Along Ireland's northwest coast stretches stunning sandy beaches and towering cliffs that plunge dramatically into the foaming sea. This is perhaps the most beautiful part of the country, far from the well beaten tourist paths. Climb high into the hills overlooking the mighty sea and canter on deserted beaches as you explore this wild and beautiful area atop your trusty steed. Each day you will take a different trail where you will discover contrasting landscapes; climb the impressive Muckish Mountain, traversing old tracks built one hundred and fifty years ago during the famine and of course there will be fantastic gallops in the tidewater, wind and the sea breeze as well as splashing salty water from your horse’s hooves pounding over the long beaches. Every riders dream comes true!
The horses are mostly Irish Hunters and native Connemara and mountain ponies, all safe and sturdy with excellent stamina and gentle natures. The hotel is a delightful family-run property with everything one would expect in terms of amenities and stylish décor.
This is also an excellent place to visit with friends or family who do not ride as there are many things to see and do in the area, from hiking, swimming (in season) and biking to golf as there is a golf course just nearby.
Here at Dunfanaghy you will find the real, traditional Ireland as well as have the opportunity to enjoy the extraordinarily diverse nature of this region. Welcome to Ireland's most beautiful and best-kept secrets of charge from tourists and crowds.
Please Note: The opinions expressed in these reviews are the author's and do not necessarily reflect the views of Unicorn Trails Ltd. These reviews are "directly from the horses mouth" and unedited. Unicorn Trails may make additional comments for clarification clearly identified in red.
Review received from HC of Regina on 11/10/2018
You will arrive at the hotel with the Irish Sea, beach and harbour just in front of you. After check in, you can relax and explore the village or simply unwind with a gentle stroll along Killahoey Strand just a few minutes walk from the hotel. The quaint whitewashed yard of Dunfanaghy Stables is literally up the garden path beside the old Lookout Tower. Call up to the Stables and meet Helen and the welcoming staff who will introduce you to your horse which Helen has selected for you from the information you have provided us with. In the evening you will enjoy dinner in the restaurant overlooking Sheephaven Bay and Horn Head.
After breakfast, stroll through the magnificent gardens of the hotel and meet your horse and guide at the stables, conveniently located in the hotel grounds. The morning is given over to assessment to ensure each rider and horse is suitably matched. This ride consists of an hour on the beach and the second hour ambling up an incline skirting the forest to the top of Horn Head allowing the rider to soak in the beautiful scenery and panoramic views of Sheephaven Bay and its wonderful patchwork of rugged coastline and sandy secluded strands, the Derryveagh Mountain Range with impressive Muckish Mountain and Mount Errigal, Portnablagh and the charming coastal village of Dunfanaghy itself. This ride is permitted by the tide as you need to be able to cross the bay to reach Horn Head. Return to Arnold's Hotel for lunch. You will have half the day free.
Leaving the coast for a day, with a packed lunch, we head towards the impressive Muckish Mountain. Traversing old tracks built one hundred and fifty years ago during the famine takes us into eerie silence, only horses can use the tracks as they were originally built for them. Nowadays they are overgrown but serve our purpose very well. As we get closer to this mountain, we come into the now dismantled Falcarragh-Burtonport railway, made famous by Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie in the film 'The Railway Man'. The surface is ideal for long canters. After lunch we cross three rivers by means of ancient fords. We hack amid a patchwork of stonewalls and quiet country lanes, taking us in the direction of Errarooey, where the horses overnight in a green pasture. The horses have one of the most awe inspiring wild view, (although they'd never realize it as they happily munch on the sweet grass after a long day). They overlook the Atlantic, heavenly golden beaches and Tory Island, legendary Kingdom of the Celtic cyclops Balor of the Evil Eye. Our tired riders return to the comfort of the hotel for a well deserved dinner and overnight.
After a hearty Irish breakfast riders are reunited with their horses that have a belly full of summer's sweet grass at Errarooey. Tidal and weather conditions permitting, the day starts with another long memorable canter on the beach. Today's ride is a contrast from the wild and remote heather clad hills as we experience the diversity of the countryside. We walk past old farm buildings, along a small twisty country lane with grass growing in the middle of it to get to some rough pasture and farmland by the sea. We cling to the hillside as we cross a high headland, the intense beauty of the Atlantic Ocean and the high rocky cliffs, as we turn a corner the view of Tramore beach below is an unforgettable sight. As we descend the anticipation of the canter on the beach is felt. Cantering along the waters edge as the wave’s crash is long awaited. We have worked up a great hunger and so happily return to the hotel for
a well deserved lunch.
A day to relax and unwind, with plenty of things to do in Dunfanaghy, why not take a stroll around the village and visit The Workhouse and the variety of exclusive Irish Craft shops all within walking distance of the hotel. If you enjoy walking, you can choose from the many beautiful local walks in the area from the publication 'Rambles in Dunfanaghy' which is available at reception. We can also arrange fishing trips, bicycle hire with survey map and suggested routes, which will allow you to explore some of the scenic beauty spots around Sheephaven Bay and Horn Head. If you would prefer a leisurely round of golf around the breathtaking scenery of Dunfanaghy Links Course, just five minutes from the hotel, we can also arrange this for you.
Today the trail ride takes us through meandering country lanes bordered by weathered stonewalls, overlooking the indescribable view of Sheephaven Bay. With Port na Blagh (the Port of Many Colours) picturesquely sheltered against the Atlantic. We have an exhilarating canter along the strand at Marble Hill to open up the pipes. As we progress through the day, we leave behind the coastal scene and approach the rugged expanse of the Derryveagh Mountains. We ride under the shadow of the mighty Muckish Mountain and its foothills, where the Golden Eagle reigns supreme. We follow abandoned railway tracks through the wilderness with nothing but sheep to block the way. We descend out of the mountains returning to the coast, to home just in time for dinner.
As we saddle up for the final day of the Trail Ride, mixed emotions overcome the group. We head back over to the ever stretching strand of Tramore - a wild and windswept affair that impresses those who make the journey. We have a last glance of the natural beauty of Donegal, we hear the final thunder of our horses hooves across Tramore's golden sand...
A last riders turn to return to the hotel for a wonderful farewell dinner.
Breakfast & departure from Dunfanaghy.
Dunfanaghys golf course can be reached on foot from the hotel or the stables. There's also a boat trip to the beautiful bird island Tory Island (just off the coast), known for attracting artists from all over the world. The scenery is especially beautiful in the afternoon when the sun is low and warms the landscape. Here, the time is devoted to swimming, walking on the beach and exploring the wonderful dunes. Those who do not ride can walk out on the rock / Horn Head peninsula and enjoy the fabulous scenery.
From Dublin Airport - direct buses travel all the way to the hotel. The bus trip takes around 4 hours (this can vary on weekdays and weekends). The price is around €30 per adult for the round trip and for children it is around €20. You are looking to take 'Route A' between Dublin Airport Annagry, alighting at Dunfanaghy.
We're avid readers here at Unicorn Trails and have selected several books connected to this ride. If you're interested in reading more about the area before you travel, or want to get into the cultural background, here are some suggestions that may inspire you. Click on the links for more information.
Round Ireland With A Fridge - Tony Hawks
Culture Shock! Ireland - Patricia Levy
Bushmills Irish Pub Guide - Sybil Taylor
The Dubliners - J.Joyce
Mother Ireland - Edna O’ Brien
Barrytown Trilogy - R. Doyle
Woodbrook - David Thomson
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.
There is a good selection of horses to choose from; there are horses of various sizes ranging from 16.3hh to children's ponies of 14.2hh. Most are Irish hunters, native crosses and ponies. All are well mannered and responsive. For less experienced riders, there are very calm and safe horses. English tack is utilised on this trail.
Riders can expect full day rides (5 in the course of the week) with picnic along the way so some riding fitness is required.
Riders will be in the saddle for 5-6hrs per day.
The pace of the ride is adjusted according to the group's needs and abilities but essentially all riders should be comfortable at walk, trot and canter and be open to the idea of a gallop (this depends on the group)
The minimum age for this ride is 10 years, dependent on experience. Please enquire for children under the age of 14.
The weight limit for this ride is 15st /210 lb/95 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.
The accommodation on this ride is a delightful family-run hotel with everything that could be expected in terms of amenities and stylish decor. The hotel has a very good restaurant and a pub with entertainment on weekends. The rooms are nicely decorated and many have views towards the bay just outside, some of the garden. The stables are located just behind the garden and reached by a few stairs. Here there are several open fires crackling welcoming and the walls are adorned with paintings by local artists (often exhibitions of paintings for sale).
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 tee-shirts and suntops. The temperature can reach in 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
No special health precautions are required for visits to Ireland. We do advise taking waterproofs!
Voltage and plugs are the same as the UK.
Good quality film is widely available for purchase as well as batteries (normal, alkaline and lithium).
Light summer clothing is advised on summer departure dates. You need a riding helmet or broad rimmed hat which must stay on firmly and sunglasses with string may come in handy too. Two pairs of riding trousers, half chaps are recommended, riding gloves, jersey, warm jacket, shorts, long sleeve shirts, T-shirts, four pairs of socks, waterproofs, sun block, camera on a shoulder strap with a pouch which can be secured to your belt, binoculars, two pairs of lightweight riding boots or trainers, pocket knife and water bottle. Don’t forget the waterproofs!
This is an 8 day/7 night programme with 5 days riding on set dates.
2019 Low season: 4, 18 May
2019 Mid season: 15 Jun; 6 (FULL), 21 Sept
2019 High season: 6, 17 Jul; 17 Aug
|Riding days||Product item description||£|
|2019 - low season||8d/7n||5||double pp||1,399|
|2019 - low season||8d/7n||5||single supplement||205|
|2019 - low season||8d/7n||5||non-rider sharing||719|
|2019 - low season||8d/7n||5||Superior Room upgrade per room||205|
|2019 - high season||8d/7n||5||double pp||1,545|
|2019 - high season||8d/7n||5||single supplement||205|
|2019 - high season||8d/7n||5||non-rider sharing||799|
|2019 - high season||8d/7n||5||Superior Room upgrade per room||205|
|Riding days||Product item description||€|
|2019 - low season||8d/7n||5||double pp||1,565|
|2019 - low season||8d/7n||5||single supplement||229|
|2019 - low season||8d/7n||5||non-rider sharing||805|
|2019 - low season||8d/7n||5||Superior Room upgrade per room||229|
|2019 - high season||8d/7n||5||double pp||1,725|
|2019 - high season||8d/7n||5||single supplement||229|
|2019 - high season||8d/7n||5||non-rider sharing||895|
|2019 - high season||8d/7n||5||Superior Room upgrade per room||229|
|Riding days||Product item description||$|
|2019 - low season||8d/7n||5||double pp||1,785|
|2019 - low season||8d/7n||5||single supplement||259|
|2019 - low season||8d/7n||5||non-rider sharing||919|
|2019 - low season||8d/7n||5||Superior Room upgrade per room||259|
|2019 - high season||8d/7n||5||double pp||1,965|
|2019 - high season||8d/7n||5||single supplement||259|
|2019 - high season||8d/7n||5||non-rider sharing||1,019|
|2019 - high season||8d/7n||5||Superior Room upgrade per room||259|
|Riding days||Product item description||SEK|
|2019 - low season||8d/7n||5||double pp||17,189|
|2019 - low season||8d/7n||5||single supplement||2,499|
|2019 - low season||8d/7n||5||non-rider sharing||8,829|
|2019 - low season||8d/7n||5||Superior Room upgrade per room||2,499|
|2019 - high season||8d/7n||5||double pp||18,945|
|2019 - high season||8d/7n||5||single supplement||2,499|
|2019 - high season||8d/7n||5||non-rider sharing||9,815|
|2019 - high season||8d/7n||5||Superior Room upgrade per room||2,499|
‘Around Ireland with a Fridge’ – Pete McCarthy; ‘Culture Shock! Ireland’ –Patricia Levy; ‘Irish Pub Guide’, ‘Dubliners’-J.Joyce; ‘Mother Ireland’ –Edna O’ Brien; ‘Barrytown Triology’- R. Doyle and ‘Woodbrook’ –D. Thomson. For the equestrian traveller who would like to see what is possible on horseback visit www.thelongridersguild.com also a fantastic place to acquire your equestrian travel books is www.horsetravelbooks.com
The village has several speciality shops for you to browse through at your leisure. The Tweed 'n' Fashion/Crafts Shop has a fine selection of quality Irish garments and crafts for sale as well as a fine range of Irish made Chutneys, Jams and Irish made chocolates. Muck'n'Muffins produce individually designed handmade pottery on site. You can also choose from the wide range of pottery available and just to round it off, you can enjoy a cappuccino upstairs in the cosy teashop overlooking Sheephaven Bay. Just outside the village we have The Workhouse, first opened on the eve of the Great Famine in 1845 with an exhibition of the harrowing experiences of the famine victims. You can also purchase Irish made crafts in the craft shop and enjoy a coffee and home bakes in the coffee shop. Next door The Gallery/Craft shop has a fine exhibition of paintings by various artists, including the famous watercolour artist Frank Eggington as well as Irish crafts for sale.
Local Attractions: Horn Head 9 Mile Scenic Drive with magnificent views of the Cliffs off Horn Head the Muckish to Errigal Mountain ranges and the offshore islands of Tory and Innisboffin. Nearby Ards Forest Park has numerous signposted coastal walks through hidden coves, sandy beaches and mature forests. Glenveagh National Park, Castle and Gardens has guided tours of the castle and gardens and miles of signposted walks including the tranquil walk to the castle along Lough Veagh which is magical. Narosa School of Surf Why not get out on one of the fantastic local blue flag beaches with Narosa? Fantastically fun and fully qualified instructors help you into your first waves, they provide all the kit...so just bring along some suncream and a towel! Book in the shop on the high street or check the site for details. Bike hire is available locally as an activity option at €10 per day – bike and helmet provided.
This part of the Atlantic coast is a haven for grey seals so watch out for them as you ride along the beaches. The birdlife is really impressive too with skylarks all around you and choughs by the cliffs. There are plenty of deer in the region too. The wild fuschia in the hedgerows are stunning and the wild flowers everywhere are wonderful to admire as you ride by.
Remember that since 2004 all pubs and restaurants in Ireland are now non-smoking!
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.