Monday, 29 August 2016

Ox Mountain Adventure Camp Review

Until recently I had not heard of the website Air BnB which has been described by the Irish Independent as 'a treasure trove of unusual accommodation'. If you go to the site you will find some of the coolest places to stay at extremely affordable prices. From castles to boats, log cabins to hobbit huts, booking through AirBnb really turns your trip into an adventure. While exploring the site I came across the Ox Mountain Lodge in Sligo (just a short 20min journey from Ballina and 10km from Tubbercurry) which I instantly fell in love with and just had to visit. 

Nestled in a valley in the Ox Mountains, the cabin puts you right in the heart of nature with stunning views of one of the oldest mountain ranges in Western Europe dating back over 900 million years. The cabin is part of The Ox Mountain Adventure Camp, a family run business which provides activities such as archery, educational guided walks, bushcraft, outdoor adventure parties, youth club and team building days, seasonal camps, school tours, they also cater for the adventure trip section of the Gaisce award.

Dermot and Monica who run the camp met us with the warmest welcome and could not have been more helpful during our stay. The cabin itself had everything we needed. The kitchen had dishes, cutlery, pots and pans, mugs and glasses. There is also a microwave, kettle, hob for cooking on and fridge. You can choose to eat at the quaint breakfast bar looking out over beautiful scenery or out on the charming decking. The sitting room has a TV with free view channels and a stove which really heats the place up making it nice and cosy (there are also storage heaters). There are 2 beds rooms one double and one twin both equally comfy. The whole cabin is very clean and a pure pleasure to stay in. 

Perhaps the best thing about staying in the cabin was that there was no internet. I travelled with my husband and ten year old daughter and this trip gave us all the chance to re-discover what life was like before we had internet. I thought my little girl would find it the hardest not having the internet but she absolutely loved it. We were so busy with activities it reminded us all of a simpler time which I think is a true selling point to this cabin. This is the perfect place to bring your children and as a previous reviewer of the camp said, 'have a technology detox'.

There is also other accommodation onsite including a guest house, camping (Dermot and Monica also provide tents) and the Bunk N' Barn.

On our first evening at the camp we had archery lessons with Barry Hannigan. Archery was something I had never done before and I wasn't sure if I would like it or not but I was pleasantly surprised at how much fun I had. Barry teaches you everything from how to string the bow, posture, aim and after we had plenty of practice in actually hitting the target lol we played some really fun games. I really enjoyed the archery as did my little girl who Barry was fantastic with. He had great patience and made it such a fun learning experience for her. 

On our second day we set off at 10am on a hike through the Ox Mountains with our guide Barry. What an amazingly fun learning experience this was. This guided walk wasn't simply about walking from A to B. Barry taught us all about how the Ox Mountains were formed, about various plants along the way and some fascinating geology. This walk was 5km in total and the final stop on the journey home was at Mass Rock which dates back to penal Ireland. During this time of British Rule Catholics were not allowed to hold Mass so they would go up on this hill top to hold mass which had great look out points to see if the British were coming. There was also a hole in the ground where people would hide the priest if they were caught as he would face execution and made an example of. From here there is a walk way through the woods which leads you straight back onto Dermot and Monica's land which also has a beautiful river running through it. 

Following the hike my husband and little girl had a fantastic time building their own survival shelter in the woods. They used wood they gathered themselves to make a roof, They criss crossed the wood and used ferns and moss to make it water proof. They also used lots of moss inside for a bed. Between the hiking and the bushcraft my little girl has decided she wants to join the Scouts because she had so much fun participating in these activities.

We spent our last evening gathered around the camp fire with Monica Dermot and their wonderful children. We made s'mores and chatted, joked and laughed all evening. This really rounded off our two night stay perfectly.

On the morning we were leaving we went to visit Lake Easkey which Dermot recommended we visit before leaving Mass Hill. The lake is just a five minute drive from the camp and has stunning views.

A visit to The Ox Mountain Lodge and Adventure Camp is truly a wonderful experience. Step back in time to a pre-internet world and delve into a world of outdoor activities. Whether it's a family break, group trip, couples break or personal retreat, you will find everything you need in this hidden gem and build memories you will have for a life time.

This is a place everyone should experience at least once and I cannot wait to return. Top marks with 5/5 Stars

Check out their facebook page here

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