23 December 2008

Kayaking, Rock Climbing & Hill Walking Adventure Breaks in Killarney, Kerry!

Come to Kerry and take part in a unique and exciting break, with enthusiastic like-minded people! Choose from hiking secluded trails on the Kerry Way; climbing Carrauntoohil, Ireland's highest mountain; exploring the Lakes of Killarney by kayak; or paddling down gently flowing rivers. At night relax and enjoy the gourmet food and vibrant atmosphere of Killarney...
Night Ascent of Carrauntoohil
Sat 18th July & Sat 22nd Aug
Make an exciting and unique night ascent of Carrauntoohil, in darkness with head torches and guides. Stand on the summit of Ireland's highest mountain at dawn to savour the early morning calm and hopefully sunrise over the MacGillycuddy Reeks...
After descending Carrauntoohil in the dawn light, enjoy a huge freshly cooked breakfast in Killarney.
Kayak trips on the Lakes of Killarney for participants also available on Saturday and Sunday for the discounted price of €30 per person.
Price is €85 per person (includes breakfast)
Special Weekend Price For Two People: €75 per person!
October Bank Holiday
Sat 24th - Hike the Coomasaharn Horseshoe - €75
Sun 25th - Climb Carrauntoohil, Ireland's highest mountain - €75
Mon 26th - Kayak across the Lakes of Killarney - €75
Price is €225 per person
Special Weekend Price For Two People: €190 per person!
Halloween Weekend
Climb Ireland's Highest Mountains!
Fri 30th Oct - Climb Mount Brandon
Sat 31st Oct - Climb Beenkeragh, Carrauntoohil & Caher
Sun 1st Nov - Climb Mullaghanattin
Price is €225 per person
Special Weekend Price For Two People: €180 per person!
August Bank Holiday
Sat 1st - Morning or Afternoon Kayak Trip across the Lakes of Killarney - €50
Sun 2nd - Climb Carrauntoohil, Ireland’s highest mountain - €75pp
Mon 3rd - Hike through the Black Valley and Gap of Dunloe, along the Kerry Way; or Kayak down the gently flowing Laune River - €75
Price is €200 per person
Special Weekend Price For Two People: €165 per person!
Sat 11th April - Kayak trip across the Lakes of Killarney - €75
Sat 11th April - Hike the Kerry Way through the Brida Valley & over two mountain passes. Then bike through the impressive Black Valley and Gap of Dunloe - €75 (€95 with bike provided)
Sun 12th April - Climb Carrauntoohil & MacGillycuddy Reeks - €75
Mon 13th April - Kayak Surfing - €75
May Bank Holiday
Sat 2nd - Climb Carrauntoohil, Ireland’s highest mountain - €75
Sun 3rd - Kayak across the Lakes of Killarney - €75
Mon 4th - Rock Climb & Abseil in the Gap of Dunloe; or Kayak down the gently flowing Laune River - €75pp
Price is €225 per person
Special Weekend Price For Two People: €190 per person!
June Bank Holiday
Climb Ireland's Highest Mountains!
Sat 30th May - Climb Mount Brandon
Sun 31st May - Climb Beenkeragh, Carrauntoohil & Caher
Mon 1st June - Climb Mullaghanattin
Price is €225 per person
Special Weekend Price For Two People: €180 per person!
Sea Kayak Trip
Sat 13th & Sun 14th June
Take part in a special and unique sea kayak trip, on Kenmare Bay, with limited places available! You will spend two days kayaking between the Iveragh Peninsula and Beara Peninsula, towards the Atlantic Ocean, exploring desolate islands, secret caves and hidden inlets. Carrying all your food and equipment in your kayak, at night, you will camp and cook beneath the stars.
Suitable for novices, this two-day sea kayak trip along Kenmare Bay also includes a day's preparation training on Sun 7th June.
info@outdoorsireland.com / +353 (0) 86 860 45 63

12 December 2008

Climb Carrauntoohil in 2009!

Climb in the majestic ice-carved MacGillycuddy Reeks and stand on the cloud-strewn summit of Carrauntoohil, Ireland's highest mountain. Discover local history and legends, with an experienced and passionate qualified guide.
Price is €75 per person. Trips available throughout 2009.
Contact Nathan on info@outdoorsireland.com or 086 860 45 63.

Gift Vouchers for 2011!

Give someone a present only you would give! A gift voucher for a day's rock climbing & abseiling, a kayaking trip or a hike into the Kerry mountains! Personally designed day and half-day gift vouchers. Prices from €50.
For more details contact Nathan on info@outdoorsireland.com or 086 860 45 63.
For any last minute shoppers we're offering complimentary hand delivery on Wed 23rd Dec to most parts of Kerry, Cork and Limerick!

8 December 2008

Nathan Kingerlee / Outdoors Ireland on Facebook

Join me on Facebook, or drop me an invite if you're already on Facebook...

I also have a Facebook Group called Outdoors Ireland, for everyone looking to share outdoor advice and tips and stay in touch after taking part in an adventure break or training course!

4 December 2008

Howling Ridge on Carrauntoohil

Last weekend I climbed Howling Ridge, on Carrauntoohil, with the team from Outsider Magazine. Cold, clear and fresh conditions prevailed throughout the day, with the thick cloud obliterating everything below us every half-hour. After six hours of vertical climbing we reached the summit of Carrauntoohil at 4:30pm and descended the Devil's Ladder, using head-torches for the final 30 mins.

27 November 2008

Christmas Adventure Days in Killarney, Kerry

Fri 26th Dec: Climb Carrauntoohil, Ireland's highest mountain - €50pp

Sat 27th Dec: Climb Carrauntoohil, via the Coomloughra Horseshoe, summiting Ireland's three highest mountains - €75pp

Sun 28th Dec: Rock Climb and Abseil in the Gap of Dunloe - Half Day €50pp; Full Day €75pp

'We had an absolutely awesome day climbing Carrauntoohil. We felt completely at ease to be led by such great guides. Really enjoyed all the local folklore too, there are just some things you can't get off maps! And most of all, thanks for arranging such good weather for us!' Ciara, Dublin

Click here to book.

Interactive Adventure News in Kerry

Join Twitter for interactive news and chat about outdoor adventure and training in Kerry, with Nathan Kingerlee.

20 November 2008

Outdoor Adventure & Training Videos

What Videos Would You Like To See?
Over the coming months I will be posting short videos on my blog covering anything from kayaking down exciting rapids to how to choose a pair of hiking boots. What would you like to see? Let me know by clicking on the comment link below the photo and leaving a comment...

11 November 2008

Mountain Skills Training in Kerry & Wicklow

Mountain Skills 1
31st Jan & 1st Feb
7th & 8th March
9th & 10th May
5th & 6th Sept
3rd & 4th Oct
5th & 6th Dec

Mountain Skills 2
28th Feb & 1st March
4th & 5th April
13th & 14th June
26th & 27th Sept
14th & 15th Nov

Mountain Skills 1
14th & 15th Feb
16th & 17th May
12th & 13th Sept
12th & 13th Dec

Mountain Skills 2
14th & 15th March
10th & 11th Oct
12th & 13th Dec

€165 per person, non-residential
€255 per person, residential

''Thanks for the Intro to Mountain Skills last year. I found it very beneficial. For me, I was surprised that you can learn so much information about your bearings from careful map reading. I found the one day course comprehensive, the presentation was excellent and the mountains will be a safer place for me following the course.''
Tim, Cork.

Contact Nathan on info@outdoorsireland.com or 086 860 45 63 for further details or to make a booking.

23 October 2008

Compass Work

Scroll down my blog to see how to take a compass bearing...

What is Magnetic Variation?
Magnetic Variation is the difference between the North on your map and the North your compass points to.

Why is it important?
Because the direction you need to walk to get to your next point and the direction your compass points are slightly different. The difference between the two can mean that you miss the point you're aiming for.

How much is Magnetic Variation?
It varies depending on where in the country, or the world, you are. At the moment in Kerry it's 5 degrees. It's constantly changing slowly.

Where can I find the amount of Magnetic Variation?
On the side of your Ordnance Survey map.

How do I apply Magnetic Variation?
After taking your compass bearing, you add the amount of magnetic variation onto your compass bearing. So in Kerry, at the moment, you add 5 degrees.

Following A Compass Bearing
1. Take your compass bearing.
2. Double check your compass bearing.
3. Add magnetic variation.

4. Check you have nothing magnetic in your chest pockets (phone, head torch, etc).

5. Hold the bottom of the compass base plate against your chest.

6. Shuffle around, with your feet side by side, until the red compass needle lies directly on top of the red compass arrow (red on red).

7. The top of the compass base plate has a 'direction of travel' arrow on it. This direction of travel arrow is pointing directly forwards at where you need to walk.

8. Choose a point in the distance (lump of grass, bog hole, rock) which is in a direct line with you and your direction of travel arrow.

9. Put your compass away and walk to this point. When you reach this point take out your compass and pick another point in the distance.

5 September 2008

Free Intro to Mountain Skills

Spend a day with experienced instructors, learning essential skills for the Irish mountains. Learn to navigate using a map and compass. Discuss the essential equipment to carry in your backpack. Discover different mountain hazards and how to deal with them, or more importantly, prevent them from becoming a hazard in the first place.

The day will be spent in the mountains and will run from 10am to 4pm. The promotion is running in Glenbeigh, Kerry and Glendalough, Wicklow. I am running this free promotion to launch my 2009 dates for the official Mountain Skills Training and Assessment Courses, running both in Kerry and Wicklow. The promotion is sponsored by Sport Corran Tuathail, Killarney's Outdoor Shop, and now available online at www.sct.ie.

Kerry Dates:
Sun 11th Jan
Mon 12th Jan
Sun 18th Jan
Mon 19th Jan

Wicklow Dates:
Fri 23rd Jan
Sat 24th Jan
Sun 25th Jan
Mon 26th Jan

To book your place contact Nathan on info@outdoorsireland.com or 086 860 45 63.

Outdoor Adventure Gift Vouchers

Give someone a present with a difference! A gift voucher for a day's rock climbing & abseiling, a kayaking trip or a hike into the Kerry mountains! Personally designed day and half-day gift vouchers. Prices from €50. Contact Nathan for more details.

4 September 2008

Taking A Compass Bearing

You use a compass for navigating across the hills in mist or in darkness. Especially useful for descending safely off the hills in darkness.

1. Place the compass on the map, so that the long edge of the compass passes through your current point and the point you wish to travel to.

2. Ensure your direction of travel arrow on the compass base-plate points from your current point to the point you wish to travel to.

3. Hold the base plate tightly on the map.

4. Carefully rotate the compass wheel until the red and black lines on the bottom of the compass wheel are parallel with the blue map grid-lines, which run from top to bottom (north to south).

5. The red lines on the bottom of the compass wheel need to point to north on your map (top of map).

6. The black lines on the bottom of the compass wheel need to point to south on your map (bottom of map).

7. Double check the long edge of your compass still passes through your current point and the point you wish to travel to.

8. Remove the compass from the map.

9. Hold the compass flat, directly in front of your chest, with the string towards you and the direction of travel arrow pointing away from you.

10. Physically turn yourself around slowly until the red tip of the moving compass needle lies on top of the red tip of the arrow on the bottom of the compass.

11. When you look straight up you are now looking along the line which you need to travel to reach your next point.

In the next newsletter find out about Magnetic Variation and Following a Bearing.

3 September 2008

Sea Kayak Trip around the Beara

After a busy summer I decided to take three days off, pack a fifteen foot sea kayak with food and drink and explore the south west coast. My plans happened to coincide with what was probably the summer’s best weather.

I paddled out from Snave Strand, at the head of Bantry Bay, on a beautiful sunny afternoon. The gentle southerly breeze barely stirring the water. For the entire afternoon I couldn’t wipe the grin from my face as the coastline of the Beara Peninsula unveiled itself, in all of its rocky rugged beauty.

With my heavily laden kayak a little tippy to begin with, until I became accustomed to it, I hugged the coastline. Past Whiddy Island Oil Refinery and Glengarrif Harbour. After a couple of hours paddling my stomach began to let me know it was past lunchtime, so spying a huge black rock protruding from the water I made for it. Leaving my kayak tightly wedged between slippery rocks I scrambled to the summit, passing numerous orderly piles of twigs spread across the flat top, which on closer inspection turned out to be abandoned gannet nests.

Invigorated after a lunch of freshly baked bread, slightly warm goat cheese and tomatoes I hit the water knowing I needed to make it to Bere Island to be assured of a good camping spot that night. This was a long paddle; head down; long deep strokes for three hours, cutting down the middle of Bantry Bay to take the most direct line. Roancarrigmore, a tiny island with a lonely lighthouse perched on it, was my first target. Once I reached this little island I knew Bere Island was only 2km further. Slowly, but eventually, my destination became closer and closer. With the wind increasing, the temperature dropping and the sun setting I was eager to land and set up camp. Hugging the outside of the island I paddled into a calm natural bay called Lonehort Harbour.

Landing my kayak on a white sandy beach, I pitched my Vango tent in dusky twilight, fixed a line between two gorse bushes to dry my kayaking gear and climbed into my tent. After the compulsory ‘I’m still safe’ text messages I set down to the serious job of cooking dinner, making several cups of tea and attempting to open a bottle of red wine with a penknife!

The next morning dawned clear and cool, with the promise of a scorching day to come. After sausages and bacon, cooked on my powerful gas stove, I packed my kayak and while squeezing everything into the two watertight compartments had a revelation! For most of the previous day my kayak had wanted to veer to starboard, especially later in the day when the breeze increased. This had meant that every third stroke was a sweep stroke on the right to correct myself, which was hard work! Anyway my revelation was that my nine litres of drinking water plus three bottles of wine weren’t distributed properly inside the storage compartments, meaning my boat was slightly lopsided, just enough to effect the steering of it through the water…

Paddling along the outside of Bere Island was impressive, with the British gun batteries and bunkers disappearing slowly under an unstoppable tide of nettles and gorse. A Martello Tower from the Napoleonic Wars thrust bluntly into the blue sky, while nearby nestled a Megalithic Burial Site and a romantic looking promontory fort, probably Iron Age or earlier. Bere Island has a rich history and played an important part in World War 1, only being returned to the Irish in 1938.

I left Bere Island, crossing the mouth of Castletown Bere Harbour and passing a solitary fishing trawler which threw up a lazy wash behind it. It was now I began to feel I was sea kayaking for real. Bantry Bay widened before me, miles of open water, the Beara Peninsula on my right, steadily increasing cliffs, headland after headland curving out of sight. While on my left the Sheep’s Head Peninsula slowly tapered to a finish, exposing open sea beyond it.

Deciding to land for lunch is a decision that has to be well planned, as even in the gentle swell I was encountering, it’s no mean feat to land safely. Locate a section of rocky shoreline which doesn’t look too slippery, judge the swell as it surges upwards against the black rocks and rushes back down, sucking and gurgling. When a calming in the incoming swell seems imminent paddle alongside the rocks, timing it with the upward surge of salty water, pull off the neoprene spray deck, slide out of the boat onto the rocks and as the water begins to rush back downwards grab the handle and heave the boat onto the rocks, while all the time keeping the paddle securely in one hand!

Feat successfully completed, I looked around my picnic spot. I had landed in a narrow inlet, which was basically a cleft in the cliffs. There was just enough space to drag my kayak onto the warm boulders which made up the floor. On one side was the water, now appearing docile. On the other three sides were vertical sandstone cliffs which towered overhead and thrust most of this inlet into shade. At the very back of the cleft were the scattered ancient remains of a Massey Ferguson tractor, which I guessed a weary farmer had pushed (or driven) over the edge. I sincerely hoped that with the progress of REPS and environmental awareness there would be no more dumping while I sat there enjoying my lunch.

Technically launching from the shore after lunch should have been easier. A case of sitting into my kayak on the rocks, gripping my paddle tightly and when the right sized surge of water rose upwards seal launch myself into the swell and paddle away. Not the case! I ended up with the bow of my kayak in the water and my stern still perched on the rocks. Because of the sharp narrow shape to the kayak’s hull as the swell rushed downwards I capsized and then slithered the rest of the way into the water upside down. After the initial shock and realisation of how cold the water actually was I Eskimo rolled upright, shook the water out of my ears and vowed to find easier picnic spots in future!

My intended destination that evening was Garnish, a 21km paddle away from lunch. The security of the mainland was left behind as I cut straight towards Crow Head, avoiding the many indented bays and inlets. Crow Head was the furthest into the Atlantic Ocean I strayed. As far as I know it’s the most south westerly point of mainland Ireland. And it felt it… Medium, choppy swell rolled under my kayak from random directions, making me constantly adjust my balance; my face stung from two days of sun and sea salt; gannets on the lookout for mackerel soared and cried overhead, before diving in unison; the water roared and boomed against the cliffs on my right; no one else by sea or land for miles and miles. At one stage I stopped paddling and simply sat still, bobbing in the edge of the Atlantic, savouring the peace and tranquillity.

To save time and for a little more excitement I wanted to paddle through a narrow, tight passage between Crow Head and Crow Island. The passage, or channel, was three hundred metres long and at it’s narrowest I doubt I would have had the width to turn my kayak around. Carefully entering into it was like paddling into darkness, such was the difference between the dazzling sunlight and the gloomy shade. I emerged into a large calm bay with Dursey Island and Dursey Sound in front of me. The difference between one side of the three hundred metre channel and the other side was like stepping from a storm into a swimming pool! The sun was beginning to dip towards the horizon line and thinking about pasta and tomato sauce and warm red wine I put my foot down.

Cutting through the bay towards the Sound, a couple of dolphins suddenly appeared and began accompanying me. Then there were six of them! Streaking through the water in pairs, jumping high into the air alongside me and carving in circles around my kayak. Most spectacular of all was when they dive bombed towards me from deep underwater. From the depths they would race straight upwards aiming directly at my kayak, I could see their pale stomachs as they sped at me, then at what seemed like the very last minute they would veer sharply off and avoid me. The twenty minutes I spent paddling towards Dursey Sound accompanied by six friendly dolphins was the high point of my trip.

I had heard worrying reports from friends about tricky sea conditions in Dursey Sound; however it was calm and gentle as I paddled through it, with soft swell slowly rolling in. Two carefully perched fishermen waved at me from the rocks. The fantastic little cable car (Ireland’s only cable car) was trundling across the Sound, hanging from taut cables high over my head. Judging from the many ruined cottages, crumbling church and overgrown graveyard on the island I would guess that at least a hundred people lived there once. Now only six remain…

I left the Sound, passing Mealaun Point on my left, and veered sharp right, heading towards Garnish Point and safe harbour. Although the swell wasn’t huge it was the largest I had encountered so far. It rolled slowly under my boat, then seemed to accelerate towards the vast overhanging black cliffs, which glistened wetly in the sinking sun. The waves crashed in great echoing booms sending spray high into the air, where it seemed to hang in slow motion. The gentle hillside above the cliffs seemed hazy with mist which, on looking closer, was actually spray blown high into the air.

I couldn’t see the water my boat was moving through! I was paddling through a thick carpet of dirty white foam which covered the water’s surface all around me, absorbing noise. Every time I did a forward stroke my paddle blade and sometimes my hand disappeared into the foam, which had a bit of a surreal feeling to it.

Leaving the foam and echoing booms behind me I circled Garnish Point, surfed through a narrow gap between Garnish Island and a smaller unnamed island and landed on the rocky beach of Long Island. It felt good to stand up and stretch.

That night, propped against a comfortable rock in my trusty sleeping bag, I watched the moon rise, sparkling on the still waters of Allihies Bay; and later slept under the stars beside my driftwood fire.

Dazzling sunshine woke me the next morning and the sounds of local lobster fishermen preparing for their day’s work. After a lazy start I paddled to meet a friend who was joining me at Allihies Beach for my final day’s kayaking.

We circumnavigated Cod’s Head and headed across the wide open expanse of Coulagh Bay, aiming for three small islands huddled off the tip of Kilcatherine Point. As Noel and myself paddled and chatted I heard a snorting noise from my left and glancing over saw, ten or fifteen metres away, the crest of a big, big dark-bluish back rising out of the water. It was a large whale, less than fifteen metres away! Only the crest of its back was breaking the water, and that was big, so I can only guess how big the entire whale was! Ignoring us (or oblivious to us) it sank below the water heading towards Lamb’s Head, on the Iveragh Peninsula. Later in the day we caught one or two more sightings of probably the same whale, far in the distance; cruising the deepening waters of Kenmare Bay, in no hurry to be anywhere.

Having the safety of another person with me gave me the confidence to really explore the caves and strange rock formations eroded into the three small islands; Bridaun, Bridaun Beg and Inishfarnard. We landed in a little narrow inlet on Inishfarnard for lunch and stretched out on warm soft grass to enjoy sandwiches, grapes and chocolate chip cookies, while wondering how the sheep had managed to land on these rugged shores.

Paddling along the coastline of Kilcatherine Point towards Ardgroom I could feel the excitement of the exposed bays, high cliffs and Atlantic swell diminishing behind me and it was with regret that I pulled out my soggy map to navigate to our finish point. The coast was still really interesting, with all kinds of undercut inlets, little arches and strange choppy waves, but we continued past them, all for another day…

We were finishing at Bird Point, but continued a kilometre past it as according to our map there were caves there worth exploring. We weren’t disappointed! Slightly overhanging cliffs beckoned us into a high cathedral-like entrance, which protected two vast caves. Despite the summer temperatures outside, in the caves our breath condensed and hung in the air before us. The slightest noise we made echoed eerily under the high roof, while my Tikka head torch only dimly illuminated our path. The slick damp walls of the caves glistened and eventually the walls and ceiling tapered to a tight finish thirty metres back. Ancient tombs, Viking rendezvous points, smugglers dens, wreckers hideouts; the possible histories seemed to clamour through the empty space...

All I can say is what a trip!


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Free White Water Kayaking!

Thanks to Edge Adventures Sea Kayaking and Sport Corran Tuathail for sponsoring this fantastic weekend!
Sport Corran Tuathail are Killarney's Outdoor Adventure Shop, based in the Outlet Centre, and also available online at www.sct.ie. They stock a range of sit on tops, kayaks and all the other essential personal and safety equipment.
''Thanks for the White Water Promotion. I can honestly say it was so much fun, even the 'several' dunkings I got. It was just exhilarating and tiring… My arms ached!''
Emma, Cork
I was one on the lucky one's to attend the white water promotion last week-end, and all I can say is that it was the best Saturday afternoon I have spent in a long time. The professionalism and good humour of the entire team of instructors was exceptional. We were in a group of three and we had a great laugh while learning some of the basic skills. I have dabbled about with kayaks in the past, but this has given me a taste to progress and identify which type/style is best for me before I invest in a boat. Hope to follow up with a 2 day course.
Gerry, Cork
Three of us spent an afternoon on a taster course of white water kayaking with Nathan Kingerlee and Edge Adventures Sea Kayaking in September by the lovely Beaufort Bridge in Kerry. Apart from having great fun and getting a good feel for what the sport entails, the whole set-up was very professional and well run in a seemingly effortless kind of way (that, of course, is never effortless). One of us is hoping to go back for a two-day course, one of us is dithering and I think ocean kayaking is the one that rocks my boat (awful pun intended). Thanks to Nathan, Sport CorrĂ¡n Tuathail and Edge Adventures.
Bridget, Cork

9 May 2008

Upcoming Kayaking & Hill Walking in Killarney

Half Day Kayak Trips from Ross Castle across the deep glaciated Lough Leane each day.
€50 pp
All Equipment & Instruction Provided
Weekends & Evenings Also Available
Times: 10am - 1pm and 2pm - 5pm
Prebooking Essential

Evening Kayak Trips on Wednesdays from 6pm to 9pm. These evening paddles across tranquil waters will begin at different locations on the Lakes of Killarney each week, to give you a unique taste of kayaking... Suitable for beginners and experienced paddlers.
€50 pp per evening or €150 pp for 4 evenings
All Equipment & Instruction Provided
Beginning Wed 4th June

Climb Carrauntoohil, Ireland's highest mountain. Climb through ice-carved corries to enjoy breathtaking views from the lofty cloud-strewn summit. Scheduled trips on Mondays each week.
€75 pp

Collection from Killarney can be arranged
Beginning Mon 2nd June

Other guided hikes and hill walks also available. Click here for more details.

Kayak Trip across the Lakes of Killarney in Kerry

I recently spent a morning kayaking with Nathan Kingerlee of www.outdoorsireland.com on the Lakes of Killarney. For me the morning said summer is finally here, its time to get out and enjoy what’s on our doorstep, it was such an amazing trip.

I am relatively new to the world of kayaking, and found the lakes to be ideal for my experience although with more skill I could see that there was so much more that could have been explored.
Firstly we paddled around by Ross Castle, it felt surreal to be gliding along with this spectacular ruin beside you, a slice of history within metres! There was a real buzz to this side of the lake. It felt so exciting to be in the hub of all this activity, other groups were out paddling on kayaks of every colour, a group were training on sliders for their rowing club. A great place for the people watcher in you!

After a while we paddled down a little river bringing us into another lake at the other side of the castle. It was like stepping into an entirely different world. We had the lake completely to ourselves. The views of the surrounding countryside were stunning! We paddled through Lough Leane to the various rocks and islands that protruded from the water. On closer inspection these islands held limestone caves and in one case to the delight of the rest of the group we found a small narrow limestone tunnel that we took turns kayaking through!

Of course it was not all about work, one of the highlights was our pit stop. We pulled up by one of the bigger islands on the lake and tying all our kayaks together we climbed onto the rock surface dragging our bag of goodies. It was like having our own private island in the middle of paradise. It was a well deserved feast, what is it about the outdoors that makes food taste a hundred times better?!

Time just seemed to fly by, I can’t wait to get out again. I can’t think of a better way to spend a summer's day...

30 April 2008

August Bank Holiday Adventure Weekend in Kerry

Taking a breather on Lough Leane, before paddling down the Laune River.

About to descend down the Heavenly Gates into the First Level.

Having lunch at the Devil's Spyglass Lake, just below the summit of Carrauntoohil.

16 April 2008

Mountain Skills Training in Kerry

Let me introduce myself. This time last year the only trekking I did was the kind of hard slog one does when searching for the perfect shoes for that evening. Intrepid adventures among the aisles of stores and the satisfaction of the perfect fit and coordinating colours were my driving forces. Sweat would pore from my brow, adrenaline rushing as I contemplated the horrors of inadequate footwear. So you can understand that I am probably not the first one you would think of as a hiking partner. However this didn’t stop a friend from asking me to be theirs. Up Carrauntoohil, no less. With no concept of height, distance or the Devils Ladder, I was marched to the summit on a beautiful June afternoon and I was hooked.

Since then I have always been heavily reliant on aforementioned friend to lead me blindly up and down various tracks, hills and peaks. When a work colleague mentioned a Mountain Skills course I sat up and took notice. Independence! The importance of independence is not lost on me as I work at Irish Guide dogs for the Blind, where visually impaired people regain theirs. We spend a lot of time teaching guide dog clients how to work best in their partnerships with their dogs as well as dog welfare. The Mountain Skills course saw a sort of reversal in these roles. Guide dog mobility instructors, trainers and kennel staff found themselves back in the classroom not to teach but to learn.

Nathan Kingerlee was our teacher and could be compared to MacGyver. He’s the kind of person you would want around if anything got hairy (without the need to make bombs from chewing gum and duct tape). He runs an Adventure and Training company based in Kerry and specialises in hill walking, rock climbing, mountaineering, kayaking, canoeing and team building. When Nathan learned that he would be working with doggie types you wonder if he panicked that we would arrive with our own pets in tow but no dogs on the mountain is the MCI way and when you take into account that farmers are gracious enough to let us trek across their land the least we could do was leave our four legged friends at home.

Each day began with a quick presentation on the skills we would be practicing that day. Anyone who knows us understands that we can be a tricky bunch but Nathan successfully tackled our comments, queries and occasional unruly behaviour. During our mountain safety discussions we tried to imagine every possible situation that could arise on the mountain. To give you a general idea of our line of thinking: If the mountain rescue team is supposed to come get you and they are all voluntary ...what if they are all invited to a wedding? What if everyone on the mountain rescue team ate a really hot curry the night before and were indisposed? Send answers on a postcard to……

What a great way to start the day. After that we were whisked off to Glenbeigh or the Gap of Dunloe to practice our compass skills and map reading. It soon became clear that some of us can’t read maps and most of the group had little sense of direction (the group was 5:1 female) but with a little patience on Nathan’s part we soon got the hang of it. Although compass skills wont help you find your car in a busy car park, it proves immensely useful when your view is obscured by mist at the top of Seefin.

Among the group, physical fitness varied. I started as I meant to go on, at the back. As shameful as it sounded I was even out run by the vegetarians in the group. I was sure they would be hanging back, muscles weakened by the lack of protein and craving a slice of the lambs that frolicked nearby. Not at all! They found themselves buoyed by their trail mix and spurred on at the thought of their healthy fruit accompanied by wholegrain sandwiches for lunch. On that thought, I would like to take this opportunity to introduce everyone to the banana guard. A brightly coloured banana shape object, it protects the glorious banana from the hazards of the world. Two members of our group were full of the delights of the banana guard. Personally I think phallic symbols don’t come any more obvious than that! But back to the facts.

As part of the course, team safety is encouraged so nobody gets left behind (but I’m sure the veggies would have left me for dead ….one less carnivore in the world after all). Everyone is encouraged to look for the signs of hypothermia and to carry enough equipment to cope with the more common problems when mountaineering. Of course, a slip or a fall can happen anywhere but is not advisable at 700 metres. When a member of the group was queried as to what action she would advise during a fall, her answer was to curl into a ball and minimise the surface area. Nathan managed to nip this idea in the bud due to the velocity of this human cannonball but personally I see it as a massive missed opportunity for Kerry. ‘Cannonballing’ could be a huge hit with the adrenalin junkies of the world.

Nathan’s method of teaching mainly involved posing a question and then waiting for your response. He probably hoped that these would be well thought out, intelligent answers but was always left horribly disappointed. We would usually rush headlong into a response and then wait for the correct answer to be handed to us. Nathan would frustratingly dangle the answer above our heads until we could figure it out ourselves. Sometimes days later. To get revenge in the most childish manner possible I nicknamed him Mysterio. Fell free to address his post in this manner

Wandering around on the top of a mountain at night, you would think would be another ‘no no’ but part of the course is a night navigation. Take away all visible features and you discover pretty quickly how good your compass skills are. That and how useful Nathan’s helpful clues of ‘don’t head left over the cliff’ are. We all took turns guiding the group and towards the end we almost ended up in someone’s back garden. If you are reading this now I apologise for any inconvenience and no, there is no Kerry mountain cat so no need to contact the National Enquirer.

Another test of our skills took place on the Tomies. We were asked to drop other peoples bags at points on the mountain according to the map and it resulted in complete chaos with one particular bag MIA.I concluded that as a group we are far less talented than our canine trainees who can seek and retrieve with ease. Not one to be defeated, Nathan would go over everything step by step until every bag was safely planted on their owners shoulders and we would take off again.

I don’t want to give the impression that this course is all fun and games. It can be hard work and your muscles really feel it at the end of the day. You become a really cheap date and even a tea cup of wine (we were staying in a hostel so there was a shortage of Waterford crystal) could leave you slightly blurry eyed. But there is nothing like the sense of satisfaction at the end of the day when you are exhausted but thrilled at your achievements that day.

If you want to broaden your mind, stretch those muscles (or even try cannon balling) then look no further. I’m already looking at the next mountain to climb and I will be my own guide. After all there’s always the mountain rescue crew. Lets just hope no one got married or had a bad curry.

Eimear Daly

The Mountain Skills Scheme consists of three courses:
Mountain Skills 1
Mountain Skills 2
Mountain Skills Assessment

27 March 2008

Guide To Buying A Kayak, Canoe Or Sit On Top

What type of boat are you going to buy?

  • Kayak - good for regular use, surfing, white water kayaking & advancing skills.
  • Canoe - good for sheltered areas, overnight trips, carrying gear & white water canoeing
  • Sit On Top - good for families & kids, for occasional use in sheltered areas & surfing.

What are you looking for?

  • Stability
  • Comfort
  • Backrest (not for canoes)
  • Footrest (not for canoes)
  • Handles
  • Easy To Carry

What else do you need?

  • Paddle
  • Buoyancy Aid (essential at all times)
  • Helmet (essential, even for gentle beach paddling)
  • Wetsuit (shorty, long john, steamer)
  • Whistle (attached to buoyancy aid, for attracting attention)

Either before you buy your boat or once you have it, it's recommended to do some type of training course, covering strokes, skills, rescue techniques, safety & equipment. Click here to see a full list of upcoming kayak courses or contact me to organise a personally designed half-day or day's training.

Sport Corran Tuathail - Killarney's Outdoor Adventure Shop - stocks all types of kayaks, canoes and sit on tops plus all the equipment you will need.

Anyone buying a kayak from Sport Corran Tuathail can avail of a Half Price Kayak Lesson, run at Caragh Lake by myself or one of my team.

Top Eight Tips for Adventure Racing!

  • Lightweight Equipment
    Even the shortest adventure race will take several hours. Throughout this time any weight you can save yourself from carrying will reduce your energy expenditure and reduce your time. In general lightweight materials are more expensive and less durable but the payback comes on race day.

  • Pace Yourself
    Think about the length and duration of the races you intend to take part in. The longer the race the slower you go if you want to avoid burning out half way through. Running 10 miles in an hour is very different from covering 50 miles in 10 hours!

  • Nutrition
    During a race you keep energy and fluid levels in your body topped up. There are hundreds of products out there, from the humble mars bar to high tech energy gels and electrolyte drinks. Experiment with different products, vary the intervals you eat and drink at during training, ask others what they use.

  • Learn About The Course
    If you have done loads of hill running in the Wicklow mountains you might be surprised when you arrive in Kerry or Connemara at how different the terrain is. Try to do some training on terrain that is similar to race conditions just to ‘get the feel of it’.

  • Plan Your Transitions Carefully
    Time is often lost due to a lackadaisical approach to transitions. For those really competing or chasing fast times transitions can be where seconds and minutes are won and lost. A few minutes checking or preparing a boat, bike or even just a helmet in advance can save time in a race.

  • Clothing & Footwear
    During the event you want to minimise the number of changes you have to make to your clothes and footwear. The more knowledge you have of the course and terrain, the easier it will be to decide on what you need. Pay a lot of attention to your shoes and socks. One blister and your day will be hell.

  • Skills Practise
    More and more adventure races are including stages requiring technical skills such as abseiling, jumaring, technical mountain biking, navigation etc. The only way to become proficient is to practice. Tuition from a qualified professional instructor is often the best approach for learning and also for advice about equipment selection etc.

  • Look After Yourself
    As in any sport where the body is pushed to it’s limits, the importance of looking after yourself beyond training and racing cannot be stressed too highly. Properly warming up and down, stretching etc before and after training is vital. As is eating and drinking in the hour after a race or training session.

Written by John Healy

28 February 2008

June Bank Holiday Adventure Break in Killarney

Exploring the limestone caves on Lough Leane!

Relaxing on the summit of Carrauntohil; with Killorglin, Inch Beach and Dingle Bay in the background!

21 February 2008

Adventure Race Training - 29th & 30th March

Photo: Valerie O Sullivan www.valerieosullivan.com
Sat 29th & Sun 30th March
Two-day training course, covering key elements and skills for adventure racing; including equipment, mountain biking, abseiling, canoeing, hill running and trail running.
Based at Aghadoe Hostel, in Killarney, Kerry; the two days will be spent in the MacGillycuddy Reeks and the Gap of Dunloe. Qualified instructors and adventure race experts will be working closely with you throughout the weekend. Instruction, accommodation, meals and transportation will be provided.

The price is €250 per person.
Price includes:
Two Days Adventure Race Training.
Two Nights Accommodation.
Two Continental Breakfasts.
Two Packed Lunches.
One Evening Meal.

You will need to provide your own outdoor clothing, footwear and backpack. Also ideally your own mountain bike and helmet. Mountain bikes can be provided at an additional cost.

All abseiling and canoeing equipment will be provided.

Course Programme
Arrival & Registration

Mountain Biking (bikes, equipment, riding skills, typical terrain)
Abseiling (equipment, safety, abseiling skills)
Evening Meal (three course evening meal)
Preview of 'An Turas Beag'

Canoeing (canoes, equipment, safety, canoeing skills)
Hill & Trail Running (equipment, running skills)
Questions & Answers

Contact Nathan on info@outdoorsireland.com or 086 860 45 63 for more details or to make a booking.

15 February 2008

Intro to Mountain Skills Comments

Thanks for the course two weeks ago, I found it very beneficial. For me, I was surprised that you can learn so much information about your bearings from careful map reading. I found the one day course comprehensive, the presentation was excellent and the mountains will be a safer place for me following the course.
Tim Leahy

Overall I found the course very useful. I enjoy hill walking but when heading off the beaten track to get my own personal view of the country, I lacked the confidence of relying on my map and compass. I use O.S maps and topographic surveys on a daily basis in my job but I had never been instructed on the proper use of a compass and the correct method of pacing in the field. There is a big difference between owning a map and compass and knowing how to use them! The course gave me a little more confidence in my abilities and made me wonder what more could be gained by attending the Mountain Skills 1 course.
Niall Chamberlain

Thanks again for a wonderful day up the mountains. The most important lessons I took from the day were learning how to pace out 100m and learning to see how the map represents the landscape, like when we sat in the re-entrant and found it on the map or recognising when we really reached the top of the hill by comparing the ground we stood on with the map. It was a most enjoyable day and we learned more through spending the day outside with our maps (and you and Wally of course) than we ever could by just sitting in a classroom.
Maureen Fitzgerald

The one day Intro to Mountain Skills run by Nathan Kingerlee was excellent. We covered Equipment, Safety, Spot Heights, Cols, Spurs, Pacing and Compass Bearings. Nathan was friendly and extremely professional in all aspects of Mountain Skills which made me book a place on his Mountain Skills 1 course which I have now completed and looking forward to booking my place on Mountain Skills 2 with him.
Ger Horgan

As a keen hill walker I was, up to a point, happy to join a group of walkers under an experienced leader. However, there came a time when I was asking how these leaders knew when to go up a mountain, when not to go up a mountain, how to plan the route, how long will it take, who can you safely bring along with you, etc. On hearing of Nathan’s Intro to Mountain Skills, I decided to go along and get my questions answered. On route we were shown how to observe our surroundings, taking note of landmarks, such as rivers, woods, steep inclines, declines, buildings, etc. Then it was out with the maps and compasses and just to prove that map reading was not all plain sailing, a downpour was thrown in for good measure. What followed was not a lecture but an experience in working out a route, calculating distances walked and times required to cover a distance. This was all extremely well executed with a very good warning not to take too much for granted along the way (woods that are on a map can be felled!)
Lorcan Kehoe

The intro to mountain skills day has only wet my appetite for wanting to know and do much more. The basic skills which were kindly passed on to us on the day will always be my base, that the rest of the knowledge and skills I pick up, can be built upon.
Paul Tobin

24 January 2008

Bank Holiday Adventure Breaks in Kerry

Plan a unique and exciting break in Kerry for 2009! Choose from hiking secluded trails on the Kerry Way; climbing Carrauntoohil, Ireland's highest mountain; exploring the Lakes of Killarney by kayak; or paddling down gently flowing rivers. At night relax and enjoy the gourmet food and vibrant atmosphere of Killarney.

May Bank Holiday
Hike the rolling hills of Purple & Tomies - €50 pp
Climb Carrauntoohil - €50 pp
Kayak on the Lakes of Killarney - €75 pp
Special Weekend Price, Three Days for €150 per person!

June Bank Holiday
Kayak on the Lakes of Killarney - €75 pp
Rock Climb & Abseil in the Gap of Dunloe - €75 pp
Climb Carrauntoohil - €50pp
Special Weekend Price, Three Days for €175 per person!

July Bank Holiday
Hike through the Brida Valley & Black Valley to finish in the Gap of Dunloe - €55 pp
Hike the high, glaciated Coomasaharn Horseshoe, near Glenbeigh - €50 pp
Kayak down the gently flowing Laune River - €75 pp
Special Weekend Price, Three Days for €155 per person!

Aug Bank Holiday
Kayak on the Lakes of Killarney - €75 pp
Climb Carrauntoohil - €50 pp
Rock Climb & Abseil in the Gap of Dunloe - €75 pp
Special Weekend Price, Three Days for €175 per person!

  • Book For One, Two Or All Three Days
  • All Equipment Provided
  • Qualified Instructors

Contact me for more details.

8 January 2008

Spanish Rock Climbing

Spend four days rock climbing in the sun on the Costa Blanca, in Spain. Sunshine, warm rock and average temperatures of 19 degrees!

Whether you are a complete beginner, an indoor climber looking to move outdoors or an avid climber looking for something different, you can be guaranteed an experience to remember!

Spend the days climbing in small groups, with qualified instructors and spend the evenings savouring tapas and wine in the quiet village of Finestrat or enjoying the vibrant atmosphere of Benidorm. Accommodation, Food, Transport and Equipment will be provided. No Experience Needed!

Price €495 per person.
Price Includes:
Four Days Rock Climbing.
Qualified Instructors.
All Equipment.
Transport, Including Collection & Drop Off At Alicante Airport.
Four Nights Accommodation.
Four Breakfasts.
Four Packed Lunches.

Evening Meals Not Included.
Flights Not Included.

Thurs 3rd - Sun 6th April
Thurs 10th - Sun 13th April

  • Collection from Alicante Airport at 6pm & 930pm, to accommodate flights from Dublin & Cork.

  • Drop off at Alicante Airport at 4pm, to accommodate flights to Dublin & Cork.

7 January 2008

Free Rock Climbing Promotion

Come and try Rock Climbing FOR FREE, on the cliffs of the glaciated Gap of Dunloe, in Kerry. Discover the fun and excitement of rock climbing. Learn to tie knots, belay and climb with qualified instructors. Two hour sessions, running from 10am to 6pm each day.

Sat 5th & Sun 6th April

Location: Gap of Dunloe, Killarney

10am - 12pm
12pm - 2pm
2pm - 4pm
4pm - 6pm

Alternatively, if you would like to do a full day of rock climbing, I am running Half Price Rock Climbing on Sun 27th April. The discounted price is €50 per person.

I am running this promotion to launch my rock climbing courses for 2008, which include, Learn to Rock Climb, Improve your Climbing & Spanish Rock Climbing.

This promotion is being sponsored by Sport Corran Tuathail, Killarney's Outdoor Adventure Shop. They are also offering a 10% Discount to everyone coming on the promotion.

For more details contact me.