Cornwall – The Best Destination for a Riding Holiday

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Whether you are a committed equestrian, a casual rider or someone who has never sat in the saddle, Cornwall has something for everyone looking for the best view on earth – the one between two happy and pricked ears.

Cornwall has a thriving equestrian industry which caters for the holiday trade whatever level of rider you are and whatever sort of riding you are looking for.  Most visitors want to ride out and enjoy the beautiful scenery and coastline but if you are keen to try some tuition and really hone your skills, then there are centres which offer instruction as well.

Enjoy riding through leafy woodlands, wild open moorland or along the stunning coastline.  Everyone has visions of galloping along a Cornish beach and you can even go sea swimming with your horse.  But perhaps your type of riding is more of a sedate plod down green, leafy bridleways.  Inland away from the sea, Cornwall is full of peaceful treks along winding lanes in shady, secluded valleys.  For the more adventurous, enjoy the rugged and challenging terrain and wide open spaces of Bodmin Moor.  Cornwall offers something for all riders, adults and children.  Spend time riding out with your children, something you may have never done even if you do ride at home.

The Beauty of Cornwall’s Landscape

Beauty of Cornwall's Landscape

With its breathtaking landscapes, offers an unparalleled backdrop for riding enthusiasts. This region, nestled at the southwestern tip of England, boasts a unique blend of rugged coastlines, rolling hills, and serene countryside, making it an idyllic destination for a riding holiday. Below, we delve into the distinct features that contribute to the beauty of Cornwall’s landscape, inviting riders to immerse themselves in its natural wonders.

Dramatic Coastlines

Cornwall is renowned for its dramatic coastlines, featuring some of the most spectacular seaside cliffs in the UK. Riding along these coastal paths offers an exhilarating experience, with the Atlantic Ocean’s powerful waves crashing against the cliffs below. The South West Coast Path, in particular, provides an unforgettable journey, offering panoramic views of the azure waters, secluded coves, and golden beaches that dot the Cornish coastline. This unique coastal experience allows riders to feel the ocean breeze and witness the maritime beauty that Cornwall is famous for.

Lush Countryside and Moorlands

Inland, Cornwall’s landscape transforms into a tranquil countryside, characterized by rolling hills, verdant fields, and ancient woodlands. Areas like the Roseland Peninsula and the Lizard Peninsula offer serene and picturesque trails for horseback riders, winding through fields dotted with wildflowers and past traditional Cornish stone cottages. Additionally, the rugged beauty of Bodmin Moor and the mystical landscapes of Dartmoor provide a stark contrast to the coastal scenery, offering riders the chance to explore heather-covered moorlands and encounter Cornwall’s rich wildlife, including wild ponies that roam freely.

Historic Trails and Bridleways

Cornwall’s history is deeply intertwined with its landscape, and many of its trails and bridleways are steeped in legend and lore. Riding along these paths, one can discover ancient stone circles, historic tin mines, and remnants of old Cornish estates. The Mineral Tramways Project, for example, offers a network of multi-use trails that follow the routes of former tramways and railways used during Cornwall’s mining heyday. These trails not only provide a glimpse into Cornwall’s industrial past but also offer varied terrain for riders, from gentle paths through leafy glades to challenging routes across rugged moorland.

The Changing Seasons

The beauty of Cornwall’s landscape is ever-changing with the seasons, each bringing its own charm and reasons to saddle up. Spring welcomes a burst of color, with wildflowers and bluebells carpeting the countryside, making rides particularly picturesque. Summer brings longer days and warmer weather, perfect for exploring coastal paths and enjoying picnics by hidden coves. Autumn transforms the landscape into a palette of golds and browns, with cooler temperatures making for comfortable riding conditions. Winter, while brisk, offers the chance to experience Cornwall’s rugged beauty in solitude, with crisp rides followed by cozy pub visits.

Amazing Riding Destinations

From scenic coastal trails to rugged moorland paths, the region boasts an array of opportunities for riders to explore its beauty on horseback. Expanding on the riding options in Cornwall, we delve into the variety and uniqueness of each experience.

Beach Rides

Lighthouse, Cornwall

Cornwall’s coastline is famed for its stunning beaches, and what better way to experience these than on a beach ride? Galloping along the surf, with the wind in your hair and the salty air filling your lungs, is an exhilarating experience. Beach rides are perfect for experienced riders, offering a unique chance to bond with your horse while enjoying breathtaking views. Popular beaches for riding include Perranporth Beach, known for its extensive golden sands, and Gwithian Beach, where riders can enjoy the backdrop of Godrevy Lighthouse.

Trail Rides Through the Countryside

The Cornish countryside, with its rolling hills and lush landscapes, provides an idyllic setting for trail rides. Many stables in Cornwall offer guided trail rides that meander through quaint villages, alongside rivers, and across open fields. These rides cater to all abilities, from beginners seeking a gentle trot to more experienced riders looking for challenging terrains. The Camel Trail and the Mineral Tramways are two notable routes that offer scenic rides through Cornwall’s heritage landscapes.

Moorland Adventures

For those seeking a more rugged riding experience, Cornwall’s moorlands offer dramatic scenery and challenging terrains. Bodmin Moor, with its expansive open spaces and historical sites, provides an adventurous setting for riders. Exploring the moorland on horseback, riders can encounter a variety of wildlife, discover ancient stone circles, and enjoy panoramic views. Riding across the moorland requires a level of experience, as the terrain can be challenging, but it’s a rewarding experience for adventurous equestrians.

Woodland Trails

Cornwall’s woodlands offer serene and sheltered routes for riders. Meandering through the woods, you’ll be surrounded by a canopy of trees, with sunlight filtering through the leaves. These trails often feature a mix of terrains, from soft, leafy paths to more technical, root-covered tracks. Lanhydrock and Cardinham Woods are popular destinations for woodland rides, offering trails that are rich in wildlife and natural beauty.

Cross-Country Courses

For those looking to hone their jumping skills, Cornwall offers several cross-country courses. These facilities cater to a range of abilities, offering jumps of various sizes and complexities set in picturesque locations. Cross-country riding in Cornwall allows riders to test their skills and build confidence in a safe and controlled environment, all while enjoying the stunning scenery.

Stay comfortable – The Best Riding Wear for New or Casual Riders

The majority of centres can lend and fit you with an approved riding helmet so there is no need to go the expense of buying one just for your holiday.  If you are already a rider then it is worth taking your own hat with you.  There are certain types of clothing which will be more comfortable and suitable to ride in which include:-

  • Slim fitting trousers – they don’t have to be tight, flexible is better.  Avoid anything with seams if possible as these can rub.  Leggings need to be thick enough – the lycra leggings are quite thin and slippery.  Most centres won’t let you ride in shorts – they can be very uncomfortable and the stirrup leathers can nip and chaff bare legs
  • Boots – a short sturdy closed boot is ideal, make sure it has a smooth sole, this is so your foot can slide through the stirrup in the event of a fall; soles with ridges or treads can become caught in the stirrup iron.  The boot should also have a small heel – this is to stop your foot travelling all the way through the iron and trapping your leg.  Fashion boots with heels and trainers are not suitable and you should beware of being around horses on the ground in flip-flops.  Horses often accidentally tread on feet and their weight combined with a metal shoe can create a serious injury
  • Hair and jewellery – jewellery like bracelets and earrings can become caught in tack or branches of trees when you ride out so is best removed or kept to a minimum.  It is easier to fit a riding hat if your hair is tied back in a bunch or ponytail and it will be cooler when you riding as riding hats can make your head quite hot
  • Shirts and tee-shirts – if you are riding through woodland, it can be easier to have your arms covered or at least the top half and your shoulders.  A cotton polo shirt is ideal  

Riding holidays

Some people pick Cornwall as their destination for a dedicated riding holiday.  But if you are a new rider or a relative beginner, then three to four hours in the saddle a day will be very tiring especially if you are not used to it.  Most centres offer a mixture of tuition and hacking or riding out and can produce a programme tailored to suit your individual needs.

Some riding centres offer ‘own a pony’ days which are lovely for children to spend all day with a designated pony as if it were their own.  These days will include a mixture of riding, stable management and grooming and lets the parents sneak off for some downtime, enjoying all the different visitor delights that Cornwall has to offer.

Holiday With Your Horse

There are many riding centres and farms which offer accommodation for both you and your four-legged friend whether you are looking for a luxury berth for the night or glamping under the starry skies.  Depending on where you choose to stay, Cornwall offers a range of unique scenery and riding opportunities with a field or cosy stable waiting for your horse at the end of the day.  You don’t have to stay on site with your horse, why not rent a Cornish cottage with your horse down the lane?.

Time out of the Saddle

Church, Cornwall, England

Enjoy all those aspects of Cornwall which makes it a world-famous holiday destination – quaint harbourside towns and villages, sleepy green valleys and a stunning coastline.  There is local cuisine to suit all tastes and budgets and nothing can be nicer than tucking into a well-earned cream tea after a few hours in the saddle working up an appetite.

Wherever you stay in Cornwall, you have never more than 20 miles from the sea.  Time out of the saddle can be spent enjoying the picturesque coves and sleepy creeks on the south coast or the rugged and dramatic Atlantic coastline in the north.

There is lots of information online so wherever your holiday cottage is located, there will be riding stables nearby.  Some stables specialise in countryside hacking or beach rides depending on their location.  There are larger equestrian centres inland which serve the local community as competition and training venues and these are the places to aim for if your ambition is to improve your riding skills whilst you are on holiday in Cornwall.  Why not mix and match?  Spend time at centre honing your riding skills and then take to the beach for some unrestricted fun in the surf.

Final Thoughts

Cornwall is a place where magical memories are made and there can be nothing more special than combining a holiday in such a lovely location with a passion or interest in horses.  You will be torn between your time in the saddle and the time spent exploring this beautiful county.

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