Preliminary day-by-day program - Subject to tidal and wheather conditions the duration, departure time, route, lunch arrangements and order of these rides changes slightly from week to week. These are the rides:
We have added a few dates in April and September where the Hotel is closed on two days so the package will be a bit shorter. Arrival Wednesday, departure Monday after breakfast
Day 1. Monday - Arrival afternoon to the equestrian center.
Day 2. Tuesday - Familiarization lesson and beach and bog ride
After getting to know your horse with a riding lesson you will go for a 2-3 hour beach and bog ride. It combines the coastal and the rural experience: riding by the sea and riding in the Irish countryside. The first part of your ride takes you along sandy Trawalua beach. Then you will follow quiet lane ways and century old bog tracks at the foot of rugged Benbulben Mountain. Lunch is on the farm.
Day 3 Wednesday - 4.5 hour Mullaghmore Coastal Ride
After an exhilarating ride on Trawalua beach, follow the boundary of Classiebawn Estate to Mullaghmore. This little fishing village boasts a picturesque 19th century stone built harbour. The ride takes you along the headland with some breathtaking views of majestic sea cliffs and the Castle, a signature view point of the Wild Atlantic Way. It was here that Lord Mountbatten, great grandson of Queen Victoria, was killed by a bomb planted on his boat by the IRA in 1979. On days with a serious swell, top big wave surfers from all over the world come here to take on a wave of up to 50 foot. On our way home we are rewarded with another stretch of beach riding and we can cool the horses down in the waves. On this trail we take a lunch break in the Pier Head pub overlooking the harbour.
Day 4 Thursday: 5.5 to 6 hour Gleniff Horseshoe Ride or Day excursion to Strandhill/ Sligo with optional seaweed bath, surfing or hiking.
Today you have a choice of two options: you can take a day off to relax and do some sightseeing or you can venture inlands on our longest and toughest ride of the week.
OPTION A: This is a looooong ride with spectacular views, but also lots of walking on tarmac roads! A few miles inland from the coast you will ride in the barren Gleniff Horse Shoe valley (voted no.1 attractions in Ballintrillick by Trip Advisor) nestled beneath Benwiskin Mountain. The valley is steeped in history and legend. Set in a spectacular cliff face is Diarmuid and Grainne’s cave. Legend has it that this was the lovers’ hiding place on their flight from Fionn Mac Cumhaill. Barium Meal had been mined in the Dartry Mountains until the middle of the 20th century. You will have your break and snack at the old barytes mill site (voted one of top picnic places for families in Ireland) at the base of the Gleniff Horseshoe before you return home along quiet country laneways. The ride offers breathtaking views of 10 town lands and the Atlantic Ocean. You will sleep well tonight!
OPTION B: After a nice lie in and breakfast, we will collect you and bring you via Sligo town to the village of Strandhill. This bustling seaside village invites you to roam its beach, stroll around the few little shops, eat in one of the hip eateries and taste Ireland’s best ice cream. A hotspot for surfing, you can either watch or participate (we can arrange a surf lesson for you in advance) in riding the ”white horses”. Alternatively spoil yourself with a seaweed bath or treatment at Voya’s seaweed baths (2 week advance booking essential, price not included in package). Towering over the village is Knocknarea mountain which can be ascended from the village via a track with self guided information points along the way. On top you will enjoy spectacular views over Sligo and Donegal Bay and admire the huge mound that is the grave of Queen Meave, an ancient warrior queen, said to be buried here standing up and looking her enemies in the eye. We provide you with a map and packed lunch for your hike. When you are done exploring Strandhill we will collect you again and bring you to the hotel. Alternatively you could also spend the day in Sligo, shopping and sightseeing .
Day 5 Friday: 4 hour O’Connor’s Island Ride
This is our signature experience, it is any rider’s dream; discover the unspoilt and expansive beaches on horseback! It combines some brisk riding on the vast strand near Streedagh beach where 3 Armada ships sank in 1588 and a scenic stroll over the island with a picnic among the horses or a stop off in the village cafe for some sumptuous food( tides will determine what options works best). Any riders dream; Feel the thrill of crossing an Atlantic channel to O'Connor's Island , Seals and migratory birds can often be spotted in the lagoon. You will enter the magic world of our private island and see the ancient homestead of the family. Follow the narrow paths as you traverse the contours of the large sand dune system, where scenic viewing points pop up between the sandhills. 360 degrees of stunning views on the horizon, no matter where your eye roams – its beautiful. This area of special conservation is rich in biodiversity, only the toughest plants survive exposure to the salty winds here , so it is reminiscent of the wild flower meadows in the high alps. Our dry stock cattle herd roams the island and you might meet some school horses on their holidays by the sea. Your horse can enjoy the salty island grass while you relax, have a snack among the horses and explore the sites of ancient farm life on the island. Departure time depends on the tide.
Day 6 Saturday - 5 hour O’Connor’s Island Ride
Dernish Island was once the home to 6 families. This little island is now only a weekend home and populated by cattle and wildlife mostly. Get a sense of island life in a bye-gone era. Change your point of view and see Donegal bay, Trawalua beach and Classiebawn castle from across the channel. Seals and migratory birds can often be spotted in the estuary. The shallows around Dernish island invite for a hearty canter or even a spot of galloping. Depending on weather, tides and subsequent departure times this ride is with either with a picnic lunch or lunch in the quaint Jam Pot cafe.
Day 7 Sunday - Departure on after Breakfast.