On horseback in the Shropshire Hills
There can be few more rewarding ways to see the Shropshire Hills than from back of a horse, enjoying some of the hundreds of miles of peaceful bridleway that criss-cross the beautiful Shropshire Hills
And there are great opportunities for both young and old; and both novices and accomplished riders.
Country Treks Equestrian Centre is a one-stop shop for riders of all ages and abilities and is based in the village of Stottesdon, between Bridgnorth and Ludlow.
Ginny Hole, in the village, boasts an outdoor arena, where children’s activities and regular lessons are held. The centre also organises hacks, day rides and its own two-day trail ride.
The centre offers a range of day rides, including the former railway line between Craven Arms and Much Wenlock, which offers continuous safe canters or gallops, or for beginners, lots of off-road in a safe scenic environment. Depending on the pace on the day, the route can link up with Brown Clee Hill, with its magnificent views. Another route takes in the summit of Titterstone Clee, which claims to be the highest point on a straight line to Russia.
Other rides take in such favourites as the hills at Hopton and the Jack Mytton Way. The best plan is to get in touch with the centre by phone or email to discuss the possibilities.
The centre’s adult riding club is for those with an interest in furthering their horse care skills and knowledge, learning dressage, gymkhana, show-jumping and cross-country.
Adult horse treks are a great way of getting out and exploring the beautiful Shropshire countryside on the centre’s trusted horses. Treks and hacks start from a 45-minute “experience” trek round fields, lake and woodland, and go up to one, two or four hours, or full-day rides.
Two-day treks are based on accommodation at Country Treks’ sister company, Live the Adventure, which is also based at Ginny Hole. These treks are inclusive of everything except lunches – horses and guides, overnight accommodation, evening meal, breakfast, horse accommodation and luggage transfers.
For complete novice riders and those who feel they are a little rusty, the centre offers a range of different courses – both in groups, or one-to-one if preferred. Lessons can include full gamut of riding disciplines, including jump and dressage.
The centre also offers a range of activities for younger riders of all levels of ability, including Pony Days and Pony Mornings during the school holidays. They are open to children of all ages and abilities and there’s no need to be able to ride as children are grouped in line with their ability.
Where to stay
Pony Camp is a five-day residential package at the centre’s own accommodation.
Accommodation, with its own in-house chef, is shared with sister company, Live the Adventure, so it’s possible for different members of the party to take part in a range of activities apart from horse and pony riding.
Other accommodation options near to Country Treks include Broome Park Farmhouse Bed and Breakfast, just a few miles to the south, and one mile from the attractive small market town of Cleobury Mortimer, famed for its crooked steeple.
Guest accommodation is spacious with a private sitting and dining room for the exclusive use of guests. Free Wi-Fi is available throughout and there’s plenty of outdoor space to enjoy, including a trampoline and zip wire for children.
Broome Park Farm is a working farm providing delicious local produce, much of it grown on the farm.
Eaton Manor Country Estate is a 20-mile, 40-minute drive from Country Treks and offers a range of luxury holiday cottages for parties of three to eight, staying in very well appointed cottages on the 500-acre estate. It’s also an ideal venue if you are taking your own horse on holiday as it is situated on the famous Jack Mytton bridleway – a lovely area to explore on horseback.
The Estate is partnered with New Hall Manor Livery, a livery yard and stables with accommodation available for your horse from April to October.
Through Eaton Manor, you can book a stable or a post and rail paddock per night and have bedding and feed as an extra if required. There is also an all-weather floodlit 30m x 55m school available at the livery stables.
The Old Rectory, at Wheathill, between Ludlow and Bridgnorth, is a luxurious small bed and breakfast and welcomes both horses and their riders – indeed, it earned the accolade of Best Hotel for Horse and Rider fro Horse and Hounds magazine in 2015.
There are four loose boxes with straw or shavings and hay or haylage is provided – as well as a lockable tack room with saddle racks and storage space and parking for horse trailers and lorries. As a member of Marches Horse Trails the Old Rectory has linked up with other horsey B&Bs so you arrange to ride between these.
The area’s extensive network of bridleways and its quiet country roads make the Shropshire Hills the ideal destination for anyone who either wants to learn to ride or, indeed, to discover a new part of the country from horseback.
Shropshire as a whole boasts some 600 miles of bridleways and horse-friendly byways, including a number of waymarked circular routes and promoted long-distance treks that can be completed in short sections, or joined creatively with other promoted riding routes.
The place to go to get a clear picture of the wide choice available is Shropshire’s Great Outdoors website, where you’ll find maps of long-distance routes, such as the Jack Mytton Way, shorter, circular rides or rides on themes, such as historic towns and villages.
Novices, whether old or young, can take a sample lesson to see if horse-riding is for them, or there are longer courses that set out to turn you into an accomplished rider over a longer period.
Of course, if you are already an accomplished rider, then you may well want to visit the Shropshire Hills and ride your own horse and we detail in this section options for doing just that by ensuring that horse enjoys a good night’s sleep, just like you!This product has been developed as part of the Shropshire Hills Tourism Cooperation Project, funded by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs under the auspices of the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development. The project is delivered by Gravity Consulting Ltd on behalf of Shropshire Hills and Ludlow Destination Management Partnership.