We all love riding in the country and we all have our favourite routes! But maybe it’s time to expand our horizons and explore some of Britain’s greatest landscapes? We have compiled a list of our favourite places to ride. Whether you like open moorlands, wooded wonderlands or beautiful beaches, there is something for you!
You can explore 205 miles of ancient packhorse routes, drovers roads and newly created bridleways if you head to the north of the country. Running through the Yorkshire dales down to the Peak District, the route passes through Buxton, Burnley, Rochdale and Settle. The trail has been specifically designed for horse riders and includes two large loops. The first route, The Mary Townely Loop, is 47 miles long and based in the South Pennines. The second is the 10 mile Settle Loop in the Yorkshire dales.
This is the perfect day long route, which can be extended to also include the village of Malham. You should make sure to stop off at the Chee Dale Nature Reserve and take in the views over the Kinder plateau. The best time of year to complete the trail is between April and October to try to escape the rain!
The New Forest
The New Forest is a large area in southern England renowned for its wild ponies. With over 3000 horses, cows and donkeys free to roam the national park, it seems only right to explore this beautiful place on horseback. There are hundreds of routes to explore through the largest remaining realm of unenclosed pasture land, heathland and forest in the South East, with over 570 km² of land in which to frolic.
Within the park, you will find open fields, hidden forest paths, refreshing rivers and streams, there’s even a beach! Whether you are a seasoned rider or a nervous beginner, there are plenty of routes that tailor to your specific needs. The routes pass through picturesque villages so you can take in the beauty and stop off in the pub for dinner and a drink. There are plenty of recommended stables throughout the park that can give you your perfect day!
South Downs Way
The South Downs way spreads between the white cliffs of Eastbourne and the Hampshire city of Winchester. It is 100 miles of incredible wildlife, fine pubs and idyllic village life, giving incredible views over Sussex and Hampshire. The beauty of this trail is that you can do as much or as little as you please and can easily pick up from where you last left off. The path is great all year round as the chalky ridge means that it drains and dries out quickly.
While most of the route is completely open, there are some sections where footpath and bridleway part ways. The National Trails website suggests that if you are planning to ride the full length, they advise beginning at Chilcomb village rather than Winchester so as to avoid the city centre and the M3 bridge crossing.
Strath Brora, Sutherland
Strath Brora lies just minutes from the A9 in the Scottish Highlands on the East coast. It is a popular route for Lands End to John O’Groats cyclists as there is virtually no traffic. The River Brora rises in the hills, flowing down into Loch Brora before finally entering the sea. The landscape surrounding the area is as picturesque as it gets, so riding through these hills is idyllic and tranquil.
Dartmoor, nestled in the heart of Devon, is an ancient landscape with incredible views and is perfect for horse riding. The area is known for its granite tors, deep wooded valleys and deep rivers. Semi-wild herds of ponies that you will see throughout the region have made this area so well known. Riding on the open moor is a wonderful experience with the views to match. There are several riding stables and also accommodation available to stable your own horse. There are routes through the open moor, onto woodland trails or through the historic byways linking old towns and quaint villages.
The South East quarter offers gentle slopes, valleys and moorland, perfect for an easier ride. Made up of higher moorlands, the South West quarter is favoured by competent riders. This area requires a planned route however as the centre of the region in extremely boggy which it is necessary to avoid. The national park describe the Northern quarter as “wild and spectacular”. This area should only be ventured by experienced riders as many parts are inaccessible and boggy. It also suggested that you check the live firing times for Dartmoor ranges before you trek the Northern area because the Ministry of Defence use it for training.
Give these riding routes a try and let us know what you think!