As an outdoor enthusiast and being fond of adventure I am never left without something to explore in this diverse landscape. Being based in Ballina, it is possible to climb a mountain in the morning and kayak along the coast in the afternoon without much hassle.
When I was asked to write this blog I was a little torn. Being passionate about your surroundings and local area can be a double edged sword. Much of North Mayo’s charm and appeal is its untouched and undiscovered locations and the more we grow as a nation the harder it becomes to find these areas of remoteness.
Telling everyone how great it is will inevitably attract more people. However I feel a great sense of pride when I meet people on their first visit to Ballina and they can’t believe how much it has to offer.
Kayaking, cycling or hiking around North Mayo it is easy to forget your surroundings and feel a real sense of wilderness – not an easy task in modern Ireland. Here I will share with you some of the reasons why I love this region so much and why you might too.
Getting here could not be easier. Bus, Train, Car, Plan! Daily flights into Ireland West Airport Knock mean you could leave your home in Manchester or London in the morning and be taking to the water or trails by the afternoon.
Kokatat Regional Ambassador
I am delighted to announce that I have joined with Kokatat as a Regional Ambassador. These guys make the best kayaking kit in the business and are the market leaders when it comes to staying dry and safe on the water. Kokatat are probably most famous for there dry suits especially there Gore-Tex models, which are without doubt the driest suits on the market. They also provide a customer service that is second to none.
A company with high standards for quality and community, Kokatat have stayed true to there founding ideals in this age of mass production and still produce over 90% of there products by hand in Arcata USA. I have been using there kit for about 5 years now and I have first hand experience of there customer service, craftsmanship and dedication to keeping you dry. The work that is put in to servicing your old suit is phenomenal.
With new designs coming in January and a dry suit that is set to change everything I am already looking forward to 2015!
Check out I-Canoe for all Kokatat products in Ireland.
I managed to get to Down Patrick Head on one of the best days of the year so far. This is a local spot for me only 18 miles from home and a world class piece of coastline. A fantastic headland steeped in history and folklore with an impressive 60 meter sea stack Dun Briste broken away from the massive cliffs. The headland is dissected by a long cave that is only accessible a few days a year and on low tide. Half way through the cave is a huge blow hole called Poll Na Seantoine. This is an exposed piece of coastline and challenging on the finest days. Definitely not for the inexperienced.
Check out the video.
Sea Kayaking the Cliffs Of Moher
The Cliffs of Moher are world famous and attract about one million visitors a year but only a hand full of people get the opportunity to kayak under these 700ft goliaths. This is a trip that ranks high on most sea kayaker's to do list and its one I was fortunate enough to bag on a spectacular Monday afternoon in June.
Julbo Wave Sunglasses - Review
I was lucky enough to be sent a pair of these sunglasses a few months back to try out. I have to say I am very impressed with them so far. Whats the big deal you may ask they're just sunglasses
?! Well these are not just any old pair of shades. The Wave are specifically made to be used by people in and around the water for sailing, kayaking, wake boarding and even surfing.
If you found this review you probably already know the pedigree of these sunglasses, if not you might be surprised to know that Julbo have been in the industry for over 125 years and are trusted by some of the worlds best athletes and adventurers. With a wide range of products and specialist expertise in prescription sports eye wear these guys know a thing or two about making top quality sunglasses.
Last week (31/3-5/4) I was in Slovenia for the Gene17 next Generation training course. We were based in the beautiful Soča Valley in the Julian alps not far from the Italian border in north west Slovenia. This area has become very well known in the kayaking community as the place to go in Europe for nice class 2-4 white water, predictable levels, good weather and excellent ice cream!.
The Soča lends itself perfectly to this type of course. It offers lots of natural classrooms for improving personal skills and developing your coaching. The Next Generation course has been running for a number of years now, it was know as future staff training until this year when it was made open to paddlers to apply for a place on the course. There were 12 places available over 2 weeks. It suited me best to go on the second week.
Winter is well and truly here and I'm sure you can feel it every time you step outside. Well its just as bad when you have to get on the water for a flat water training session or a day on a white water river. Having good thermal base layers is the key to staying warm in these conditions. There is a huge range of base layer products on the market now that offer varying degrees of protection and comfort. For me I have been using CRAFT sportswear products for about 3 years now for all types of kayaking and training. CRAFT are a Swedish company that specialise in making performance sportswear for cycling, running and skiing and have done so for the last four decades. Why CRAFT? Three reasons
The Great Glen Paddle - 2014
This looks like a fantastic race and is high on the to do list. I was hoping to do the race this year but it was only 2 weeks after the DW so it was ruled out.
Next year it is on the 22nd/23rd of March, a month before the DW. This would definitely be a testing race given the unpredictable nature of Scottish weather and it being so early in the season.
Here is what is on offer for the non-stop race:
21.5kms of canal...
60.5kms of open water Lochs...
Grade 1/2 river… 1 Nessie!
Check out the video of 2013. It looks great.
Finis Tempo Trainer Pro
I received this cool little gadget in the post today from the guys in FINIS Europe. It is an audible metronome that can be set to different stroke rates. I first heard about these devices from a triathlete friend who uses a Tempo Trainer for swimming. He suggested that it might be useful for kayaking. So I am going to try it out as a training aid for marathon kayaking. I am hoping that it will be helpful in developing stroke efficiency and timing. It can also be used for interval training and few other things.
I am really looking forward to trying it out over the next few weeks and posting how I get on.
Check out http://www.finisinc.com/eu/ for more details and other FINIS products.
The RACE 2014
I am delighted to announce that I will be working with The RACE as an elite kayak trainer and adviser for the big event in March 2014. This will be the first extreme adventure race of its kind in Ireland and will require competitors to run, kayak and cycle 260km in under 24 hours. This will be one gruelling event that will push even the toughest to there limits.
Check out the RACE website for more details http://www.therace.ie/
David Horkan from Paddle & Pedal. Posting info on various outdoor adventures in Mayo and around Ireland.