Star Treks

Star Treks

Starting Wed 23rd April in Clonmany, Inishowen, Co. Donegal, we are launching the first in a series of dramatic night treks to coincide with the ‘Lyrid’ Metoer shower. Stay in luxury country house accommodation at Glen House or wild camp with us and enjoy a convivial, sumptuous supper waiting for the stars to appear. Book here: http://www.farandwild.co.uk/index.php/star-treks

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Enter the Moonlight

Halloween saw the first in a series of new events using the Foyle waterway as an atmospheric amphitheatre.

Imagine flowing gently down-river under the stars, while all above you pay no heed to your little canoe…bridges fly by, wild-life shelters after dark, courting couples walk arm in arm…you are a quiet observer of life, and the city is your firmament.

This happened in Derry on the eve of the biggest Halloween celebrations ever in the city. Its City of Culture designation gave the annual celebration an extra boost with more events happening around the night itself and its famous Carnival atmosphere.

20131030_175735Coming out of the darkness from the pontoon we launch off into the mid-flow of the river, raising a lone heron en-route, I find the night-time particularly peaceful.

Our clients are right into the experience, in wonder at seeing the fresh perspectives offered and the  sense of exhilaration and aliveness at being out here. We seek out dark corners of the waterway to explore and name creatures, sit in peace and soak up the silence.

The only thing keeps us moving is the cold- a stiff wind blows across and down the Foyle from the south-west- and while there are pockets of shelter on the east bank, the wind isn’t long in seeking us out. We pass under the Peace Bridge un-noticed and float on, commenting Derry has the air of a European capital, reflected perfectly in the river.

Next time out- Tues 15th Nov for the full Moon, Thurs 28th Nov for the Lumiere Festival, Fri 17th December for the final full moon of 2013. Book here: http://www.farandwild.co.uk/index.php/moonlit-paddle

Peace bridge at night

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Where in the World?

Out of the mouth

 

We went exploring last night. Really to check out our route for next Saturday’s ‘Never Been Done’ Coasteer, which launches Far and Wild’s new membership drive.  We had all the kit- sit on tops for easy access, body boards for an extensive exploration, flippers, the lot and when we took one look at our intended route, the sea had other ideas.

Not to be deterred, we dumped all the kit and we took the land based route around our feature instead. A few tourists saw us and waved, probably in wonder at where we were located. As we proceeded, it became apparent what a gem of a place this really is.

Besides the unique sea feature we had come to explore, the location’s remoteness gives sea life a hiding place and there were wild flowers and nesting sea-birds in abundance.

We skirted them widely to minimise disturbance or annoyance to them and scrambled on.

Only by accident

 

Only by pure accident did we then discover a thread needle cave running through the entire piece of rock we were walking on- sea to sea. In we scrambled, full of hope, to be rewarded by an exit after 5 minutes into the sunshine.

Hidden gems, for a coasteer-er!

But I’m revealing too much, going on too long, you need to see it for yourself. And you can!

We will wait for calmer seas to allow for the maximum possible exploration, on our NEVER BEEN DONE Coasteer. It is rescheduled from Saturday 16th June and will now take place Sunday 7th July.

For exclusive, limited places (8) Sign up here: https://www.facebook.com/events/171823506318423/?fref=ts

Late Sun

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Find your wild legs with NI Adventureland!

Spring has sprung (we hope and pray) and Saturday 23rd March sees the debut of the outdoor season in the North West and beyond!

landscape kayak

NI Adventureland, a taster extravaganza of adventure sport across counties Derry, Tyrone, Fermanagh, Antrim, Down and Armagh has everything to offer the outdoor enthusiast, or even those just keen to dip a little toe in the proverbial water!

See our Adventureland events on offer here. For Far and Wild, its a great opportunity to continue raising awareness what unique adventure facilities the North West has to offer, especially to the closet biker.

Since 2010 we have been offering mountain-bike skills training, exploring the minor roads, tractor tracks, forest paths and rarely cycled back-ways in the border counties.

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 Far and Wild is currently in partnership with others to develop the feasibility of an introductory MTB trail on Scalp Mountain, overlooking Lough Foyle and not a stone’s throw from the City of Culture.

So why not come along on Saturday 23rd and try your hand at some Urban Biking?

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 Urban biking explores the parks, green-ways, cycle paths and many unique features throughout towns that are of interest to bikers and are right on their own doorstep. We are offering half price sessions at £10 only for families (11am-1pm) and for adults in the afternoon (2-4pm), so there is something for everyone!

It’s all in anticipation of Far and Wild’s Wild Wall Cycle event as part of City of Culture on Sunday 12th May.

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 Book your place here: Families Adults

See you there!

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Surf Club (for kayakers). Be your best, with style

Far and Wild is launching a new Club this Spring- Surf Club, for Kayakers, no less!

surf boat

You may or may not already be a paddler….You may or may not already have experienced the big buzz of surf kayaking. Whatever your past experience, Surf Club offers a warm and convivial atmosphere to learn to be your best in the the surf environment, an exciting and progressive kayaking milieu.

Surf Kayaking has a niche position in the overall sport and has the potential to progress your kayaking skills very quickly, as the variety of skills you develop, as well as the size and variety of the surf we can access in Ireland, is a potent combination.

Key to progressing rapidly in the sport is learning in a comfortably sized group of peers, developing a practice plan personal to your own needs and accessing expert tuition and top quality equipment.

Far and Wild’s Surf Club will provide you with this strong structure to build hours of enjoyable and exciting surfing from which you will never look back.

surf sm

With some of Ireland’s best breaks around the North West, Surf Club will familiarise you with a range of local surf spots over 8 weekly sessions, when they perform at their best and how to read them.

Each outing of Surf Club be rounded off by a good old R&R session in a local watering hole, chatting about the experiences on the water, the laughs, the spills and the high-points. More than it says on the tin!

Far and Wild’s Surf Club will commence in April after the Easter holidays. Places are limited so spread the word to anyone you think might be up for it and inquire or sign up now at hello@farandwild.co.uk or phone Lawrence on +447775911198.

Thanks!

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Mysteries

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I spent my final two days in Aotearoa/New Zealand in the Alps, mountains we can only dream about in Ireland, only 3 or 4 kilometres from a main road and more of an isolated outback than anywhere on our island, purely due to the ruggedness of the territory.

I pushed myself pretty hard, got off the beaten track, had my ‘alone time’ to reflect, physically exhausted my hiking legs and got the feel for big mountain territory in Aotearoa/New Zealand.

The weather was ideal- high pressure, completely clear visibility. Deciding not to take a regular Department of Conservation track pitted me into the rock, bush and wild river environments which gave up their wonders. I had an alone, not lonely, 2 days including hut overnight and walked out full up, emptied and ready to go home.

late hut

Kay Booth’s words rang in my ears on the higher slopes..’many visitors to New Zealand underestimate the hills each year’ and after a bit of a spill + cuts and grazes, I had to give myself a stern talking to. I prayed to the god of the hill.

Off the hot and tiring scree I reached the Alpine meadow, sunny and innocent. Later a young New Zealander advised..’you can never trust the rivers here’. Sure enough, my handrail downhill turned into a daunting event horizon and waterfall forcing an hour of retreat and bush-whacking as the sun sunk lower. Oh, to have his wisdom earlier.

Never so glad to see civilization, company, food, cheer and a kindly trucker who ferried my tired legs a final 7k of hard tarmac home to Arthur’s Pass. After a dead sleep and drive out, morning coffee in the nearest outpost, I had my best conversation to date with Dr Ihirangi Heke, indigenous Outdoor Education Consultant.

andy

Not only is Ihi on the trail of his country’s (previously suppressed) indigenous sports, he is passionate about what they can potentially offer young Maori, searching their souls for meaning in a largely secular world.

I can’t quite articulate it yet, but there is a connection between Ihi’s quest and our own at Far and Wild. a quest into the soul of the land which goes beyond the vision of the world as ‘objects’ and animates it with mystery, inquiry, self-searching and ultimately meaning.

For the land, the tree, the flower is political, in that quiet, demonstrative sense of the term, it just IS and how dare we take it or try to own it or engulf it in our human, transitory projects.

It stares right back, asking, ‘Who Are You??!’

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Heading for the Hills

On my way South to complete the trip with some altitude time on the Southern Alps around Arthur’s Pass, I meet my last formal engagement, Dan Moore, Curriculum Manager with Outward Bound New Zealand.

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The ‘Moore’ comes from Maguiresbridge, Co. ImageFermanagh apparently, so we have lots to chat about. Dan has a clear and insightful grasp of developments in adventure activity in the past few years, and I’m impressed with the work of Outward Bound (OB).

Based in Anakewa, I have to double back to almost Picton, a 3 hour drive from Abel Tasman, but the scenery of the Marlborough Sound is worth it. Imagine having this as your working environment!

Once again I’m struck with some of the commonalities of what Far and Wild does and OB’s philosophy. This is no surprise as many of our staff have come through OB themselves at once stage- as young people or staff. Their awareness of the soft skills instructors must deploy to get the most out of outdoor learning for kids/clients is key- as is their interest in the environment.Dan shows me a sewage treatment plant they have installed on site, as well as the native woodland planting scheme they incorporate in their programmes. The scale of the centre is impressive as is Dan’s appreciation of what I’m getting at when I ask about the ‘value base’ of OB’s environmental work.

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He gives me two great insights:

Once is the Aoraki Bound project they have developed with the main South Island iwi, the Ngai Tahu. We had been talking about whether the adrenaline aspect of adventure comes from the Victorian ideal of ‘conquering’ nature. Apparently the Ngai Tahu, when they retrace the steps of their ancestors, have a completely different value base (for want of a better word)- it is not about overcoming some ‘individual challenge’ but about being closer to the roots of their society and culture.

Secondly, the connection we all feel with nature is not, for the Maori, an issue of personal fulfillment- it is a social benefit, because it is connection with their spirituality, ancestry, tribal history- their past, present and future.

Now where does that leave us in our part of the world I wonder…?

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