It’s always exciting to find new places to ride your horse and the South West of England isn’t short of stunning locations.
Whether you prefer the serene tranquillity of the beach or the flora and fauna of the moors we’ve got the perfect spot for you. Here are our top five favourites:
Dartmoor has been described as a “rider’s paradise” and it’s not hard to see why. Dartmoor suits experienced riders and beginners alike and whether you’re looking for open moor, woodland trails or byways, Dartmoor has it all.For easy rides, the South East of Dartmoor is probably the best place to start. Gently sloping moorland and scenic valleys wind themselves through this dramatic landscape, making it the ideal place to take a more leisurely ride.
For more experienced riders the High Moor is the best place to go and that can be found in the South West of Dartmoor. This area can be prone to bog land and so it’s advisable to plan your route in order to avoid these areas. The High Moor is more for the adventure seeker and is wilder and more remote than other parts of Dartmoor. The Northern half of Dartmoor is only really suitable for very experienced riders and those that know the Moors well as there are MOD ranges, bog land and inaccessible parts.
For further information on riding on Dartmoor go to visitdartmoor.co.uk for more information. If you wish to join an organised ride try, Cholwell Farm and Riding Stables, Babeny Farm Stables, Shilstone Rocks Riding Centre or Fitzworthy Equestrian Centre.
Exmoor has over 300 miles of well maintained bridleways. One of the most well known is the Coleridge Way Bridleway which stretches from the Quantock Hills to Exmoor and is 33 miles long. The bridleway is achallenging ride but there are a number of public houses dotted along the route for when you need a well deserved rest.
Exmoor offers a fantastic array of landscapes from open moorland to woodland tracks, country lanes and farmland fields.
Exmoor has something to offer for all abilities. If you wish to take your own horse visit the Exmoor National Park for more details on routes and riding regulations. For information on organised rides visit the Exmoor Riding Centre, Brendon Manor Riding Stables or Pine Lodge.
3. Studland Beach
Studland Beach is a stunning place to ride with three miles of sandy beach to enjoy and the cliff top rides.
Studland Beach is owned by the National Trust. In order to ride on the beach you are required to apply for a day permit which are available between the beginning of October and the end of April through the National Trust website. They are issued on a first come first served basis so plan ahead to avoid disappointment. There are also certain rules that apply to horse riders on the beach including no galloping and no riding through the dunes. It’s worth checking the rules on the National Trust website before you set out.
If you’re planning on taking your own horse there’s parking for horseboxes in the left hand car park at Knoll beach and riding across the heathland and chalk ridge is available throughout the year without the need to apply for a permit.
Organised rides can be arranged through Studland Stables who offer a vast array of rides from beach rides, private rides, heath rides, Old Harry Rocks rides and more.
4. Bodmin Moor
Bodmin Moor offers a vast expanse of riding networks through stunning scenery. The moor has remained relatively unspoilt and you can still see old settlements and stone circles as you make your way over this glorious landscape.
Of course Bodmin Moor has become even more famous recently through the ever popular TV series, Poldark,which is filmed on Bodmin Moor.
Once on the moor you can see for miles and on a clear day you may even catch a glimpse of the Cornish coast. Whilst it’s possible to entertain yourself for hours at a gentle walk or trot there are plenty of places to enjoy a faster pace of life, with a steady canter or a full gallop.
For organised rides contact Lower Tokenbury Equestrian Centre who offer trekking and pony rides or Hallagena Riding who offer horse holidays.
5. Kennack Sands
Kennack sands can be found on the Lizard Peninsula and has many a shipwreck story. Some of the ship wrecks can still be seen at low tide. It’s the perfect beach to have a canter in the sand and a splash in the sea, surrounded by beautiful countryside.
Kennack sands is best visited in low season if you wish to ride on the beach, ideally from September until March. In high season it can get very busy and it would be advisable to only ride before 10am and after 6pm. It is also worthwhile checking with the local council and tourist board that there are no specific rules applying to horse riders on the beach.
If you would rather join a group from a riding school try Poltesco Valley Stables who are based at Treal Farm.
For more information see Visit Cornwall https://www.visitcornwall.com/beaches/good-beach-guide-2014/west-cornwall/helston/kennack-sands-beach .