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This exciting riding holiday is made up of everything that makes the North Coast world-famous such as white-sand beaches, rugged coastlines, verdant countrysides, enchanting forests, mountainous trails, and Irish hospitality. You’ll spend the days winding in and around the magnificent Causeway Coastal Route, stopping at iconic locations along the way. There are no other treks in Ireland that include spectacular sites and scenery. This is truly a once-in-a-lifetime riding holiday with service to match!
During this holiday, you will be staying in various accommodations, namely:
BEI's signature ride caters for your every need from the moment you land in Dublin Airport to the moment you leave and enjoy quality accommodation and some of the world’s best horse-riding opportunitie. Each day, you will ride for 5 to 8 hours with several breaks throughout the day, but you are welcome to vary the amount of time that you ride and you will happily arrange for you to be transported to where ever or to whatever you wish to do. This ride is for Intermediate to Advanced riders, not suitable for beginners.
Welcome to Ireland! Upon arrival, 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 its nightlife in the vibrant Temple Bar area. Why not take in an Irish Cabaret complete with ballad band, champion Irish dancers, and a three-course traditional Irish dinner?
The BEI team can help you plan your itinerary, secure bookings, and give you recommendations on how best to enjoy your time in the capital.
After breakfast, you will say goodbye to Dublin City. The 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’ll make your way past the seaport town of Larne and 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 here that you’ll 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 that 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. Glenarm Castle's walled garden is one of Ireland’s oldest, dating from the eighteenth century and originally created to supply the estate with fruit and vegetables.
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, like 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 at the Glenarm Castle Tea Room.
You’ll 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 Lana, the resident farm dog. Before meeting the horses, you’ll make your way to the loft above the stables for introductions, homemade scones, and to hear exciting details of the week’s adventure. You’ll 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 towards Mount Orra, with views guaranteed to take your breath away. Your 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 seven US airmen who lost their lives there in October 1942, when their World War II B17 crashed on the mountain during heavy cloud cover.
A memorial has been erected at the site in their honor. 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, your driver will be waiting 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.
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. It’s time to warm up the horse’s legs, and you’re own, with a short ride on Castlerock’s idyllic stretch of sand. Take in the views and experience your first spray of the Atlantic ocean.
Now that you are awake, its time to make your way towards the iconic Downhill beach where miles of open sand, waterfalls and iconic views await. En route, 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.
Pass the magnificent Bishop’s Gate before getting your first glimpse of Downhill beach, taking in the panoramic views of the ocean and landscape as you ride. Downhill beach is best known for its magnificent mountain backdrop, cliff scenery and views across to Scotland & Donegal.
As you enter the beach, you can stop at the foot of the cliff where Mussenden Temple is located for an ideal picture opportunity before taking a swift canter or gallop across miles of flat, open beach crossing the river on to Benone Strand, with miles of more sand beach to enjoy.
As you pull up at the end of the beach, stretch your legs, stop for a toilet break and give the horses 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.
You’ll leave the beach and, after a brief hill climb, with panoramic views of ocean and landscape, will sneak past the Bishops Gate on your way towards the seaside town of Castlerock. You’ll stop for lunch at a local coffee shop and restaurant, Crusoe’s, renowned for its unique Panini’s and homemade soups, to rest and recharge before heading out again.
After transporting the horses 5 miles to Binevenagh Mountain, you will work off lunch with a leisurely ride through the forest to Binevenagh Lake, high up on the plateau which has magnificent panoramic views looking out over the North coast, Lough Foyle, Donegal, Derry city, the Antrim Hills, south to the Sperrin mountains and was also used by HBO as a filming location for the TV hit series Game of Thrones!
You’ll dismount for the day and drive back to your accommodation for the evening to reflect on the beauty of the spectacular landscape where you have just spent the day.
Today you will start your ride at the 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 sea side 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 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. 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 & 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 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.
You will cross the River Bush, on its way to meet the Atlantic after being used to create the world-famous Old Bushmills Whiskey. Its time to enjoy your second beach of the day! Breath 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 Irelands most famous UNESCO world heritage site.
This unique world heritage site is the final destination of your three day riding vacation. Here you will load up the horses and stop for a meal, before saying your farewells for the day. Afterward, 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 your transport arrives to bring you back to your accommodation
Today you will start off at 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 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 & 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 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 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, make your way over sandy dunes and across lush farmlands for lunch at the Red Door Cottage Tea Room, operated by Nigel & Joanne McGarrity and family.
This traditional Irish tearoom sits in an idyllic rural area surrounded by grazing cows & sheep one side and the mighty Atlantic on the other. Enjoy a pint, glass of wine or a cup of tea 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 Harbour which was mainly associated with salmon fishing. In its heyday, cartloads of salmon made their way round 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.
As you ride to your destination, you will be looking down on to the cliffs surrounding one of Northern Ireland’s most popular tourist attractions, the Carrick-a-Rede Ropebridge. 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.
If it is variety you are looking for then today is full of it. This morning you’ll transport the horses and saddle-up in the hills above Ballycastle close to Loughareema known locally as the Vanishing Lake, an area surrounded by Irish myths and legends. Allow your guide to regal these stories to you including the one of the coachman and horses lost in a terrible storm!
Its time for a little change of scenery as you meander your way through one of the coasts mature forest. Enjoy the serene atmosphere of the forest and take in the almost magical nature of the trails as you walk, trot and canter your way through towering trees and ancient pathways while catching views of Ballycastle Bay, Rathlin Island, and Scotland in the clearings.
As you leave the forest, your ride continues through the McBride family’s glen to join an old disused coach road through the hills into the Glen of Glendun, one of the famed Nine Glens of Antrim, on your way back to the days starting point. Walk, trot and canter along while taking in the stunning fauna & flora, towards the beautiful Glen characterized by bright green rowans, purple heather and soaring birds of prey.
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 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. Savor 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.
You will be taken back to your accommodation and tonight you will gather for a farewell dinner, hosted by the McKinley family, to celebrate your 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 introduce you to the regulars and you enjoy the music, dance, and the local craic. The perfect way to finish an exceptional week with us on the North Coast of Ireland.
After an enjoyable evening socializing 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 taken part in one of the world’s greatest horse riding experiences.
During this tour, you will be riding in the following locations:
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.
Belfast International Airport
Transfer not provided
Transfer not provided
Please book your flight to arrive at Dublin Airport (DUB) or Belfast International Airport (BFS). Transfer from and to these airports is available upon request. Bespoke Equestrian Ireland is a full-service vacation provider and their US team can assist with and arrange travel logistics.
For this organizer you can guarantee your booking through BookHorseRidingHolidays.com. All major credit cards supported.
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