10 most unusual adventures in Ireland – from bog challenges to axe-throwing

Done zorbs and zip-lines? Surfed waves and SUP’d lakes?

Adventure travel has gone up a gear in Ireland, as this week’s travel features on Kerry’s Big Five and Sligo’s efforts to become the adventure capital of Ireland prove.

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Looking for more days out with a difference? Here are10 weird and wonderful experiences to tempt you off the couch this summer…

1. Throw an axe

“Once you hear the first thunk, you’re hooked,” they say. Axe-throwing is a new (and supervised, thank God) activity at Kilkenny’s Castlecomer Discovery Park and Ballyhass Lakes in Ballyhoura. From €10pp; discoverypark.ie; ballyhass.ie.

2. Ride a fat bike

Yes, it’s a thing. Fat Bikes have monster tyres suited to soft terrain like sand, bog and snow… and they’re fun. Fat Bike Adventures does outings from Dublin to breathtaking locations including Bray Head (above). They do both regular and electric fat bikes. From €65pp; fatbikeadventures.ie.

More: 100 great family days out in Ireland: Our county by county guide

3. Go on a Gruffalo trail

Got a toddler? Belfast’s Colin Glen Forest Park is home to a sculpture trail based on Axel Scheffler and Julia Donaldson’s books. The walk takes just 20 minutes. Free; colinglen.org.

More: Five fab toddler days out in Ireland – from Gruffalo trails to cool castle gardens

4. Try coasteering

Squeeze on a wetsuit. Scramble up rocks. Jump. Swim. Squeal. Shout. It’s makey-uppy madness of the highest order. Clare Island Adventures and Kerry’s Mór Active are just two operators doing it. From €50pp; clareislandadventures.ie; moractivetours.com.

5. Take a turf challenge

Killary Adventure Company has an obstacle course “like no other” in the Connemara bog. You can also get down and dirty at nearby Delphi Adventure Centre’s bog obstacle course. From €49pp; killaryadventure.com; delphiadventureresort.com.

More: Bog Standard: A bog-snorkelling adventure in Monaghan

6. A stargazing safari

Venture into Mayo’s Dark Sky Park, with a laser-pointer tour of the night skies, an introduction to nocturnal wildlife and hot chocolate with a storytelling seanchaí. From €35pp; terrafirmaireland.com.

Pól Ó Conghaile: Can ‘astrotourism’ be a new buzzword for Ireland?

7. Sleep in a ringfort

Well, a replica ringfort. Wexford’s Irish National Heritage Park offers stayovers in a thatched building within the oak-walled fort. There’s an open fire and period costumes, too. From €400 for six to eight people; irishheritage.ie.

12 most unusual places to stay in Ireland – from bubble domes to a self-catering pub

8. Join a rewilding hike

Want to get completely off-grid? Go back to basics with a hike and overnight camping adventure in Sligo and Leitrim. Catch fish, light a fire and ditch those damn devices. From €100pp; northwestadventuretours.ie.

Roz Purcell’s Active Weekends: Six super tips for Sligo and Donegal

9. Paddle by moonlight

See the stars above, and bioluminescent plankton below… nature and weather-permitting, of course. West Cork’s Atlantic Sea Kayaking is the original night owl. From €55pp; atlanticseakayaking.com.

More: Starlight spectacular: Night kayaking on West Cork’s secret marine lake

10. Ride Ireland’s only cable car

The Dursey Island cable car takes just eight minutes to transport you over the Wild Atlantic Way, but you’ll remember the ride (and the island walks) for a lifetime. €10; durseyisland.ie.

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