Ten get-fit, stay-fit breaks

Take a walk (or a swim) on the wild side with these adventure holidays

Rock climbing

Even those incapable of one proper push-up magically manage to find the strength in their chest, hips, fingers and thighs to propel themselves up a rock-face. outdoorsireland.com

Coasteering, Clare Island

If mountaineering is exploring the mountains off the trodden path, guess what coasteering is? Floppy, splashy fun along our seaweed-bearded coastline. Expect sea-jumping, swimming, rock-climbing, pot-holing and body-surfing along gullies, caves, cracks and different coastal rock formations. It's a belly-flopping extravaganza of well-organised chaos, a salt-water high for adrenalin junkies. adventurewest.ie


Canoe the Barrow

Five days of canoeing along the idyllic Barrow river from Monasterevin, Co Kildare through Carlow to New Ross, Co Wexford is one of Ireland's best-kept secrets. This sweeping, chocolate-coloured river is as wild and untrammelled as the Orinoco or the Volga in parts, with only a kingfisher flashing by or an otter hunting salmon. €109 per person for five days camping, or €299 per person staying in B&Bs (includes two-seat canoe, dry bags, buoyancy jackets, a Kelly kettle and tent – if required). gowiththeflow.ie

Dry-stone walling
Tibetans have sand mandalas, Bedouins have henna skin-decorating, Aboriginals have dot paintings and we Irish have dry-stone walls – our vernacular artistic expression. For weekend courses, contact the Dry Stone Wall Association of Ireland, dswai.ie, or keep an eye out for regular events led by a master stone mason at Burrenbeo Trust. Learn about stone selection, stacking techniques and tricks to ensure longevity. burrenbeo.com

Mountain skills course
Learn orientation, compass-bearing and map skills while out trekking in the MacGillycuddy's Reeks, the Wicklow Mountains or the Burren. Soon you'll have the confidence to roam the Irish uplands unfettered. If only all learning was such fun. outdoorsireland.com

Float tubing
Clad yourself in your warmest insulated chest waders and inflate your float tube – a device somewhere between a swimming ring and a tiny rubber dingy. Then, throw yourself into your nearest river or lake as though in a real boat, except that you're being propelled by your feet flapping away in flippers like a demented duck. It's a total thrill, and allows you to fish the very best waters in stealth mode. Southside Angling in Dublin sell float tube, flippers, pump and carry bag for €225. southsideangling.ie

This involves attaching a vast kite to a tiny surfboard with a 75ft-long tether and propelling oneself into the mercy of the wind and ocean. It has the reputation of being treacherously dangerous and difficult to master, but Pure Magic Kitesurfing insist it is safe and easy to master if properly taught. A foundation course of four three-hour sessions in its schools in Clontarf and Achill Island will set you up as an independent rider – you can then hone your skills alone. The 12-hour course costs €395. puremagic.ie

Ride and tide
If cantering through Atlantic waves on a deserted beach in a spray of luminous shards of water appeals, head to Mayo. Ride & Tide from (the unfortunately named) go!trekking! in Westport consists of a mix of galloping across sands, swimming with your horse through shallow water, then transferring to a kayak to reach an island before riding home again. gotrekking.ie

While most activity weekends elevate the heartbeat, freediving can see it drop it by up to half through breathing techniques and yoga awareness. Feargus Callagy of the Irish Apnea Academy teaches people to spend three minutes underwater on his three-day freediving courses. They are pool-based in winter, with summer outdoor dives in Mullaghmore. freediveireland.com

The accessibility by kayak of our beautiful coastline is a recent revelation to many of us. Make 2015 the year you learn the proper kayak strokes and rescue manoeuvres. All along the coast, outdoor pursuit companies offer training sessions based on the Irish Canoe Union syllabus. See iska.ie for a fuill list of providers