24 November 2009

Adventure Break in Kerry, Ireland; Kayaking, Hiking, Biking & Ring of Kerry

Throughout 2010 we'll be offering a multi-day adventure break designed for overseas tourists and American college students. The holiday will be based in the vibrant town of Killarney and will include transport, luxurious accommodation, delicious healthy food, adventure activities, outdoor equipment and qualified guides.
This is a sample of what we'll be offering:

''This week was one of the best that I spend in Ireland. Hiking and kayaking are great ways to get to know the beautiful landscape and to see impressing places which must be unique! We had so much fun with the group too!''
Jenny, Germany

Day 1
Boat Trip through the Lakes of Killarney and Bike the Black Valley & Gap of Dunloe

This is a fabulous day in Kerry’s great outdoors. Beginning at 600 year old Ross Castle, perched on the shores of Lough Leane, local boatmen will help you into comfortable open boats for the trip through the three Lakes of Killarney. You’ll pass a solitary overgrown rock, called O Donohoe’s Prison. This is where the original castle owners, the O Donohoe Ross’s, chained their captives, to face exposure and hunger. As you pull out into the open waters of Lough Leane the ruined abbey of Innisfallen will pass on your starboard side. Originally a leper colony, it was also one of Europe’s first universities where several of Ireland’s high kings, including Brian Boru, spent time furthering their education. On at least two occasions the Abbey was attached by Vikings, who came up the Laune River from Killorglin.

Keep a watchful eye on the dense woodland and thick rhododendrons that cover the flanks of Shehy Mountain, for a glimpse of soaring sea eagles. After the noisy excitement of the Meeting of the Waters you’ll chug through the secretive waters of the Long Range River. The shores alongside are plentiful with wild goats and red deer, though you may not see them! The final island, McCarthy’s Island, is told by some to be named after a neighbouring chieftain, who fled to the island while fatally injured during a midnight cattle raid. A welcome cup of tea or coffee awaits in the little coffee shop at Lord Brandon’s Cottage. The ivy encroached ruins of the Victorian hunting lodge still remain today.

The Black Valley is an impressive glacial valley, ice-carved many centuries ago by vast glaciers scraping their way towards Killarney. The foothills of Ireland’s highest mountains and imposing views of the jagged MacGillycuddy Reeks lie before you; while the steep valley sides often run with swollen streams and cascades, rushing down to feed the Lakes of Killarney. A long climb leads to the high Head of the Gap, where the incredible Gap of Dunloe stretches before you. Purple Mountain and Tomies Mountain are on your right, named after the blooming purple heather which covers their slopes. Purple and Tomies makes a great hill walk for another day. The descent down through the Gap of Dunloe is a glorious and exhilarating ride as the wind whips past your face.

The black mountain lakes look inviting on some days and cold and mysterious on others, their water levels fluctuating on nearly a daily basis. Sometimes mistaken for someone calling in distress you’ll usually hear the bleating of hardy mountain goats and their kids coming from overhead cliffs. As you pass the fifth and final lake keep your eyes open for rock climbers on the popular roadside cliff, Brennan’s Leap. You’ll often hear them before you see them, with the jingle of metal equipment and their shouted climbing calls. Kate Kearney’s Pub is a delightful sight at the end of the Gap, where tea and scones await.

Day 2
Explore the Kerry Way, through Killarney National Park

Discover the delights of the Old Kenmare Road, an ancient coaching road, now part of the Kerry Way. Hike through the oak woods of Killarney National Park, to finish at 18th century Muckross House and Gardens, with tea and cakes.

Day 3
Hike the Glencar Mass Path

The Kerry Way from Glencar to Glenbeigh is a beautiful hike. Start at the Climber’s Inn in Glencar and from here follow the sign-posted Kerry Way along wooded green lanes and later the high banks of the clear Caragh River.

Looming in the distance is the Ballaghisheen Pass, named after Oisin from Tir na Og. At the crest of this mountain pass it’s told that Oisin fell from his horse, and perished as the 300 years of his departure from Ireland caught up with him. I think the best part of the hike is as the little trail leaves the Caragh and winds through thick dark pine woods for over three kilometres, crossing deep quiet streams and occasional fallen trees, their roots torn up into the sky. The final section of woodland hiking feels like a secretive mass path as the trail descends and ascends winding stone steps and ducks under overhanging branches.

Emerging into the bright sunlight (or soft rain) of the open air, follow the Glencar road towards the base of Seefin. Here you’ll join a butter road which climbs steadily up to the Windy Gap. The narrow crest of the Windy Gap is a superb place to gaze back over the wooded and streamed landscape you’ve crossed and to look ahead over Dingle Bay, the beaches of Rossbeigh and Inch, Mount Brandon and the Blasket Islands. An hour’s descent from the Windy Gap takes you to Glenbeigh where the Towers Hotel offers welcome refreshments and on a wet day a warm open fire!

Day 4
Drive & Explore the Ring of Kerry

The Ring of Kerry with its classic stops and view points is world renown; however you'll also stop at some alternative hidden gems along the way; such as Cahergal Fort in Caherciveen, an impressive Bronze Age stone fort with great views over Valencia Harbour. There is a second even more interesting fort nearby and also the ivy-clad crumbling ruins of 15th century Ballycarbery Castle, once the home of the McCarthy Mor's, now home only to jackdaws...

Back on the main road detour to the sleep village of Portmagee. A must see is the Skellig Experience Centre, dedicated to the history and stories of the 6th century monastic settlement of Skellig Michael.

Portmagee is named after an infamous pirate, Magee, who was shipwrecked on the coastline, met a local girl and settled down in the village to a life of married contentment and dangerous smuggling. The Bridge Bar serves delicious food and is a great lunch spot. On a fine day you can sit outside at the water's edge, watching the coming and goings of the brightly coloured fishing boats.

From Portmagee follow the narrow road over the top of Coonanaspig Pass and down to Saint Finan's Bay. Here you can swim in the fresh crashing surf at the sandy beach and call into Skellig Chocolate Factory where you'll be rewarded with sensational smells and free samples of delicious chocolates.

Continue to Derrynane Beach. Here long golden beaches, Daniel O Connell’s family home, wetsuit and snorkeling hire, sailing and windsurfing from Derrynane Sea Sports and the ruined abbey on Abbey Island are all calling to be explored. If you're into hiking, best of all, is a hidden mass path and secretive smugglers trail beginning at the pier and twisting along the side of Derrynane Harbour, through thick encroaching rhododendrons.

Day 5
Morning Kayak Trip on the Lakes of Killarney
Explore the deep, sparkling Lakes of Killarney by kayak or canoe! Beginning at 15th century Ross Castle, paddle into Lough Leane, discovering wooded islands, limestone caves and local history. With an experienced, qualified guide learn the skills to master your boat and keep a look-out for white-tailed sea eagles as they soar above Killarney National Park.
Use your free afternoon to explore shops, restaurants and pubs of Killarney town, or take a relaxing stroll through Killarney National Park
For more details contact Nathan on info@outdoorsireland.com or +353 (0) 86 860 45 63
''It was a great weekend and really loved it all. It was extremely well organised, the food was brilliant and the events were great - a fantastic way to do something different and meet new people, it was just perfect to have a 50/50 mix - I have told everyone how brilliant it was! And will be watching for your next one!''
Ciara, Dublin
''Thanks a million for a wonderful day hiking on the Kerry Way, near Glenbeigh. It was hard work, but the rewards were worth it. The views were stunning. It was just a perfect day. I'm delighted to have gone the distance; it is a huge sense of achievement. My thanks to you and Daniel.''
Mairead, Kerry

23 November 2009

Killarney Floods

Despite the weather we're still running kayak trips!

17 November 2009

Thank You

I was recently asked to give a presentation by Failte Ireland about myself and Outdoors Ireland, which I set up four years ago. I thought I'd post it on our blog also, in case anyone was interested.

I suppose the outdoors has always been my passion. I remember saving pocket money to go kayaking at a water sport centre near Kenmare, eventually buying my own kayak when I was 12 or 13. At the age of 14 I was working my summer holidays for the same water sport centre, washing wetsuits and taking people kayaking.

I left school early, signed up for an instructor training course at Kinsale, and it was there, really, that I decided to make a career in the outdoors. After finishing in Kinsale I worked throughout Ireland, including Cappanalea Outdoor Education Centre and also in the highlands of Scotland, near Aviemore. After working with public outdoor centres here, it was a great experience in Scotland to see how private companies operated, what they expected from their staff and what they delivered to their customers.

Back in Ireland I then worked as a freelance instructor for a couple of years. I was very lucky that I got to work with some great companies like Tiglin, Go Ireland and Pat Falvey.

I set Outdoors Ireland up at the start of ‘06. I didn’t really sit down and devise business plans and financial projections. My freelance work had slowly been overtaken by private work, so I began running more of my own courses, buying more kayaks and equipment and printing business cards. Then I just woke up one day and realised I had all this equipment and customer expectations. Once I realised I had an adventure business around me I decided to take it pretty seriously.

‘07 was a quick learning curve; going from teaching kayaking and guiding groups on Carrauntoohil to things like keeping databases and making expensive mistakes with advertising!

‘08 was a year of looking at more formal structures, looking at how to give our customers the best adventure experience they could possibly have and inspiring them to give us repeat business.
For the last couple of years I've been involved with Failte Ireland, through their Adventure Hub Project and I've found them absolutely brilliant for their advice and innovation.

‘09 then has been a hectic year, dealing with the level of admin and current work, staying on top of our current marketing, constantly looking at new ways to develop.

For the first three years customer numbers increased each year by 100%, This year customer numbers are only up by 15% - 30% depending on the activity, so although it's not as ideal as the first three years 2009 has been a positive year.

My vision is to provide the best training courses and most unique adventure breaks in Ireland. I want customers to have an amazing experience with us, from their initial enquiry, to their outdoor experience, to our follow-up with them afterwards. I want customers to return to us again and again, and to be our ambassadors, using their word of mouth to generate more business. Word of mouth and repeat business would account for a large part of our work.

I went into 2009 very much focused on people. Making our customers feel special and appreciated. Also getting the best team of staff around me I could possibly get. People skills and professionalism are the most important things with my team, coupled with their knowledge and qualifications.

With the corporate team building we run, generally if a company is having problems it’s because of a lack of proper face to face communication, so I took the mistakes the corporate companies have made and tried to apply them to ourselves. Making sure there’s clear communication between us and that my team understand the reasons for the small things around the edges.

This year harder than ever we've looked at giving added value for money for all of our training courses, adventure trips and corporate team building.

Failte Ireland’s Adventure Hub project I’ve found invaluable. Mainly for meeting and getting to know the marketing managers and people behind the hotels and guesthouses in Killarney and West Cork. I’ve found the accommodation providers involved with the Adventure Hub to be a great bunch of people, really pro-active and willing to give anything a try.

My plan for 2010 is to take my vision of offering the best training courses, most unique adventure breaks and exceeding customer expectations and break them all down. It’s easy to say these things, but to continue to implement them will take a lot of hard work. I’m going to sit down with some of my team over the next month and work out how we’re physically going to achieve these things and set targets for ourselves.

Things have gone well over the past four years; but apart from some hard work on my part it's mainly down to our brilliant repeat customers, my fantastic team of guides and instructors and advice from the likes of Vanessa & Roisin from Outsider Magazine and Josephine, Eithna & Siobhan from Failte Ireland. To all of them and everyone else who has contributed to Outdoors Ireland or listened to my ideas I'd like to say a huge thank you!

It wouldn't have been possible without you guys.

12 November 2009

Nov & Dec Training Courses

Intro to White Water
28th & 29th Nov - €160pp
Introduction to strokes, techniques & rescues needed to kayak on rivers & rapids
White Water Skills
19th & 20th Dec - €160pp
Discover the excitement of paddling grade 2 rivers, as you learn the skills to be self sufficient
Open Canoe Level 3 Training
2nd, 3rd & 4th Dec - €222pp
Learn open canoe skills & techniques for grade 2 rivers
Mountain Safety Day (New!)
22nd Nov - €50pp
Intensive one-day course, looking at equipment, hazards, dealing with emergencies, basic map reading, compass, GPS & dealing with steep ground
Mountain Skills 1
5th & 6th Dec - €165pp
Map reading, navigation techniques & safety skills for the Irish mountains
Scrambling Skills
12th & 13th Dec - €160pp
Map reading, route choice, emergency rope work & scrambling techniques

All equipment provided
To book contact info@outdoorsireland.com or +353 (0) 86 860 45 63


Any injury or incident in the outdoors can lead to hypothermia fairly quickly if not treated

What is Hypothermia?
Gradual Cooling of Body Core

What Causes Hypothermia?
Cold, Wet
Tired, Hungry
Dehydration, Stress

How Will I Recognise Hypothermia?
Umbles - Stumbling, Mumbling, Fumbling, Grumbling
Shivering Stops

How Will I Treat Hypothermia?
Call Mountain Rescue
Dry Clothes, Lukewarm Drink
Survival Bag, Kissu/Group Shelter, Reassurance

How Will I Prevent Hypothermia?
Route Choice, Weather Awareness
Group Awareness, Fitness
Equipment, Food & Hot Drink

Early recognition and treatment is vital

For details on Mountain Skills / Navigation & Safety Courses contact Nathan on info@outdoorsireland.com or +353 (0) 86 860 45 63

11 November 2009

Kerry White Water Kayaking

Every cloud has a silver lining! Because of the rain forecast this weekend we're planning two days of white water kayaking, if you're interested in signing up?

Saturday is for complete beginners upwards, so it doesn't matter if you've never been in a kayak before. By the end of the day you'll be splashing down gentle rapids on the Laune!

Sunday is for experienced paddlers & you'll be tackling one of Kerry's classic grade 2 rivers, either the Caragh or the Flesk.

You can also do two days white water kayaking; learning strokes, techniques, communication methods & rescues, while having fun & staying warm!

Price is €75 per person, per day; or €120 per person for two days
Kayaks, Equipment & Qualified Instructors All Provided
Contact Nathan/Ruth on info@outdoorsireland.com or 086 860 45 63

3 November 2009

Singles Adventure Weekend

Well our first Singles Adventure Weekend is over. Everything went well, especially the weather, apart from the occasional downpour!
We began on Friday evening with a night hike along the Kerry Way into Glenbeigh village. Saturday began bright and early with a delicious cooked breakfast and an exciting hill walk, where we experienced all four seasons, including blus skies and stunning views and also gale force winds!
That evening we ran team challenges on Rossbeigh Beach, where everyone worked together in small teams to complete different challenges, some physical and some involving more clever thinking.
That night was spent in the warmth of the Towers Hotel, over dinner and pints.
Sunday was a busy day, alternating between kayaking on Lough Leane, rock climbing in the Gap of Dunloe, and even abseiling for some lucky people!
After delicious hot soup in Kate Kearney's Pub for lunch we finished the day with tea and coffee in Killarney.
Thanks everyone for a great weekend and for being such good fun!
Our next weekend will be 27th & 28th February.