What are you looking for in your summer holiday this year? Sunshine and seas, or maybe mountain ranges and milder climates. If you’re anything like we were last year, seeking the sun was the last thing on our minds. We wanted fresh air, good food and I was after enjoying my favourite hobby – horse riding. Where better to go than the beautiful British Isles?
Our first stop was London. It’s busy and bustling, and yet still boasts an abundance of deliciously green spaces that include heavenly Hyde Park, with 350 acres of gently undulating paddocks, mature trees, wildflowers, lakes, and most importantly, a horse-riding path. I was able to trot my way along the path aboard Puzzel, the sweetest Irish Cob from Hyde Park Stables. Food was also a focal point of our London stay. We dined at the divine 2 Michelin star gastropub Hand and Flowers in Marlow, as well as the Savoy Grill, run by Gordon Ramsay and full to bursting with old-world class.
After 6 nights in London we were ready for a change of scenery, so happily boarded the train bound for Edinburgh. And if you’re planning on visiting this gorgeously gothic city, August is definitely the month to go. This is the time that more than 3,000 comics, actors and dancers converge on Edinburgh for the month-long festival, and offer quite literally, things to see and do 24 hours a day. And apart from enjoying the live entertainment, Edinburgh offered us the chance to dine on that oh-so Scottish dish, haggis, before walking most of it off by climbing the extinct volcanic rock known as Arthur’s Seat. From here, the highest point in Edinburgh, you can take in breathtaking 360 degree views of the city and far beyond.
Edinburgh was followed by Inverness, which is an easy 4 hour journey away by train. With its multitude of lochs and hills, Inverness and the outlying areas are perfect for people who like a little fishing and hiking with their holiday. Inverness also proved to be the perfect place for the second horse ride of my holiday, around and down to the shores of Loch Ness, no less.
From Inverness we headed south west to Galway in Ireland. Galway is one of the closest points to the US east coast of all of the Emerald Isle, and sports an uncanny resemblance with its charming grey and white cottages and stone wall fences. Galway is also just a 40 minute ferry ride away from the wild and wonderful Aran Islands. Here we hired bikes and battled our way through the swirling rain, taking in the stunning scenery. On our final day in Galway, Lady Luck smiled down upon us, giving us a day of glorious Irish sunshine. Just perfect for my third and final horse ride of the holiday, which saw me aboard another Irish Cob, ‘All That Jazz’. Jazz carried me into the Atlantic Ocean for a quick dip, before powering up into the rocky Burren Mountains and along the ancient pathway. This was without doubt, the best way to enjoy the sweeping vistas of the Emerald Isle.
Our final leg of the trip took us to Ireland’s capital, Dublin. It proved to be an easy drive from Galway, taking just over 2 hours. And wouldn’t you know it, we got there in time to enjoy the final day of the fabulous Dublin Horse Show. This equestrian extravaganza has been running since 1864, and has become one of Ireland’s largest events. It is also a true celebration of Ireland’s affinity with the horse. We were able to enjoy everything from the elegant ladies sidesaddle class, to the nail-biting excitement of the Longines Grand Prix featuring some of the best show jumpers in the world. It was the perfect end to a wonderful holiday – a little horsey and a lot lovely. Wishing you a wonderful summer holiday! Xx