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Protecting Against Algae and Bacteria

Thursday, 6 July 2023

Summer is here and everyone is making the most of it (when the weather allows!) by taking to the water, whether it be in the ocean, lake or river. It is important to remember that all water types may harbour bacteria or toxic algae (as was identified recently by NIEA). Therefore it is important to:

  • Wash your hands or apply hand sanitiser, especially before eating or drinking

  • Where possible, shower after being in the water

  • Cover cuts and scratches with a waterproof plaster/dressing as soon as possible

  • Try not to swallow the water

If you feel unwell after being in any body of water please contact your GP as soon as possible. Dog Owners should always be aware of the dangers posed by all poisonous plants and algae growing in the environment, but especially along riverbanks and in wet grassland or edges of lakes.


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‘Get Out More’ with OutmoreNI.com as Days Lengthen

Friday, 31 March 2023

Marking the clocks going forward for spring, our sister website, OutmoreNI.com has just launched its ‘Get Out More’ campaign to encourage people across the country to use the extra hour to get outside.

As days lengthen and the weather improves, there is no better time to explore some of the hundreds of outdoor trails and places across Northern Ireland.

Kerry Kirkpatrick, who manages OutmoreNI.com, says, Spending time outdoors is  fundamental to our wellbeing. It allows us to connect with nature and to experience the beauty of Northern Ireland. We are lucky to have a plethora of amazing green and blue spaces on our doorstep and I would encourage people across the country to take advantage of the extra hour that we have gained and get out more.

“To help them do this, our OutmoreNI.com website is a vital resource for those who wish to explore the wonderful outdoor spaces that Northern Ireland has to offer.

“The site, which is easily navigated, showcases hundreds of outdoor trails, that are curated to offer something for everyone, from walkers and families to mountain bikers, cyclists, and canoeists. It also contains a vast range of information on beautiful beaches, forests, parks, and nature reserves.

“Of course, we would also encourage people to protect the environment by exploring these areas responsibly and OutmoreNI.com provides a wealth of information on how to do so through its ‘Right Side of Outside’ campaign.”

Research from the People in the Outdoors Monitor for Northern Ireland (POMNI) report which was conducted by our parent company, Outdoor Recreation NI, from November 2020 to October 2021, shows that 77 per cent of people surveyed across Northern Ireland say that getting outdoors is good for their wellbeing.

41 per cent of those surveyed say that connecting with nature is a key motivator for getting outdoors, whilst 72 per cent say that their local greenspace is within easy walking distance.

Supported by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs and Sport NI, the OutmoreNI.com website showcases over 850 green and blue spaces and outdoor trails across Northern Ireland. These include those on our doorsteps, along with hidden gems further afield.

Don’t forget when visiting an outdoor spot, you can help protect it by following a few simple steps to ensure you stay on the ‘Right Side of Outside’ such as:

  • Planning ahead by checking the weather and bringing the right equipment such as clothing, footwear, map, wet suit, paddles etc.

  • Keeping your dog on a lead to avoid livestock worrying and disruption to wildlife.

  • Only camping or lighting a BBQ in a designated area.

  • Avoid starting open fires.

  • Only parking your car in designated spaces and don’t forget to consider local access

  • Taking your dog waste and litter home with you.

  • Get involved and protect the environment by taking part in initiatives such as litter picks.

To discover a range of new outdoor trails and places to explore throughout Northern Ireland, visit OutmoreNI.com

FREE Watersport Safety Sessions to help people ‘Get Wet…Stay Safe’

Wednesday, 1 June 2022

A new campaign called “Get Wet…Stay Safe” has been launched ahead of the expected influx of people taking to watersports this summer. 

The campaign is part of a joint initiative with Sport Northern Ireland, Swim Ireland, Swim Ulster, RNLI, Irish Surfing and the Outdoor Partnership, with promotional support from ourselves at Outdoor Recreation Northern Ireland (ORNI). 

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The campaign aims to provide necessary safety advice for the 3 main watersports which have seen the largest uptake since the pandemic - stand up paddleboarding, sit-on-top kayaking and open water swimming, through delivering a range of safety sessions from June to September. 

Sessions are being run across all 11 council areas in Northern Ireland and are completely free to attend for anyone who is interested in how to participate in the above watersports safely.  

So if you’ve recently bought a stand up paddleboard or sit on top kayak or just want to experience the many benefits of open water swimming and are not quite sure what to do these sessions are a must for you.  

Participants don’t need to have any previous experience or equipment though booking in advance is essential. They can expect to learn suitable weather forecasts, local tidal information/river level information, how to find out the best places to access the water and how to develop their personal performance skills.  

The Stand Up Paddleboarding & Sit-on-Top Kayaking sessions start on Wednesday 8th June and will run throughout the summer until September on a Wednesday and Friday evening at 7pm and Saturday and Sunday morning at 10am. See list of sessions below. 

For more details or to book onto any of the ‘Get Wet…Stay Safe’ sessions please click on the relevant link above. 

Dates and venues for the Open Water Swimming sessions will be released soon!  

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OutmoreNI.com launches new campaign to show people where they can ‘Get Out More’

Tuesday, 5 April 2022

To show the people of Northern Ireland where to go in the outdoors, our sister website, OutmoreNI.com has just launched a new campaign called ‘Get Out More’. The campaign includes its newly overhauled website which showcases the many outdoor trails and places across Northern Ireland from those on peoples doorsteps to the wonderful hidden gems further afield.   

Research by Outdoor Recreation NI in 2020, the organisation behind the campaign, revealed nearly half (47%) of the population of Northern Ireland were spending more of their free time outdoors during the pandemic than they did in 2019 and 51% expect to continue to use the outdoors. This increase in sustained outdoor usage by the Northern Irish public emboldened OutmoreNI.com’s desire to redevelop its website and launch this new campaign. Funding provided by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs and Sport NI has supported this new campaign and website.

Speaking on the investment and redevelopment of the new website, Ethan Loughrey, Marketing Officer at Outdoor Recreation NI said: “Spending time outdoors is a great way to connect and appreciate the beauty of nature around us and it is vital for our physical and mental health. There is a plethora of things to do and places to see across Northern Ireland’s outdoors, which OutmoreNI.com displays in a more innovative and user-friendly format, enhancing the old site for 2022. For example, the site now showcases hundreds of outdoor trails, in an easy-to-follow format, such as walking, cycling, canoeing and mountain biking in many locations. There is also a vast amount of information and useful resources on the site on outdoor places to discover and explore such as beautiful beaches, forests, parks, and nature reserves.”

There are a range of categories to choose from depending on what activity or place is desired by the user which are clearly represented by colour coded icons. For example, an orange foot print icon symbolises walking trails and a green park bench symbolises parks on the website. When a trail or place is selected, more information will be presented including distance, nearest town, trail directions, the facilities available, any points of interest including wildlife on site and how to actually get there. It also displays an image which encourages users to get a glimpse of the beautiful scenery the place or trail provides.

Since all of the restrictions have been lifted across Northern Ireland including travel, people finally have the freedom to spend more time outdoors. However, people may struggle to decide on where to go and therefore OutmoreNI.com is an excellent website for families and friends to utilise to plan and organise their days out.

The website is very easy to navigate and has a search bar which enables the public to organise their own adventure, catering to their own needs. Users may want to travel to Ballycastle for a day out and may need some ideas on different activities and places to get the most enjoyable experience out of their day.

Ethan adds: “The interactive map allows you to explore the area that you are travelling to and get to know the area and what is in it before you leave the house. By having filtered search results, this will allow you to find out more about the trail or place you want to visit.”

Supporting the launch of the new website and campaign is presenter and outdoor enthusiast, Paulo Ross who remarks: “Thanks to OutmoreNI.com people can make more informed decisions when preparing where to visit and explore the beautiful scenery across Northern Ireland right at their fingertips.

“People will be inspired to travel to new locations and create new routes for walking, cycling, mountain biking and canoeing and the beauty of it is that it caters for a range of abilities and backgrounds including complete beginners through to serious enthusiasts. Alternatively, if people just want to spend time outdoors and connect with nature whether that’s having a picnic or paddling their feet in the water there are also over 200 outdoor places listed”.

To see the new website and for more information on the ‘Get Out More campaign visit https://outmoreni.com/


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Further Update on Covid Restrictions

Friday, 7 January 2022

Updated on 13th December 2021

Although many coronavirus restrictions have eased, regulations and guidance remain in place to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Continue to protect yourself and others by following public health advice. 

The following information has been taken from NI Direct and applies specifically to undertaking outdoor recreation:


  • Travel: You should avoid visiting places where there is a chance that large numbers of people will gather and crowds will form. If you go somewhere and there are crowds which will make social distancing difficult, consider going somewhere else instead.

  • Outdoor Gatherings: Outdoor gatherings of 30 people or fewer do not need a risk assessment. You should maintain social distancing as well as good hand and respiratory hygiene practices.

  • Outdoor Sport: All outdoor sport, whether organised formally by your local sports club or informally by a group of friends, is permitted. To determine the maximum number of people permitted to attend or participate in an outdoor sporting activity/event, the organiser or operator must carry out a risk assessment. Outdoor sporting activities/events of 30 people or fewer do not need a risk assessment. Any behaviour which may encourage the risk of transmission around sports activities, such as car sharing, congregation of people on the side-lines and sporting celebrations, should be avoided. 


Spending time outdoors can significantly improve physical and mental wellbeing. To stay safe outdoors, you should always follow the ‘Be Outdoor Smart – Leave No Trace – Love The Place’ guidance alongside government protocols and public health guidelines by:


  1. Being prepared – check the site and facilities you need will be open before you leave home

  2. Planning ahead – wear appropriate clothing and footwear, bring the right kit, choose activities that are within your skills and capabilities and check the weather forecast

  3. Parking with care – go early to get a car parking space as careless parking can create a road hazard or block access for Emergency Services, local farmers and residents

  4. Choosing quiet locations - avoid peak times and popular sites to help maintain social distancing and have a plan B if the site is full when you arrive

  5. Bringing and using hand sanitiser, especially after touching surfaces and wash your hands as soon as you are back indoors

  6. Sharing the space with all - respect staff, volunteers and signage and other users of the site and avoid gathering around key areas such as car parks, information points etc.

  7. Taking your litter and dog waste home with you

  8. Keeping your dog under control – stop it from approaching other people and their dogs, cyclists and wildlife and avoid bringing dogs to areas where livestock are present

  9. Enjoying nature but don’t disturb it – watch wildlife from a distance, stay invisible, quiet and don’t stay long

  10. Avoiding starting open fires and only light a barbecue in a designated barbecue area

  11. Only camping in designated camping areas


For more information on enjoying healthy and inspiring visits to our outdoors please visit NI Direct.


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‘Check, Clean, Dry’ Campaign to protect Irish Waterways launched by Leave No Trace Ireland and Partners

Friday, 7 January 2022

A new initiative to raise awareness about the spread of harmful invasive plant species and the impact of litter on Irish waterways has been launched by Leave No Trace Ireland in partnership with Waterways Ireland, the National Biodiversity Data Centre, Sport Ireland, Canoeing Ireland, Inland Fisheries Ireland, the Marine Institute, Outdoor Recreation Northern Ireland and supported by the National Parks and Wildlife Service.

The ‘Check, Clean, Dry’ Campaign’ aims to raise awareness about biosecurity and the impacts of litter and is calling on the public to play their part in protecting Ireland’s waterways.

Launching the campaign, Padraic Creedon, Ecologist with Leave No Trace Ireland said biosecurity is all about reducing the risk of introducing or spreading invasive species and harmful disease in rural and urban environments.

Ireland is facing an increased threat of invasive alien species in and on its waterways. These are non-native species that have been introduced by human intervention, outside their natural range that can threaten our native wildlife, cause damage to our environment, economy and human health.  Water Soldier, (Stratiotes aloides), chub and pink salmon are just some of the species threatening Ireland’s waterways.”

John McDonagh, Chief Executive of Waterways Ireland added: “Waterways Ireland is delighted to partner on this important campaign with Leave No Trace Ireland. Our inland waterways are rich ecological and heritage corridors, enjoyed by a variety of recreational users.  The introduction or spread of invasive species, both terrestrial and aquatic, is of key concern as it negatively impacts our native biodiversity and can seriously disrupt people’s enjoyment of the waterways.  We would strongly urge our users to adopt the Check, Clean, Dry approach so we can all work together to preserve this valuable resource for current and future generations.”

Malcolm Noonan TD, Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform, also expressed his support for the ‘Check, Clean, Dry’ Campaign’. The Minister noted that tackling invasive alien species is vital to our efforts to halt biodiversity loss and that the Programme for Government provides for development of a new National Invasive Species Management Plan.

“Invasive species are a serious threat to our biodiversity, and I fully support the efforts of Leave No Trace and their partners in this new campaign to raise awareness about Check Clean Dry protocols. I’m delighted to see my Department’s strong engagement in this initiative through Waterways Ireland and the National Parks and Wildlife Service, and hope that it will help to improve vital biosecurity measures all over this island’s waterways. Through the British Irish Council, the NPWS also engages with counterparts in Great Britain to encourage water users on both sides of the Irish Sea to apply these simple but effective measures.”

The new campaign is asking anyone who goes out on the water to help in reducing the risk of spreading invasive species and disease by following the Check, Clean, Dry principles.

  • CHECK boats, equipment, clothing and footwear for any plant or animal material, including seeds, spores and soil. Pay particular attention to areas that are damp or hard to inspect.

  • CLEAN and wash all equipment, footwear and clothes thoroughly. If you do come across any plants and animals, leave them at the water body where you found them.

  • DRY all equipment and clothing for at least 48 hours – some species can live for many days or weeks in moist conditions. Make sure you don’t transfer water elsewhere. (NOTE : If complete drying is not possible then disinfect everything).

Information and updates on the ‘Check, Clean, Dry’ Campaign will be available on Leave No Trace Ireland’s and its partners’ social media channels, and through Leave No Trace Ireland’s website where you can learn more about biosecurity.

An Open Day at Antrim Boat Club

Tuesday, 17 August 2021

Arriving at a water sport open day can initially feel slightly daunting. Your mind tends to tell you that not only are you surrounded by seasoned pros, and you are literally the only person who won’t be able to do the activity, but that the activity itself is going to be way beyond your capabilities.

In reality, an open day is literally for beginners. There are going to be plenty of people in the same boat as you (ha!), excited to dip their toe (ha!) and feeling like they haven’t a clue what to do.

That’s where clubs come into their own.

Water sports clubs have a structure that understands the needs of people that are trying a sport for the first time. So, when I arrived at Antrim Boat Club who were running an introductory open day as part of the #GetWet campaign, it took only a minute or two before a friendly member stopped to ask if they could help.

“I’m here to try the gig boat?” I don’t really know what a gig boat is, but the girl smiles and tells me where to wait.

A short time later we’ve met our crew. Katie, Michael, Fintan, Rachel and Deirdre are an amazing advertisement for their club. They’re like the cast of a cool TV show, each with their own unique style and approach. After helping us on board, we pushed off from the dock and set out into the belly of Lough Neagh.

The departure was a lesson in itself – the gig boat needs rowed, and at probably 30 feet long with a relatively small crew, that means a BIG row. It’s a full body movement, synchronised by Katie who took the lead for this section of our trip.

Whilst a small part of me felt bad that I wasn’t pulling my weight (again, literally – water sports really lend themselves to these sayings) it was hard not to fall in love with the feeling of heading out into the water with a crew that really knew what they were doing.

A few minutes later and everyone swapped places on the boat to raise the sails and Michael took over the command.

He explained this group had been sailing together for years abroad and had competed (successfully on numerous occasions) while representing Northern Ireland.

I got sucked into the joy of sailing as Michael explained all of this, particularly as we got further out from shore and the relaxing swell of the Lough rocked us gently back and forth. The rest of the crew were able to relax as well now, sitting down for a chat and a laugh while Michael continued to explain the various parts of how the boat worked.

For a beginner, he explained, it would all be relatively straightforward to start. They would do just as we were doing – coming out with a crew and watching what they did, but mainly developing a love for the feeling of being in the water. Gradually, you will be given small jobs to do – help to row, hold a rope etc. – until you feel comfortable with those. After that, there are any number of things to go on to learn and specialise in, from tying knots to hoisting sails, to directing the operations.

It genuinely was fascinating, and this from someone from land locked Omagh where a water sports club seemed like a foreign concept.

After a while, the weather was beginning to make its presence known with a couple of warning rolls of thunder. Even that though made for good fun, as the crew laughed at my no doubt slightly concerned face.

Getting off the boat, I was left with no doubt as to why someone would want to join a group like Antrim Boat Club.

Their base of operations is a lovely secluded bit of land that lends itself to some incredibly dramatic sunrises and sunsets. They have a club house, currently being renovated, with all the facilities you could imagine (including a very reasonably priced bar) and great connections with all of the other local groups involved in the water.

If you want to give yourself a treat, please try the club out. Contact them on Facebook, explain that you’d heard about sailing and you’d like to give it a go and I promise, you’ll not regret it.


Get Ready to Get Wet in 2021!

Monday, 24 May 2021

Get Wet NI

The average person would have jumped at any opportunity to get outdoors in a fun setting this time last year, let alone doing it with other people and the ability to learn a new skill! Covid-19 has fundamentally shifted our relationship with the outdoors and created a new appreciation for the ability to do things, to enjoy ourselves and savour life.

It is the perfect time then, to GetWet – a campaign intended to introduce people to watersports in a fun and educational way. GetWetNI kicks off from the end of May with a series of free or much reduced cost taster events throughout Northern Ireland, and will run throughout the remainder of the summer. Below, we’ve listed just a few of the ones we think you might be interested in! But feel free to check them all out on our website, GetWetNI.com.


Girls in Angling

Camowen Community Anglers are running a free session on angling at Altmore Fishery in Co. Tyrone on Sunday 30th May.

All equipment is provided for you on the day, you just need to bring your own wellies and waterproof gear. Better still, the organisers are running a competition and have prizes to be won throughout the day! If you’re interested in attending, it runs between 11am and 3pm; just drop them an email to camowenanglers@gmail.com


Quoile Yacht Club Taster Events

The Quoile Yacht Club in Downpatrick are running multiple taster events that include dinghy sailing, paddle boarding, canoeing, and cruising. If this doesn’t get you excited, we’re not sure what will! The day is suitable for anyone from the age of 8 up (with under 16s requiring a parent or guardian to be present), and will be lead by qualified instructors.

Again, this event is completely free so you’ll never have a better opportunity to experience these incredible watersports than this. Sessions run between 11am and 12:30pm, 12:30pm and 2pm and 2pm and 3:30pm, and you’ll be able to speak to members and officers of the club throughout the day as well.

To get involved in the day, simply email info@quoileyachtclub.com and indicate your preferred session time, how many people are in your party and if any are under 18 and provide a contact mobile number for yourself.


Sculling for Water Enthusiasts

Lagan Scullers Club are offering the chance to try your hand (both hands actually, and your arms… also your legs) at rowing in the Lagan, again providing an amazing opportunity to both develop a new skill, get some good exercise in and also see Belfast from a completely different perspective.

A little bit of ‘water confidence’ is needed for this course as, to reduce physical proximity, you’ll be in a single boat, with a coach in another boat just alongside you to keep you right.

The sessions themselves are limited to only 4 places per day so the spots will book up fast. With only four places, it means you’ll be receiving a significant amount of training over the two hours (one of which you’ll spend in the water, the other out of the water). You’ll get to see the variety of boats on offer, try the rowing machine, learn the different rowing movements and then – how to control your boat on the water! These sessions are £10 and will run every Sunday throughout June. To book, email lscullers@hotmail.com


Try Kayak Racing

Belfast Canoe Club are the only club in Northern Ireland currently offering tuition in the Olympic discipline of kayak racing. Running on Sunday 6th June and Wednesday 9th June, it’s a fast moving, exciting and energetic sport that the people who do it live for. You’ll not be tackling any rapids in this session though, don’t worry. Instead, you’ll be on the placid water of Lough Henney, outside Lisburn which is uniquely suitable for this sport.

During the session, you’ll learn the difference between kayaks and paddles used for racing and ‘normal’ kayaks; the principles of paddling fast as well as then an hour’s coaching on the water.

The training is open to everyone, but the club have advised that their equipment is generally not suitable for children under the age of 10. A maximum of 8 people can attend per session and competent paddlers and those interested in getting involved in racing will have the opportunity to join the club.

To book on, email belfastcanoeclub@gmail.com with your choice of date.


Re-Discover Watersports at Cushendall Sailing and Boating Club

This is another extravaganza of different water sports discipline and absolutely not to be missed out on. CSBC are welcoming people to come along to try out sailing, standup paddleboarding, canoeing and sea swimming, all under the eye of qualified instructors and with all equipment supplied. The sessions will run across two days, on Friday 18th June and Saturday 19th June, between 6pm and 8pm both evenings and between 1pm and 3pm on the Saturday afternoon.

In addition to the fantastic watersports opportunities, there will also be a BBQ with firepits on the club patio on both evenings, and the clubhouse bar will be open.

If you’d like to book on, you can do it via the clubs website. Visit www.csbc.co.uk now! 


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Updated Guidance on Covid-19

Wednesday, 21 April 2021

The government have updated their restrictions to reduce the spread of Covid-19 and to help manage the pressures on the health and social care system. During this time, the single most important action we can all take is to follow the public health advice.


The current regulations will be reviewed on 13th May 2021.


The following information has been taken from NI Direct and applies specifically to undertaking outdoor recreation:

  • Travel: To help reduce the risk of COVID-19 spreading you should stay in your local area. If you go somewhere and there are crowds which will make social distancing difficult, consider going somewhere else instead.

  • Outdoor Gatherings: Up to 10 people (including children of all ages) from a maximum of two households can meet outdoors. You should maintain social distancing by being at least two metres apart, as well as good hand and respiratory hygiene practices.

  • Outdoor Areas, Visitor Attractions & Activity Centres: Outdoor parks, play areas, outdoor areas of properties operated by the National Trust and the outdoor areas of stately homes, historic homes and castles are permitted to remain open. From 23rd April outdoor visitor attractions and activity centres may reopen.

  • Outdoor Exercise & Sports:

    • Up to 10 people (including children of all ages) from a maximum of two households can take part in outdoor exercise or sports activities.

    • Up to 15 people (including coaches) can take part in structured outdoor sports training, through clubs or individuals affiliated to recognised sport’s governing bodies or representative organisations for sport and physical activity.

    • Outdoor sports facilities can re-open but only to permit their use for those allowed in the regulations. Club houses and indoor sports facilities (changing rooms, showers, kitchens, meeting rooms), apart from essential toilet facilities must stay closed.

    • From 23rd April squad training can resume, as well as competitive outdoor sports. No spectators are permitted and numbers (including officials, participants, management and support personnel) should be restricted to the minimum number required for the delivery of the event and should not exceed 100

    • The return to sport protocols put in place by sport’s governing bodies should be strictly adhered to including hygiene measures, social distancing and other mitigations. Sport NI has provided further guidance for governing bodies / representative organisations on the Pathway out of Restrictions for Outdoor Sport.


Spending time outdoors can significantly improve physical and mental wellbeing. To stay safe outdoors, you should follow the ‘Be Outdoor Smart – Leave No Trace – Love The Place’ guidance by:

  1. Planning ahead – check if your destination will be open and what facilities are available

  2. Respecting the emergency services – now is not the time to end up in hospital

  3. Scaling back your ambitions – choose activities that are within your skills and capabilities

  4. Parking with care – careless parking can create a road hazard or block access for Emergency Services, local farmers and residents

  5. Avoiding peak times and popular sites to help maintain social distancing

  6. Bringing and using hand sanitiser, especially after touching surfaces and wash your hands as soon as you are back indoors

  7. Respecting the wishes of landowners, local communities and other users of the site

  8. Keeping at least 2 metres apart from anyone outside your household or bubble where possible

  9. Not leaving your house if you have any COVID-19 symptoms or if you are self-isolating

  10. Taking your litter home with you

  11. Keeping your dog under control

  12. Enjoying nature but do not disturb it

  13. Only starting fires in designated BBQ areas

For the most up to date status of key outdoor recreation guidelines please visit NI Direct.


Get on the ‘Right Side of Outside’ this Spring - WalkNI

Friday, 26 March 2021

Northern Ireland’s outdoor areas and scenic spots have seen a huge increase in visitor numbers since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Whilst this interest in the outdoors is extremely positive for society, it has generated significant issues that are disrupting natural beauty spots, such as littering, dog waste, irresponsible car parking, livestock worrying, disturbance to wildlife, overcrowding and damage which can be caused by wild camping and wildfires.

A new nationwide campaign called ‘The Right Side of Outside’ which aims to generate awareness of these concerns and instill more positive behaviours, that will ultimately ease some of the main implications now at play in many of our popular outdoor spots has just been launched by WalkNI, a sister brand to CanoeNI.

The campaign is funded by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs and is being driven by a wider group of organisations currently being affected by these issues.

Speaking on the launch, Chair of WalkNI’s parent company, Outdoor Recreation NI, Dawson Stelfox MBE and the first Irish man to reach and lead a team to Everest in 1993 said: “In the past year, outdoor space has mattered to us more than ever, providing a true place of escapism from the reality of the pandemic. With spring upon us and social distancing regulations set to relax further, we want to ensure that people continue enjoying the outdoors, making great memories with family and friends; but in a way that is positive for their surroundings. Whilst most visitors out and about are respectful of their natural environment, there are a small number who have exploited the freedoms of the outdoors. We want to encourage people to prepare before heading out, adhere to health and safety measures, be respectful of others and understand that simple changes such as going early to ensure you get a car parking space, avoiding areas where livestock are present if you have a dog, bringing your dog waste home with you and knowing the risks associated with outdoor fires will have a huge impact.

“Whilst COVID-19 regulations continue to change, we ask people to please be mindful of current guidance that is in place. Our campaign is a positive reminder to embrace outside, but respect the space you are in.”

‘The Right Side of Outside’ campaign will roll out over the coming weeks, with the first campaign message focusing on littering, an issue WalkNI recognises is one of the most prevalent. The main message is to bring your litter home. Some outdoor spots don’t have bins and if they do, bins can quickly overfill. There are also items such as apple cores or banana skins that can be a danger to wildlife.

Dawson adds: “On a visit to the countryside, always take your rubbish home with you. It may sound obvious, but it is surprising how many people don’t. Alternatively, if you see a discarded crisp packet, can, bottle or any litter when out and about, pick it up. Keep a bag and protective gloves in your rucksack for litter-picking opportunities. These small actions will have a lasting positive impact. We choose to escape to these scenic locations to enjoy and bask in their beauty, so why would you wish to taint it for future generations?”

Helping WalkNI kick off its campaign is local comedian Shane Todd who stars in one of the campaigns videos which you can watch on Facebook. The not-for-profit organisation will also be teaming up with a number of Northern Ireland’s well-known personalities and influencers; asking them to champion the campaign’s key messages.

To find out more about the campaign or discover tips to help you make the right choices outdoors, visit WalkNI’s Blog or search #RightSideofOutside.

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