Equestrian Blog

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Travel feature: the Peak District

The UK is home to some of the most stunning countryside in Europe and now is the time to see it. Spring ushers in all sorts of new sights and sounds that bring out the best in rural Britain. One of Britain's real treasures is the Peak District. For a long time, the peaks have been a favourite destination for walkers, bikers, Duke of Edinburgh students, cyclists and campers. However, they are also a fantastic place to ride.

Cut loose or take it easy

The Peak District National Park Authority is really committed to making the peaks the ideal place for horse riding and pony trekking. In total, there are no fewer than 65 miles of trails for trekking and they cater for all ages, abilities and attitudes when it comes to riding. The scenery is wonderful all year round, but spring time is particularly special thanks to the burgeoning greenery, the return of wildlife amid the rising temperatures and the colours of trees and flowers bursting into life. That makes the trails a superb place to relax and take it slowly in the saddle. For all that, the bridleway network means riders can cut loose when they want to – something that most don't get the opportunity to do in earnest unless they take a trip out into the open country, with its untamed meadows and well-maintained tracks. The most ambitious riders can join up with the Pennine Bridleway, which is a particularly impressive trail that traverses the wild moors of England's undulating heartland. Stretching for more than 250 miles and exposing riders to incredibly challenging terrains, this is best for experienced equestrians keen on long-distance and endurance riding.

Equestrian centres

There are a number of equestrian centres within the boundaries of the Peak District so finding a place to start is relatively easy. Those who fancy combining a trek with a holiday will find campsites, caravan sites, hostels and hotels in the region, while villages like Edale and Castleton boast gorgeous country pubs for a little extra atmosphere.

Trails and tracks in the Peak District

White Peak trails

There are a number of trails around the White Peak area. This is a great place to visit if you are keen on wide open views, thanks to the patchwork system of fields it is home to. There are also valleys and gorges towards the north of the peak and traditional villages towards the south. The High Peak trail is one of the most famous trails, largely because its history is tied in with the industrial revolution. It is the site of one of the very first railways and as such there are a lot of heritage marvels to witness from the saddle. The Tissington trail is another White Peak trail that was once a railway and it features a stunning 600 metre tunnel on the way through to Ashbourne. Other trails of interest here include the Manifold track and Carsington Water, which also offers watersports, wildlife viewing spots and other attractions.

Black Harry trails

Right in the centre of the Peak District National Park, you'll find the Black Harry trails – an excellent network of trails perfect for horse riding around Longstone Edge. The available routes number ten in all and they criss-cross the landscape for around 13 miles. The name of the Black Harry trails has a grisly origin. Black Harry was a highwaymen who patrolled the deserted and spooky moors of Longstone Edge in the Eighteenth Century (the area was used by travellers from the very beginning of the Medieval era.) This notorious felon was eventually caught and executed for his crimes. When holidaying in the area, stop at one of the local pubs for a taste of Thornbridge Brewery's Black Harry ale that was made to celebrate the trails and their history.

Monsal trail

Horse riders gain stunning insight into Britain's industrial past when they trek through the Monsal trail, complete with restored tunnels that once gave the old railway safe passage through the peaks. This trail has seen a good deal of investment in recent times in order to make it more accessible to walkers, cyclists and those on horseback.

Macclesfield Forest trails

For a change of scenery, riders can access the concessionary bridleways in Macclesfield Forest, which is especially beautiful in spring and autumn because of the colours on show. For all that, the forest is spectacular all year round and it offers a wonderful contrast to the open views of some of the other trails in the peaks. Be on the lookout for wildlife because this is one of the UK's most treasured sites of biodiversity.

Equipment and centres

Finally, make sure you've got all the necessary horse riding equipment and clothing like jodhpurs and country boots for your trip or find a suitable place to hire your accessories. Always choose an equestrian centre that enjoys British Horse Society approval because this acts as testament to the safety and quality of service that they provide.

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