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 HL of Cochrane on 19/08/2018
The week’s holiday starts on a Sunday evening when you will be transferred from Abergavenny train station to the first of two nights accommodation at a comfortable country house bed and breakfast near Llangorse. In the evening you will be welcomed at a local village inn by Myfanwy, your host and meet your fellow riders and talk about the programme for the week ahead.
After a hearty Welsh breakfast, you will arrive at the stables around 9.30am and be introduced to your mount, who will be fed, groomed and tacked up and waiting for you. Around 10.30am you will all be ready to leave. Today’s ride heads for the hills towering above Llangorse Lake. Reaching 1645 feet, once you get to the top there is the chance for some long canters, and you may even see some of the beautiful Welsh mountain ponies roaming the hilltop, as their ancestors have done for thousands of years. For lunch we visit the New Inn in Bwlch, a village located in a col high above the Usk valley. After lunch, you ride along bridleways between the hills, before returning to Llangorse. This day will allow you to get used to your horse and provides a foretaste of what is to come. Tomorrow, the journey through the Black Mountains really begins!!!
After breakfast, everyone participates in catching, feeding, grooming and tacking up his or her horse ready for the day’s ride ahead. There is always someone on hand to help for those less familiar with these tasks. The first part of the ride takes you along leafy, flower-lined lanes to the Black Mountains. You have a steep climb of around 2000 feet ahead of you. The trail then drops down through a beautiful valley to your picnic lunch stop. After lunch you skirt the famous Sugar Loaf Mountain (1955 feet), and ride through ancient oak woods. There will be plenty of opportunities for good long canters before arriving at Pant-y-gelli. Your accommodation for the night (depending on availability) is a wonderfully original, homely farmhouse. By the time you arrive you will have spent approximately six hours in the saddle since leaving the stables, and you will be looking forward to a relaxing bath and dinner. Dinner is usually taken in the Skerrid Inn, the oldest public house in Wales and once the seat of the Assize Courts where many a foot-pad, highwayman and sheep rustler was tried and convicted. As many as 180 people may have met their end from the hanging beam behind the bar, as the ultimate penalty for their crimes was carried out.
On departure, you will ride along the eastern edge of the Sugar Loaf, then follow quiet byways to the remote church at Patrishow, where you'll have lunch. Dating back to medieval times, this small church is renowned for its marvellous wall paintings, which survived the austerity of Cromwell’s Commonwealth to be enjoyed by visitors today. Riding onwards, you'll enter the quiet stillness of the Mynydd Du forest, where you should be able to find a jump or two! Climbing upwards, we leave the forest and ride onto the bleak moorland of Bal Mawr, before crossing into the Vale of Ewyas, with the 12th century Llanthony Priory far below. Destroyed during Henry VIII's dissolution of the monasteries, one tower was subsequently rebuilt as a hunting lodge. You eat tonight at the 15th Century Crown Inn in Pantygelli, renowned for its excellent food and real ales.
From Upper Henllan Farm, where the horses have spent the night, you'll ride along the floor of the Llanthony Valley and pay a visit to the unique church at Cwmyoy. The origins of this church are wrapped in mystery, but one thing is certain, it is ancient and dates back at least to the Middle Ages. It is unique because no part of it is square or at right angles with any other part. This striking irregularity is due to the underlying rock, which is in fact part of a huge landslide, that continues to move to the present day.
On leaving Cwmyoy, you'll cross the top of the landslip and pass between huge monliths of stone, before the steep, stony climb to the top of Hatterall Hill (1726 feet high). Riding along Offa’s Dyke path, originally part of an earthwork built by the 10th century King Offa to separate his civilised Saxon kingdom from the maurading Welsh, it now offers spectacularly views out across Herefordshire as far as the Malvern Hills in the east, whilst westwards are magnificant views of the mountains.
After a picnic lunch, we descend into the valley then climb once again to the Iron Age hill fort with superb views. Descending once more to the Llanthony valley, a night is usually spent in the Abbey Hotel or in nearby farmhouse accommodation, with the evening meal taken in the Priory itself.
At the start of your 20 mile ride back to Llangorse, you will climb the steep track out of the Llanthony Valley, following forest tracks and crossing "Windy Ridge", before having a picnic lunch in the woods. Afterwards, the ride follows a grassy carriageway to the top of Pen Trumau (2005 feet), followed by a long steep descent (Welsh hills have very few flat bits!!). Then a final long canter along the foot of Mynydd Troed before arriving back at the stables in Llangorse. Your horses will then need untacking, feeding and grooming for a final time, before they are turned out into their field for a well earned rest!
You can expect to leave after breakfast.
Please follow this link for a map of this itinerary: Brecon Beacon TrailThis itinerary is typical of a week-long exploratory trail ride. However, the route and content taken may vary slightly dependent upon weather conditions and the availability of accommodation.
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.
The mounts are good, forward going cobs and cob crosses ranging from 14.2hh to 16hh. These horses are renowned for their strength, natural sense of balance and toughness that is essential for riding over this rough terrain - they are in fact made for the job. Expect to have about six hours in the saddle each day. The terrain is extremly variable, there is some lane work down access roads where you will not expect to meet any traffic. There are many steep ascents and descents on rocky ground and also rolling meadows good for long canters.
Riders must be comfortable in walk trot and canter and have experience of riding over rough terrain. There is a weight limit of 14.5 stone on this ride. Children are not usually taken due to the nature of the riding however if they were born in the saddle please enquire. You will be asked to groom and tack up your own horse and be shown how on the first day if you are unsure.
The weight limit for this ride is 14st 5lbs/203 lb/92 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.
Local B&B's and small hotels are used on this ride. They vary from family owned guest houses to a small walkers hotel nestled deep in the Black Mountains. All the selected accommodation offer a large choice of breakfasts, including juices, cereals, kedgeree and cooked breakfasts with toast and home-made jams and marmalades.
The Travellers Rest is a very comfortable inn located in the best-kept village in Powys. Owned and run by Joy and Doug, it is situated adjacent to the Brecon and Monmouthshire Canal and on long summer evenings you can watch the barges chug by, drinking one of the fine real ales on tap. The inn offers excellent service and Doug runs a very good restaurant using local produce. The bedrooms are very stylish and well-appointed and for those chillier autumn evenings there is the roaring open fire around which to sit.
Pen-y-dre Farm: Your hosts are Gwenllian and Idris, who welcome you to their working farm with a refreshing afternoon tea and some of Gwenllian's renowned homemade cakes. You stay in a their beautiful farmhouse, parts of which dates back to the 17th Century. It is full of character with great oak beams and stone walls. Breakfast is taken in their large, traditional Welsh farmhouse kitchen, dominated by the large oak dresser and the incredible oak dining table, around which everyone sits. From the farm, you have an excellent view of The Skirrid mountain, whilst just down the road, is the Skirrid Inn, where you may feel like stopping at for a final drink before retiring for the night.
Gaer Farm: Sally and John welcome you to their farm high on a remote hillside with homemade tea and biscuits in their comfortable sitting room. Gaer Farm is the perfect retreat after a hard day's riding and is a comfortable period farmhouse with traditional features. The "Wool Loft", in which we usually stay, has a private sitting room and rayburn to encourage complete relaxation. The farm has stunning views, which can be enjoyed at their best on warm summer mornings, whilst sitting outside eating breakfast in Sally's glorious garden.
The Carpenters Arms: A very cosy hostelry tucked away down a very small lane below Offa's Dyke. Now run by Vera, the inn has been in the same family for generations, and seems hardly changed for hundreds of years. You enter through an ancient studded oak door which used to be in the local church. Once inside, the stone-flagged floor, low beams, Victorian range and oak settles retain the unchanged character of this old building. The food provided is wonderfully prepared and cooked traditional country cuisine sourced locally.
The Park Hotel: From the outside it looks like a Georgian house, but once in the dining room, you would think you had been transported to a Bavarian hunting lodge. When gazing at the fascinating interior, remember to look up at the amazing antler chandelier. A wide variety of food is on offer, with the choices on excellent game menu at the top of most people's list.
The Skirrid Mountain Inn: Renowned as the oldest inn in Wales, you enter across the cobbled forecourt with old stone mounting block, used by many a prince of Wales in the past. The main doorway and many of the windows are medieval and the oak beams, many of which are made from ship timbers, are amongst the finest in Britain. The panelling in the dining room is reputed to come from an Elizabethan man o'war and who knows, may well have been viewed by Sir Francis Drake or Sir Walter Raleigh! With its wonderful inglenook fireplace, the Skirrid offers fine food, ales and wine.
*Please note that accommodation options may not be available at time of booking and are subject to change. If you're holiday is dependant on a particular accommodation please make us aware.
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.
European Union nationals do not require a visa for the UK. In addition a visa is not required for stays of up to six months in the United Kingdom for nationals of many countries.
Wales's overall climate is much milder than expected, considering its location, as all of the British Isles are warmed some by the Gulf Stream and North Atlantic Drift. There are exceptions, but normally winters in Wales are damp and mild. Winter low temps central and south infrequently fall below freezing. Summers are usually pleasant and warm with sunny to part-cloudy days. Showers are possible at almost anytime, so come prepared, but it's reputation as a constantly rainy and wet destination is very much exaggerated.
There are no special vacinations required for travel to the UK. Ask your doctor for specific information.
No special health precautions have to be taken on a trip to Wales. Please consult your doctor.
England use 3 pin plugs, 240V, 50Hz. You will need to bring adaptors.
Please bring all film and batteries with you. Charging points for digital camera will be available each night.
Hard hats are essential - but if you do not have one they are available to borrow.
For your own comfort it is best to be equipped adequately for this ride. You will need:
• Jodhpurs or similar, jeans are NOT suitable.
• Riding boots or strong boots with a low heel.
• Waterproof coat / long stockmans coat.
• Riding gloves are advisable.
• Casual clothes for the evening.
Myfanwy can provide some seat savers but you are more than welcome to take your own.
Please keep luggage to a minimum as your belongings will need to be transported each day to the next nights accommodation.
Set dates are available from May to September, please see the website. Other dates in April and October and for groups of 2 or more riders are available upon request.
2019: 12 May; 9, 30 Jun; 14, 28 Jul; 11 Aug; 1, 15 Sept.
Dates on request in April and October and for groups of 2 or more.
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For an excellent selection of equestrian travel and adventure books visit www.horsetravelbooks.com (part of the Long Rider’s Guild)
Riding hours are long so we don't expect you'll be wanting to do much other than have some good food, a long bath and an good nights sleep in preperation for the next day.
All sorts of birds can be found here, thanks to the diversity of habitats - if you know where to look, who knows what you will see! In the west of the Park, you won't have to try too hard to see red kites wheeling overhead with their distinctive forked tail.The uplands of the National Park are also good places to try and spot some of the rarer birds that live here - although there are no guarantees! Look out for red grouse in the heather and golden plovers and curlews in the grasslands. More common species that can fill the air with song on a summer's day are skylarks and pipits, as well as the mewing of the buzzard (which is where it gets its name bwncath in Welsh ... which roughly translates as cat-bird).
Look out for bats chasing down insects along the Brecon-Monmouthshire Canal, or common lizards basking amongst the heaths and grasslands. And don't forget the flora - from the purple haze of the heather and the carpets of Springtime flowers to the amazing insectivorous plants such as sundews and butterworts.
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain, is a sovereign country in western Europe. Lying off the north-western coast of the European mainland, the United Kingdom includes the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland and many smaller islands. Apart from this land border, the United Kingdom is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the North Sea to its east, the English Channel to its south and the Celtic Sea to its south-south-west, giving it the 12th-longest coastline in the world. The Irish Sea lies between Great Britain and Ireland. With an area of 242,500 square kilometres (93,600 sq mi), the United Kingdom is the 78th-largest sovereign state in the world and the 11th-largest in Europe. It is also the 21st-most populous country, with an estimated 65.1 million inhabitants. Together, this makes it the fourth-most densely populated country in the European Union.
The capital of the United Kingdom and its largest city is London, a global city and financial centre with an urban area population of 10.3 million, the fourth-largest in Europe and second-largest in the European Union. Other major urban areas in the United Kingdom include the conurbations centred on Birmingham, Leeds, Glasgow, Liverpool and Manchester. The United Kingdom consists of four countries—England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The last three have devolved administrations, each with varying powers based in their capitals, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast, respectively. The United Kingdom is a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary system of governance. The monarch is Queen Elizabeth II, who has reigned since 6 February 1952.
England is separated from continental Europe by the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south. The country covers five-eighths of the island of Great Britain (which lies in the North Atlantic) in its centre and south; and includes over 100 smaller islands such as the Isles of Scilly, and the Isle of Wight. England's terrain mostly comprises low hills and plains, especially in central and southern England. However, there are uplands in the north (for example, the mountainous Lake District, and the Pennines) and in the southwest (for example, Dartmoor and the Cotswolds). England has a temperate maritime climate: it is mild with temperatures not much lower than 0 °C (32 °F) in winter and not much higher than 32 °C (90 °F) in summer. The weather is damp relatively frequently and is changeable. The coldest months are January and February, the latter particularly on the English coast, while July is normally the warmest month. Months with mild to warm weather are May, June, September and October. Rainfall is spread fairly evenly throughout the year.
Scotland's only land border is with England, which runs for 60 miles (97 km) in a north-easterly direction from the Solway Firth in the west to the North Sea on the east coast. Scotland accounts for just under a third of the total area of the UK, covering 78,772 square kilometres (30,410 sq mi) and including nearly eight hundred islands, predominantly west and north of the mainland; notably the Hebrides, Orkney Islands and Shetland Islands. Scotland is the most mountainous country in the UK. The more rugged Highland region contains the majority of Scotland's mountainous land, including Ben Nevis which at 1,343 metres (4,406 ft) is the highest point in the British Isles. The climate of Scotland is temperate and very changeable, but rarely extreme. Scotland is warmed by the North Atlantic Drift and given the northerly location of the country, experiences much milder conditions than areas on similar latitudes, such as Labrador in Canada - where icebergs are a common feature in winter.
Wales accounts for less than a tenth of the total area of the UK, covering 20,779 square kilometres (8,020 sq mi). Wales is mostly mountainous, though South Wales is less mountainous than North and mid Wales. The highest mountains in Wales are in Snowdonia and include Snowdon which, at 1,085 metres (3,560 ft), is the highest peak in Wales. Wales has a maritime climate, the predominant winds being south-westerly and westerly, blowing in from the Atlantic Ocean. This means that the weather in Wales is in general mild, cloudy, wet and windy. The country's wide geographic variations cause localised differences in amounts of sunshine, rainfall and temperature. Rainfall in Wales varies widely, with the highest average annual totals in Snowdonia and the Brecon Beacons, and the lowest near the coast and in the east, close to the English border.
In July 2007, England is introducing a smoking ban in pubs and other public places, following on from the success of the scheme in Ireland. Be aware that there may be large fines for smoking in banned areas.
The UK is on GMT time. Although most weights and measures are now metric (celsius, litres and kg) some imperial measures remain and distances are indicated in miles.
The international dialling code is +44.