A riding holiday in the Quantocks

  • A three day riding holiday on Quantock moorland and beaches leaves H&H Editor Lucy Higginson desperate for more

    ‘And if it’s alright with you, Oscar will come too.’ It’s always a good traffic barometer, inviting a dog on a ride. Oscar, a young collie/lab cross, looked suitably keen.

    I’d come to Somerset to join Kathryn Davies on a three-day ride through the Quantock with two friends from my yard, Shauna and Lucy.

    Kathryn’s firm, Travels on Horseback, has taken groups of up to four riders round the Quantocks for three years, either on their own horses or one of hers.

    Riders can either set off with a guide or self-navigate one of Kathryn’s routes, with her insurance and back up support as required.

    The most popular trip is three days, staying at top-end farmhouse B&B’s while the horses are billeted at the same or adjacent farms.

    My ride was Rocky, a forward going 16yr old thoroughbred. Passing cottage gardens crammed with hollyhocks, we plunged into the verdant tunnels of old Somerset bridleways, snatching views across Taunton Vale as we climbed.
    In West Bagborough we hosed the horses off, fed them, and turned them into two large fields before overnighting at Bashford’s Farmhouse, and a top-notch meal at the pub next door.

    Our second day’s ride took us to the heather moorland summit of the Quantock Hills. We formed an impromptu string to enjoy a mile-long canter before descending through East Quantoxhead towards the coast.

    ‘What a lovely garden,’ I called out to a lady outside a stunning farmhouse a short while later, only to find Kathryn leading us into the farmyard behind.

    Our hosts here, Helen and Julian Browning, have farmed here for 28 years, produced a supper comprising ingredients almost entirely reared on the farm.

    ‘These sheep you’re eating were terrible escapologists,’ said Julian – but not, it seems, for ever.

    Next day’s final flourish involved an ocean paddle and dash along the sands, taking in staggering views down the coast to Minehead.

    Next day in London I pondered the ‘What would have made your trip more enjoyable?’ question on Kathryn’s customer satisfaction survey. I could only think of one thing: a couple more days.

    Costs and contacts

    Office: 01278 438 794
    Mobile: 07900 673 632

    • Quantock Trail (three days riding, two nights)
    ToH horses: £690 guided
    Your own horses: £270 unguided; £455 guided

    • Poets Trail (five days riding, four nights)
    ToH horses: £1185 guided
    Your own horses: £490 unguided; £790 guided

    Rates are person, assuming two people sharing a room. Evening meals extra. All trips can be changed and tailored to individual requirements.

    This feature was first published in full in Horse & Hound magazine (1 July, ’10)

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