A complete Irish Experience riding Irish Hunters and Connemara ponies with the chance to stay in an authentic Irish castle. No trail ride offers such a variety of riding terrain. The West Coast Trail explores the unspoilt coastline, sandy beaches, deserted islands, mountains and forests of this most beautiful area of Western Ireland. The riding is suitable for riders of intermediate ability.
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Guests arrive in Sligo and are welcomed by Declan McGarry, the trail manager. After a short discussion reaffirming the riding abilities and requirements of the riders, guests are shown to their guest rooms at the Sligo Glasshouse Hotel.
After breakfast at the hotel, you'll be transferred to the stables to meet the horses. Your trail guides Declan and Eugene will match you with your horse for the week ahead and you'll be able to get acquainted in the yards large indoor ring. Once everyone's been matched up the group will be taken out to the nearby pastures for a short ride. After a light lunch you'll go for a 2 hour ride to the Knocknarea mountain. You'll be able to climb to the summit, passing by the grave of one of Ireland’s greatest warriors, Queen Maeve (circa 3500 b.c.). From this vantage point one can really appreciate the beauty of this corner of the Emerald Isle. After the ride, you'll be transferred back to your hotel for dinner and overnight.
After a leisurely breakfast, you'll have time to explore Sligo town and do some shopping before being collected at 12.30. The ride today is from Carrowmore through Union forest (a large pine forest) and along old forest paths into Markree Castle estate. We ride through the castle grounds and to the castle stables where the horses will spend the night. You'll be transferred back to Sligo for dinner and overnight.
This morning the ride will take you around the grounds of Markree Castle where you can see the remains of the old houses where the Irish peasants lived in the times when the English ruled this beautiful island. You'll have a short lunch at the castle stables and then begin the ride back to Carrowmore through Ballygawley forest where you can see the wild deer grazing.
Have a large breakfast this morning because we don’t stop for lunch! Before riding we take an escorted tour through the Carrowmore megalithic cemetery,circa 4000 b.c. Todays ride is an exhilarating beach ride across Cumeen Strand to Coney Island, a small island in Sligo Bay (pop.7). Accommodation is at the Strandill Lodge and Suites Hotel.
Today is the chance to relax after 4 days riding and recharge the batteries for the final day. Riders are tourists today and will take part in an escorted tour visiting all the places of historical significance in this ancient corner of Ireland, including a visit to Parkes castle (a 14th century castle restored by the Irish government) and Yeat's grave in Drumcliff. For those who wish, a trip to the famous Celtic Seaweed baths can be organised. Accommodation tonight is at the Strandhill Lodge and Suites Hotel.
As todays ride is on the beaches, the start time will vary according to the time of year. Your last day’s ride is spent all on the beaches, you'll ride all around the Knocknarea peninsula from Kelly’s town to Culleenamore beach along the strand at Strandhill onto Cumeen Strand across to Carty’s strand. This is a truly fantastic day’s ride, very exhilarating and physically challenging. As it's the last night, the group will all meet after dinner for a final Guinness and a chance to reflect on the weeks adventure.
Depart after breakfast.
Please note: All itineraries are given for your guidance only and it may be altered on the ground and in accordance with the prevailing conditions by the organising team.
Each day you'll be riding for between 4-6 hours. On the trail the riding terrain is extremely diverse, you'll be exploring forests, mountains and a variety of Atlantic beaches. This destination is suitable for intermediate riders onwards, you will not be only walking and trotting all day, nor will you be galloping all day. The pace is a mix of walk, trot and canter. The horses at this destination are native Irish hunters and Connemara ponies, of varying sizes. All the horses used are easily ridden, responsive and are used to the terrain.
Riders need to be of intermediate ability and able to control a horse in canter in an open area. Some days are quite strenuous while others are more relaxing. Riders need to ride a few times per week prior to coming on this trail ride to build up their condition. Riders should be over 18 years old (unless accompanied by an adult) and there is a weight restriction of 100 kilos. Riding hats are compulsory and these are available to borrow if you don't want to bring your own.
The weight limit for this ride is 220 lb/100 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.
The accommodation for the first 4 nights is at the Glasshouse Hotel in Sligo town centre. It is a modern 4 star hotel built directly on the Garavogue river. You'll be put up in a twin room with private bathroom. If you are travelling alone and are happy to share a room please let us know when booking. If you would rather a room to yourself a single supplement is payable. On the last 3 nights, you'll be staying in Strandhill, a small surfing town where accomodation is at the Strandhill Lodge and Suites, a 4 star boutique hotel, with spectacular sea views and within walking distance of the sea and all of the restaurants and bars. All transfers to and from the equestrian centre are in a shuttle bus and are included in the price.
Breakfast is provided in the hotel each morning. A light snack is also provided on Monday and Wednesday, on the other days you'll be stopping at local pubs, where you can buy lunch or a snack. In the evenings, you'll be able to explore the restaurants and pubs in either Sligo town or Strandhill seaside village, they are all within a 5 minute walk of the hotel. There are many restaurants to suit all budgets and tastes and your hosts will provide a list of their recommended restaurants and pubs to guests. On some evenings your hosts will organise trips to local Irish pubs with live music to experience some of the culture Ireland is famous for.
Vegetarian or other dietary requirements can be accommodated with advanced notice. Please contact Unicorn Trails with requests.
Please note that it is your responsibility to ensure you have the correct documentation in place for your trip. If Visa’s are required the requirements can change from year to year depending on diplomatic relations. Please request information from the appropriate Consulate in your home country. Unicorn Trails will assist with any questions you have or supply any necessary supporting documents as required by the consulate on request.
Visa are not required for U.K. or other European nationals. In the UK the British Foreign Office gives travel advice on travel insurance, passport and visas, health and vaccinations, legal issues and emergency issues. They can be reached on 0207 008 0232/0233 or at www.fco.gov.uk.
The British Embassy in Ireland is at 29 Merrion Road, Dublin 4. Tel: +353 (01) 2053700. Email: email@example.com.
The Embassy of Ireland in the U.K can be found at 17 Grosvenor Place, London SW1X 7HR. Telephone: (020) 7235 2171.
The reason Ireland is so green is because it rains a bit! However, even if it’s raining at the start of the day it’s quite likely that you’ll find the sun breaking through before long – they say in Ireland that you can have all four seasons in one day. So take waterproofs but also remember some t-shirts and clothes for warm weather. The temperature can reach the mid 20sC in July and August and will be marginally lower in May, June and September – even if it’s raining it’ll be warm because of the Gulf Stream.
No special health precautions are required for visits to Ireland, for further details please see your local doctor.
For up to date information on specific health concerns please contact the Medical Advisors For Travellers Abroad. Their website can be found at www.masta.org
Voltage and plugs are the same as the UK.
There is electricity available in your evening accommodation for charging cameras and batteries. Wifi is also available.
The weather in Ireland is extremely changeable so you you are advised to bring layers of clothing to cope with the changing conditions.
Riding hat (compulsory and available to borrow)
Boots with a heel
Jodhpurs or other riding trousers
A lightweight waterproof jacket
Fleece or lightweight jumpers suitable for layering
Long-sleeved shirt or t-shirt
Casual clothes for evenings
Casual shoes for evenings
Sun protection in the summer (suncream, lip balm)
A 2 point European plug
This is a 7 night programme available on set dates between May and September.
2020: Every Sunday from 3 May to 13 September
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Non-riders can explore County Sligo's lush countryside, vibrant food culture and internationally-renowed surf by car, bicycle or foot. For non-riders the price includes airport transfers, accommodation and breakfast but not lunch or dinner.
This part of the Atlantic coast is a haven for grey seals so watch out for them as you ride along the beaches. There are deer in the region and the birdlife is fascinating too.
Ireland is a land of almost mythical beauty, often wild and windswept it is said there are fifty shades of green in the landscape but none of them are jaded. The Irish seem to have been put on the earth to restore faith in humanity, their charm and delight in spinning a good tale will entertain you for hours.
The pub culture in Ireland is part of the national identity. The folk music traditional has been unhindered here and live, spontaneous music is actively encouraged- you will often stumble across a raucous singalong fired by Guiness and whiskey. The ban on smoking in public places is now in force in Ireland and, with fines of up to €3,000 for ignoring it, a lively sub-culture can now be found on the pavements outside Irelands plentiful watering holes huddled against the often biting wind.
They are famed for their love and skill with horses, in racing Irish trainers and jockeys are among the best in the world, and the wild ponies of the Connemara in Galway crop up in many myths and legends in Irish folklore. In some areas you will often see kids messing around on horses with nothing but a headcollar and a handful of mane.
Ireland is on GMT and they use imperial weights and measures, so inches, feet, pounds and stones. The international dialling code is +353.