Let’s be honest, we’re all recovering from the festive season of plum puddings, hot toddies and cheesy movies. There are times I almost feel like a pudding myself. Which can only mean one thing; it’s New Year’s resolution time again.
But what if this year, you combined something light-hearted, like ‘have more fun!’, with a long-held ambition, like say, ooh, ‘see Ireland’, and the old classic ‘get fit’.
Well we might just have the resolution for you. Good for your health, good for the mind and good for an adventurous anecdote to tell at dinner parties.
Ireland has some epic ways to exercise. The five below range from beginner, to what I, from my couch, would deem lunacy. But my goodness they look like fun.
“Don’t look down” shouted the instructor.
“Even Spiderman looks down!” I spat back.
I admit, my first and only attempt at abseiling at Carlingford Adventure Centre was terrifying. But it was also invigorating, once my two feet reached the ground and I looked up to see the cliff I had so deftly abseiled. Daredevils can go against gravity, and see why rock climbing is so big in Ireland (big variety of rock types, and glaciers carving into them over millennia).
Just… don’t look down. Or shout at your instructor.
Riding a bike is not something you forget nor could you forget plummeting down the side of a mountain on one. Mountain biking is a whole other level of cycling, as you need to be able to cycle up a mountain without rolling backwards in defeat. I’ve witnessed the pros (or lunatics some might say) climb 350m and then fly down in a speedy descent, all splashing puddles and squealing tyres (could be me squealing actually). Ireland’s National Forestry Service Coillte have specially designed mountain biking trails criss-crossing their forests all over the country. On their website they’ve graded them from ‘easy’ to ‘thighs of steel’ (I’m paraphrasing), and the dedicated trails mean you’re not going to run over a walker or sheep behind the next rock.
Here for the extreme sports? Sure what’s more extreme than clinging to a kite with a board strapped to your feet over Atlantic rollers? You need the wind to keep you moving so this is finally a sport that calls out for the Irish blustery weather. Kitesurfing looks even more challenging than surfing as you also need the arm strength to hang on as you’re taken to the skies. You can see on the video, these guys definitely go airborne!
Kitesurfing is rated highly (ha!) here with competitions year-round. If you’re not quite at competitor level yet, take a few lessons and you’ll be hitting the skies – I mean, waves – in no time!
From Dublin to Kerry, the entire coastline has the waves and the wind for some brilliant surf. Get wind and weather reports on the best beach for that day, and the various events on www.kitesurfing.ie
Now I’m not talking about the walking you do from your desk to the water cooler, or from the kettle to the couch. No, no. We’re talking cliff-edge paths, mountain ridges, salty sea breezes, views to knock the breath out of you, wildlife darting out of sight as you approach.
We have whole dedicated to walking, a network of National Waymarked Trailsfor walking, and countless guides for… well you get it. One particularly beautiful route is the , taking in strands, headland, castle ruins, and the famous and along 33 miles.
Other wonderful walkways are the , County Tipperary; , County Donegal; , County Wicklow
All this sounding a bit pedestrian? Suppose you did them all for 2010’s resolutions? Well, let us propose a race.
Ireland is the perfect setting for adventure races. The varied landscape (these things go from forest to field, lake to summit, bog to beach in minutes), and well, crazy athletes make this the most fun you can have in the mud. The races include Headless Horseman Race; combining biking, hiking, kayaking and running, The Caveman; has you running and cycling through the Aillwee Cave in The Burren, and Ride and Tide; travel by horse and/or bicycle over the rugged terrain .
We promise the puddings will be well and truly behind you!
Our blog has even more on these adventure races!