Every summer, walkers, cyclists, and other outdoor adventure-types can be spotted enjoying the many trails and routes County Roscommon has to offer.
Amenities such as the Suck Valley Way have seen an increase in the number of visitors within the last seven years and there are plans to add to the outdoor activities on offer.
One such outdoor activity is kayaking, and there is a growing push to bring that and other water sports to suitable locations on the River Suck.
Fuerty woman, Margaret Hynes, has, alongside three other women, taken part in level two kayak training on Lough Errit and she says the sport has a number of healthy benefits.
“A few of us did kayaking last summer in Lanesboro. There were no lessons or anything like that; it was just about getting out on the water. After that I just wanted a bit more knowledge and to learn more about water safety so I signed up to do the lessons on Lough Errit near Ballinlough,” she said.
“I absolutely loved it…it’s so peaceful and relaxing and great for mindfulness. It’s really lovely and you get a completely different perspective out on the water”.
Margaret says Roscommon is the ideal location for kayaking with its clean and safe waterways surrounded by nature.
“I’d definitely recommend it to anyone. I’d say just go for it; get lessons and the equipment you need, and some advice from the experts on safety. There are no more dangers than in any other sport and I find the lessons fantastic,” she said.
Margaret said she hopes kayaking will become more widespread throughout Roscommon and looks forward to seeing it facilitated more freely on the River Suck.
She believes a number of those currently taking part in the level two training course may go on to complete instructor training, making it possible for more people to get out on the waterways of Roscommon.
Fellow kayaker, Nicole Finan, says the sport is accessible to all levels of ability.
“I did some kayaking when I was younger but I wouldn’t say I’m great at it,” she said.
“I just like to get out on the water. Now it can be absolutely Baltic and you will get wet – I’ve been known to bring hot water bottles and a big dressing gown with me for when we get out!
“To be honest though I was surprised that there were only four of us taking part. It’s such an enjoyable activity and you don’t have to be super-fit to do it. Some of those taking part can’t swim but even capsizing in the kayak is no bother to them. If we can do it then anyone can! It’s really safe and so peaceful out on the water too. I’d 100 per cent recommend it to others”.
Nicole, originally from Drogheda in Co. Louth but living in Castlerea for the past 12 years, says the guidance participants have received from instructor Mark Bermingham has inspired them to continue on with their new hobby.
“There are a couple of local clubs that we could join and there’s talk of trips along the River Suck which would be great. It’s really helpful to have a bit of knowledge and safety tips behind us,” Nicole said.
“Not even the weather can stop us now…there’s something very relaxing about watching the rain hitting the water!”