Last year we discussed some of the UK’s best bridleways – from the popular and picturesque terrains of the New Forest, to the hilly and historic Pennine Bridleway – and today we’re rediscovering more of what glorious England has to offer!
With summer nearby upon us, what better time to be up in the saddle and exploring new routes for riding. When it comes to open countryside and rugged hills, the UK has ample to offer and hundreds of bridleways worth paying a visit to. Let us know if you have ridden in any of the areas listed below or have any suggestions of your own.
1) The wild, unspoiled backdrop of Bodmin Moor, Cornwall, has long inspired artists and writers with its rugged charm and medieval past. If you’re looking for a bridleway that extends miles across untouched, rolling moorland, offers dramatic (though bleak) views across open country, and has terrain suitable for all levels of riding, Bodmin Moor is a safe bet for your next hack. Dominated by towering granite tors dating back to the Bronze Age, riding on Bodmin really transports you back in time – something that only adds to the allure of this designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
If you’re happy for your ride to be interrupted by the occasional cow, ewe, or wild Bodmin pony, or (if you’re lucky) to catch a glimpse of the legendary Bodmin Beast, then pack your saddle bag and head out to Jamaica Inn, nestled in the Bodmin hills, for that much-needed re-fuel after a long day of riding.
2) Kilnsey Trails in the Yorkshire Dales are popular routes with equestrians wanting to explore the blissful moorland and winding country lanes at their own pace. Ranging over hills and through green valleys overgrown with heather, the Trails offer the chance to explore the Dales from the comfort of a saddle.
Whether you are a novice rider or more experienced, the trails through Kilnsey and surrounding areas are so varied there’ll be no shortage of adventure to be had! If you need to stop for a rest and re-fuel, there is ample opportunity along the way as you venture through any number of North Yorkshire’s quaint and characterful villages.
3) Nowhere is the British countryside showcased more than in Wales, and the Radnor Forest Trail in Powys is one bridleway worth mentioning. For those favouring a more remote ride, the Radnor Trail takes you off the beaten track and into corners of Welsh countryside that remain virtually untouched today. There are few places to stop along the way, so make sure you go prepared and that your horse is fully fit before attempting the distance.
With well-defined tracks and a mixture of terrain, including steep hills and narrow valleys, heavy woodland and great moorland, there is plenty to explore along the Radnor Trail and breathtaking scenery to be glimpsed at every turn.
4) Exmoor is home to some of the most spectacular bridleways in the country and boasts a closed network of tracks spanning 400 miles. It doesn’t matter how often you visit Exmoor – there is always something new to discover! The location is scenic, bustling with wildlife and offers ever-changing views across the heather-clad moor.
Be prepared for varied terrain that is gentle in part – perfect for those wanting a laid-back ride – and more challenging in places for the intrepid explorers amongst it. Gear yourself up for occasional water crossings and lots of hill work as you explore glorious Exmoor on horseback.
5) The heart of the Surrey Hills provides some of the finest hacking in the South East of England and is a popular destination for equestrians ranging from novice to expert. This Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty extends beyond 6,000 acres of open heathland and offers an endless list of bridleways which provide an exhilarating backdrop for year-round hacking. Pause at Leigh Hill to take in the spectacular views of the valleys below and follow the North Downs Way towards Dorking, St. Martha’s and Hurtwood.
If you have any comments on the UK's best bridleways, post them below or email me directly: [email protected] :)
Written by Hannah Dyball