Riding on the beach
Dry stone walls in County Mayo
On the beach in West Ireland
On the beach
County Mayo Horse Riding
Splashing on the beach
Irish weather
Luna on the beach
A sunny morning
McCarthys dining room
Mccarthys lounge
Mccarthys double room

Small groups of experienced riders are taken along part of Ireland's Wild Atlantic Way; a 2,500km touring route that runs the length of Ireland’s west coast, from Derry in the north to Kinsale in County Cork. Riders can enjoy wild landscapes of breathtaking sandy beaches, small villages, sea and off-shore islands, country lanes, mountain tracks and local heritage sites, stopping each day for a picnic along the way. Your host is a qualified riding instructor, a Monty Robert's Certified Instructor and an accomplished Irish horseman whose family have been involved with horses for generations.

Accommodation is B&B in comfortable Irish guesthouses in the traditional lively town of Westport with generous picnic lunches on the trail. All this combined with the spectacular Clew Bay region, quality Irish horses and fast beach riding ensures a lively good fun week where you will feel welcome to your new Irish family.

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 JF of Hidden Hills on 21/05/2019

Ride Summary

What was your overall impression of the holiday
Best vacation ever! Wonderful hosts, well trained horses and beautiful trails/scenery! We felt like family from the moment we arrived. The horses were well kept, safe and sweet but happy to canter long stretches. Perfect mounts for someone who wants to jump on for a few days and have a good time without worrying about getting injured. Our host was careful to keep us in safe, natural settings that were pristine, with truly exquisite views. We took over 100 pictures. Just when we thought we'd seen the most beautiful terrain possible, he would show us something even better!
Unicorn Trails sales staff
Professionalism     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Friendliness     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Speed of response     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Efficiency     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Knowledge     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Other(please specify)     (   ) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Riding tour leader
Professionalism     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Horsemanship     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Pacing of Ride     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Concern for Safety     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Leadership     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Friendliness/availability     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Knowledge of local Culture     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Knowledge of local Flora/Fauna     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Concern with Environment     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Language skills     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Additional Comments
Padraic and Ailise are native Irishmen who know everyone in the county. They are super warm and he is also a certified Monty Roberts trainer. We lunched next to beautiful streams and in sheep pastures. It was like a fairy tale!
Horses and Tack
Condition of Horses     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Condition of Tack     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Performance of Horses     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Additional Comments
I was so happy to see horses that were well cared for. Their stalls were very clean and they had plenty to eat. They are part draft so they can handle the terrain and beach riding calmly but with stamina. We cantered quite a bit. I understood that draft crosses are not as responsive as other breeds but are much safer. Since I was only going to ride for five days, I wanted a safe mount that would allow me to enjoy the journey, instead of a skittish horse that I would need to worry about. I found my Freisian-Cross to be very well trained and bomb-proof which is important for a weeklong trip. Furthermore, the other rider was offered another horse, but did not want to change horses. Not sure what else could have been done in this circumstance.
Meals
Meal Quantity     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Meal Quality     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Meal Punctuality     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Accommodation
Camping Equipment     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Hotels/Lodges/Inns     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Hygiene standards     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Miscellaneous
Transfer arrangements     (   ) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (X) N/A
Other office staff     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Other ride staff     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Weather     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Was this trip accurately described to you beforehand?
    (   ) NO     (X) YES
Please give more details to explain your response:
Oddly, I was on the trip with the other person who reviewed and I know that we did not finish our lunches on any of the days we rode, so I don't understand how the host would think that he had not furnished enough food. The other riders were VEGAN, so the host had limited options to offer. Also, they did not communicate that they were unhappy with the food. I thought they were happy with the food. I certainly was. We had picnics each day, with the most beautiful scenery. Padraic packed plenty of water, sandwiches, fruit, cookies and huumus. Not sure what else he could have packed for vegans. I think it's important to communicate with your host immediately if you don't care for the food so that he can offer a different selection on future rides.
Was there anything you should have known and were not told?     (   ) NO     (   ) YES
Please give more details to explain your response:
No. I think Padraic tried to tailor our trip to our specific tastes, yet keep it on track. He gave 110% all the time and has an easy going, friendly personality. He is not pompous or judgemental. I really appreciated the family atmosphere. His college aged daughter rode with us most days and she's a true pleasure. Furthermore, he took us to thatched cottages and we got a chance to see a part of Ireland that few tourists enjoy, including meeting the native people who are absolutely charming!
What could we do to improve this ride?
Nothing.
How would you rate the difficulty of this ride out of 10 where 1 is very easy and 10 is very advanced?
5
Please explain why you scored it as you did:
He will tailor the ride to the group. We wanted to canter a lot, so he did. He probably would have done more trotting, but I asked not to since I'm not great at posting. I really appreciated that.
Would you recommend Unicorn Trails to your friends?
    (   ) NO     (X) YES
Please give more details to explain your response:
The staff at Unicorn trails really reached out to me to make sure everything was in order before, during and after the trip. Thanks Jo!
May we use you as a reference for other people wishing to go on this ride?
    (   ) NO     (X) YES
Any other comments:

Unicorn comments: So lovely that you had 'the best vacation ever' and our hosts welcomed you with their legendary Irish hospitality.

Day 1
On arrival to Westport, check in to your accommodation which is where you will be staying for the duration of the ride. Each day you will be collected and dropped off at your accommodation by your hosts.

Day 2
You will be collected by your hosts at 9.30am and transferred to their stud to meet your horse and the other riders. After an assessment ride in the indoor arena, riders and horses are transferred to the village of Aughagower for the Aughagower Ride. This takes you through the village of Curvey, along the shores of Knappagh Lake, through the village of Mountbrown and returning to Aughagower via an old shepherd’s track. After riding you can visit the round tower and monastic site which dates back to the 7th century.

Day 3
You will be collected at 9.30am from your guesthouse and transferred to Cloona just outside of Westport. Today you will take the Skelp Ride towards the east side of Croagh Patrick (Ireland's Holy Mountain) and then on to Teevnacroagha to ride in the footsteps of Saint Patrick to the foot of the mountain which has been a site of worship for over 3,000 years. You will cross the Owenwee river and on to the peat bog tracks at Owenwee to see the bog oak and how the peat is harvested before finishing the day at Cloona.

Day 4
Transfer to the village of Bouris for the Laghta Ride. This ride takes you to the west of Croagh Patrick, high up in the hills to Laghta beside deserted homesteads. You will cross the Bunowen River and enjoy panoramic views of Louisburgh and the Atlantic Ocean on your descent. There is evidence in the landscape of the Lazy Beds (dating back to the Great Famine) where people used to grow potatoes. You will then ride along some bog roads and finish the day by returning to Bouris.

Day 5
You pick up the trail again at Formoyle (the base for the next two days) for the Feenone Ride. This takes you over a mountain pass, close to a megalithic burial site (one of many in the area), through the Carrowniskey River and onto the bog roads at Feenone. Clare Island (Grainne Uaile, Ireland’s famous Pirate Queen resided there in the 1500's and controlled all the waters of Clew Bay) can clearly be seen. You then head for Doughmakeon Strand where you can canter and gallop before returning to base.

Day 6
Today you will make your way to Emlagh Point and ride the Carrowniskey Ride all the way to Cross Strand. There are ample opportunities to gallop today. You will also get a glimpse of Inishturk Island and Connemara in the distance. There are many standing stones in the area dating back to megalithic times. You will visit Clapper Bridge (the bridge with the eyes) before returning to your  hosts' base where you will say goodbye to your equine companion. In the evening enjoy a farewell dinner with your host, Padraic, in one of Westport's fine restaurants.

Day 7
Depart after breakfast with fond memories of your equestrian adventure.

Trail minimum number
The minimum number of riders for this ride is 2, however the ride will still go ahead with 1 rider for a small supplement. This supplement is refundable if more riders book on and refunds will be given at the time of departure.

Distance from Airports
Belfast : 306 kms, 190 miles, 4 hours by car
Dublin : 267 kms, 165 miles, 3 hours and 35 minutes by car
Shannon :  201kms,125 miles, 2 hours by car
Knock : 55 kms, 40 miles, 50 minutes by car

Train from Dublin (Heuston) direct to Westport.   Visit: www.irishrail.ie
Bus from Dublin, Shannon, Knock.  Visit: www.buseireann.ie
​Complimentary collection from Westport Train Station and Bus Depot

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.

Horses & Riding

Ireland is known as the Land Of The Horse. A temperate climate and good soil conditions make it an ideal place to raise horses. An ability to cross any country has ensured that the Irish Horse is surefooted and looks after its rider. The Irish people have a natural affinity with the horse and this is evident in the horses they have.



There are normally at least 10 horses available for riders to choose from. The majority of the trail horses have competition experience and have been bred and broken in by your hosts. Featured breed include  Connemara ponies, Irish Sport Horses, Irish Draughts and Irish Cobs. They all size from around 13.2hh (138cm) to 16.2hh (168 cms). All of the horses have good temperaments and stamina making them ideal for the trail.



Standard English tack is used on this ride and there is an upper weight limit of 90 kg (200 lbs). Group size varies from 2 to 8 people (for private groups this can be increased to 10). For groups of 4 or more there is an accompanying backup guide. Children 12 years and over are welcome if accompanied by an adult.


Rider requirements

You need not be an expert to ride our trail as we take great care to ensure that each rider is matched with a suitable horse, however you should be able to ride securely and confidently at a walk, trot and canter in open countryside. Participants should be reasonably fit and we suggest you go riding a couple of times a week before the start of the holiday. This is a progressive ride with the pace varying from slow to fast depending on the terrain and weather conditions.

It is not necessary to assist with grooming or tacking up although you are welcome to help get your horse ready and load them onto the lorry if you want to.

Weight Limit

The weight limit for this ride is 14 st/198 lb/90 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.

The guest house accommodation for this trail has been carefully chosen and is located either in or close to Westport Town. They are approved by the Irish Tourist Board and provide a quality personal service. The bedrooms, which are en-suite, are both comfortable and relaxing. Various breakfast options are available including a full Irish fry-up and continental breakfasts. Special dietary requirements can be catered for. As the accommodation is on a bed and breakfast basis this gives you the opportunity to choose from the many fine, award-winning restaurants in Westport for your evening meal.



​Picnic lunches on the trail consist of  sandwiches, fruit, snacks and soft drinks (bottled water and fruit juices) and can be tailored to individual dietary requirements with advance notice.


Vegetarian or other dietary requirements can be accommodated with advanced notice. Please contact Unicorn Trails with requests.

Documents - Visa and Consulate Info

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.

General information:

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: management.dubli@fco.gov.uk.

The Embassy of Ireland in the U.K can be found at 17 Grosvenor Place, London SW1X 7HR. Telephone: (020) 7235 2171.

Climate Summary

County Mayo has a temperate climate influenced by the Gulf Stream which moderates the weather; consequently Mayo does not suffer from the extremes of temperature experienced by many other countries at similar latitude. Generally summers are warm, rarely hot and winters are quite mild. In the summer, daylight can last for eighteen hours and this gives unforgettable bright skies at night while in the winter nights are long and days are very short. The temperatures are generally around 10°C in Spring and Autumn, from 14°C to 16°C in summer and between 4°C and 7°C in winter, but sometime they can be unpredictable: cold in July, warm in September ('Indian summers' can occur) and January.

Climate Chart

Health

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

Electricity

Voltage and plugs are the same as the UK.

Film and Camera Equipment

Electricity and wifi is available at all the accommodations on this ride so you will be able to charge batteries overnight.

Packing List

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 (available to borrow)
Boots with a heel (must be worn to comply with insurance regulations)
Jodhpurs or other riding trousers
A lightweight waterproof jacket
Riding gloves
Warm socks
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)
Sunglasses
Camera
A 2 point European plug

Programmes

7 day/6 night programme with 5 riding days.

Departure Dates

2019: ​5, 12, 19, 26 May; 9, 16, 23, 30 June; 7*, 14*, 21*, 28* July; 11*, 18*, 25* August; 1*, 8*, 15*, 22*, 29* September; 6 October (*indicates high season)

Pricing
No single supplement is charged if the rider is willing to share with someone of the same sex, and a sharer can be found.

Limited single rooms available

No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description £
2019 - Low Season7d/6n5double pp1,265
2019 - Low Season7d/6n5non-rider299
2019 - Low Season7d/6n5single supplement185
2019 - Low Season7d/6n5Small group supplement - single rider139
2019 - High Season7d/6n5double pp1,309
2019 - High Season7d/6n5non-rider325
2019 - High Season7d/6n5single supplement185
2019 - High Season7d/6n5Small group supplement - single rider139
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description
2019 - Low Season7d/6n5double pp1,375
2019 - Low Season7d/6n5non-rider325
2019 - Low Season7d/6n5single supplement199
2019 - Low Season7d/6n5Small group supplement - single rider149
2019 - High Season7d/6n5double pp1,425
2019 - High Season7d/6n5non-rider355
2019 - High Season7d/6n5single supplement199
2019 - High Season7d/6n5Small group supplement - single rider149
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description $
2019 - Low Season7d/6n5double pp1,529
2019 - Low Season7d/6n5non-rider365
2019 - Low Season7d/6n5single supplement225
2019 - Low Season7d/6n5Small group supplement - single rider169
2019 - High Season7d/6n5double pp1,585
2019 - High Season7d/6n5non-rider395
2019 - High Season7d/6n5single supplement225
2019 - High Season7d/6n5Small group supplement - single rider169
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description SEK
2019 - Low Season7d/6n5double pp14,209
2019 - Low Season7d/6n5non-rider3,359
2019 - Low Season7d/6n5single supplement2,069
2019 - Low Season7d/6n5Small group supplement - single rider1,549
2019 - High Season7d/6n5double pp14,725
2019 - High Season7d/6n5non-rider3,669
2019 - High Season7d/6n5single supplement2,069
2019 - High Season7d/6n5Small group supplement - single rider1,549
Recommended Reading

- Beatlebone by Kevin Barry. This novel centres on an imagined visit by John Lennon to Clew Bay in the 1970s, and really captures Mayo’s coast and people. A searing novel that blends truth and fiction--and Beatles fandom--from one of literature's most striking contemporary voices

- Dubliners by James Joyce. A modern classic of short stories set in early 20th century Ireland.

- The New Picador Book of Contemporary Irish Fiction, edited by Dermot Bolger. A collection of the biggest names of modern Irish writing.

 


Other Activities

There are plenty of outdoor activities in this corner of Ireland. Non-riders can hike up the mystical mountain of Croagh Patrick and hire bikes and explore The Great Western Greenway, a 42 kilometre long cycle trail which begins in Westport.

Other Information

On this ride you will be able to admire the magnificent Croagh Patrick; a 764m mountain and an important site of pilgrimage in County Mayo, Ireland. It is 8 kilometres from Westport, above the villages of Murrisk and Lecanvey and is the third highest mountain in County Mayo.

Other Country Information

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.

Travel Summary

Meeting-point (getting there):
Westport, Ireland
Transfer:
2019: Return airport transfers, per vehicle (up to 8 people) ​Dublin: €750, Shannon: €480,  Knock: €140.
Flight Guide:
London to Knock (NOC) from £30
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