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This riding and sightseeing holiday gives you an opportunity to not only participate in some of the best horse riding in the world but Bespoke Equestrian Ireland will also help you to create, schedule, and organize an itinerary whereby on your sightseeing time and evenings, you can visit and discover what are recommended to be the bests in Northern Ireland.
You will be staying at 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.
This six-day holiday with four full days of horse riding and one-day of sightseeing gives you an opportunity to not only participate in some of the best horse riding in the world but BEI will help you to create, schedule, and organize an itinerary whereby on your sightseeing time and evenings, you can visit and discover what BEI recommends to be the best in Northern Ireland.
This means that you will make the best possible use of your vacation time spent in this part of Ireland. This Irish riding experience offers a taste of everything that makes Ireland’s north coast world famous, white sand beaches, rugged coastlines, verdant countryside, enchanting forests, mountainous trails, and Irish hospitality!
While riding on the famous Causeway Coast, which is heralded for its beauty and spectacular scenery, you will be riding at some of Northern Ireland’s best-known iconic locations, the Giants Causeway, Carrick a Rede Ropebridge, Dunluce Castle, and Mussenden Temple.
The center is located on the McKinley family farm, situated high in the North Antrim Hills. On arrival, Mr. McKinley and members of Bespoke Equestrian Ireland (BEI) team will greet you with a warm, genuine welcome! Before heading to the stables, you’ll make your way to the converted loft with its handcrafted Italian oak furnishings, to enjoy fresh-baked scones and tea.
You’ll head to the barn for a stable tour and to meet the team of horses and, 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 spending two-three hours of 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, tie up the horses and do some peat cutting with the old traditional peat spades and get a few photographs. Having spent four to five 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 are riding through, you will be collected and taken to your accommodation in the nearby coastal town of Ballycastle. This is an opportunity to plan for some other sightseeing and visits. Get a good night’s rest and be ready for another three full days of riding.
Enjoy a hearty full Irish breakfast before setting off to begin your adventures in County Derry. Your driver will transport you to the seaside village of Castlerock where tacked horses await. Depending on the high tide times, you will start riding on Castlerock beach and follow the beach to the adjoining Downhill beach, riding on the sand below the towering basalt cliffs and towards 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 and sits behind the ruins of the Earl’s 18th century home, Downhill House.
As you round the cliffs and headland, arriving on to Downhill beach with its magnificent mountain backdrop, cliff scenery, and views across to Scotland & Donegal, you’ll take a swift canter or gallop across miles of flat open beach, crossing the river onto Benone strand, with miles of more sand beach to come before you arrive at Magilligan Point, from where the ferry leaves to take vehicles and foot passenger across Lough Foyle to County Donegal.
You will tie up your horses and stop for some refreshments at the Point Inn before riding back across the golden sands, through sand dunes, stopping to view the waterfalls cascading the majestic cliffs of Binnnevanagh mountain. You’ll leave the beach and after a brief hill climb, with panoramic views of ocean and landscape, will sneak through the Bishops Gate, which was once the entrance to Downhill House towards the seaside town of Castlerock.
You’ll stop for lunch at a local coffee shop and restaurant, Crusoe’s, renowned for its unique paninis and homemade soups, to rest and recharge before heading out again. After transporting the horses five miles to Binnnevenagh mountain, you will work off lunch with a leisurely ride through the forest to Binnevannagh Lake, high up on the plateau with magnificent panoramic views looking out over the North Coast, Lough Foyle, Donegal, Derry city, the Antrim Hills, and south to the Sperrin mountains.
You’ll dismount for the day and drive back to your accommodation for the evening to reflect on the beauty, the spectacular landscape, and memories of the day you have had.
Today, you will start your ride at the White Rocks 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 on to 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 here, there is the opportunity to ride along the edge of this famous golf course for photographs or to get photographed with your partners if they happen to be playing on this fabulous course.
You’ll ride on to Dunluce Castle and take 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 here, you will have some refreshments at the Dunluce Castle Cottage tearooms before riding on to the tiny harbor town of Portballintrae, en route to the Giants Causeway.
As you ride through Portballintrae and on to the Giants Causeway, you will cross the River Bush and follow an old tram trail across sand dunes and past the stately Runkerry House before arriving at this world heritage site. This unique world heritage site is the final destination of your three-day riding vacation. Here, you will loaden up the horses and stop for a meal, before saying your farewells.
Afterwards, you can check out the new world-class visitor’s center and you must explore this unique heritage site and take in this natural wonder before you return to your accommodation.
This is a free day for sightseeing and a chance to see other areas, check out the "Things to do" section for the recommended list of the best visits, attractions, and activities in Northern Ireland when planning your vacation so that you can have an idea of what else you may like to see and do when you are here. Allow BEI's team of itinerary planners to help you put together your day so as you get the most out of your time.
You will be transported with the horses 10 miles to Ballintoy on the coast, where after tacking up, you will follow an old off-road track with splendid views of the coast to the breathtaking white sand beach of Whitepark Bay, a three-mile-long beach on the famous Causeway Coastal Route. Whitepark Bay is a beautiful stretch of pristine beach located on County 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 you'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 three-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 tantalizing sea air, feel the blustering and energizing wind on your face and the radiant rays of the Irish sunshine on your back on this invigorating ride. Afterward, you’ll make your way over sandy dunes and across lush farmlands for lunch at the Red Door Cottage Tea Room, owned by Nigel and Joanne McGarrity and family.
This traditional Irish tearoom sits in an idyllic rural area surrounded by grazing cows and sheep on one side and the mighty Atlantic on the other. Enjoy a pint, a glass of wine, or a cup of tea/coffee on the outdoor patio or head inside to dine. Expect good, straightforward locally sourced main dishes such as seafood chowder or Irish stew, terrific sandwiches, and quite literally, the best homemade desserts in Ireland!
The Red Door Cottage is the perfect place to rest and recharge before continuing your ride of exploration on private farmland in the hills above the picturesque village of Ballintoy. You will look out over Ballintoy Harbor 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 Harbor 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 will 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, you will be looking down onto the cliffs surrounding one of Northern Ireland’s most popular tourist attractions, the Carrick-a-Rede Rope bridge. From here, 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 before finally stopping and saying farewell to the horses and team after a full day of off-road riding.
Your five-day vacation is coming to an end and as you say 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. You will be taken back to your accommodation and tonight, the group will gather for a farewell dinner to celebrate the tour and finish off with a memorable evening in a local pub with traditional music.
Here, you will strengthen your connections with the place and its people as you are introduced to the regulars and enjoy the music, dance, and the local craic.
End of the tour and departure.
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, all lunches at local establishments, and refreshments 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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