There's a peaceful and adventurous feeling to sitting atop a gallant steed and exploring the countryside of a foreign land. In the age of cars, jets and ferries, it's still possible to revisit a time when men and women set out on epic journeys with their wits and trusty horse. Here are the best horseriding holidays in England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland, for those looking to holiday away from the norm.
1. Scotland Coast-To-Coast
Gallop on sandy beaches and canter across heather-covered moors on a seven-day coast-to-coast trail ride from Brora in Sutherland to Loch Inver on the west coast of Scotland with Highlands Unbridled. The treks run from May to October and are for experienced riders only – but the Brora centre also offers shorter rides and treks for all ages and abilities, including beginners.
2. Private Estate In Wiltshire
Equestrian Escapes organises riding holidays in some of the loveliest areas of Britain, from the Lake District to Cornwall. Its three-day Wiltshire break is based on the private, 3,200-hectare Rushmore Estate, the former home of Guy Ritchie and Madonna. There are spectacular views from Cranborne Chase as you cross King John’s hunting ground – riding down great beech avenues and past Saxon burial mounds.
No cars are allowed on the estate land and you’ll be the only riders. Longer rides for more experienced riders and a choice of self-catering or hotel accommodation are also available.
3. Trail Riding Through Wales
Explore the Brecon Beacons and Wye Valley on horseback with Free Rein: “The views were stupendous,” wrote Katie Drummond when she tried the holiday. “A heather-covered landscape dotted with sheep, clans of wild ponies grazing the bracken, hares darting through the long grass, larks soaring overhead.”
You can join a scheduled ride, hire your own guide or – for experienced riders only – take a self-guided tour. Accommodation is pre-booked in comfortable inns and your luggage is transferred each day. Novices and rusty riders can try an Onto the Trail break, learning the rudiments of trail riding.
4. Cross-Country On The Lincolnshire Coast
If you have your own horse or pony, you can take them on holiday to Home Farm near Louth. Set on the edge of the Lincolnshire Wolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, close to vast east coast beaches, the farm offers scenic rides, a cross-country course and indoor school. Accommodation is in simple, self-catering properties and there’s an outdoor pool, tennis court and kilometres of footpaths for non-riders.
A different steed: Cycling Through Cambodia & Vietnam
Ride some waves: Surfing Kerala In India's Sleepy South
Enticing countryside: 10 Best Wilderness Holidays
5. Rides Between Stately Homes
Stately Rides takes groups of two to six guests on rides through the Cotswolds, Gloucestershire, Worcestershire and Warwickshire lasting from two to five days. Accommodation in (stately) private homes, all meals, riding and luggage transfers are included in the price.
New rides in the Welsh borders will be introduced in 2016, as will equestrian weeks in Warwickshire combining tuition and treks. Riders should be able to walk, trot and canter before signing up and there are horses available for all levels of rider.
6. Roam Ireland's West Coast
Ride through small villages and along vast Atlantic beaches, quiet country lanes and mountain tracks in County Mayo on the West coast of Ireland from Drummindoo Stud. All rides are led by the owner, Padraic Foy, who’s a qualified instructor, and many of the horses used for treks have been bred and raised on the stud.
Mountain and coast trail rides take three to six days and you need to be able to ride confidently at walk, trot and canter in open country. You also need to be fit enough to spend full days in the saddle. Rides operate between May and October and include guest house accommodation.
7. Confidence-Building In Cambridgeshire
Confidence-building for lapsed riders or beginners is a speciality at Lynch Farm in Cambridgeshire, as is riding for adults with a wide range of special needs. The centre offers a range of holidays and short breaks for beginners and experienced riders, combining lessons (if required) with treks through the 800-hectare Nene Park near Peterborough.
8. Follow A Trail To The Welsh Coast
Take in the views from Offa’s Dyke on horseback and cross the Black Mountains to Hay-on-Wye, or follow the Elan Valley to the Welsh coast on a week-long trail holiday with Trans Wales. Accommodation is in local inns and farmhouses and luggage is transported from one stop to the next. These rides are for experienced riders only but there are shorter breaks for novice riders, based at a farmhouse in the Brecon Beacons.
This article was written by Joanna Symons from The Daily Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network