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7 Days Castles, Coast, and Countryside Adventure Horse Riding Holiday in Northern Ireland, UK

Ballycastle, Causeway Coast and Glens, County Antrim, Northern Ireland

Horse Riding Holiday in Northern Ireland

This exciting horse riding holiday is made up of everything that makes the North Coast world famous: white-sand beaches, rugged coastlines, verdant countrysides, enchanting forests, mountainous trails, and Irish hospitality! You’ll enjoy your time in and around 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.

Key Information

  • Tack type: English tack
  • Horse breed: Irish cobs, Irish drafts, sport horses, and Connemara

Highlights

  • 5 days of horse riding
  • 7 - 8 hours of riding each day
  • Ride along the Causeway Coastal Route
  • Knowledgeable, informative, and sociable trekking guides
  • Daily ground transport and horse transport
  • Daily full Irish breakfast and five lunches
  • 6 nights accommodation
  • All tack and equipment

Skill level

  • Intermediate
  • Advanced

Styles


5 days with instruction
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Accommodation

You will stay at a bed and breakfast accommodation for six nights in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. Upgrades to hotel accommodation can be arranged for an additional cost.

Program

Day 1

Welcome to Ireland! You can arrive in either Belfast or Dublin. Bespoke Equestrian Ireland's driver can collect you from either location and whisk you off on 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 five 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.

Upon arriving at your accommodation, someone from the Bespoke Equestrian Ireland team will meet with you to provide information and advice about the area. They will arrange to take you to their center the next morning to begin your Irish horse riding vacation. You can spend the night at your leisure at your accommodation or by exploring the beautiful coastal town of Ballycastle.

  • Overnight: Antrim’s North Coast

Day 2

After breakfast, you’ll make your way 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.

On arrival, Mr. McKinley, members of the Bespoke Equestrian Ireland team, and Lanna, the resident farm dog, will greet you with a warm, genuine welcome. Before heading to the stables, you’ll make your way to the converted loft above the stables to enjoy freshly baked scones and tea, listen to fascinating stories and history of the area and exciting details of the week’s ride.

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’ll hit the trail, riding out into the wilderness of the North Antrim Hills.

This takes you riding on mountain tracks, roads, and trails through forests and to 360-degree viewing points from where, weather permitting, you will have views over the Glens of Antrim, almost all of Northern Ireland, parts of Southern Ireland, and across the sea to Scotland. You are welcome to ride from three to six hours, depending what you feel is best for you on your first day of riding.

  • Overnight: County Antrim

Day 3

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 off 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, 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 eighteenth 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 and Donegal, you’ll take a swift canter or gallop across miles of flat, open beach, crossing the river on to Benone strand, with more miles of sand beach to cover until you arrive at Magilligan Point from where the ferry leaves to take vehicles and foot passengers across Lough Foyle to Co Donegal.

You will tie up your horses and stop for some refreshments at Point Inn before riding back across the golden sands, through sand dunes, stopping to view the waterfalls cascading off the majestic cliffs of Bennnevanagh Mountain.

You’ll leave the beach and, after a brief hill climb with panoramic views of ocean and land, you 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.

You’ll transport the horses to Binnnevenagh Mountain and 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, Antrim Hills, and south, to the Sperrin Mountains.

You’ll dismount for the day and drive back to your accommodation where you will reflect on the beauty, experiences, and the spectacular landscape of the area.

  • Overnight: County Antrim

Day 4

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 Golf Club, 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), 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 it, 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.

Here, you will finish your ride for today, load up the horses, and have something to eat before checking out the new world class visitors center. Afterwards, you must explore this unique heritage site and take in the natural wonder before returning to your accommodation.

  • Overnight: County Antrim

Day 5

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 three-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), this is 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.

Savor 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.

Afterwards, you’ll make your way over sandy dunes and across lush farmlands for lunch at the Red Door Cottage Tea Room, operated 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, 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 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 onward 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 seventeenth 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 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.

  • Overnight: County Antrim

Day 6

Today, after riding in the forest above Ballycastle, you will be taking an old disused coach road through the hills into the Glen of Glendun, one of the famed Nine Glens of Antrim..

You’ll follow the Glendun River (which is sometimes meandering and other times a raging torrent) as you make your way to the picturesque village of Cushendun, viewing stunning fauna and flora, riding through ash and hazel in this beautiful glen characterized by bright green rowans, purple heather, and soaring birds of prey.

The scenic village of Cushendun was designed in 1912 by Clough William Ellis at the request of Ronald John McNeill, First Baron of 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.

Your day and riding holiday finishes here, in this idyllic village in the fabled Glens of Antrim where the Glen of Glendun meets the Atlantic Ocean.

This evening, enjoy a farewell gathering hosted by the McKinley family, with dinner in a local restaurant and a trip across the street to an authentic Irish pub for traditional music and time spent meeting the local characters.

  • Overnight: County Antrim

Day 7

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.

Note: This ride is for intermediate to advanced riders. It is not suitable for beginners.

Location

On this tour, you will ride in and around the magnificent Causeway Coastal Route, stopping at key iconic locations and sites along the way. The locations include:

  • Ballintoy Village
  • Benone Beach
  • Binevenagh Mountain
  • Castlerock
  • Cushendun
  • Cushendun Caves and Strand
  • Downhill Beach
  • Downhill Demesne
  • Dunluce Castle
  • Giant’s Causeway
  • Glendun
  • Glendun River
  • Mussenden Temple
  • Orra Mountain
  • Portballintrae-Bushfoot Strand
  • Vanishing Lake
  • Whitepark Bay
  • Whiterocks Beach

Food

You will be served daily full Irish breakfast and five lunches at local eateries, plus refreshments.

The following meals are included:

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Drinks

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

  • Regular (typically includes meat and fish)
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)

Optional add-ons

  • Hire of photographer for a day / half day
  • Itinerary planning for non-riding partners such as for golf, sightseeing, genealogy

What's included

  • 5 days of riding
  • 7 - 8 hours of riding each day
  • Horse hire
  • Knowledgeable, informative, and sociable trekking guides
  • Daily ground transport on the North Coast (to and from accommodation each day)
  • Daily horse transport around the coast
  • All tack and equipment
  • Welcome from BEI guide at accommodation on arrival
  • Daily full Irish breakfast
  • 5 lunches at local eateries, plus refreshments
  • 6 nights accommodation

What's not included

  • Airfare
  • Airport transfers (available upon request)
  • Optional add-ons
  • Upgrade to hotel accommodation

How to get there

Recommended Airports

Arrival by airplane

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.

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
from --
Pricing information

​A single room supplement of 30 GBP per night applies.

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