The Mourne Mountain Adventure

Be there at the Mourne Mountains, County Down in April 2013 © Paul Wakefield

Be there at the Mourne Mountains, County Down in April 2013

The Mourne Mountain Adventure is a youth challenge event to be held in the Mourne Mountains, County Down in April 2013. The event will be supported by volunteer organisations, local authorities and the emergency services to provide an excellent platform for engagement with youth organisations from across the community.

The event provides an opportunity for youth groups to develop teamwork and undertake a series of demanding challenges. Up to 42 teams of 6 people (aged 15-18) will be given a series of challenges for completion within a set time. These challenges will be moderately demanding, designed to test stamina, teamwork and navigation skills.

The event has three phases:

1. The Mountain - Teams start by navigating their way through Tollymore Forest Park and complete a route through the Mourne Mountains, where they will also undertake a command task. They will then descend into Newcastle Harbour, where they will board RIBs for the next phase.

2. Dundrum Bay - Teams will travel across Dundrum Bay to Ballykinler Beach, where they will continue on to Ballykinler Training Centre.

3. Final Challenge - The final phase will consist of a series of challenges against the clock. Each group will complete identical tasks which are designed to test stamina, decision making, teamwork and communications. They will eventually make their way to the finish of the event at Ballykinler Training Centre.

The event concludes with hot showers and dry clothes (as they will be nice and muddy). There will be a hot meal for all participants and awards that evening.

In order to provide each individual with a certificate and shirt to mark their participation in the event, team awards, insurance, fuel and evening meal, there is an entry fee of £10 per head.

Closing date for entries is 30 March 2013.

Conditions of Entry


1. Location. Teams are predominantly selected from Northern Ireland with a few places reserved for teams from the Republic of Ireland. Teams may be accepted from elsewhere in future years.
2. Age. All those taking part in the MMA should be between the ages of 13 and 18 on the date of the event. Group Leaders may ask for some relaxation of the rules to allow competent individuals to take part.
3. Composition of Teams. Subject to the approval of the Head of Establishment, a team may be composed of any mix of the sexes within the appropriate age range. Reserves may be selected but they are not allowed to accompany teams, join them or substitute during the event.
4. The Rules. The Group Leader, team officials and team members agree to support the Charter and ethos of the MMA and to abide by the rules. The MMA is not a competition and the rules are in place to ensure safety of the groups, individuals and the smooth running of the event.
5. Insurance. Heads of Establishment are required to hold at least £2 million third party liability insurance against damage or injury caused during training. The organisers do not accept liability for any injuries (including injuries resulting in death) arising from participation in the training or the MMA except to the extent that any such injury arises from the neglect or default of the organisers. Heads of Establishment and/or participants are advised to consider other insurance requirements. The event is separately insured for £10 million.
6. Photography. Photographers will record images of the MMA. Heads of Establishment are required to certify on the Entry Form that parents have been approached and have given their approval for suitable and appropriate photographs to be taken and published.

Application for Entry
7. Applications. Applications for entry, signed by the Head of Establishment, are to be made on the Entry Form. The application must be forwarded to the MMA Secretary to arrive by 30 Mar 13. The number of teams entered from any one establishment will depend on its size. The organisers are seeking to get as wide a representation of teams as possible which may result in some establishments getting no places at all.
8. Acceptance. Confirmation of team acceptance or non-acceptance will be sent to all Group Leaders and published on the MMA web site by 7 Apr 13.

9. Selection Process. The MMA is likely to be oversubscribed. The allocation of Team vacancies will be carried out by the MMA Committee using the following criteria:
a. Likelihood of a successful completion of the MMA.
b. Geographic location of team.
c. The inclusion of the widest range of teams from the community.
10. Competency of the Group Leaders. Note will be taken of the certified competency of the Group Leaders to manage the training of the MMA teams.

MMA Briefing
11. Participation. Each participating establishment must be represented at the MMA briefing by the Group Leader who will be present at the event.
12. Content. The briefing will cover policy and rule changes, current issues, environmental education, safety and procedures.
13. Application. The Entry is to be submitted to the MMA Secretary to arrive by 30 Mar 13. Due to space restrictions, in broad terms only one application per establishment will be accepted unless agreed beforehand with the Committee. The Joining Instructions for the MMA Briefing will be emailed to the Group Leaders from each sponsor organisation and published on the National Trust website.


1. The aim of MMA is to encourage young people to take part in a planned challenge over a variety of terrain in South Down.
2. The event is not a competition but a challenging adventure that demands careful planning, preparatory training, determination, endurance, elementary navigation and teamwork by the participants.
3. The MMA is a climax of a structured and sustained training programme requiring commitment, responsibility and teamwork. The primary objectives throughout are:
a. To develop personal fitness through healthy outdoor activity.
b. To foster an ability to walk safely in wild country and to navigate accurately in fine weather and foul.
c. To teach how to cope with adversity and overcome it.
d. To contribute to a growth of self reliance and personal responsibility, and to stimulate leadership qualities.
e. To engender team spirit and recognition of the contribution made by each team member.
f. To participate in a demanding event alongside teams from the whole community.
g. To instil an appreciation of the landscape, wildlife and cultural heritage of the Mourne Mountains and of the vital importance of conserving this environment.
h. To promote a sense of adventure and fun.
i. To convey a basic knowledge of first aid.
j. To nurture a respect for the countryside in general and an affection for all areas of natural beauty.
k. To encourage a yearning for further challenge through new found confidence, motivation and success.

Organisation and Responsibilities

1. Director. The National Trust is the MMA Director. The Director is responsible for all aspects of administration and safety, and chairs the Policy Committee and Planning Conferences. During the Event, the Director may disqualify any team or individual for any infringement of the MMA rules. The Director may also direct a team or individual to fall out if, in his / her or a MMA official’s opinion, they are unfit to continue the event. The Director may also, in the interest of safety, amend these Rules to suit the prevailing conditions. In all these matters the decision of the Director is final.
2. Controller. The MMA Controller is Down District Council. The Controller runs the event on behalf of the Director and, with the assistance of the exercise staff, is responsible for the detailed co-ordination prior to and during the event.
3. Secretary. The MMA Secretary is the MoD. The Secretary is responsible for the administrative co-ordination and team loading prior to the event.
4. Starter. The Starter is responsible for organising and loading the MMA briefing, starting teams on the MMA, and assisting in safety and observance of the Rules.
MMA Committee and Planning Conferences
5. MMA Committee. The MMA Committee, chaired by the Director, meets as required to organise the event and is the focus for liaison with other agencies that may influence the event.
6. Conferences. Two Planning Conferences chaired by the Director are held, one in December and one in March prior to the event. These are attended by representatives of all agencies and services involved in the running the MMA.
Participating Establishments
7. Head of Establishment. The responsibility for teams conducting MMA training remains with the Head of Establishment who may delegate the responsibility for safe training to a Group Leader who is competent to conduct outdoor, overnight training with teenagers.
8. Group Leaders. The Head of Establishment should appoint at least one competent Group Leader per team. The Group Leader is responsible for the safe conduct of training for participants in the MMA.
9. Assistants. The Group Leader may also appoint a number of adults to assist with specific aspects of training. The Head of Establishment should ensure that they are competent to carry out the tasks delegated to them.
10. Participants. Participants must obey the MMA Rules and be sufficiently trained and physically prepared to complete the event unaided – even in adverse conditions.

11. Competence. The Head of Establishment is responsible for ensuring that the Group Leader and assistants are competent to carry out their delegated duties. Confirmation is required by the MMA Director that the Group Leader is competent to assess the risks, complete risk assessments and manage the training activities, including overnight camping, for the specific group in the Mourne Mountains. Factors to be considered are knowledge and experience, leadership qualities and qualifications to manage, conduct and supervise walking and camping activities. Heads of Establishment will also wish to reassure themselves of other aspects of conducting outdoor activities such as child protection, first aid and use of transport.
12. Outsourcing. Heads of Establishments choosing to employ an external suitably qualified leader to lead, oversee, direct or otherwise manage their establishment’s MMA training operation are responsible for ensuring that, where required, the arrangements made are compliant with the Adventure Activities Licensing Regulations 2004.
13. Knowledge and Experience. Note should be taken of the practical experience of the Group Leaders of ‘upland moorland’ walking.
14. Leadership. The Group Leader must show the necessary leadership qualities to manage and direct training appropriate to the environmental conditions, the age and standards of the participants and the extent to which participants are being directly or indirectly supervised.
15. Qualification. Heads of Establishment should consider what Walking Group Leader and Mountain Leader qualifications are held by the Group Leader and follow the direction and / or advice laid down for their establishment.
16. Cadet Forces. Instructions on qualification levels are given in the Cadet Training Safety Precautions 2008.
17. Scouts. The Scout Association ‘Policy Organisation and Rules - January 2010’. Chapter 9 – Activities, Rule 9.7 – Adventurous Activities Permit Scheme, Rules 9.26 to 9.30 - terrain definitions, and Rules 9.55 to 9.58 - Nights Away Permits together detail the qualification requirements for lightweight expedition activities such as the MMA and the associated training. In brief, Scout Group Leaders must hold a current Adventurous Activities Permit with authority to supervise up to three teams, covering hill walking at either Terrain One or Terrain Two (either ‘summer’ or ‘winter’). In addition, they must also hold a Nights Away Permit which includes ‘Lightweight Expedition’ activities. Scout Group Leaders must hold a minimum of a current First Response First Aid qualification or its equivalent which has included both hypothermia and hyperthermia in the syllabus and preferably hold a 16 hour First Aid qualification.
18. Advice on Competence. Where the Group Leader does not hold appropriate qualifications, a suitably qualified technical adviser, as outlined by the Adventure Activities Licensing Authority, may confirm an equivalent competence level.
19. Advice. Further advice on what is deemed to be ‘competent’ can be obtained from:
a. Adventure Activities Licensing Authority.
b. Mountain Leader Training England.
c. Walk NI website.


  • 'What is the Mourne Mountain Adventure (MMA)?'

The Mourne Mountain Adventure is a youth challenge event that will be held in South Down on 27 - 28 April 2013. Teams of 6 will compete against the clock on a series of tasks and challenges throughout the Mournes and surrounding areas. It is about team-spirit, supporting your mates and testing yourself against one of the most challenging environments in Ireland.

  • 'Who can enter the MMA?'

The MMA is open to teams of six, in any male / female combination – aged between 13 and 18 – from schools, youth organisations (Scouts, Guides, Youth Clubs), sports clubs and cadets based in Ireland.

  • 'What is involved?'

The MMA is being run at two levels this year. The Adventure starts on Saturday 27 April 2013 in Tollymore Forest Park and involves an 11 kilometre trek through the Mourne Mountains, with tasks set along the way. Then there will be a crossing in RIBs from Dundrum Pier to Ballykinler where a series of tasks and challenges will be set for the arriving teams. Teams may wish to stay overnight in youth campsite in the Forest Park but this is not mandatory.

The Expedition starts on Friday 26 April 2013 with an overnight camp at Kilbroney Forest Park and the teams set off the next morning to hike to Silent Valley. They will camp overnight before progressing to Donard Park in Newcastle on the Sunday morning. They will then take RIBs across to Ballykinler and complete the final phase there.

  • 'When do entrants have to be the qualifying age?'

Entrants have to be between 13 and 18 on the date of the event.

  • 'How can my organisation apply?'

Organisations can apply through the National Trust Website or through the Sponsors – Newry & Mourne District Council, Down District Council, Carrickfergus Borough Council, Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service, The Police Service of Northern Ireland, The National Trust and 38(Irish) Brigade.

  • 'What will my organisation have to provide?'

In addition to a team of six, a Group Leader and transport must bring the team to the event. You will need tents for overnight stays, your own food and cooking equipment and ensure that the team carries all the equipment named on the kit list. The Group Leader will collect the mountain equipment from the team at Donard Park in Newcastle prior to the RIB phase. Finally, the Group Leader must bring the shower kit and a change of clothes for the team to Ballykinler for the completion of the adventure.

  • 'When is the MMA?'

For the Adventure, teams will meet need to be at the start on Saturday 27 April 2013 at Tollymore Forest Park. Each team will be given its start time well in advance of the event. Teams may camp for free on the Friday night at Tollymore Forest Park.

For the Expedition, teams will need to be at Kilbroney Forest Park on Friday 26 April 2013 and will be allocated a start time for Saturday 27 April 2013.

  • 'How much is it going to cost?'

The MMA costs £20 per team member.

  • 'What do I get for that?'

The £20 cost covers insurance, campsite, fuel for the RIB crossing, an event shirt, and individual medal, team prizes and individual certificates, a packed lunch and evening meal at Ballykinler once teams have finished. If this cost stops teams entering, contact the Secretary.

  • 'Is there a profit?'

If a profit is made from the MMA then the money raised will go towards next year’s event to make it bigger and better than before. All those delivering the event are volunteers and do not get payment or expenses.

  • 'What skills do I need?'

Teams will need to have basic map reading skills, cooperative skills, hill walking experience and a knowledge of practical first aid.

  • 'How fit do I need to be?'

The MMA is a physical challenge, teams and individuals will need to be fit. It will be a long day and teams will be on the move from start to finish. There is a suggested training regime available on the website should teams want it.

  • 'What kit do I need?'

There is a kit-list on the website.

  • 'Is the event insured?'

The event is insured through Towergate Wilsons for £10 million.

  • 'When are teams told the route?

The notification of the route is on the National Trust website. On Saturday 27 April 2013 teams must register at Tollymore Park; they will be given a map of the route and full information about the adventure.

  •  'Can I find a place in a team through the web site?'

No. You should approach your school or club for a place in their team.

  • 'How long does it take?'

The Adventure should take roughly 8 hours from start to finish.

The Expedition will be completed by 1900 hrs on Sunday 28 April 2013.

  • 'Can supporters camp at Tollymore Park?'

Supporters are more than welcome to camp at Tollymore Park, however they would be required to make their own arrangements to stay for the weekend with the Forest Service. Participants will be staying at the youth camp which is not open to the public. There are also plenty of hostels, hotels & campsites available in the area. Tollymore Park: 028 4372 2428 / 028 4377 8664

  • 'Can supporters see the teams in action?'

Supporters can see the teams start off at Tollymore and arrive at Donard Park at Newcastle. They can see the teams complete the event at Ballykinler but will have to include their names with the team lists to have access to the training area. If they require a meal at Ballykinler this is possible at a charge of £5 a head.