Horseback adventures for the discerning on Dartmoor

 

If you’re looking for a luxury riding holiday in the UK, then look no further than bespoke horseback adventure organiser Liberty Trails. Established by Elaine Prior following three years of negotiation with landowners and National Park authories, the company offers horseback safaris for discerning riders across Dartmoor, combined with gastronomic adventures in close partnership with Relais & Chateaux hotel Gidleigh Park, one of the most highly rated hotels in the world and home to two Michelin stars and the much celebrated chef Michael Caines MBE.

Riding across Dartmoor

Gidleigh Park

This is a new experience catering for the ever-growing adventurous luxury market, attracting an exclusive clientele from all over the world and introducing them to the pleasure of riding through the unspoiled wilds of the Dartmoor National Park – an area that extends over 368 square miles and is home to valleys, forests, grassland, rivers and,as I remember well from fieldtrips in years gone by, Dartmoor’s famous granite tors.

Riding past granite tors on Dartmoor

With this on their ‘doorstep’, and just a 2.5 hour train ride from London, residents of the UK need not be heading out to the likes of Patagonia or the African veld for a luxury riding experience. Similary, those who have come from afar to experience riding in this unique area have been amazed by Dartmoor’s variety and beauty. The wide open grasslands means you can gallop horses for miles at a time away from the constraints of roads and fences.

Riding past cattle on Dartmoor

Packages from Liberty Trails are available from April until October and start from £4200 per couple, this includes three nights at Gidleigh Park and two days guided riding with up to five hours in the saddle covering up to 25 miles per day. That said, the offering is completely bespoke, so if you’d like something different, rest assured that it can be tailored to your specific needs and requirements.

Pavilion

A typical day, though, would begin with riders being driven by Land Rover from Gidleigh to their mounts. After a morning on horseback, exploring scenery that might be familiar to you from Steven Spielberg’s epic film ‘War Horse’, inspired by Michael Morpurgo’s book of the same name. You can even ride past Shepstor Village and the isolated Grade II listed building that was used as the Narracott family’s farmhouse in the film.) Lunch is then served in a luxury dining tent out on the moor before more wonderful riding, followed by a return to Gidleigh for a well-earned rest and a gourmet dinner.

Luxury dining tent on Dartmoor

It has to be emphasised that this is not something for novice riders, but for experienced individuals who are accustomed to all paces as well as varied terrain. If that’s you and you’re looking for an opportunity to really escape out into the wilds in the company of experienced guides with considerable local knowledge, then this may just be for you. And, if you prefer, you may even bring your own horse… although, for no extra charge, you can ride one of Liberty Trails’ own well-trained, sure-footed American Quarter horses.

Riding adventures on Dartmoor

For any non-riders in your group, alternative activities can be arranged, including everything from falconry to fishing. However, once they hear about your own adventures, they may just become tired of missing out and look to become accomplished horsemen or women themselves.

Riding adventure on Dartmoor

Photographs are courtesy of equestrian photographer Malcolm Snelgrove. Malcolm follows these rides so that Liberty Trails can provide guests with a photo book as a memento of their experience.

Comments (9)

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  1. Alice Prier says:

    This looks amazing. I have had the pleasure of staying at Gidleigh Park so I know how good the food is – and this doesn’t look the sort of riding you find on your average hack!

  2. john hind says:

    What a wonderful package and such great value. I will be booking my place at the first available opportunity.
    The pictures are amazing and do justice to.a beautiful part of the country.

  3. Kathryn says:

    Dartmoor would make a really wonderful location for such a holiday. It’s also great to see that other activities are available making it a good choice for families or couples where not everyone is an experienced rider. I for one would love to try my hand at falconry one day.

  4. It’s not the first time that you’ve written something that is really well timed for me, Paul :) What a lovely luxury adventure holiday, sounds and looks superb. A few weeks ago we have been to a place around 10 miles from where we are that is kind of a like a semi petting farm, with horses, goats, peacocks etc….but for me it it the horses that steal the show.

  5. I can’t believe I have never been horseback riding before but I have to admit that for my first time I would love to experience this on Dartmoor and really explore the wilderness and beautiful landscapes on offer there.

    I wonder if they offer some opportunities for novice riders or do you truly have to be a pro horseback rider to try this outdoor experience?

  6. Stevo Grubor says:

    Our daughter was keen to ride a Dartmoor pony, so we booked a ride here.

    The stables are not far north of Ashburton, but the drive along winding lanes up to the moor makes it feel like arriving in another world.

    The stables were efficiently organised with a friendly atmosphere. There was obvious and careful attention to safety. The ride was great fun, and the landscape was beautiful.

    The rest of our party enjoyed a quick visit to the village of Widecombe-in-the-Moor, which is just a couple of minutes away.

  7. Wow! This looks like a wonderful place for a horseback riding holiday. Thanks for writing about this place. I would love to ride in Dartmoor. What a trip!

  8. Both my husband and I will tell you that the day we spent with the wild ponies of Dartmoor was one of, if not THE best day of our life. It was complete serenity watching those beautiful creatures in such a majestic landscape. To this day, we’ve never felt such peace as we did that day.

  9. durga says:

    What a wonderful package and such great value. I will be booking my place at the first available opportunity.
    The pictures are amazing and do justice to.a beautiful part of the country.

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