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Enjoy quality accommodation and horse riding through verdant countryside, into the wild heather clad North Antrim Hills and through enchanting forests before riding on coastal terrain of clifftops, mountain paths, and beaches with splendid views of the ocean en route. These four days of horse riding on the world famous Antrim hills and North Coast have everything that is included in your dreams of horse riding in Ireland!
You will be staying at various bed and breakfasts in County Antrim. The room options are shared double or twin; if you want a room for yourself, a single supplement charge will be applied per night.
You will spend two days riding through verdant countryside, into the wild heather clad North Antrim Hills and through enchanting forests before riding on coastal terrain of clifftops, mountain paths, and beaches with splendid views of the ocean en route to your final destination of Glenariff Forest Park, deep in the famous Nine Glens of Antrim with its waterfalls at Lara Lodge.
This ride includes two days of point to point riding, stopping overnight at a bed and breakfast along the way. As you ride on the Irish gypsy cobs or Irish sports horses, you will experience the beauty and wilderness of the Glens of Antrim, its coastline and indulge in Irish hospitality!
On arrival, Mr. McKinley, members of Bespoke Equestrian Ireland (BEI) team, and Lanna, the resident farm dog, will greet you with a warm, genuine welcome! Before meeting the horses, you’ll make your way to the converted loft above the stables to enjoy freshly baked scones made by Mr. McKinley’s wife, Mary, along with tea and coffee.
Here, you will listen to fascinating stories and history of the area which you will be riding through in the coming days, as well as exciting details of the plans for the ride.
You’ll head to the barn for a stable tour and to meet the team of horses (if you wish, you can assist with grooming and tacking). After selecting a horse and a riding assessment, you will get your muscles adjusted gently and build up your fitness by riding out into the wilderness of the North Antrim Hills with its heather clad slopes, looking down onto green pasture away below and passing the old peat banks that were the traditional source of fuel in Ireland for generations.
You can stop and do some peat cutting with the old traditional peat spades and get a few photographs of the piles of peat drying for fuel. Having spent 4 to 5 hours at the center, met the BEI team, familiarized yourself with your horse, the details of your ride, and some of the history and heritage of the country you will be riding through, you will be collected and taken to your accommodation in the nearby coastal town of Ballycastle.
Ballycastle is a beautiful coastal town which is renowned for its bustling local pubs, cafes, and local shops, as well as stunning views across the sea to Scotland. No matter what your plans are, you must try the honeycomb ice cream from Maud’s Ice cream parlor and a pint of Guinness from O’Connor’s bar on the main street. Get a good night’s rest and be ready for three full days of riding.
After breakfast, you will be picked up and taken back to the stables for full days riding on a trail east of the center. From the stables, you will make your way across verdant pasturelands, crossing a stream or two before climbing up onto the moorland above the farm to take in a sweeping five-county view of Northern Ireland and as far away as counties Donegal, Derry, Tyrone, and Fermanagh!
As you ride higher and further out into the Antrim Hills to the summit called the “Croaghan”, you will have a 360-degree panoramic view of the beautiful Irish countryside. From Croaghan, take a long look out over the Glens of Antrim, looking north to Scotland and Scotland’s Ayrshire Coast, Mull of Kintyre, Scottish Highlands, and the Western Isles.
Also looking over to Rathlin Island, an island off the coast of County Antrim and the northernmost point in Northern Ireland. Additionally, take in County Donegal’s Inishowen and Malin Head, the northernmost point in Ireland. Western views look out over the River Bann to the Sperrin Mountains and south to County Down’s Mourne Mountains and to Slieve Beagh in County Monaghan in Southern Ireland.
As the team descends Croaghan, making their way over the trails and hills, one thing will become clear, the aura of the surrounding lands are serene and tranquil, mystical, and awe-inspiring. From Croaghan, you will ride and gradually climb to one of the best 360-degree panoramic views in Ireland and maybe even much further afield.
This is the peak of Orra Mountain (Slieve An Orra), specifically chosen for its historical significance and breathtaking views. Orra Mountain is best known as the site of a ferocious battle between rival Irish clans in 1583 but on the top of the mountain, there is a memorial erected in the honor of seven US airmen who lost their lives there in October 1942, when their WWII B17 crashed on the mountain during heavy cloud cover.
From this mountain’s peak, it is possible to look out over the Glens of Antrim, north to Scotland, and Scotland’s Ayrshire Coast, Mull of Kintyre, Scottish Highlands, and the Western Isles. Western views look out over the River Bann to the Sperrin Mountains and south to County Down’s Mourne Mountains and to Slieve Beagh in County Monaghan in Southern Ireland.
As the team descends Orra, making their way over the trails and hills, one thing will become clear, the aura of the surrounding lands are serene and tranquil, mystical, and awe-inspiring. When you arrive at your destination, the horses will be transported back to the farm and your driver will be waiting to transport you to your accommodation where you can relax, before heading out to enjoy dinner in a local restaurant and maybe call into a pub to finish off the evening.
The BEI team are on hand to help you plan your evening's itinerary and specialize in helping you to become immersed in the local community and culture for those who wish to do so.
Today starts off a two-day point to point ride that will finish deep in the Nine Glens of Antrim. The Glens are a series of coastal valleys in a range of mountains all running down to the ocean. Your final destination is the mystical waterfalls in the Glen of Glenariff, known as the Queen of the Glens for its scenic beauty and tranquillity. Horses and riders are transported to Murlough Bay, a secluded bay on the North Coast.
This is a hidden gem, off the beaten track and was used as a filming location in the TV hit series, Game of Thrones. It is sheltered from the northwest winds blowing in off the sea and here, you will find something that is unusual on the Causeway Coast. Here, trees flourish on the grassy slopes and you will often come across wild deer roaming across the green pastures overlooking the Western Isles and Highlands of Scotland.
Your journey continues after Murlough as you ride towards an old disused track through the mountains which were once the old coach road to Cushendun in the Glens of Antrim. You will ride past Loughareema, known locally as the Vanishing Lake and surrounded by Irish myths and legends. Here your guide will regal to you the story of the coachman and horses lost in a terrible storm!
You will follow the old coach road through the hills with views over the Irish Sea and into the Glen of Glendun, one of the famed Nine Glens of Antrim. Here you will find a secluded area of a pasture where the horses can enjoy the grass while you take a rest and enjoy a freshly prepared picnic looking down into the Glen of Glendun.
Once refueled and rested, you will follow the Glendun River (that’s sometimes meandering and other times a raging torrent) as you make your way to the picturesque village of Cushendun. On your way, you will be viewing stunning fauna and flora, riding through ash and hazel in this beautiful Glen characterized by bright green rowans, purple heather, and soaring birds of prey.
The scenic village of Cushendun was designed in 1912 by Clough William Ellis at the request of Ronald John McNeill, 1st Baron Cushendun. The village’s Cornish appearance was deliberately designed to please the Baron’s wife, Maud, who was born in Cornwall, England.
After Maud’s death in 1925, he erected a row of whitewashed, quaint cottages in her memory, affectionately known as Maud’s Cottages. Riding on Cushendun strand, you will pass the ruins of Carra Castle before making your way to the famous Cushendun Caves, an impressive system of caves formed over 400-million years ago.
More recently, the caves doubled as the caves of "Storm’s End" in the HBO hit series, Game of Thrones. An unusual character of Cushendun is “Johann the Goat”, a bronze sculpture situated close to the mouth of the River Dun. Johann lived in the harbor area for many years, grazing the riverbanks and welcoming visitors bearing apples or carrots. In 2001, he was the last animal to be culled during the foot and mouth outbreak. His statue remains a memorial to the farmers in the district who lost their livestock. Today, another goat carries on Johann’s tradition and can be seen resting beneath the feet of Johann’s sculpture or grazing along the banks.
You will call into to Mary McBride's authentic Irish pub in the village for a more substantial lunch and meet some locals. You will then start the last leg of the day's ride as you venture up the Glen and finish high on the Torr Road above the village at the villa bed and breakfast, which is a spectacular location in itself.
The villa bed and breakfast serves as the coach house where both horses and riders are liveried for the night. The splendid views out over the coast and sea to Scotland and looking down on to the coastal village and bay far below are only matched by the warmth and hospitality of your hosts, the Scally family, at the villa bed and breakfast.
After enjoying a hearty breakfast at the villa bed and breakfast, it's time to tack up your horse and prepare for the final day’s ride, deep into the mystical Glens of Antrim. As you make your way east, you will cross the beach passing through the sleepy and quaint village before climbing up onto a quiet coastal road with fantastic views over the sea to the Western Isles of Scotland and the Scottish mainland, just 12 miles away.
This point marks one of the shortest sea passages between Ireland and Scotland and in centuries gone by, the sea you are overlooking would have been filled with ships and galleys carrying supplies or heading to war. This route takes you through the next village of Cushendall where you will stop for refreshments close to the old Curfew Tower in the center of the village which once served as a garrison to protect the village from campaigns by the Irish clans.
You will follow Cushendall beach on your journey through the Glens and make your way past the remains of Red Bay Castle once a stronghold of the Mc Donnell clan and past the caves once used as a hedge school when formal education was forbidden. The next beach is adjacent to the village of Waterfoot and located at the base of the glen of Glengarriff. Here, you can canter and gallop across the bay while enjoying stunning views.
From here, you will make your way through what is often described affectionately as the “Queen of the Glens”, riding to the head of this beautiful glen and Lara Lodge at the bottom of Glenariff Forest Park. As you meander up the Glen and through this oasis of tranquility, you will become enchanted by its beauty and strengthen the bond you have with this land.
At the head of the Glen, you will dismount and untack your horse after four days of riding before taking a short walk to view the splendid and iconic waterfalls that this park is renowned for. You will relax in the restaurant at Lara Lodge and over a meal, share photos of your riding excursion deep in the fabled and mystical Glens of Antrim. At this stage, BEI will send for transport for the horses back to base and say their farewells as you continue on your journey of exploration in Ireland.
You can also choose to spend an extra night as guests of the McKinley family with a farewell dinner and evening of entertainment. BEI will organize for you to be taken to your accommodation in Cushendall where, tonight, the group will gather for a farewell dinner to celebrate the tour and finish off with a memorable evening in Johnny Joe’s pub with traditional music. Here, you will strengthen your connections with the place and its people as you are introduced to the regulars and you enjoy the music, dance, and the local craic.
You don't have to bring your own tack and equipment. BEI has their own tack, they will saddle fit you during the assessment tour on the day of or before the trek. You are encouraged to bring your riding clothes like a helmet, boots, and gloves. BEI can provide a riding helmet if you don’t want to hassle with packing one. You are welcome to bring your own saddle but be aware, if it doesn’t fit the horse properly, you will not be able to use it, their horse’s comfort is a top priority for them.
BEI's stable is filled with over 40 quality Irish-bred horses and ponies, Irish Cobs, Irish Drafts, Sport Horses, and Connemaras. Bred for their gentle temperament, the horses are fit and surefooted which provides a safe and comfortable ride. Based on your physical height, weight, and ride preference, the dedicated team can expertly match you to your mount for your holiday.
Advanced riders will not be bored with the trail rides. Filled with adventure and history, BEI's signature coastal treks are tailored for intermediate to experienced riders, over the course of your holiday, you’ll gallop across sandy beaches, ford streams, and rivers and climb mountains and hills.
BEI tailor each trek to guests’ riding ability. Treks and itineraries will be discussed during the consultation calls. To get an idea of your riding ability:
A rider with little or no experience (walking only). A novice is a rider who is comfortable and in control at the walk and rising trot.
A rider who is confident and in control in all paces (including posting/rising trots, two point canters, and gallops) but does not ride regularly.
Rides regularly, comfortable in the saddle for at least six hours per day, confident, and in control of a forward moving horse in the open country and beaches.
The daily treks are approximately seven hours in length. You will stop to eat, rest the horses, and explore unique places along the way. Riders can expect to spend about four to five hours a day in the saddle. The treks include walking and trotting with galloping or cantering opportunities on wide-open beaches, open countryside, and off-road tracks.
As any equestrian knows, riding is a risk sport. BEI has taken every precaution possible to avoid unfortunate accidents or incidents. During the ride, there will be a support team that follows behind or meets the group at designated locations throughout the day, as well as ensuring clear roads when necessary.
BEI has access to a transport vehicle at any time if an emergency arises. The riding guides travel with a cellphone and will not hesitate to summon aid if and when required, unlikely, as this is due to the temperament of the horses and the alertness of the staff.
Bespoke Equestrian Ireland is located in County Antrim on the breathtaking north coast of Northern Ireland.
Daily breakfast, two lunches at a local establishment, and two picnic lunches are included in the package.
Allow BEI's dedicated team of tourism experts to further enhance your trip to Ireland by opening up their country to you. BEI can help you plan itineraries to suit all members of your group whether it be helping you plan your activities to do in the evening or on the days you are not riding. BEI can also put together full itineraries for those members of your group who will not be riding but want to explore this country while you are enjoying your riding experience.
Ireland itself is one of the world’s leading tourism destinations and Northern Ireland is seen as an emerging tourism market. The dedicated team of experts are working on the ground and will use their knowledge and expertise to ensure you and your group have a truly unique and memorable experience in Ireland. For help and advice on itineraries, please get in touch.
The Causeway Coast Discovery Centre specializes in experiential Irish tourism and offers the opportunity to delve into Irish culture, heritage, and history. The center provides workshops in language, dance, traditional music, Scots/Irish genealogy, traditional crafts, and the clan history of the Causeway Coast in the 16th century.
The center offers a unique brand of quality tourism where visitors meet local people and experience authentic traditional hospitality in the local community and culture. More than just a visit, it’s an experience.
Relive the epic story of the Irish Clans who ruled Ireland up to the 16th century and become immersed in authentic Irish experiences. The experience focuses on the mighty McDonnell clan who ruled the land around the Causeway Coast and the Western Isles of Scotland. Bring your onward journey on the Causeway Coast to life with this true to life Game of Thrones story, told through the eyes of their famous chieftain Sorley Boy McDonnell.
Experience the stunning north coast from the air! Enjoy the thrill of a helicopter flight while taking in iconic sights along the coast, such as Mussenden Temple, Dunluce Castle, The Giant’s Causeway, Ballintoy’s Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, and more. It goes without saying your photos will be epic!
Take in the dramatic and breathtaking north coast scenery on a half or full-day yacht tour. Experienced local captains navigate the rugged coastlines of the Giant’s Causeway, Rathlin Island, Donegal, or Scotland, telling the tales and history that surround them.
Ireland is famous for its plentiful and challenging golf courses. Northern Ireland offers some of the best golf in the world, from Lough Erne to Royal County Down or Royal Portrush to Castlerock or Porstewart, spend a day (or more) playing on one of the beautiful courses. After your round, carry on to the equally famous 19th hole!
North Antrim is not all rugged coastal beauty; this area is home to a series of special gardens all with unique and individual offerings, it’s a gardener’s paradise! Take a tour that showcases some of the best gardens in Ireland, Antrim Castle Gardens, Glenarm Castle Estate, Ballyrobert Cottage Garden, Benvarden Garden, Carnfunnock Garden, Greenmount Walled Garden, and Kilcoan Garden.
Unwind or recharge at a luxury estate country spa. Set within 163-acres of lush parkland, with the spectacular River Maine flowing through the expansive estate, you’ll spend a full or half day being pampered, leaving you relaxed and rejuvenated. Enjoy a unique Celtic Sauna treatment, award-winning facials, or a range of full body massages.
Catch a morning ferry from the harbor of Ballycastle to Islay, Scotland, where you’ll spend the day visiting Islay Woolen Mills or famous distilleries such as Ardbeg, Laphroaig, and Bowmore. Enjoy a delicious lunch at one of the many award-winning local restaurants before returning late afternoon.
Take a step back in time to learn the tumultuous history of Dunluce Castle and its former occupants. Guided by a renowned local historian, you’ll hear fascinating tales beginning with the MacQuillans to the MacDonnells, the Battle of the Boyne, and the castle’s unfortunate demise in the late 1600s.
Experience the fantastic Causeway coast on a guided six-mile walk along some of the best cliff-top views Europe has to offer! Your friends will be green with envy of your photos captured along this one-of-a-kind walk.
Steeped in history and charm, take a guided tour of the picturesque coastal village of Glenarm. A local guide will introduce village shop owners and locals, while telling the history of this quaint village, before heading to the Glenarm Castle estate for a stroll through the walled gardens and lunch at the castle’s tearoom.
Watch an Irish dance exhibition by the Loughgiel School of Irish Dance. Founded in 1978, these talented Irish dancers won the World Dance Championship in Llangollen, Wales in 2015. Their hard work and passion is evident in their magnificent performances, truly an experience to watch!
Spend the day on a guided expedition of the north coast near Portrush Harbour or River Kayak down the scenic River Bann.
Old Bushmills in County Antrim is Ireland’s oldest working whiskey distillery; watch whiskey making take place and enjoy a wee taster too. Experience a guided tour of Ireland’s only “grain to glass” distillery and discover some of their trade secrets learned over 400 years of distilling.
Take a scenic tour (guided or on your own) of the Causeway Coast onboard an electric bike! Electric bikes give a bit of "oomph" and make cycling easier and faster; tackling a hill is no problem. Immerse yourself in the culture and natural beauty of the area, observing details that other tourists miss behind the wheel of a car! This is a great way to see and experience the north coast! E-bikes, regular bikes, and mountain bikes are available for daily hire.
Looking for something unique and adventurous? Coasteering is the sport or activity of exploring the rocky coastline by climbing, jumping, and swimming, a perfectly unique way to experience the northern coastline in a thrilling way! All levels of fitness are welcome.
The north coast is filled with folklore, culture, and history. Spend the day with a top, local historian on a private guided tour where you’ll learn more about this fascinating region. Irish history, stunning coastlines, nature, amazing photographs; it’s all right here in this tour.
Historian, author, world-famous realist painter, and descendent of one the most distinguished families on the north coast, the youngest son of the thirteenth Earl and Countess of Antrim, Mr. McDonnell grew up in Glenarm Castle before leaving to study history at Eton and Oxford. Spend an evening with this fascinating storyteller and historian, learning about the McQuillan and McDonnell history, Dunluce Castle, and the great chieftain, Sorely Boy MacDonnell.
Head to Belfast for the day to experience everything this renaissance city has to offer! From tours of Titanic to the Royal Botanical Garden, shopping at St. George’s Market or a famous Black Taxi, or Crumlin Road Gaol, tour, Belfast has something to offer everyone. End the day with a fabulous meal from a number of great city restaurants before heading to the famed Grand Opera House to take in a play or concert.
Make your way to key locations along the spectacular Causeway Coast and Glens that represent everything from The Iron Islands (Ballintoy Harbour) to the King’s Road (Dark Hedges), Dragonstone (Downhill Strand) or the Stormlands (Cushendun Caves). Ireland’s rugged coastlines, historic castles, and breathtaking scenery make it the perfect setting for this epic story. For serious Game of Thrones fan, this tour can be on horseback in full costume.
The perfect foodie experience! This guided food tour showcases some of the best produce, procurers, and gastronomic gems the coast has to offer. Meet the owners and chefs and hear fascinating stories while tasting samples of the best dishes this area has to offer.
With so many fresh ingredients produced in Ireland, it’s only natural that good cooking is an essential part of Irish culture. So if you fancy indulging your creative side and donning a chef’s hat, spend an afternoon alongside an award-winning chef learning the history and cooking methods of unique regional or traditional Irish dishes.
Immerse yourself in the world-famous story of Irish emigration at the Ulster American Folk Park museum. This 40-acre, the open-air museum brings to life the human drama behind three centuries of Irish emigration, telling the remarkable story of the vast human tide that crossed the Atlantic for the New World of North America.
Using costumed guides, displays of traditional crafts and replicas of Irish streets and villages, the museum focuses on those who left Ireland for America in the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries. This interactive experience is perfect for all ages.
The Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge is a rope suspension bridge that links mainland Ireland to the tiny island of Carrickarede. Crossing a 66-foot gap suspended almost 100-feet above the crashing waves and rocks below, the bridge has been used for hundreds of years allowing salmon fishermen to reach the secluded waters around the tiny Island.
Thrill seekers come from all over to cross the safe but sometimes swaying bridge where they are rewarded with uninterrupted views of Rathlin Island, Fair Head, and Scotland on the other side. Channel your inner thrill seeker with a wee walk across this famous bridge!
Archeology and geology fans will love this fascinating tour of the ancient Knockdhu where every pile of stones has its own history. This archeological site sits on private lands where you’ll explore the underground chamber of the Souterrain by a guiding expert.
Meander through the bustling streets of the only completely walled city in Ireland which reveals a splendid city crammed full of history and heritage. Guided walking tours (or bus tour) are a great way to explore; from a tour of Derry’s Walls to The Bogside or the People’s Gallery Murals, visitors are in for a cultural and historical treat in Derry.
Ireland has a long history with farming that continues today. On this tour, meet local farmers who’ll tell stories passed down for generations, tour a local farm, and learn about dairy farming or raising cattle and sheep in Northern Ireland. Afterwards, head to a local livestock market where you’ll see farmers bid for top cattle or sheep to add to their prized herds.
Widely considered the fastest game on grass, Hurling is an ancient game (over 3000 years old) and one of the national sports of Ireland. You’ll head to a local hurling match to watch this fast-paced sport with local supporters who are passionate about their teams!
Nestled in the heart of the North Antrim village of Loughguile, where hurling is the lifeblood of the community, Scullion Hurls is an Économusée, or working museum, producing fine Hurls. Local craftsman Micheal Scullion will display the traditional craft of hurley making where he will make a hurl or "caman" in the style of an early 1900s hurl using hand tools that would likely have been used during that time period.
Participants will be welcomed into the workshop and given a brief historical presentation on the history and origins of the ancient Irish sport of hurling and the craft of Hurley Making as well as how the Scullion Family became involved in this ancient craft.
Explore the shipyard, walk the decks, travel to the depths of the ocean, and uncover the true legend of Titanic in the city where it all began. The immersive and interactive experience along with the utilization of state-of-the-art technology and attention to detail has helped the center become the winner of the World’s Leading Visitor Attractions (World Travel Awards 2016). More than just a visit, it’s an experience.
The 40,000 unique and iconic black basalt columns protruding from the sea have ensured that the Giants Causeway is included on the UNESCO world heritage list. However, it is the walk across the stones, the spray of the ocean and views of Scotland on the horizon that truly entrance.
The Gobbins experience is one way to get up close and personal with the Causeway Coast! It takes you along a narrow path hugging the dramatic cliff face; across spectacular bridges amid the crashing waves, traversing hidden tunnels under the Irish Sea; up and down rugged staircases carved into the cliff face, and into caves that were once home to smugglers.
Belfast International Airport
Transfer not provided
Transfer not provided
Please arrange your flight to arrive at Belfast International Airport (BFS) or Dublin Airport (DUB). Transfers from these airports are not yet included, for more information, please send Bespoke Equestrian Ireland an inquiry. BEI is a full-service vacation provider and their US team can assist with and arrange travel logistics.
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