learn to belay, set up rope systems, tie a knot - all in a weekend. Beginners' classes take place in a disused granite quarry, but there are enough knife-edge walls to challenge experienced climbers.

Where The Adventure Agency,

(01) 254-2754; adventure.ie

Start point Dalkey Quarry, Killiney Hill Park, Co Dublin

Price €180 for beginners' weekend (non-residential), courses run throughout the summer

Best Dalkey post-climb pub McDonagh's on Castle Street for a pint and toastie; Finnegan's on Sorrento Road for star-spotting.

3 Take to the water

Whistle down the legend-laden Boyne river on a raft or kayak, and see Newgrange just as the Vikings first saw it - by boat. There's plenty of time too for swimming.

Where Boyne Valley Activities, Trim, Co Meath,

086 734-2585/086 734-2586; boynevalleyactivities.ie

Start point Varies, depending on tour

Price €40pp for two hours (including drop-off and pick-up)

Best packed lunch From Slane Bake on Slane Main Street

4 Hike the Bangor Trail

This old drover's trail runs from Bangor Erris through Ballycroy National Park and the Nephin Beg range to end at Newport in Mayo. It's a tough 24/37km-long hike that threads through forest plantation. You can camp overnight in a mountain shelter along the route or pitch your tent under star-bright skies.

Where Start at the Brogan Carroll bothy at Letterkeen Woods, 12km from Newport, Co Mayo

Getting there Head from Newport along the N59 to Achill, after 1km turn right for Lough Feeagh/ Letterkeen; after 12km, turn left onto a forestry road just after a bridge, follow for 1km to the bothy

Pack A compass and copy of Joe McDermott's guidebook The Bangor Trail, Ordnance Survey Ireland Discovery Series, map 23

Food Ginger and Wild tearooms at the park's visitor centre, open daily, April to September; ballycroynationalpark.ie; or carb up at The Blue Bicycle, Newport

5 Zipline through Lough Key Forest and Activity Park

Play Tarzan (or Jane), and swing through 1.5km of rope bridges, tightropes, climbing walls, ladders and ziplines or brave the tree canopy on a BMX bike. Down on the ground, you can purr through 350 hectares of fine broadleaf forest on electric bikes or Segway.

Where Lough Key Forest and Activity Park, Boyle, Co Roscommon, (071) 967-3122; loughkey.ie

Open April to end August, daily; for outside summer hours see website

Food Lakeside Café on site

Stay at Camping and caravan site open to end August

6 Bushcraft survival weekend

Kippure Estate in the Wicklow Mountains is wild enough to merit a few survival tricks. Ex-military instructors will teach you how to light a fire à la Bear Grylls, build a shelter (and sleep in it), forage, track animals, even how to navigate the wilds at night.

Where Adventure Wicklow, Kippure Estate, Manor Kilbride, Blessington, Co Wicklow, (01) 458-2889; adventurewicklow.com

Price Two days and overnight with survivor instructors, €199

Food Glendalough Green in Laragh

7 Learn to surf in Strandhill

The northwest coast is a surf mecca with big bad breakers like Aileen off the Cliffs of Moher and The Peak at Bundoran. Start out nice and easy at Strandhill where the consistent beach breaks are just the speed for beginners.

Where Strandhill Surf School, (071) 916-8483; strandhillsurfschool.com

Price Adult, €35 for 3 hours, child, €25

Parking Free

Unwind at Try a seaweed bath at Kilcullen's in Enniscrone; kilcullenseaweedbaths.com

8 Bike the west

Explore the coastline of Clare by bike with a guide - a triathlete who has covered every inch during training. The 30km Half Loop tour winds through the scenery of the Shannon Estuary.

Where The Bog Road Bike Tours, 086 278-0161; bogroadbiketours.com

Start point Murphy Blacks restaurant, Kilkee, Co Clare, (065) 905-6854; murphyblacks.ie

Price Four-hour tour, €35 or €45 with bike hire, helmet and safety equipment

Food Packed lunch on request

9 Dive in Kinsale

If you've never dived, you can test the waters without undergoing the usual 4-5 day PADI training in Kinsale. Wade into the water from the shore or slip overboard in up to 1-2 metres of depth. Sign up for the full PADI course and you get a discount.

Where Ocean Addicts, Kinsale, 087 274-4992; oceanaddicts.ie

Price Half-day, €80 with instructor

Equipment All included

Best time of year June to September

10 SUP in Brittas

It may not have the adrenaline charge of carving a reef breaker but Stand Up Paddleboarding is a fine way to explore a cave-filled coastline, learn the basics of surfing and catch some waves.

Where Brittas Bay Surf School (between North and South Car Park, Brittas Bay, Co Wicklow, 086 739-6010; brittasbaysurfschool.com

Open Year-round; booking essential

Price €35 for two hours

Equipment Provided

Parking Free

Food The Tap, Ballard Village, Kilbride, (0404) 48887, will deliver to your caravan or tent; or stop in at The Bay Café, 2 Bayview, Co Wicklow

11 Coasteer in Kerry

Leap into the cold Atlantic waters from a sea cliff, swim through sea arches, explore caves, scramble up and over craggy outcrops - then do it all over again. That, folks, is coasteering.

Where Mór Active, 086 389-0171; moractivetours.com

Price €50 for 3 hours

Essentials Helmet, buoyancy and wetsuit provided but bring swimsuit, old trainers, change of clothes and towel

Food Bring snacks and a bottle of water

12 Have a whale of a time

Jump aboard the good ship Voyager, a speedy catamaran that leaves out of Baltimore Harbour, for a half-day tour of the feeding grounds of minke, fin and humpback whales, and dolphins.

Where Whale Watch West Cork, 086 120-0027/(028) 33357; whalewatchwestcork.com

Price €50 for a four-hour trip; booking essential

Essentials Dress warmly and bring swimming gear

Parking Free

Best time of year June to November

Food Jacob's Bar in Baltimore

13 Climb the highest mountain

Notch up the country's highest peak, Carrauntoohill at 1039m in Kerry's McGillycuddy Reeks with an experienced guide. Hike onto the peak itself where, on a fine day, the Dingle Peninsula and Kenmare are visible below.

Where 087 744-0523/087 932-3527; kerryclimbing.ie

Price €55pps

Fitness level Good, expect a six-hour hike

Food Pack sambos and red lemonade

Relive it Kate Kearneys Cottage, Gap of Dunloe

14 Canyoning in Kerry

The Torc gorge in Kerry is deep, narrow and only accessible by river. Canyoning down it means abseiling down a tumbling waterfall, swimming across Gollum's Pool, taking in rock-slides, jumps and plunges, and kayaking through the lush Kerry landscape.

Where Outdoors Ireland, 086 860-4563; outdoorsireland.com

Start point Muckross Park Hotel, Killarney National Park, Co Kerry

Price €60pp for 3-hour trip

Equipment Provided

Food Bring your own picnic

Stay at Try Muckross Park Hotel (muckrosspark.com) or camp at Grove Lane Glamping (killarneyglamping.com)

15 Fish on the Blackwater River

Some of the finest salmon fishing in the country is on the Blackwater River that runs through Cork and Waterford. Hook up with champion fisherwoman Glenda Powell of Blackwater Lodge for a half-day lesson in fly casting.

Where Blackwater Lodge and Salmon Fishery, Upper Ballyduff, Co Waterford, 087 235-1560;

Ireland-salmon-fishing.net

Price Private lesson, €50 per hour plus licence and fishing fee

Stay at B&B and self-catering on site

16 Climb a Donegal sea stack

There are nearly 100 windswept sea stacks jutting out of the frothing sea off Donegal's coast. To reach them you first abseil down a sea cliff, cross open water to land at their base and then, well, it's crampons on and up you go. No experience necessary.

Where Iain Miller, Unique Ascent, 087 758-4810; uniqueascent.ie

Price €180pp

Equipment Provided, but bring packed lunch and sense of humour

Suitable for Six to 81-year-olds have done it

17 Horse riding in the west

See the wild west by horseback with a six-day trek through gentle forest in Galway, over the Slieve Aughty mountains to Lough Derg, and on to the Cliffs of Moher, and sleep in a renovated farmhouse.

Where Irish Horse Riding, An Sibin, Derryoran East, Whitegate, Co Clare, (061) 927-411; irishhorseriding.com

Price From €1,105 (shorter breaks can be arranged) includes 7 nights' accommodation, all meals and 6 days of tours

Equipment Provided

18 Island hop in Lough Erne

Paddle the labyrinthine channels, bays and islands from Upper to Lower Lough Erne, all 50km of it, with plenty of historical (and foodie) stop-offs such as Crom Estate, Enniskillen Castle and Devenish Tower along the way. Pack your tent for some wild camping or book into a bothy on Trannish Island.

Boat rental from Share Village, (048) 677-22122; sharevillage.org

Price £30 for single kayak, £35 for a double kayak per day, drop-offs available for a fee

Stay at On Trannish Island, Share Village, as above or at Lusty Beg Island,

(048) 6863-3300; lustybegisland.com

Maps, routes and useful info canoeni.com

19 Visit a megalithic cemetery

The Miner's Way is an 118km-long route winding through the lake-studded areas of counties Leitrim, Sligo and Roscommon that takes in centuries of Irish history along the way. Highlight? A high-sided limestone valley carved by a glacier that leads to the ancient Carrowkeel cairn complex, older than Newgrange and aligned to the summer solstice so that the setting sun lights up the back of the tomb. Visit yourself or go with archaeologist Auriel Robinson.

Where Maps of the Miner's Way & Historical Trail from irishtrails.ie or book a tour with Auriel Robinson of Sea Trails, 087 240-5071; seatrails.ie

Price Adult, €25; child, €10 for 3-hour trip

Start point Carrowkeel carpark, Co Roscommon

Food Coffee, tea and treats included

Best time to visit Summer solstice

20 Take the Turf Challenge in Killary

Schlep through mud, hurtle down waterslides, clamber up trees and through bog on this three-hour course that'll take you back to childhood fun. And if you've still energy to burn, you can try a 22m-bungee jump, ringo ride (a giant inflatable doughnut pulled by a speed boat) or wake-boarding on the fjord.

Where Killary Adventure Company, Leenane, Co Galway, (095) 43411; killaryadventure.com

Price Adult, from €46, child, from €40 for 1.5 hours

Stay at Camping and hostel-style on site

Food Available

Best pub Gayners in Leenane where The Field was filmed

21 Raft on the Liffey

Start at the Strawberry Beds, just 20 minutes from Dublin's city centre, and flow 8km downriver through the Beds, over four weirs, keeping an eye out for wildlife and history until you reach Dublin town. Can you capsize? Yep, the guide can make that happen.

Where Canoe Centre, Mill Lane, Palmerstown, Dublin 20, (01) 626-4363; rafting.ie

Price Minimum group of four, €279, includes drop-off

Equipment Provided, just bring swimming togs, shoes and a towel

Open Year-round

Best time to visit Spring and autumn have good water on the river

22 Mountain Biking in Tyrone

Build your mountain bike muscle at Blessingbourne Estate, with 13km of trails designed by Phil Saxena, the man behind the Beijing Olympics course. Choose from moderate blue trails or red trails such as Roller Coaster or Crocodile's Back.

Where Blessingbourne Estate, Co Tyrone,

(048) 8952-1188; blessingbourne.com

Price Entry fee to car park and trails, £5 Bike rental Available on site, booking ahead essential; Scott bike rental for three hours, adult, £15; child, £5

Stay at Self-catering available at the Estate

Open Year-round

Best time to visit May to August

23 Wake-board in Dublin

Think skateboarding, then add water and a cable and you have cable wake-boarding. Twist and turn, jump and ride obstacles on your board as you're pulled on a cable between two towers.

Where Wakedock, South Dock Road, Grand Canal Dock, Ringsend, Dublin 4, (01) 664-3883; wakedock.ie

Prices Adult, €60 for 30 mins (includes all kit)

Open Year-round

Best time Wednesday is club night with BBQ and rides

Refuel Herb Street, Hanover Quay, Grand Canal Dock, Dublin 2, (01) 675-3875; herbstreet.ie

24 Skydive in Derry

Jump from an aircraft at 13,000 feet and whistle through the air at 120 miles per hour harnessed to an instructor. Or start solo, daredevil you, with a 3,200-foot jump.

Where Skydive Wild Geese, Movenis Airfield, Carrowreagh Road, Garvagh, Co Derry, (048) 295-58665;

skydivewildgeese.com

Price Solo static line course, £210; tandem skydive course, £260 - medical cert required for over-40s

25 Go fishing in Donegal

Fish for your supper, spot dolphins, killer whales, basking sharks and seal, and explore the unspoilt northwest coastline with a sea angling trip in Dowros Bay.

Where Tirconnell Charters,

087 245-8514/(074) 953 7031; tirconnellcharters.com

Start point Rosbeg pier or Portnoo Pier, Co Donegal

Price Full-day boat charter, €450, or €56pps (min 8 people); half-day boat charter, €300, or €75pps (min 4 people)

Equipment All rods and tackle, safety gear provided

Stay at The Nesbitt Arms Hotel, Ardara, (0749) 541-103; nesbittarms.com

26 Rally drive in Monaghan

Hit top gear at Rally School Ireland where you can rev it up around the purpose-built course. Choose from a Ferrari or high-performance Porsche 911, tog up in rally overalls and race against your personal best or a mate (with an instructor in the passenger seat). Where Rally School Ireland, Scotstown, Co Monaghan, (047) 89098; rallyschoolireland.ie

Price From €140 for half day to €450 for a full day, lunch included, no licence necessary

Stay at Castle Leslie, Glaslough, Co Monaghan, (047) 88 100; castleleslie.com

27 Freewheel through a forest in Limerick

For that whoosh of adrenaline, hit the trail at Ballyhoura Mountain Bike Trail, a 100km-long free-flowing forest run with board walks, twists, tight turns and technical rock and root challenges.

Where Ballyhoura Mountain, (063) 91300; visitballyhoura.com; coillteoutdoors.ie

Price Entry to car park and trails, €5

Open Year-round, Tuesday to Sunday

Bike rental Available at Trailhead with Trail Riders, 087 271-7330; trailriders.ie, booking essential, from €35 for a day with helmet, etc

28 Blokart in Bundoran

Get the wind in your sails with a blokart - a high-tech land yacht powered by the wind. Easy to master, you'll be racing your mates along the flat sands of Tullan Strand Beach in no time.

Where TurfnSurf Lodge & Surf School, 6 Bayview Terrace, Bundoran, Co Donegal, (071) 984-1091; turfnsurf.ie

Price Adult, €35, child (under 16), €25, includes transfers, lesson

Essentials Tracksuit pants, hoodie and old trainers

29 Follow the River Barrow

At 192km, the Barrow rises in Laois, and winds through Kildare, Kilkenny, Carlow, Wexford and out to the sea at Waterford. Trace its route with a walk along riverside ways with the Barrow Way, or speed along with a whitewater rush by kayak.

Where The Barrow Way starts at Robertstown, Co Kildare, see irishtrails.ie for helpful maps

Parking Yes

End at St Mullins, Co Carlow

Best section Ballytiglea Bridge to St Mullins (Map 11-12, irishtrails.ie)

Food Try Mullichain Café

Guided kayak trip Go With the Flow, 087 2529-700; gowiththeflow.ie

30 Take the Wild Atlantic Challenge

At 42km, the Great Western Greenway is a great day out, but for more of a stretch, try the Wild Atlantic Challenge. Over three days, explore the beautiful Mayo coastline from every angle - by bike, by sea kayak paddling around Clew Bay's 365 islands and from above - by climbing the pilgrim mountain of Croagh Patrick.

Where Clew Bay Bike Hire, Distillery Road, Westport, (098) 24818; clewbayoutdoors.ie

Price €65pp including shuttle to start points, kayak and bikes (and moral support) rental

Best part The knockout views

* For more information see discoverireland.ie

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