The last time I was at an Activity Center was on my Stag Weekend! 15 lads building rafts, climbing and shooting paint balls at each other while carrying around a very sore head from the previous night…tough work but brilliant craic! Fast forward three years and 2 become 3. Oscar was born 18 months ago and as Charlotte and I have always been active and spend a lot of our time exploring the great outdoors with Oscar, the idea of an activity family break/holiday is always something we would like. So the opportunity to sample what Carlingford Activity Center has to offer for a young family was intriguing. So off we went with another couple and their 3 and 5 year old boys.
Carlingford Adventure Centre is familiar to my wife Charlotte who spent her hen weekend here, as many people do, so it was strange for her to return with a baby to sample what Carlingford has to offer families looking for a more relaxing weekend. We pulled into Carlingford at 10.30 am on Saturday morning and by 11.15am we were ready to hit the water. Suited and booted in wetsuits and kayaks at the ready it was time for the all the lads to hit the high seas. With 2 kayaks, one adult and child in each, we paddled our way across the harbour to the waterfall. We pulled the kayaks onto the stone beach and walked up to dunk our heads into the fresh water for 10 seconds to add another day to my life…4 years earlier I would have done it to help clear the head! We all put the heads in, including little Scott who is only 3 and then it was back on board to paddle our way back to the harbour to catch up with the Mammies who had treated themselves to a coffee and a scone from a local café in the town, while looking for crabs with Oscar on the beach.
Both Luke (5) and Scott (3) loved getting out on the water, it was their first time in a kayak and in a waterfall, which was the highlight of the day… for the moment! David our guide was great and really looked after us. Bringing young kids out on the water is daunting but with wetsuits and buoyancy aids I really felt they were completely safe and it enabled us all to enjoy the experience more knowing we were being so well looked after.
It’s was then a quick shower and change in the facilities on the pier and a 5 minute drive back to the Activity Center in the middle of the town for a hearty lunch. There was plenty on offer to help refuel big kids and little kids ahead of a busy afternoon. We then checked into our Carlingford Holiday Home, which was just a 5 minute walk back towards the harbour. We were delighted with the house and it had everything could need when traveling with children including cot’s, high chairs, and bunk beds which were a huge hit with all 3 kids. The house was on a quiet cul-de-sac and it was warm, inviting and fully equipped with all of the essentials you need for a family holiday…towels, bed sheets, washing machines, dryers, dishwashers you name it, it had it…plus it was spotless.
Our next activity was at SKYPARK and the range of activities available was vast and catered for all levels, which we were delighted about especially with Luke and Scott being at an age when they want to get involved, so after getting wet in the morning we all decided to spend the rest of the day here and make the most of all the activities. Holidaying with children can be difficult trying to keep them entertained but we needn’t have worried, Skypark had so much for the kids they didn’t know where to start! Trampolines, laser quest, sand pits, mini golf and Sky Junior… they were in their element.
This time we let the ladies do the High Ropes while the dads entertained the kids, and they loved it! After a quick guide and practice on the training course they were off and the laughs, screams and occasional bold word were heard across the park. The boys did the junior course and were like little ninjas, the final Zipline was the obvious highlight but the confidence they gained going round the course was clear to see and they were buzzing afterwards. We then swapped and it was the dads turn to show off our skills and inevitably it took a competitive turn with us battling it out around the course. After over 3 hours of Zip Wires, bouncing on trampolines, avoiding Oscar swinging the crazy golf clubs around and chasing each other around the sand pit, we were all ready to head back to Carlingford, grab some food and retire back to the house for the evening. Babies were fed, bathed and put to bed with ease as they were so exhausted from all the fun. They decided the whole day was the best day ever because they couldn’t pick which bit was the best; it was all too much fun apparently! Then it was scrabble on a Saturday night for the mums and dads.
Bright eyed and bushy tailed in a Sunday morning, we filled our bellies with homemade breakfast and we decided to split the team once more. The kids wanted to hit the beach in search of more crabs while the Dads wanted an early challenge by attempting the Black Course at Skypark. The location made all of this possible with the beach being within walking distance from the house and Skypark, a quick 5 minute drive just on the outskirts of Carlingford.
The Black Course was a real test! Very challenging and it gave the upper body a serious workout. With welcomed Ziplines along the route to give the arms a rest, it took about an hour and then back to the house to catch up with the rest of the crew. They had just returned to the house wet and dirty after digging up half the beach. A quick change and pack followed by a stroll around Carlingford with a bite of lunch from one of the many cafes. Then it was a quick stop in the playground and a nice relaxing end to a short break away. It was then time to hit the road home to Dublin.
We were only there for 1 night, but it really felt like you were there for longer because you could really just switch off and enjoy being outside and having fun with your family and friends. There is so much more to offer here and we only scratched the surface with all of the activities and places you can visit. However with Carlingford just over an hour away from Dublin, the Activity Center range of activities, the local amenities and of course the location really made it easy to pack a lot into a couple of days and makes it the perfect location for an action-packed short family break. We will definitely be back, and will be staying for longer to try out more of the activities on offer at the Carlingford Adventure Centre and Skypark and enjoying more fun time with the family. Thanks for reading…. David Gillick