For the first in this weeks staycation features, we caught up with bonafide mountain man, David Carlisle from Back of Beyond Adventuring.
David has never been one to shy away from the outdoor life. As a child, he could always be found up a tree or in some elaborate fort in the woods made from sticks and fern leaves.
Some childhood pursuits aren’t made for ‘growing out of’, they just get more crafted over time. That’s exactly what David Carlisle has done. He has taken his sense of outdoor adventure, love for nature and exploration that flows through his veins and has built a portfolio of skills around his passion.
From a childhood of camping and caravanning to the scouts, David soon grew to achieve his mountain leader qualification that enables him to take groups into the mountain safely; he even trained his gorgeous Springer Spaniel, Heidi, as a mountain rescue dog, who has located around five people who have been lost or injured in the mountains. David is now back as an explorer scout leader and takes Duke of Edinburgh groups.
Back of Beyond Adventuring is David’s latest exciting venture and this time, we can all join him! David specialises in backpacking, he explains: “This is the perfect opportunity to give people, of all ages and abilities, the chance to experience the outdoors and adventure safely.”
Back of Beyond is a tailor made experience for everyone. From one on one experiences to group bookings. David’s years of experience and qualifications allow him to think of all the little details that takes away the worry and trepidation of trying something new, leaving his guests free to step into the great outdoors with confidence that they are in the safest hands.
David encourages everyone to get into the great outdoors and has something for everyone.
“We offer an opportunity for a new adventure that doesn’t just last the duration of a day. The great thing about Back of Beyond is that we push that a little bit further and allow the full off-grid overnight camping experience. I tailor each and every excursion to the customers, making sure that they really get the most out of the experience and want to come back for more.
“It’s a chance for those who don’t have the experience or the knowledge to do this sort of thing themselves safely, to really get out and have an authentic expedition, knowing that they’re in safe hands.
“I make sure that everyone feels comfortable and at ease – there are obviously some complete beginners who would like an introduction to the great outdoors; so I provide a ‘kit list’ of what they need to bring in advance, and I also supply some equipment that is needed too for anybody who hasn’t got the required bits and pieces.”
David plans itineraries that could persuade anyone into the wilds for an adventure – from young families who could enjoy a walk up into the valley and a trek into the forests of the Mourne mountains, jumping over rivers, catching rubber ducks in the shallow waters and toasting marshmallows over the camp fire as the sun goes down; to teenagers who are prepared to take on a more rugged challenging experience in tougher terrain for rock scrambling and more challenging hiking.
After a fun but tiring day learning new skills, bonding with your friends or family when it’s time to set up camp, everyone is shawm how to pitch their tents and gather around the stoves for some grub and a well deserved rest before some navigation skills in the morning and deciding on a pathway back to civilisation.
“There are so many beautiful places on our doorsteps to visit and explore, we have the Mourne Mountains obviously, they offer fantastic scenery and diversity for a wide range of activities but we’re not confined to the Mournes. If someone has a particular preference of where they would like to go, that can be arranged.
“The Causeway costal path from Carrikareed to Portrush is a great one; Wicklow Way, West Highland Way, Blue Stacks way in Donegal are all just waiting for us; and that’s just a few of the opportunities off the top of my head!”
Like the rest of us, David has been confined to a life with less freedom over recent weeks, but he is looking forward to an ease in restrictions that allow him to get back into nature again: “I’ve been doing a lot of canoeing recently, so one of my own personal escapes as soon as restrictions will allow, will take me on the waters of the River Ban from a gorgeous wee place called Beltrubet, just over the border and I’ll paddle from the Ban into Upper Lough Erne, into Lower Lough Erne and spend a couple of days in Fermanagh.”
Lockdown might have been a frustrating time for David, dreaming of his next great escape, but it certainly hasn’t been unproductive. David has also been using his time and knowledge to develop his guide books which will feature 25 different overnight choices in Northern Ireland that cater for all skill sets and abilities.
Back of Beyond will introduce the complete beginner to a world just beyond their own front door that we often bypass on our way to the airport for our summer holidays, and can also take the more experienced outdoor lover and hone their skills and push the boundaries to build on their abilities. This isn’t just a day in the hills, it’s an out and out, overnight, off-grid, doing it right, expedition of our own glorious island!
When many of us are still waiting for the green light for something far flung and for the skies to welcome back the traffic, maybe take a look at what you’re missing while you wait. We’ve got it all right here!