Ride Overview - Dartmoor’s Backcountry Ride
Wonderful horseback riding vacation in Dartmoor, England! As one of the UK’s last wildernesses, the region is full of secrets and stunning scenery. Your trails lead past prehistoric settlements, through some of Europe’s finest examples of the Bronze Age and across the dramatic countryside that provided the backdrop for the movie “War Horse.” The open moorland brings rolling grounds with stream crossings and rocky outcrops. Your days end with traditional tea and relaxing spa treatments in an award-winning country-sporting hotel or settling into a comfortable lodge B&B. This ride offers a winning combination of exhilarating days on horseback, luxury accommodation and small exclusive groups lead by local guides who’ve been riding on Dartmoor all their lives. Gourmet food is also available as well as falconry on a horse! Your guide knows the moors like the back of her hand and is proud to introduce clients to this world class riding country. She’ll want to get to know you before you’ve even stepped foot into the UK so that she can create the perfect itinerary for your stay and show you the very best the region has to offer . She’ll take care of every detail including matching you with a perfect horse, place to stay , and showing you special places in over 275,000 acres of unfenced riding country. RIDING IN ENGLAND
“What a wonderful time I had on Dartmoor with you! Thank you from the bottom of my heart for spending time with me and showing me that precious piece of the English countryside. What an incredible place full of deep history, intense beauty, and rich life. I can’t stop thinking about it and hope to be back to ride some more with you. I really think you’ve got a brilliant thing going. It’s not easy to execute so flawlessly, but you do it with panache. It was a balm to my soul to spend some days wandering the moor in your company on such lovely beasts. Thank you.” S.O
“I dare not move a muscle. My new friend’s nostrils flare wide open and within seconds he is galloping across the open moor leaving me to suck in the mouthfuls of cold air streaming between his ears. I’ve ridden horses since I was just six years old but, for the first time ever, here in the Dartmoor wilderness, I can truly understand the meaning of the phrase ‘in riding a horse we borrow freedom.” T.R. 2015
Ride Itinerary - Dartmoor’s Backcountry Ride
Transfer from the airport/train station to your hotel.
The first day crosses undulating grasslands before reaching Taw Marsh a natural amphitheater surrounded by impressive hills. From here you’ll pass Whitehorse Hill, a 4,000-year-old burial place that has rewritten British bronze age history, across heather-clad moorland and forestry to Grimspound, one of the best known prehistoric settlements on Dartmoor, probably dating from the Late Bronze Age (about 450–700 BC). You’ll descend to Jay’s Grave, a Dartmoor landmark with an interesting legend, and Bowerman’s Nose which features in local folklore before ending the day at our private stable yard near Widecombe in the Moor.
You’ll ride through the delightful village of Widecombe in the Moor before climbing steeply up to Hamel Down where the views of the surrounding moor are superb. The route follows the broad back of Hamel Down heading towards the Clapper Bridge at Postbridge which dates from the 13th Century, before heading into Bellliver forest where you’ll stop for a picnic lunch. You’ll ride through Belliver Forest heading to Princetown, the highest settlement on the moor and one of the highest in the United Kingdom. It is also the site of one of the world’s most famous and notorious jails. The prison was built in 1812 to house the thousands of captives of the Napoleonic Wars who were put into hard labor to create the dry stone walls from granite boulders of varying sizes that form the boundaries of the upland hill farms and villages. The ride finishes on a farm near Princetown; guests get to enjoy some refreshments before being transferred back to Bovey Castle.
Your ride heads across the high moor 1,430 feet above sea level to the area of Dartmoor featured in Steven Spielberg’s War Horse film. The ride starts very gently passing Nun’s Cross, a 13th-century cross thought to be the oldest granite way marker on Dartmoor. The ancient path takes in Bronze Age Stone Rows and Cairn Circles and offers wide sweeping views of deserted Dartmoor and the Devon coastline and stunning views of Burrator reservoir. You’ll ride past the isolated Ditsworthy Warren House, built for the keeper of the rabbit warren and used in 2010 as a filming location by Steven Spielberg. Before lunch, you’ll cross the grassland areas of Ringmoor, which offer great long gallops before descending into SheepsTor Village, an ancient village with a famous church. You’ll ride along sandy tracks on the banks of Burrator Reservoir, through pine forests before arriving at the Royal Oak at Meavy for a late lunch in a traditional Dartmoor Inn. From here, your ride follows the edges of the reservoir before climbing steeply to peek hill where the route picks up the old railway track heading towards Stampford Spiney, a moorland hamlet with a 16th century Farm and 14th Century church. This is the where the horses spend the night.
Your trail heads back to northwest Dartmoor over Pew Tor, Vixen Tor and Cox Tor heading towards rolling grasslands rich with wild hill ponies, cattle, and sheep. For part of the route, you’ll pick up a peat pass boasting stunning views towards the Cornish coast and offering riders glimpses of the famous Dartmoor Bogs. You’ll pass remote farmhouses and cross rushing rivers, verdant valleys and steep tors before stopping for lunch which could be a barbeque high up on a Tor or lower down in an ancient Dartmoor Inn. The last leg of your ride meanders along an old Tin miners track and allows for some fast cantering as you cross cattle farming country before heading over Meldon Dam and into the farm for tea and cake.
After breakfast, you will transfer to your train station/airport.
Ride Details - Dartmoor’s Backcountry Ride
Dates: March – November, arrival on Friday or Monday evenings
Best Months to Ride: late March to early June and September to November
Airport: Exeter, Devon
Train Station: Exeter St. David’s
Riding Days: 4 (shorter and longer options available)
Daily Riding Hours: 4 – 5
Riding Ability: INTERMEDIATE: Confident and in control at all paces including posting trots, two point canters and gallops in open country and on ascending and descending trails.
Group Size: 2 – 6
Horses: Quarter horse
Accommodations: 4* castle hotel and spa or 4* B & B
Price: Bovey Castle: $4,099.00 per person, double occupancy
B & B: $3,265.00 per person, double occupancy
*Price is based on dollar/sterling exchange and will be fixed at final payment.
*This ride can be shortened and/or you can also choose a gourmet food addition and falconry to the riding. Ask us for details.
Included: 5 nights accommodation, 4 riding days, horse, tack, guide, all breakfasts and lunches, dinners credit (two 55 GBP credit in Great WEstern Restaurant and two 35GBP credit in Smiths Brasserie, afternoon tea, two spa treatments, transfer to and from the train station
Not Included: airfare, train fare, transport to and from airport (60 GBP round trip)
Dartmoor’s Backcountry Ride: Gallery
Dartmoor’s Backcountry Ride