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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 such spectacular sites and scenery. Each day, you’ll be in the saddle from five to eight hours, with several breaks throughout.
You will spend one night at a hotel in Dublin, another night at a hotel in County Derry, and four nights at a hotel in County Antrim.
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.
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 miles of more sand beach to cover before 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 Bennnevenagh Mountain and work off lunch with a leisurely ride through the forest to Bennevannagh 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 the hotel for the evening to relax and reflect on the beauty, experiences, and the spectacular landscape of the day.
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 about 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.
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 finishes here, in this idyllic village in the fabled Glens of Antrim, where the Glen of Glendun meets the Atlantic Ocean.
This morning, you’ll saddle-up deep in the famed Glens of Antrim, at Glenariff Forest Park, a 2900-acre park home to some of Ireland’s most spectacular waterfalls. Your ride takes you to Lara Lodge where you will dismount and take a walk up to view the waterfalls before returning to the lodge for tea and refreshments.
Afterwards, you’ll make your way through the beautiful Glen of Glenarriff, known as The Queen of The Glens to the seaside coastal village of Waterfoot, where, tide permitting, you’ll take a long trot or brisk canter on the beach, before transporting horses and riders to the coastal, scenic village of Carnlough.
Carnlough, known for its picturesque limestone harbor whose name means Stone of the Lake, lies at the bottom of Glencoy, The Glen of the Hedges (Gleann Cloiche), the second of the Nine Glens of Antrim. Carnlough’s recent fame comes from its appearance in Game of Thrones and, for sports fans, as the birthplace of Brendan Rodgers, former manager of the Premier League Liverpool F.C.
Before resuming your ride, you will have lunch at the historic Londonderry Arms Hotel. The hotel was originally built as a coaching house in 1848. Through a series of inheritances and deaths, the Londonderry Arms Hotel was eventually passed to Lady Londonderry’s distant cousin, Sir Winston Churchill. Today, the hotel is owned and operated by one of the longest running hotelier families in Ireland, the O’Neill family.
This ivy covered boutique hotel is filled with history and charm and the perfect place to stop for lunch. Enjoy a creative menu of locally sourced ingredients: specialty sausages, steamed local mussels, or an Irish farmhouse cheeseboard, to name a few.
Before you leave, be sure to stop by the hotel’s Arkle Bar, named after the famous Irish Steeplechaser, and the Arkle Club, a club formed in the 1950’s for enthusiastic fans.
To recognize the hotel’s support for the Arkle Club, Tom Dreaper, Arkle’s longtime trainer, and Pat Taafe, the horse’s jockey, presented a horseshoe that the famous horse wore when he won the prestigious Cheltenham Gold Cup in 1965. Today, the shoe proudly hangs in the bar for tourists and fans to see. Some say touching the shoe brings good luck.
After lunch, you will ride on the beach before joining a private farm track on the edge of the village that will take you out, high on to the hills above Carnlough, for some final sightseeing and pictures, enjoying one last look at the magnificent Antrim Coast and the distant coastlines of Scotland.
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 are introduced to the regulars and enjoy the music, dance, and the local craic. The perfect way to finish an exceptional week 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.
Note: This ride is for intermediate to advanced riders. It is not suitable for beginners.
This horse riding holiday will take place in Ireland and Northern Ireland. The locations include:
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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