24 February 2010

To Book Or Not Not To Book

Upcoming Adventure Trips & Training Courses!
Kayak Trip on the Killarney Lakes
Sat 6th March - €50pp
Sun 4th April
Thurs 15th April
Rock Climbing Training
Sun 7th March - €75pp

Climb Carrauntoohil
Sun 7th March - €75pp
Mon 29th March
Sat 3rd April
Wed 14th April

Abseiling, Navigation & Kayaking for Adventure Racers
Sat 13th & Sun 14th March - €120pp

Mountain Skills 2
Sat 20th & Sun 21st March - €165pp

Glacier Training/Snow & Ice Travel
Tues 23rd March - €75pp

Team Weekend
Fri 26th - Sun 28th March - €50pp to €380pp

Rock Climbing in the Gap of Dunloe
Sun 7th March - €50pp
Mon 5th April

Learn to Kayak
Sat 10th & Sun 11th April - €160pp

Equipment & Transport Provided!
For Details/Bookings Contact Nathan or Ruth:
+353 (0) 86 860 45 63

21 February 2010

Real Mountain Skills

While guiding some girls last weekend on Carrauntoohil, questions came up around tips and tricks to make life easier while in the mountains, especially big cold mountains like Kilimanjaro. When I think back to some of the hard lessons I’ve learnt and tricks I use, here’s some of them:

If you’ve a choice between getting a backpack that’s a little too big, or a little too small, get one that’s a little too small. That way you’ll pack only what you really need and you’ll pack in a well organised fashion.

No backpack is properly waterproof and backpack covers don’t work, so put a big lightweight dry-bag or a heavy duty plastic bin-bag inside your backpack, to keep your contents dry.

Wear a tight’ish hat that pulls down well over your ears. A loose hat may blow off your head on a gusty day. It’s happened to me!

For really cold days, or winter conditions, mittens are much better than gloves for keeping your hands and fingers toasty warm. When it’s really cold wear a pair of thin fleece gloves within your mittens. Get mittens with wrist straps, so when you take them off they’ll dangle from your wrists – one less thing to blow away. Practice doing tasks, like opening your zips or using a compass, with your mittens on; as this takes a bit of skill.

Always, always, always carry a spare pair of gloves and a spare hat, buried deep and dry within your backpack!

Don’t sweat! Start your day a little chilly as after ten mins walking you should have warmed up to a normal temperature. Avoid overheating and sweating, as this both dehydrates you and gets your base layers damp, meaning when you stop you’ll cool very quickly. Use your layers and zips to control your body temperature, also adjust your walking speed to cool down or warm up.

Continually drink water throughout the day, even if you’re not thirsty. By the time you’re thirsty you’re already a little dehydrated. Also snack on your food throughout the day, to always keep your energy levels high.

If you’re using a platypus and the temperature is cool, blow back the water in your platypus tube after taking a drink, in order to clear the tube, otherwise the water in your tube can freeze.

Keep your mouth closed! On cold, snowy days breath through your nose instead of your mouth, as the cold dry air will crack your lips and dehydrate you; especially important on multi-day trips. Sun cream and lip protection are invaluable, both for sun burn and wind burn.

Wear thermals and fleeces which are well fitted and long. Long thermals means you can tuck them well down into your trousers and they won’t ride up exposing and cooling your bare skin. Long fleeces won’t ride up your back as you’re hiking or stretching. All your fleeces and waterproof coat should have a draw cord at the bottom of them, which allows you to pull the bottom tight, preventing body heat escaping and rain seeping in. When it gets really bitter and cold tuck your thermal top into your underpants!

Especially in serious conditions think several hours ahead and adjust your backpack contents and coat pocket contents accordingly. For example, when you stop for a break, if you think you'll need a spare fleece in an hour's time when you reach the cold windy summit then make sure it's at the very top of your bag. If it's going to get dark in two hours and you'll still be on the mountain have your head torch and food ready in your pockets; you don't want to be fumbling in the dusk looking for your torch.

Don't let your feet get wet, if at all possible; by not stepping into streams, etc and also carrying plenty of spare socks. If your feet get sore when you stop for breaks take off your boots and socks for five mins to allow them to breath. Be careful though; you don't want to have a sock blown away or give your toes frostnip!

Carry a pair of tight'ish sunglasses or cheap snow goggles with you. They've so many uses, from protecting your eyes from dazzling sun on snow, to allowing you to see against driving rain/hail mixed with wind. On bitter days they even keep that often exposed part of your face warm. Wear a buff around your neck for full facial protection.

What are your tips or suggestions? I'd love to hear them, just leave a comment below.

I'm running Adventure Race Training and Mountain Skills Courses over the coming months; covering things like map reading on the move, compass work, abseiling and rope work, kayak efficiency and dealing with mountain hazards. For more details give me a ring or email on:
+353 (0) 86 860 45 63

Carrauntoohil Guided Climbs

Descending down from Carrauntoohil yesterday. -5 degrees on the summit, with the wind chill, and about six inches of snow in places. We came across Heavenly Gates, which involved a long, careful traverse.

17 February 2010

Emma's Guest Post

Dust off your wellies and wetsuits, it’s time to hit the great outdoors! Spring is in tantalizing reach and, like Outdoors Ireland, at Ooh.com we believe that the best sort of time is that spent outdoors. So we wanted to bring you a round-up of 5 of our favourite things going on in the great outdoors around the UK.

1. Food Foraging
First up, food foraging – an increasingly fashionable outdoors pastime that’ll soon have even celebs donning their wellies and picking up their secateurs and foraging baskets.
Grub around for your grub with Caroline Davey of the brilliantly named Fat Hen. Caroline runs these 2 hour food foraging walks in West Cornwall. They’re a culinary bargain at £10 per person. Book now for their March walks. http://tinyurl.com/ylj7795

2. Surfing
As the UK waters start to think about being a little less Baltic, warm weather surfers start to dust off their wetsuits and wax up their boards. The O’Neill Surf Academy at Watergate Bay is one of the best places to surf – not only for the waves, but for fantastic tuition and a really great place to stay. Jamie Oliver opened his restaurant Fifteen there and so at the end of a day being king of the waves, you can eat like one too. The Academy offers lessons for all levels of experience. http://tinyurl.com/yh25ssk

3. Fell Running
Three days running in the Scottish Highlands isn’t for the fainthearted, but you get the chance to rest your aching joints in accommodation on the Balmoral Estate. http://tinyurl.com/ygcdhnj

4. Organic Gardening
Some swear that gardening is some of the best exercise you can get, and on this course you’ll combine exercise with learning how to eat well too. Join Alasdair Cameron at Batelease Farm and spend the day learning how to start a kitchen garden and grow organic vegetables. http://tinyurl.com/yh6ndkl

5. Woodland Crafts
Immerse yourself in the wonderful world of woodland crafts on this one day course at Westmill Farm. Learn to make a birch besom and a hurdle, tread the pole lathe or carve to your heart’s content. And to really feel you’ve had a day away from it all, help to cook a cauldron of soup over an open fire for lunch. http://tinyurl.com/yhmru5v

And finally, it goes without saying that for kayaking, climbing and guided hikes and walks in Ireland, we’d always head to Nathan at Outdoors Ireland!

Emma Drew @ www.ooh.com

Lough Leane

Kayaking under Cormarant Rock on the Lakes of Killarney

16 February 2010

Fiola's Forum!

Fiola Foley is one of Ireland's top female adventure racers; if not the top female racer in the country. Click here to read her blog

We've just launched an adventure race forum to ask questions & share tips: http://tinyurl.com/y9mwpgs

If you're thinking of doing your first adventure race, improving your racing skills, sharing tips or teaming up with other racers for training; join our forum - Fiola is here to answer your questions...
Abseiling, Navigation & Kayak Training for Adventure Racers
If you're thinking of entering into your first adventure race, or just improving your technical skills, this training course in Kerry covers abseiling & rope work; map reading & navigation techniques; and also kayaking skills.
The intensive weekend will be based in the Gap of Dunloe and the Lakes of Killarney, and is designed for all abilities, from complete beginner upwards.
All equipment, qualified instructors and transport will be provided for you, plus a follow-up support forum to help you towards the final preparation for your race.
The aim is for you to complete your training confident in the knowledge that you can safely use climbing equipment and abseil, including tackling a 50 metre abseil!
You will be able to use a map and compass to navigate across the Irish hills. You will also learn kayak strokes, efficiency and self-rescues.

11 February 2010

Team Weekend!

Invitation To All Past Customers

We're running a weekend in Killarney, on 26th, 27th & 28th March, just for previous customers. It will be a discounted weekend, with a fantastic group of like-minded people and a range of exciting adventure activities to choose from.

Based at Scotts Hotel, in Killarney Town Centre; luxurious accommodation, delicious food and lively entertainment will all be provided. If you're a local you can also skip the accommodation and just come and go for the activities and dinners!

Doing as little or as much as you want, you can pick and choose from a relaxing afternoon's activities to an adrenaline filled three days of adventure!

Climb Carrauntoohil
Kayak across Lough Leane
Rock Climb & Abseil in the Gap of Dunloe
Bike through the Black Valley
Orienteering through Killarney National Park
Team Challenges in Muckross Woods
Night Hike to the Summit of Torc Mountain

All Equipment Provided
All Past Customers & One Other Friend Invited
Qualified & Fun Instructors
Pick & Choose All Elements Of Your Weekend
All Abilities Welcome

The team working with you over the weekend will include Ferghal O Grady, Darragh O Sullivan, Dave Roche, Tadhg Boyden and Nathan Kingerlee; some of whom you will have met over the past four years!

This weekend is a thank you to our past customers and team.
Price from €50 per person upwards, depending on your choices

The price for the full weekend is €380 per person.
Price Includes:
3 Nights Accommodation (Twin Room Sharing)
3 Healthy Breakfasts
2 Delicious Evening Meals
3 Days Adventure Activities
All Equipment
Qualified Experienced Instructors
All Transport

The price for two days is €280

Bike Hire & Picnic Lunches Not Included

To Book Contact Nathan or Ruth:
+353 (0) 86 860 45 63

Adventure Race Training

Abseiling, Navigation & Kayaking for Adventure Racers

If you're thinking of entering into your first adventure race, or just improving your technical skills, this training course in Kerry covers abseiling & rope work; map reading & navigation techniques; and also kayaking skills.

The intensive weekend will be based in the Gap of Dunloe and the Lakes of Killarney, and is designed for all abilities, from complete beginner upwards. All equipment, qualified instructors and transport will be provided for you, plus a follow-up support forum to help you towards the final preparation for your race.

The aim is for you to complete your training confident in the knowledge that you can safely use climbing equipment and abseil, including tackling a 50 metre abseil! You will be able to use a map and compass to navigate across the Irish hills. You will also learn kayak strokes, efficiency and self-rescues.

Sat 13th & Sun 14th March
Sat 8th & Sun 9th May

€120 per person

Price Includes:
Two Days Intensive Training
Qualified Instructors
All Equipment
Transfers Each Day
Online Support Forum

To Book Contact Nathan or Ruth:
+353 (0) 86 860 45 63

Reccomended Irish Adventure Races:

5 February 2010

Press Release - Irish Welcome

Together with a dog and goat, Kerry mountaineer Nathan Kingerlee, has just returned from hiking the Blackwater Way, in search of the famous Irish welcome.

''The Irish welcome is alive and kicking'' says Nathan Kingerlee, who completed the 168km trek, from Shrone in Kerry to Clogheen in Tipperary, in six days. The way-marked path links together forest trails, country roads and hillside paths. It's one of 31 national way-marked long-distance trails, including the Beara Way and Kerry Way.

Travelling about 25km a day, Kingerlee, Bob the goat and Cara the dog, stayed in farmhouse B&Bs along the way; where they received a warm welcome in the dusky evenings; the animals being given hay and a shed and Kingerlee being offered home-cooked dinners with the families and healthy picnic lunches the following morning for the day ahead.

''The B&Bs we stayed at were super'' says Kingerlee. ''The best of our experiences came when we were least expecting them... During our second day we met a farmer called Dan Joe, who invited us in for a morning of drinking tea and eating ham sandwiches! I found an organic convent, called the Nano Nagle Centre, who offered my weary animals a stable for the night, while I was fed with fresh soda bread by the nuns. On one of the final day’s we hitched a lift on the back of a tractor and were given freshly baked apple tart!''

Keeping a daily blog on his website, www.outdoorsireland.com, Kingerlee was delighted with the welcome he received along the way, plus the occasional strange look as they strolled through some of the towns and villages.

Bob the goat was borrowed from Cronin’s Yard Farm, a popular spot with hill walkers for beginning the climb of Carrauntoohil; while Cara the dog was Kingerlee’s own Springer Spaniel. After initial suspicion, both animals got on well together, even sharing the same small kennel on the final night.

Asked what’s next, Kingerlee says that he plans to keep hiking, with Bob and Cara, all the way to Dublin, following the East Munster Way, the Leinster Way and eventually the Wicklow Way. He hopes to finish at Aras an Uachtarain and meet the president for tea, along with his goat and dog!

To see photos and his daily blog go to www.outdoorsireland.com

3 February 2010

Valentine's Weekend in Killarney

Try something different this Valentine's Weekend!
Sat 13th & Sun 14th Feb

Relaxing afternoon kayak trip across Killarney Lakes - Saturday 13th.
Beginning at 15th century Ross Castle, paddle into Lough Leane, discovering wooded islands and limestone caves. 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.
Price: €50 per person, or €90 for two people
Beginners Welcome
Equipment Provided

Climb Ireland's highest mountain, Carrauntoohil - Sunday 14th.
From Carrauntoohil's peak savour breathtaking views over the Iveragh, Beara and Dingle Peninsulas, as far as Skellig Michael and the Blasket Islands. Discover legends and local history with an experienced, knowledgeable guide.
Price: €75 per person, or €130 for two people
Beginners Welcome
Equipment Provided

Complimentary Transport Provided
To Book Contact:
+353 (0) 86 860 45 63

Scotts Hotel, a luxurious Killarney town centre hotel, are offering a great deal for the weekend:
One Night's Bed & Breakfast: €55 per person sharing.
Two Nights Bed & Breakfast plus One Dinner in the Courtyard Restaurant: €119 per person sharing.

Also check out Killarney Railway Hostel, conveniently located beside the Train Station, with private rooms and continental breakfast.

Single Men Wanted

I'm looking for single men, between the age of 26 and 40 to participate in our next Singles Adventure Weekend! We're fully booked with females, but have a few more places left for males.

Sat 27th & Sun 28th Feb
Spend an adventurous weekend with fun, like-minded people; delicious food; luxurious accommodation; excitement and great craic. It will be a fantastic opportunity to meet similar-minded people in a relaxed and fun setting, while hiking Kerry hills, kayaking across lakes, climbing sandstone cliffs, experiencing a night walk and plenty of other surprises!

Don't worry if it all sounds too strenuous... This weekend will be suitable for all levels, from beginner upwards. There will also be plenty of relaxing; healthy food and the occasional pint!

Based in Killarney, at the luxurious Randles Court Hotel, the weekend will begin with arrival on Friday evening, followed by a night walk through Killarney National Park, with the option of a pint before bed!

Saturday and Sunday you will spend hill walking, kayaking, rock climbing and tackling team challenges, working together in small teams!

Saturday evening will be spent relaxing and chatting over dinner and the weekend will finish on Sunday afternoon at approx 430pm.

All transport, food and equipment will be provided.
There will be a 50/50 split of males and females.
The age profile will be 26 - 40.
Weekend will begin on Fri evening with arrival between 7pm and 8pm.

The price is €255 per person
Price Includes:
Night Walk/Adventure Challenges on Fri
Adventure Activities on Sat & Sun
All Equipment
Qualified Instructors
Two Nights Twin-Room Accommodation
Two Healthy Breakfasts
Two Gourmet Picnic Lunches
One Delicious Evening Meal
Collection from Killarney Train/Bus Station & Kerry Airport
Transport All Weekend
Drop Off at Killarney Train/Bus Station & Kerry Airport

To book contact Nathan:
+353 (0) 86 860 45 63

1 February 2010


Saturday; last day on the road; grass stiffened white with frost, thin ice in the puddles, my route took me across Crow Hill, then the Knockmealdown Mountains.
From near Knockclugga the sea at Dungarvan came into view and here the distance of the journey we'd taken struck me - to leave views of the Atlantic and six days later to come into view of the Irish Sea... I lingered on this cold, high mountain pass for a little while, before descending towards the main road.
At the top of the road pass stood two stone huts, used in coach road days to water and rest tired horses, after their hard uphill climb.
Pine encroached paths led us to this beautiful lake, Beal Locha. Said to be bottomless; it's told that, decades ago, a priest passing on his way to a dying parishioner was stopped by a hag, in an attempt to prevent him from offering comfort to his parishioner. The priest, in a fit of rage, threw the hag into the lake. The dark waters, cursed since then, hold no fish or plant life...
About 4pm we emerged out of pine and walked the final short distance into Clogheen, where I'd promised myself an eagerly awaited pint. Later that night, with a couple of friends, we tucked into bacon and cabbage and plates of chips.
Sunday morning, three men, a dog and a goat squeezed into a little green car for the trip back to Kerry, whizzing past the mountains, woods and valleys that I'd spent the past six days navigating through.
The Irish welcome is without a doubt alive and kicking!
Both the people I met along my journey and the country I passed through were what made it an memorable and brilliant experience.
The things I'll remember along the way are drinking tea and eating ham sandwiches with Dan Joe on his farm near Millstreet; picking my way along the Blackwater to the nuns at the Nano Nagle Centre, where I was fed with soda bread and jam. Forest tracks and green roads over Kilworth Mountains; freshly home-baked currant cake and apple tart at Tom and Mary's home, near Araglin; the helpfulness and flexibility of the B&Bs and finally the invaluable support of Christy Roach - who volunteers his time to up-keeping and developing a major part of the Blackwater Way.
The support from the B&Bs along the way, both to myself and all hikers, is excellent. They provide transfers from the hike to their B&B, and back again in the morning; home cooked meals, or a drive to the local pub; picnic lunches to set you on your way.
Most of all though I need to thank John and Ester from Cronins Yard, for trusting me with Bob. Cronins Yard is the starting point for climbing Carrauntoohil, just outside Killarney. You'll find car parking, a coffee shop, toilets and showers, plus maps and books for sale. If you are climbing Carrauntoohil, or in the MacGillycuddy Reeks, this is an excellent place to start.
To find out more about the Blackwater Way check out www.discoverireland.ie/walking or click here
One of the reasons I did this is to raise money for Kerry Mountain Rescue.
If you would like to make a donation please send a cheque/postal order/bank draft, made payable to Kerry Mountain Rescue, to the following address:
Nathan Kingerlee, Outdoors Ireland
Stookisland, Cromane, Killorglin, Kerry.
Also attach your own name and address and one of the Mountain Rescue Team will be in touch to thank you.
Here's a list of places I stayed along the way:
Geararoe B&B - Eily Buckely
029 70099
Ard Na Coille B&B - Sheila Crowley
022 47482
Nano Nagle Centre
022 26411
The Old Train House B&B - Billy & Majella Mulqueen
025 39337
Hickey's B&B - Eileen & Tom Hickey
058 50007