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Horse Riding Adventure in Northern Ireland

This exciting 6-day Irish horseback riding holiday gives you the opportunity to ride on 5 of Northern Ireland's white sand beaches, and ride to Dunluce Castle and the Giants Causeway. You will also ride on rugged coastlines, verdant countryside, and enchanting mountainous trails while the hand-picked B&B options allow you to experience and enjoy traditional Irish hospitality at its best. There are no other rides in Ireland that include such spectacular sites and scenery and this, along with BEI’s attention to detail, makes for a truly once-in-a-lifetime riding holiday.

Key Information

  • Tack Type: English tack
  • Horse Breed: Irish Cobs, Irish Drafts, Sport Horses, Connemara’s
  • Rider weight limit: 225 lb / 102 kg

Highlights

  • Daily 5 to 7 hours in the saddle, 5 days of riding
  • Discover Irish white sand beaches and rugged coastlines
  • Explore the verdant countryside and enchanting mountainous trails
  • Experience Irish hospitality at its best
  • Spend your time on the magnificent Causeway Coastal Route and its iconic locations
  • Explore the regally perched Mussenden temple
  • Storm Dunluce Castle on horseback and ride to the iconic Giant’s Causeway
  • 5 nights accommodation with breakfast

Skill level

  • Intermediate
  • Advanced

Styles


5 days with instruction
Group size: Minimum of 2 participants
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Accommodation

You will be accommodated in local Bed and Breakfast accommodations in North Antrim Coast, County Derry and County Antrim Coast.

Program

Each day you’ll be in the saddle for approximately 5-7 hours with several breaks throughout the day but you are welcome to vary the amount of time that you ride (perhaps with shorter rides each day) and Bespoke Equestrian Ireland will happily arrange for you to be transported to wherever, or whatever you wish to do.

Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival

Céad míle fáilte (one hundred thousand welcomes)

Welcome to Ireland! You can arrive in either Belfast or Dublin. A driver can be arranged to collect you from either location and whisk you off at the beginning of your Irish adventure. You will journey northwards and, if it tickles your fancy, you can opt to travel along the renowned Causeway Coastal Route, lauded as one of the top 5 road journeys in the world. This beautiful drive will give you a taste of the rugged coastlines and sweeping sea views that you will experience over the course of your holiday.

The coastal route is dotted with historic castles and a changing canvas of natural landscapes–incredible fishing villages, quiet beaches, rolling green hills with lush hedges, mountain streams and rugged coastlines with majestic cliffs—all overlooking the magnificent sea.

You can spend the day at your leisure in your accommodation or explore the beautiful North Coast. Enjoy some food at a local pub or restaurant, sample a pint of Guinness with the locals, or dance the evening away to some traditional Irish music. Be sure to get a good night’s rest to be ready for what the coming days have in store!

  • Overnight: North Antrim Coast

Day 2: North Antrim Hills - Picnic

A driver will pick you up at your accommodation and take you to the stables. On arrival, Mr. McKinley, members of the Bespoke Equestrian Ireland (BEI) team and “Sheba” the Border collie farm dog, will greet you with a warm, genuine welcome before heading to the barn for a stable tour and 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 spend 4/5 hours riding out into the wilderness of the North Antrim Hills with its heather-clad slopes, looking down onto green pasture away below with panoramic views over the North Coast and 5 counties of Ireland.

You will stop at the glass-sided mountainside cabin, high in the hills where a picture-perfect picnic or traditional afternoon tea awaits you. Enjoy a sumptuous lunch, while absorbing magnificent views of the Northern Irish countryside.

You will be riding past the old peat banks that were once the traditional source of fuel in Ireland for generations and can stop and do some peat cutting with the old traditional peat spades and get a few photographs before making your way back to the stables.

After your initial day's introduction and riding, you will be collected and taken to your accommodation near where you will be starting your ride tomorrow morning. Your hosts will help to organise dinner options for you in the local town. After that, it's time to get a good night's sleep and be ready for what tomorrow has in store.

  • Overnight: County Derry

Day 3: Downhill - Mussendun Temple - St Aidan’s Church - Gortmore

Enjoy a hearty full Irish breakfast before setting off to begin your adventures. Your driver will transport you to the iconic Downhill beach where your first glimpse of Downhill beach offers panoramic views of the ocean and landscape where miles of open sand, waterfalls and iconic views await. Enroute, you will pass the ancient trees of Mussendun before the journey continues past the ruins of Downhill House which was Frederick Augustus Hervey, Bishop of Derry and Earl of Bristol’s, 18th century home.

Marvel at the architecture and expanse of the flamboyant Georgian ruins before your gaze is taken by the lonely Mussenden Temple, regally perched 120 feet above the Atlantic Ocean. Inspired by the Roman Temple of Vesta in Tivoli, Rome, Mussenden Temple was used as a summer library for Frederick Augustus Hervey, Bishop of Derry and Earl of Bristol.

It is time to meet your trusty stead again at the entrance to the beach. Downhill beach is best known for its magnificent mountain backdrop, cliff scenery and views across Donegal. As you enter the beach, you can stop at the foot of the cliff where Mussendun Temple is located for an ideal picture opportunity before taking a swift canter or gallop across miles of flat, open beach crossing the river onto Benone Strand, with miles of more sand beach to enjoy.

As you pull up at the end of the beach, we stretch our legs, stop at the washrooms and give the horses a rest before riding back across the golden sands, through sand dunes, stopping to view the waterfalls cascading off the majestic cliffs of Bennnevanagh mountain and enjoying some time in the spray of the Atlantic.

On leaving Downhill beach, you will ride through Downhill forest to the site of St Mary’s Church with its legend of the magical cow which could produce unlimited amounts of milk as long as it was kept by the right person and to hear some of the complexity of Irish history and of why this Catholic church was destroyed after the Siege of Derry by retreating forces loyal to the Catholic King James II. The ride finishes back at Downhill, where you load the horses and enjoy a relaxing lunch after an exhilarating ride.

After lunch, you will be taken for a guided tour of this beautiful area, starting off with Mussendun Temple before travelling on to some off-the-beaten-track locations such as St Aidan’s Church nestling at the foot of the mountains overlooking Lough Foyle. St Aidan’s is the site of a Holy well and is also the burial site of St Colombus, soil from his grave is well-recognised as having healing properties for skin complaints. Then on to the Gortmore viewing point with superb 360% views over the Northwest of Ireland before taking in further viewing points as you follow the coastline back to your accommodation for the night.

  • Overnight: County Antrim Coast

Day 4: Whiterocks Beach - Dunluce - Portballintrae - Giants Causeway

Today you will start your ride at Whiterocks beach, so named because of the white chalk cliffs and caverns set back from the water’s edge. The west end of the strand is adjacent to the seaside town of Portrush and backs onto one of the top grass-links golf courses in the world, the famous Royal Portrush, host to the British Open which is part of the 2019 Masters Competition. The White Rocks beach also looks out over the Skerries (a small group of islands off the coast of Portrush) and the iconic Dunluce Castle, Donegal and the Western Isles of Scotland.

While riding there, there is the opportunity to ride along the edge of this famous golf course which was used for the 148th Open Championship in 2019. Stop for photographs or to get photographed with your partners if they happen to be playing on this fabulous course. Enjoy some beautiful trots, canters and time in the sea in the most beautiful of surroundings.

After conquering the beach, it is time to storm the 13th Century Castle ruins at Dunluce. Ride along the epic coastline leading you to Dunluce Castle before taking a tour of the castle, learning some of its intriguing history (especially the bit about the kitchen and staff plunging into the sea during a storm in 1639). While there, you will have some snacks before riding on to the tiny harbour town of Portballintrae on route to the Giants Causeway.

As you ride through the quaint coastal village of Portballintrae, you will begin to see the rugged headlands surrounding the Giants Causeway. We will cross the River Bush, on its way to meet the Atlantic after being used to create the world-famous Old Bushmills Whiskey. It’s time to enjoy our second beach of the day! Breathe in the fresh sea air as you trot and canter across the sand and in the gentle swell of the sea. The ride continues as you follow an old tram trail across sand dunes and past the stately Runkerry House before arriving at Northern Ireland’s most famous UNESCO world heritage site.

This unique world heritage site is the destination for today’s ride. There, you will load up the horses and finish off your adventure with a relaxing meal at the Causeway Hotel. After the meal, make the most of the opportunity to visit the famous hexagonal rock formation and allow the memories of 3 unforgettable days of riding, your trusted steed and all the people you have met along the way to permeate through your thoughts.

  • Overnight: County Antrim Coast

Day 5: Ballintoy - Whitepark Bay - Ballintoy Hills - Cliff over Carrick-a-Rede Rope bridge

You will begin the day in the idyllic seaside village of Ballintoy on the coast! Follow an old off-road track with splendid views of the coast, to the breathtaking white sand beach of Whitepark Bay, a 3-mile long beach on the famous Causeway Coastal Route. Whitepark Bay is a beautiful stretch of pristine beach located on Co. Antrim’s North Coast near the picturesque village of Ballintoy. With a beach so pure it shines for miles (on even the cloudiest of days) it’s the perfect backdrop for a refreshing trot, canter or gallop!

You'll take your time playing on the beach and in the ocean before cantering over the smooth sands! If we’re lucky the famous “Sunbathing Cattle” will be on the beach basking in the sun’s warmth. You will spend your time romping and capering along the 3-mile stretch of pristine, resplendent white sand and explore the rolling sand dunes of the area below the backdrop of the rugged surrounding cliff faces which were once home to some of the earliest human settlers in Ireland. Savour the taste of the tantalising sea air, and feel the blustering and energising wind on your face and the radiant rays of the Irish sunshine on your back on this invigorating ride.

Afterwards, you will make your way over sandy dunes and across lush farmlands for lunch at the village of Ballintoy. Expect good, straightforward locally sourced main dishes such as seafood chowder or Irish stew, After lunch you will ride in the hills above Ballintoy, overlooking Ballintoy Harbour which was mainly associated with salmon fishing. In its heyday, cartloads of salmon made their way around hilly roads to catch the train at Ballycastle and onwards to Belfast.

Game of Thrones fans will recognize Ballintoy Harbour as the setting for the Iron Islands and Lordsport in the Isle of Pyke. Like most places along the North Coast, the views from these hills are spectacular and offer some amazing photo opportunities. You look down on Ballintoy’s most distinctive site, the white Ballintoy Parish Church, perched on a hill overlooking the vast Atlantic.

Ballintoy Parish Church was built in 1813, in replacement of the original church built in the early 17th century. It is one of the most scenic churches in the country and is often pictured with the stunning view of Rathlin Island in the background. Many notable landed families are buried in the church’s cemetery including The Stewarts of Ballintoy, Downing Fullerton and members of the Stewart-Moore family.

You will now make your way towards the final destination of your journey and as you ride, we will be looking down onto the cliffs surrounding one of Northern Ireland’s most popular tourist attractions, the Carrick-a-Rede Rope bridge, before finally stopping and saying farewell to the horses and team after a full day of off-road riding.

As you bid farewell to the horses, you will take in the vista of this spectacular coastline hugging the wild Atlantic Ocean, looking out over the sea to Rathlin Island, the Mull of Kintyre in Scotland and the Western Isles of Scotland.

  • Overnight: County Antrim Coast

Day 6: Watertop Farm - Cushendun

Your day begins at Watertop Farm, which was once a bustling ceili house. Trot and canter your way through this unique landscape on the edge of the Glens of Antrim, before you head onwards towards the coast. You will soon be exploring the meandering trails through the beautiful countryside, bordering the remarkable Glens of Antrim. You will ride close to the resplendent Ballypatrick forest, a woodland renowned for being home to a wide variety of local wildlife.

If you are lucky, you might spot some of the elusive red deer which make the forest their home. They, and their fawns, are known to venture out of the safety of the treelines and you may catch a glimpse of these cautious creatures as they wander the area. You are likely to see some birds of prey circling above you, as they patrol the skies looking for their next meal. Your own meal is not far away, as you will soon be making your way to a traditional Irish Pub where you can enjoy some of the traditional, hearty fares that you will have come to know intimately.

You will load up and travel 5 miles down the glen to the scenic village of Cushendun. 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 deliberate–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 harbour 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.

Savour every minute as you walk, trot and canter along the strand at Cushendun with your trusted horse and the guides whom you have spent the week with. Enjoy your last time in the waters of the Atlantic before journeying through the ancient beech trees surrounding Cushendun’s old Church and manor house on your way back. As you dismount with a smile on your face, the sense of accomplishment, the memories, the bond with your horse and the bond with the people of the area you have made will never leave you as you once more, take in the beauty of the wild and rugged landscape.

Onward Journey: If you would like an additional night of accommodation tonight then this can be arranged upon request or Bespoke Equestrian Ireland can help you with your onward journey.

Location

Is this one of the best horse-riding experiences in the world? Come and experience it yourself! This exciting 6-day, 5-night riding holiday is made up of everything that makes the north coast world famous: white sand beaches, rugged coastlines, verdant countrysides, enchanting mountainous trails and Irish hospitality! You’ll spend your time in and around the magnificent Causeway Coastal Route stopping at key iconic locations and sites along the way.

Explore the regally perched Mussenden temple, storm Dunluce Castle on horseback and ride to the iconic Giant’s Causeway! There are no other treks in Ireland that include such spectacular sites and scenery – this is truly a once-in-a-lifetime riding holiday.

Locations where you ride

  • Sheans Horse Farm stables
  • North Antrim Hills
  • Downhill beach and Benone Strand
  • Downhill Forest
  • St Mary’s Church
  • Past Downhill Demesne
  • Whiterocks beach
  • Coastal route to Dunluce
  • Dunluce Castle
  • Portbalintrea beach
  • Old Causeway tram track
  • Giants Causeway centre
  • Old Balintoy Road
  • Whitepark bay beach
  • Balintoy Coastal cliffs
  • Balintoy hills
  • Watertop farm
  • Old Forestry Road
  • Cara beach
  • Cara Castle

Food

Daily breakfast, all lunches at local establishments, and refreshments are included in the package.

The following meals are included:

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch

The following dietary requirement(s) are served and/or catered for:

  • Vegetarian
  • Vegan
  • Gluten Free
  • Regular (typically includes meat and fish)
  • Pescatarian
If you have special dietary requirements it's a good idea to communicate it to the organiser when making a reservation

Things to do (optional)

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.

  • Causeway Coast Discovery Centre
  • Irish clans of the Causeway Coast experience
  • Coastal sightseeing by helicopter
  • Sailing Yacht tour of the coast
  • A day of Golf on the North Coast
  • Antrim Garden tour
  • Country escape to the spa
  • Scotland whiskey tour
  • Dunluce Castle
  • Guided coastal walk and hike
  • Glenarm Village tour and castle lunch
  • Loughgiel Irish dancer exhibition
  • Sea kayaking and river kayaking
  • Old Bushmills Distillery Co. Tour
  • Bike tour of the Causeway Coast
  • Coasteering
  • Private guided history tour
  • An evening of history with Right Hon. Hector McDonnell
  • Cultural Belfast tour
  • Game of Thrones location tour
  • Coastal food tour
  • Cookery class with a local chef
  • A day at the Ulster American Folk Park
  • Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge
  • Archeology tour
  • Walled City of Derry tour
  • Livestock market and Irish farm tour
  • Hurling match
  • Scullion Hurls tours
  • Titanic
  • Giants Causeway
  • Gobbins

What's included

  • 5 nights B&B accommodation
  • 5 days of riding and sightseeing
  • 5x beaches
  • 1x afternoon tea lunch
  • 4x lunch at local establishments
  • Ride to Dunluce Castle
  • Ride to Giants Causeway
  • Entry to Dunluce Castle and Giants Causeway
  • Riding at the Game of Throne location
  • Top local guides
  • Daily transport
  • Tea and scones on arrival
  • 5* coastal riding
  • Farewell drinks reception
  • Explore Downhill Demesne
  • Luggage transport

What's not included

  • Airport transfers
  • Hire of photographer for a half or full day
  • Upgrade to hotel accommodation
  • Itinerary planning for non-riding partners and on your free day
  • Personal expenses
  • Dinners

How to get there

Recommended Airports

Arrival by airplane

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 team can assist with and arrange travel logistics upon request.

Cancellation Policy

  • A reservation requires a deposit of 40% of the total price.
  • The deposit is non-refundable, if the booking is cancelled.
  • The rest of the payment should be paid 30 days before arrival.

Value for money
Accommodation & facilities
Food
Location
Quality of activity
6 days / 5 nights
from --
Availability

This vacation is available all year round with arrivals every Sunday. Single room supplement of 70 GBP per night applies for those who require a single room.

Flexible starting dates of your choice are also available with a surcharge of 200 GBP per person. Please send an inquiry to Bespoke Equestrian Ireland to check the availability and exact rate.

 

Pricing information for 1-3 riders

Our pricing is based on 4 riders taking part in the riding experience (these riders do not all need to be part of the same party). If fewer than 4 riders take part in the ride then a supplement may apply. Single riders are welcome to ride individually, or can also avail of the group rates as long as they join one of the already existing bookings. Please send an inquiry to Bespoke Equestrian Ireland to discuss price and availability.

 

Important information

Please indicate your riding experience when inquiring so that the organizer can better determine availability for you!

Minimum group size

This trip requires a minimum of 2 participants

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For this organizer you can guarantee your booking through BookHorseRidingHolidays.com. All major credit cards supported.

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