Connemara Trail

Trail Riding Holidays - The Connemara Trail, one of the oldest Trail rides of the world
Vacation on Horseback - Trail Riding Ireland - Horse riding Adventure

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Guided by Willie Leahy

Connemara Trail


Lake in Connemara

Trail Riding Holidays

Trail Riding Connemara


Horse Riding on Beach

Riding at the Sea

Riding at Dartfield

Cross Country Jumping

Trail Rider

Connemara. A timeless land of wild beauty. Famous for its spectacular scenery. This is a region of contrasting landscapes. Dramatic mountains, silent lakes, rust coloured bogs. The countless colours of the landscape change constantly beneath the shifting sky. It is a wilderness of extraordinary beauty, bordered by the Atlantic Ocean.

The Connemara Trail began 1968.
It is the oldest trail ride in the world. The trail crosses the most wild and beautiful scenery that Ireland has to offer. Riding is available from April to October. Riders are in the saddle for four to six hours per day.
Lunch is eaten on the trail.

Connemara Trail - Itinerary by Day

The riders meet at the Meyrick Hotel (formerly the Great Southern Hotel), Eyre Square, in the heart of Galway at 10am. Here you are introduced to your guide and the back up team who are on hand to move luggage, bring the picnic and help with the horses.

There is a short drive, out of the city (approx. 30 min) to the start point of the ride, at Oughterard. Here you will have your first sight of the horse or pony which is to become your companion for the week. The horses and ponies are assigned to the riders, according to the rider's ability, weight, height etc. After tacking up the ride departs and heads straight into the mountains for a long ride that will finish at Maam Cross, the site of the famous October horse fair. 

The trail takes the riders past the ruins of cottages abandoned since the famine, in the 1840's, which decimated the Irish population. As the trail winds its way through the spectacular scenery the view is magnificent, spanning the horizon is the vast expanse of Lough Corrib, the largest lake in southern Ireland.

After lunch the ride continues through the mountains, traversing the bogs and rocks and wading through streams. Way below the trail is the 'Quiet Man Bridge', made famous by the John Wayne movie. The day ends with the first of many canters along the abandoned Galway to Clifden railway line. At the end of the day the horses are turned loose into a lakeside pasture while the riders travel to their accommodation.

Having spent the night at the lakeside pasture at Maam Cross the horses are refreshed and ready to begin the ride from Maam Cross to Ballinafad. The first stage of the ride goes through Willie's land at Maam Cross, where a path takes the riders alongside the beautiful Lough Sindle and past the remains of a long forgotten lime kiln, hidden in a grove of hazel trees.
Some of the trees in the area are ancient, yet they remain tiny, bent by the harsh Atlantic winds that batter this area during the winter. Lunch is eaten on a small village green, while the horses graze.

After lunch it is back into the saddle for the final stage of the days ride, through silent woodlands and through the beautiful Inagh Valley. On a clear day riders can see right over the spectacular Connemara landscape to the coast at Rosmuc. The day ends with another canter along the old Galway to Clifden railway line, before the horses are turned out in a pasture at Ballinafad, before the riders return to their accommodation.

The horses are rounded up and saddled before the ride leaves Ballinafad.
This morning the horses wade through a wide mountain stream before heading up into a short stretch of mountain above the ancient Ballinafad cemetery.
The riders then go through the grounds of Ballinahinch Castle, enjoying a long canter through the woodland beforehand. The castle was once the home of an Indian Prince and also Richard Martin who founded the humane society for the protection of animals.

There is a long canter along the old railway line. The grassy track is great fun for a long canter. The horses are set free on the edge of bogland close to Clifden while the riders eat lunch.

Then it is back into the saddle for the afternoon ride which goes along a grassy track close to Clifden and then heads inland over the Roundstone Bog, site of the landing of the historic flight of Alcock and Brown, who piloted the first transatlantic biplane and the site of the Marconi wireless station. Then we follow the coast to the seaside pasture where the horses will spend the next few nights. The riders then head to their accommodation in Clifden where they will spend the next few nights.

This is a full day spent on the fabulous Mannin Bay beach. There is mile after mile of sandy beach where riders can gallop and jump over the small stone walls and sandy banks.

This is an unforgettable day. Riders are welcome to swim their mount in the clear water of the ocean. It is a unique and very special experience as the horse begins to swim under you. The horses dry off and rest in a beach side pasture while the riders eat a picnic lunch on over the beach over looking the ocean. Then it is back into the saddle for another ride along the beach to discover more of the wonders of this coastline.

The ride begins at the sea and ends at Toombeola, inland over the mountains.
The ride follows the coastline, passing small farmsteads, where generations of small farmers have lived and worked. The coastline is beautiful, the water often the colour of a tropical sea. The ride continues into Errisbeg mountain along an old grassy track before our lunch stop, which is eaten in the mountains, overlooking the pasture where the horses eat. Then they are saddled for the ride that takes us high into Errisbeg mountain high above the seaside village of Roundstone. Watch out for the leprechauns that are known to inhabit this area. Below is the stunning scenery of Dogs Bay, which curves out into the Atlantic Ocean. The horses spend the night in a pasture at Toombeola while the riders travel back to Loughrea for the night.

You will spend Saturday night again in Loughrea from where you will depart after breakfast on Sunday morning.
The riders will be collected from the Hotel / Guesthouse in the morning and brought to Dartfield, Willie's purpose built Equestrian and Heritage Centre. After a warm welcome with hot Port or Whiskey we will tack up the horses and enjoy trekking through the 350 acres estate. The ride goes through woodland and across fields and there is the option to jump in our Cross Country Course which already hosted an international 3 Star event. Lunch will be in our Cafe here at Dartfield and you have the chance to visit the only Museum in Ireland dedicated to Irish horses / ponies and  Dog Breeds and browse our Tack and Gift Shop.

The afternoon is again spent riding here at Dartfield, going out hacking and jumping before it is time to say good bye to your four legged friend.

Aille Cross Equestrian Centre
Connemara Trails
Loughrea, Co. Galway

Dartfield Equestrian Centre
Horse Museum
Kilrickle, Loughrea, Co. Galway

Tel. No. 091 843968
Fax No. 091 843969
From Europe:
Tel. No. 00353 91 843968
Fax No. 00353 91 843969
From U.S. and Canada:
Tel. No. 011 353 91 843968
Fax No. 011 353 91 843969

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