Can't afford a luxurious safari holiday in Tanzania or a swanky ranch trip to Texas? Never mind, there are some great home-grown riding holidays right on your doorstep — and even better, you can take your own horse...
The New Forest
Burley Rails Cottage
Nestled under the lee of a hill, surrounded by cool, shady woods and purple moorlands, Burley is a haven for nature lovers and horse riders alike. One of the few New Forest villages that still follows the traditional practice of commoning — allowing livestock to graze on the open forest — and with a colourful history including smugglers, witches and dragons, there’s a timeless quality to this sleepy little village. Built in 1811 as a woodman’s cottage, Burley Rails Cottage is the perfect base from which to explore the whole forest on horseback. Guests have a choice of a double or single room, with the use of a small lounge and kitchen with washing machine. There are two modern stables with individual yards, tackroom and turnout paddocks available for your four legged friends. You can ride straight out into 144 square miles of forest, with no need to go near a road. What more could you want?
Cost for you: £40 per night
Cost for your horse: £15 per night
The Lake District
If you want to get your horse fit with some hill-work, the Lake District is the place to visit. It’s also stunning all year round, from the pink heathers of autumn to the snow-capped peaks in winter. Near the popular town of Ambleside, which offers a great choice of shops, cafes and restaurants as well as the watersports facilities of Lake Windermere, Holmeshead Farm is a traditional sheep farm, with a postcard-perfect farmhouse that dates back to the 17th Century. The farm offers easy access to miles of bridleways, with beautiful riding through green valleys and forests up to 3,000 feet above sea-level. After a hard day’s riding, relax in the garden and enjoy the views over tranquil peaks and lakes. Stabling and grazing is available so your horse can relax too.
Cost for you: £90 per room per night
Cost for your horse: £12 per night
The Cotswolds is the largest area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in England and Wales, with 790 square miles of unspoilt countryside just waiting to be explored — on horseback, of course. Tucked away in the picturesque village of Naunton, seven miles from Stow-on-the Wold, Foxhill was originally a coaching inn, dating back to 1730. These days, it retains its horsey heritage, offering accommodation to horses, with two stables and turnout available, as well as a choice of charming rooms with en-suite bathrooms for guests. There is direct access to the rooms from the garden (so no problem if you want to check on your horse in the middle of the night), and a delicious breakfast is taken in the conservatory, with views out over the paddock so you can watch your horse enjoying his breakfast too. Dogs are also welcome.
Cost for you: From £45 per night
Cost for your horse: £15 for one night, £12 if staying for more than one
The Brecon Beacons
In the heart of the rolling Radnorshire hills, with its mystical Arthurian connections, trickling brooks and ancient earthworks, Cwmfillo Rhulen is a true horse-lovers haven. Not only can you set straight out from the farm and ride for miles along bridleways and across hills and moors, but it’s conveniently situated for the Royal Welsh Showground, which hosts a load of horsey events including the Royal Welsh Show and the Welsh Cob Sales. Guests start their day with a cooked breakfast including organic eggs from the farm’s rare breed hens, and the horses are equally spoilt — facilities include well-appointed stables, under-cover grooming area, a tack room, 24x44m all weather arena, jumps, turnout and ample parking. The hosts can also help you plan a three-day ride, with pub stops for lunch or a packed lunch provided. You can be as chilled or as adventurous as you choose.
Cost for you: From £33 per night
Cost for your horse: £15 for the stable, £18 to include turnout.
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Exmoor National Park
Ever dreamt of riding your horse along three miles of golden, sandy beach, the waves lapping gently round his hooves? Or galloping across ancient moors with their herds of native ponies and wild red deer? With the unique National Park of Exmoor on its doorstep, and the horse-friendly beach of Westward Ho! a short distance away, Hollamore Farm, near Barnstaple, can offer you just that. The equine facilities are fab, with maps provided for those wanting to hack out, an all-weather arena, heated tack room, communal barn and ample parking. From a human perspective (that counts too!), the 18th Century Devon farmhouse is delightfully relaxing place to stay, offering beautifully-decorated rooms, a roaring log fire and great food. With its mini zoo of alpacas, ponies, rabbits and goats, it’s also a fantastic venue for kids — in fact, what’s not to love for people of any age?
Cost for you: £45 per person per night
Cost for your horse: £10 per night/£60 per week