We never made outdoor activity resolutions before in An Óige. We just go hostelling and things naturally happen. In 2015, along with sending young people to stay in our hostels on adventure weekends, we also took a few trips ourselves to explore our network of hostels. We went horse-riding in Donegal, storytelling in Cape Clear, hiking in Wicklow and exploring archaeology on Clare Island. We did not plan these activities. They were just the result of visiting the hostels. This year we are going to take a more adventurous approach to our hostel visits. So, here are our outdoor activity resolutions for 2016*.
1. Northern Lights
This is top of our list. Lately, Ireland has been lucky in that it has been witness to one of the rarest of weathers. Caused by sunspots and magnetic activity, the Northern Lights or Aurora B can usually be seen in the Autumn and winter. In 2015, it was possible to see the lights as far south as Meath but Donegal is the best spot for it. So we will be heading to Errigal Youth Hostel with the cameras.
2. Cape Clear Whale Watching
Our conservation group told us about this. In 1991 Ireland was designated the world’s first whale and dolphin sancuary. This is because our coastal waters are right in the middle of the water mammals marine highway when they are migrating. There are 24 species of whales that move through here and the warm waters around Cape Clear are like their favourite little coffee! This means that Cape Clear Hostel is the perfect spot for a bit of whale-watching.
3. Mountain biking in Ballyhoura
With over 97 km of trails, the Ballyhoura region is now one of the largest MTB places in Europe. We have already visited Ballyhoura Luxury Hostel on a flying visit but did not have the time to try out the trails. Next time we will be ready for some serious downhill flying mudbaths.
4. Visiting the most Northerly Hostel In Ireland
Last year we visited the most southerly hostel in Ireland. This year we are heading to the most northerly hostel in Ireland. Trá na Rosann has always been used by our members who want to get away from it all. Getting there is a trek in itself as it is located in the tip of one of the peninsulas that reach out of Ireland into the Atlantic Ocean. Along with being remote, it is also a stepping stone to the nearby Tory Island, one of the most unique inhabited islands along the coast with a
5. Night Kayaking in Cork
We are big fans of night hiking but we have never done a Night paddle, until this year. That is why we are heading to Cork International Hostel. Atlantic Sea Kayaking was recently featured on RTE’s No Frontiers and since then we have wanted to check out the moonlit paddles on Lough Hyne. Not only does it look like the most peaceful and serene experience there is also the opportunity to experience bioluminescence.
6. Hike Knockree to Glendalough
In 2015, we made the trip from Dublin International Hostel to Knockree Hostel along the Wicklow Way. It was a great experience. Dublin’s doorstep is amazing with stunning views of the city and bay along hillside rambles. By all accounts he next section of the walk is even better with more varied landscapes. Plus it finishes at Glendalough International Hostel. Bring it on!
7. Blueway snorkelling
While visiting Ben Lettery Connemara Hostel last year, we ended up exploring caves near Cleggan with Real Adventures. It was while we were on that trip that we discovered an Irish coral beach! It is a beach the far side of Clifden which is one of the five Blueway trails along the Wild Atlantic Way. That is the joy of hostelling. You visit a place and you find out even more that makes you want to return again for another trip. Not only does it have coral but it is also perfect for snorkelling as there is nice current which flows around the bay. Flipper-tastic!
8. Experience an adventure race
Ireland is one of the best places in the world for adventure races. Hostelling and advenure racing go together like fish and chips. We get a lot of hostellers who stay with us that are taking part in them so we figured that we better check them out ourselves. It seems like half the craic is meeting up with a bunch of friends and pushing themselves beyond their limits. The only problem is there are so many of them. There are adventure races near Killarney and Glendalough, on Clare Island and many more! Better start doing a bit of training.
10. Watch the sunrise in Newgrange
We were gutted that we missed the solstice in Newgrange in December, but this year we have it in the calendar. Here is hoping that the sun lights up the chamber in 2016.
If you want to find out more about things to do near our hostels sign up for our newsletter and have it delivered to your inbox every month.
*We do realise that if we get half of these done we will be doing great : )