A gentle ride on horseback is a great way to feel closer to the outdoors in the national parks, Britain’s breathing spaces. From challenging rides over hills, through gorges and high open moor, to gentler treks through woodlands and meadows, there is something to suit every ability of rider.
Take your own horse with you, and ride for a few days with places for you and your steed to stay along route. Or find a local stable and hire a four-legged friend.
Brecon Beacons National Park has more than 600 miles of bridleways and tracks, complete with accommodation for you and your horse. The Brecon Beacons horse riding website contains information about riding centres, riding trails, accommodation, events, and the annual Blessing of the Horse.
The North York Moors National Park has almost 500 miles of bridleways, from old railway routes to forest tracks and open heather moorland. The Newtondale Horse Trail is a 35.5-mile circular route, through a dramatic gorge, that makes a stunning 2- or 3-day ride.
The Cheviot Challenge Routes were developed by Northumberland National Park and the British Horse Society, to provide riding routes within and between five valleys, four of which are within Northumberland National Park and one across the border in Scotland. They offer circular rides to do in a day, or longer routes to do across a week.
Amongst Exmoor’s 400 miles of bridleways is the Coleridge Way, which combines history, culture and great riding in the landscape that inspired the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge.
The Pennine Bridleway National Trail is a 205-mile National Trail for riders, cyclists and walkers winding through the Peak District, the Yorkshire Dales and Northumberland national parks. One of the first stretches to be opened was the Settle Loop, a 10-mile circular trail in the Yorkshire Dales.
The New Forest National Park and the South Downs have gentle landscapes of woodland, open moor and rolling grasslands, ideal for beginners or just taking it easy and admiring the view. There are lots of stables that will hire horses, equipment, give lessons, or take you on a guided trek.