Riding in the highlands of Scotland or Ireland

looking for a group that has week long rides through the highlands - its in my bucket list. suggestions please!


These people do a number of trips.
I’ve no personal experience of them but tripadvisor gives them a 4.5 star rating:

https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Attraction_Review-g190816-d4106310-Reviews-or40-Highlands_Unbridled_Trail_Riding_Trekking_Centre-Aboyne_Aberdeenshire_Scotla.html

Thank you!

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Equitours has been in business a looong time and have destinations worldwide including Ireland. I have used them to book riding trips internationally and highly recommend them. You can speak to a ride consultant who has done the ride you’re interested in. Based on your conversation, they will guide you to a trip they think best suits your interests and experience vs. choosing a trip off a description.

Great! Thank you!

Don’t go in mid-to-late summer. The Highlands are a hole of midgey death, and you will regret your life choices. Especially in the big inland glens near the West Coast. Spring, early summer (like early June), and September/October are the best times.

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:laughing:. Thank you for the valuable advice!

There is nothing quite like the experience of the air itself crawling, your tent, backpack, hand, bike, etc. turning black, and you are wondering if the midges outnumber the air molecules.

Or in the words of my brother, after he crawled out of our tent on Skye for a pee, “Jesus f&ckin Christ! Motherf&cker!! I am never f&cking camping in Scotland again!!!” (and he hasn’t).

“He’ll have found some midges then,” I said to myself.

He lives in Sub-Saharan Africa now and quite happily camps with lions, elephants, and hyenas.

You pray for wind. They can’t fly in more than 5mph of wind. Unfortunately, when your prayers get answered, it’s 50mph gusts at ground level, usually with horizontal rain, and that brings a different set of problems.

Do you think the Highland Tourist Board will hire me?

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I’ve been eyeing these trips too, so this information is incredibly informative. Particularly the midges :laughing:.
Can anyone speak on Wales?

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I’d forgotten about the Scottish midges :flushed:

Here’s a link for Wales:
https://www.breconbeacons.org/things-to-do/activities/adventures-on-horseback/horse-riding-holidays

This one looks good:

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Go in April/May or September/October and you’ll be fine. There still might be sideways rain, but that’s a risk at any time of year.

There are days like this too:

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This is the one I was eyeing for my birthday a few years ago before Covid. I hope to do it eventually. Just wondering if anyone had inside (insect?) info on it.

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Yes. I live in Scotland, so see above re: midges. We also have things called cleg flies, which come out during July and August. They are huge, bitey, and it hurts like a bitch. The horses hate them.

This is how I rigged out my mare. Full PPE. She was imported from Colorado (along with myself), so she had a particularly low tolerance and would go nuts at one cleg, but my current riding horse is a Highland, and I will still outfit him in a similar garb when the clegs hit the fan, so I don’t get bucked off. Although he’s a tough little ex-feral native, he nonetheless won’t tolerate swarms of the motherf*ckers.

April/May avoid the worst insect problems, and you still have daylight until September.

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Scotland, speaking as a person who has travelled widely most of my life, is probably one of the most beautiful places in the world: the light, the landscapes, the lochs. However, avoid the Highlands in June, July and August. One breaths in the midges. By the coast, where there is a breeze, the problem isn’t as bad.

Wales doesn’t seem to have the same insect issues. Not as majestic as the Scottish Highlands but there are still extensive expanses of uplands, moors, mountains that one can ride all day and see only birds and sheep before dropping down into villages and an inn or farm for the night. Free Rein is one firm that does trail rides www.free-rein.co.uk They have been in business for more than thirty years and have much repeat business. They even offer self-guided rides, once they know you. The horses are mainly hairy cobs who are unflappable but willing Then there is www.transwales.com who use home-bred Section D and have a substantial clientele of European riders who return year after year. Last time I rode with them it was a bit chaotic due to missed communication. These are generally quite fast rides. Wales, of course, is the home of very fine ponies. I went into a pub for lunch, once, and all the people around the bar were discussing pony bloodlines!

Another upland area is Dartmoor in the south west of England. There is www.adventureclydesdale.com who use, as their name suggests, Clydesdales for their rides. I haven’t been on this: my sister wants to go. There is also www.dartmoorridingholidays.co.uk who offer western tack on their longer rides. Dartmoor is a fascinating upland, extremely remote in the centre but surrounded by dense green farmland so as one drops off the moors the landscape changes and softens to pasture and woodlands, which makes for interesting rides. Herds of feral Dartmoor ponies help maintain the landscape.

Both Wales and Dartmoor are possibly easier to access as an American because London airports, Birmingham and Bristol all have flights direct to the USA. The journey times in Scotland are longer.

You could, of course, just book shorter rides and travel between locations for a well rounded view.

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@Caol_Ila thanks for the laugh! And I thought the black flies were awful in New England…but your description takes the cake hahaha.
Scotland has been on my radar for years. Some day, some time (and thanks to you, NOT in Summer! Haha!).

Rode in Bundoran and pretty certain the guy who took my friend and I through the dales was mentally insane.

I think the place we went riding with does camping trips or longer tours. The location was gorgeous!

I admire your dedication to protecting your horse. Unfortunately in my experience those things can bite through anything. I once came back from a hack with three of the biggest bites imaginable, straight through my breeches at the top of my thigh :flushed:

The PPE isn’t useless. It changed my horse from something that could give a rodeo bronc a run for its money to something you could ride and have a nice time with.

She was a massive wimp with regards to the Scottish bugs. The midges around Glasgow are a far more benign species than the Highland ones; they buzz around but usually don’t bite (only three or four out of many species of midge bite, apparently). Still, when they were out, she would cower in the back of her stable unless wearing a fly mask 24/7. The local horses don’t seem to notice the Glasgow midges. If she had ever met a Highland midge, she would have bought a plane ticket back to CO immediately.

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