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World-class Horse Riding Holiday in Northern Ireland

This listing has one of the 10 most popular offers available in in Ireland

This luxurious 7-day, 6-night riding holiday is perfect for those wanting something special. It 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! It mixes the best hotel accommodations with spa treatments, complimentary branded clothing, hire of a photographer for a day, transport to and from your airports, and private drivers during the day and in the evening to make the perfect high-end equestrian holiday. You’ll spend 5 days riding on the magnificent Causeway Coastal Route stopping at key iconic locations and sites along the way. There are no other treks in Ireland that include such spectacular sites and scenery– this is truly a once-in-a-lifetime riding holiday with service to match.

Key Information

  • Tack Type: English Tack
  • Horse Breed: Irish Cobs, Irish Drafts, Sport Horses, Connemara
  • Rider weight limit: 215 lb / 98 kg

Highlights

  • 5 days of riding, approximate daily riding time: 5-7 hours
  • Tours of Dunluce Castle and Giant Causeway
  • Ride to Downhill Beach, Mussenden Temple, Whitepark Bay, and more
  • Knowledgeable, sociable and safe trekking guides
  • Transport from Dublin, Ireland to North Antrim Coast and return
  • Daily breakfast, six lunches, and refreshments
  • Complimentary spa treatments
  • 6 nights accommodation

Skill level

  • Intermediate
  • Advanced

Styles


5 days with instruction
Airport transfer included: Belfast International Airport
Airport transfer included: George Best Belfast City Airport
Airport transfer included: Dublin Airport
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Accommodation

During this holiday, you will be staying one night at a boutique hotel in Dublin and five nights at 3* and 4* hotels in County Antrim.

Program

Each day you will ride for 5 to 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 where ever or to whatever you wish to do.

Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Ireland

Welcome to Ireland! After being collected at Dublin airport, you can spend the afternoon and evening at your leisure—relax at the hotel or head out and explore this vibrant city! Take in sites such as Trinity College or St. Patrick’s Cathedral, take a tour at Guinness Storehouse or treat yourself to a Dublin institution: a sumptuous afternoon tea in one of Dublin’s fine hotels.

Afterwards, retire to your room for a relaxing evening or head out and experience one of Dublin’s many wonderful restaurants or the nightlife at the vibrant Temple Bar area. Why not take in an Irish Cabaret—complete with a ballad band, champion Irish dancers and a three-course traditional Irish dinner?

The Bespoke Equestrian Ireland team can help you plan your itinerary, secure bookings and give you recommendations on how best to enjoy your time in the capital.

  • Overnight: Dublin City Hotel

Day 2: Ireland to Causeway Coastal Route - The Foothills of Orra Mountain

After breakfast, you will say goodbye to Dublin City. Bespoke Equestrian Ireland's experienced tour guide will take you to Northern Ireland and to the world-famous Causeway Coastal Route—120 miles of rugged coastline and breathtaking scenery that has aptly been described as “One of the World’s Top 5 Road Trips”!

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 sea.

From Belfast, the coastal journey will take you through the seaside town of Carrickfergus, which sits on the northern shores of Belfast Lough. You'll drive past Carrickfergus Castle, one of the finest Norman castles in Ireland before continuing north towards the hamlet of Magheramourne and past the Magheramourne Quarry, an abandoned limestone quarry that Game of Thrones fans may recognize as the set/location for Castle Black (The Wall of Westeros) and HardHome.

You will then make your way past the seaport town of Larne and the holiday resort town of Ballygally before entering Glenarm (‘Glen/Valley of the Army’) –The first of the Nine Glens (or valleys) of Antrim, it is where you will stop for lunch at a tea room on the grounds of Glenarm Castle.

Throughout its long history, Glenarm has been a Norman stronghold, the power base for Irish warlords and one of the most important ports in Ireland. Today the village enjoys a much slower pace of life and is filled with rich heritage and nature, immaculately preserved Georgian streets paved with history, a pristine river that’s teeming with wild salmon and walks with stunning panoramas of the Glens and the coast of Scotland come together to make up charming Glenarm Village.

Glenarm Castle was the ancestral home of the Earls of Antrim. Today you can stroll the grounds of this beautiful estate or take a tour of its famous walled garden. The Glenarm Castle Walled Garden is one of Ireland’s oldest, dating from the 18th century and originally created to supply the estate with fruit and vegetables. Today, the garden is filled with impressive flowers and specimen plants to interest the keenest garden enthusiast. This hidden delight is a treasure trove of horticulture gems–exciting herbaceous borders, beautiful water features, wonderful orchards and floral displays. A stroll around the immaculately kept gardens is perfect for stretching your legs before enjoying lunch in the Glenarm Castle Tea Room.

Welcome to the Stables! You will continue north on the coast before heading inland towards the McKinley Family farm located in the beautiful County Antrim countryside. This magnificent hilltop farm is surrounded by 1,000 acres of rolling hills lush with green grass and dotted with white, fluffy sheep. As you make your way up the long, scenic driveway, it soon becomes clear that this isn’t any ordinary “Irish Farm”.

You’ll be met with a genuine, Irish welcome by Mr. McKinley, members of the BEI team and “Sheba” the resident farm dog! Before meeting the horses, we’ll make our way to the loft above the stables for introductions, homemade scones and to hear exciting details of the week’s adventure.

You will head down to the barn for a quick tour and meet the team of horses and if you wish, you can assist with grooming and tacking. After a short riding assessment, mount up and head out into the North Antrim Hills, with views guaranteed to take your breath away

The afternoon trek takes you high into the foothills 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 7 US airmen who lost their lives there in October 1942, when their WWII B17 crashed on the mountain during heavy cloud cover.

A memorial has been erected at the site in their honour. From the mountain’s peak, it is possible to see the Inner Hebrides off the Scottish coast, all the way to the majestic Mourne Mountains in County Down.

When you return to the farm, catch up with the BEI team before your driver arrives to transport you to your hotel. Take your own time in the evening to relax at the hotel or head out and enjoy a local restaurant.

  • Overnight: County Antrim Coast

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.

  • Overnight: County Antrim Coast

Day 6: Watertop Farm - Cushendun - Farewell Dinner

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.

At this stage, it is time to get together with those people you have met during the week at the stables. There, you will enjoy some quality time together, recounting memories of the fantastic week that has passed. Enjoy a few traditional drinks and local produce as you strengthen your connections with the place and its people. You will say your final goodbyes and look forward to the time when your paths cross again.

You will be taken back to your accommodation and tonight you will gather for a farewell dinner, hosted by the McKinley family, to celebrate the tour and finish off with a memorable evening in a local pub with traditional music. There, you will strengthen your connections with the place and its people as you will be introduced to the regulars and enjoy the music, dance and local craic. The perfect way to finish an exceptional week on the North Coast of Ireland.

  • Overnight: County Antrim

Day 7: Departure

After an enjoyable evening socialising with the BEI team and a good night’s sleep, it’s time to leave the North Coast of Ireland after having connected with this area in a very special way and taking part in one of the world’s greatest horse riding experiences.

Slán Abhaile

Location

Locations where you ride

  • Sheans Horse Farm stables
  • North Antrim Hills
  • Foothills of Orra Mountain
  • Benone Beach
  • St Mary’s Church
  • Downhill Demesne
  • Downhill forest road
  • Whiterocks Beach
  • Dunluce Castle
  • Portballintrae-Bushfoot Strand
  • Giant’s Causeway
  • Whitepark Bay
  • Ballintoy old road and cliff path
  • Watertop
  • Vanishing Lake
  • Old Coach Road
  • Cushendun wooded path
  • Cushendun harbour
  • Cushendun Caves and Strand

Food

You will be served daily full Irish breakfast, five lunches and refreshments at local eateries, and a lunch at Glenarm Castle. There will be a farewell gathering with dinner and Irish music, as well.

The following meals are included:

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch

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

  • Vegetarian
  • Vegan
  • Gluten Free
  • Organic
  • Regular (typically includes meat and fish)
  • Pescatarian
  • Paleo diet
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)

Along with the help of the BEI team, your driver can take you to Gaelic sports matches, cultural activities, and events or to local pubs so as to give you the opportunity to become immersed in the local community and culture.

Itinerary planning and ideas for non-riding partners such as Golf, fishing, helicopter tours, sightseeing, and genealogy. For more information, please send Bespoke Equestrian Ireland an inquiry.

Spa treatments

Spa treatments are included.

What's included

  • 1 night accommodation at Boutique Dublin Hotel
  • 5 nights 4* hotel accommodation
  • Daily Full Irish breakfast
  • 5 lunches at local eateries plus refreshments
  • Transport from Dublin, Ireland to North Antrim Coast and return
  • Daily ground and luggage transport on the North Coast (to and from hotels each day)
  • Complimentary BEI branded jacket
  • Hire of photographer for a day
  • Lunch at Glenarm Castle
  • Private historical/tour Guide (en route on coast)
  • Knowledgeable, sociable and safe trekking guides
  • Spa treatments
  • Private driver use during the day and in the evening for touring whilst on the North Coast (5 days)
  • Tours of Dunluce Castle and Giant Causeway
  • Informative presentation of the local history and heritage of Northern Ireland highlighting their close connections with Scotland
  • Farewell gathering with dinner

What's not included

  • Airfare
  • Optional add-ons

How to get there

Recommended Airports

Arrival by airplane

Please book your flight to arrive at Dublin Airport (DUB) or Belfast International Airport (BFS). Bespoke Equestrian Ireland is a full-service vacation provider and their US team can assist with and arrange travel logistics.

Airport: Belfast International Airport Airport transfer included: Belfast International Airport No additional charges. You can request this in the next step.
Airport: George Best Belfast City Airport Airport transfer included: George Best Belfast City Airport No additional charges. You can request this in the next step.
Airport: Dublin Airport Airport transfer included: Dublin Airport No additional charges. You can request this in the next step.

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
7 days / 6 nights
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Important information

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