A new generation of adventure sports is making mountains look like mole-hills. Our guest blogger Mark Folens sets his sights on the weirdest, craziest, downright zaniest adventure sports around.
I remember being an awed seven-year-old, watching rock climbers scale the granite heights of Dublin’s Dalkey Quarry. They seemed so rebellious, so daring… so utterly disregarding of what their mothers would say!
As a teenager this misguided worship turned to the mountain bikers darting through the forests like wheeled Jedi, all flying mud and knee-pads.
After this blog however, my scale of awe got totally de-calibrated. In Northern Ireland they’ve been honing extreme sports from pulse-racing to jaw-dropping, from to the . They’ve managed to draft in river running, automatic paint-weapons, snowboards sans snow and para-karting.
You’re going to want to try these…
You gotta love how you can drop a child in a thicket and they transform into fearless adventurers stamping around in nature. That wonder – usually long worn-off in conservative adulthood – has been re-ignited. They’re traversing cliffs and diving from heights: they are coasteering.
This sport combines climbing with swimming; basically it’s clambering across slippery rivers and sandy coasts in a wetsuit and helmet. Leaping from cliffs and delving into caves is all part of the deal. As an island we have our share of coastline to play with, with jagged shores at a perfect example.
Coasteering NI lists all terrains you can tackle from coastal nooks and crannies, to mountain streams and waterfalls.
Paintballing uses coloured paint capsules to splatter opponents in games like capture the flag and speedball. Players get armour and eye-visors – because paint in the eye is never fun. Even the meekest among us have been known to unleash their inner Rambo as they duck and dodge their way across the dense woodland, streams, waterfalls, swamps and lagoons in The Jungle.
If someone told you to jump off a cliff would you do it? What if you had wings?
Soaring through the skies like a feathered beast is possible thanks to ingenious contraptions known as gliders. Hang gliding and paragliding sees daring participants launch from cliffs in unmotorized aircrafts and coasting over dizzying ascents. The Ulster Hang Gliding and Paragliding Club have been helping people to leave the nest for years with their stunning inland and coastal sites. Pilots of hang gliders lie flat on their stomach strapped into aluminium-framed wings while paragliders sit beneath a parachute wing – both are equally thrilling. Those afraid of heights need not apply.
We’ve always been a resourceful bunch. So having no snow is not going to deter us from having a go of a snowboard. Oh no.
We call it mountain boarding and they call us crazy. Here’s why:
This inventive sport (also known as dirt boarding or grass boarding) fastens riders to what you could consider ‘skateboards on steroids’ and sends them rocketing down mountains at lightning speeds. They even have obstacle courses where adrenalin-junkies attempt tricks known as burger flips and nose pokes. Of course we have no shortage of sprawling mountains to let crazy take its course on. In the Mournes, Surfin’ Dirt is a nice spot for anyone looking to get on board. Sorry…
Blokarting is not something just created for stag weekends. Though, you wouldn’t quite know why it was invented.
The young sport is like some mad hybrid of sailing and karting which usually takes place on beaches or other flat and blustery areas. These fearless land-sailors throttle about in the three-wheeled vehicles rigged with sails, swerving from side to side as they harness the wind and race each other at massive speeds. The strands around Limvady are perfect for these blokarters.
A work of genius or madness? Only the level of ER admissions will tell.