The Great Adventure
So, the big day came and we were finally ready to set off. Well possibly ready was an overstatement, but that was still the plan!
The Phoenix, Flicker and Amadeus were bought in, fed and bandaged up, there was still a bit to pack, and we managed to set off at about 10.
The ponies were amazing, we barely heard a peep off them for the journey, just had a chat and a drink each time we stopped. We monitored their temperatures while we made our way north. We were in the box for around 11 hours, with plenty of stops.
Everyone was very well behaved, including the dogs, Mitch, Tess and Shiloe! We have had a good journey, but we were thankful to see our home for the night, near Durham, thanks to the wonderful Emma Hindson!
It would be a lie to say that the first night passed without any hick ups! Our lighter socket shower didn't work and blew the fuses on both the car and lorry. We really needed these for charging devices, including our walkies which connected our vehicles! We were all really stressed (and freezing because we had been soaked in freezing water when it was meant to be warm). Jun and Dan saved the day and headed to an all hours garage for fuses, and then on to a McDonalds.
Thank goodness for that as Meg was hiding under the covers telling everyone she wanted to go home and the McDonalds hot chocolate just about persuaded her not to give up at the first hurdle!
Another 8 hours travelling, and the horses were fabulous, as were the dogs and people. We are staying near Inverness with Clemmie and Olly that night an prepared ourselves for the last leg up to John O’Groats the next day. The ponies were spoilt with another gorgeous field, and we were even more spoilt with Lasagne and Chocolate pudding for dinner, and beds!! There was a real air of excitement to get started on our adventure by this point!
The day when we finally made it to John O’Groats!! After around six hours travelling and a couple of stops, we reached the top of Scotland!
We camped at Duncansby Head, the most northern point of Scotland! The ponies were corralled in a pen between the lorry and the tent and were very happy with their lot in life, though they were suddenly rugged up again because it was freezing up there!!
After setting up camp, we had dinner and a nice long walk as well as a clamber down to the beach where Mitch had a swim! We then had a bath in the visitor centre sinks!
It was still light at 10pm, when we were getting really nervous and excited about the following day!
Our first day of riding was the 39.6km from John O Groats to Wick!
We had a little incident with Amadeus just before midnight on Day 3 where he chased Flicker out of the pen, which left the three of them wandering around the cliff top (thankfully everything is fenced off) with us in tow! Luckily it was still light (very strange) so we rounded them up and sorted the fencing so that Amadeus was separated from Flix and Phoenix, and managed to get some shut eye eventually but this left us feeling a little exhausted and pushed back our start time by a lot!
Soon we were on our way, and were almost immediately confronted with a kissing gate costing us miles. This was followed by many more gates and walls, which weren't specified on the route! We were pushed onto the road when we had only just started, not ideal! The ponies were impeccably well behaved and didn’t even blink at the fast moving traffic!
After a couple of hours on the road, we made our way down to a harbour for our lunch!
Shortly afterwards, we found the beach! We had a stretch of a couple of miles including a couple of amazing gallops and a fairly unsuccessful attempt of getting the horses in the sea! We also saw a seal on the shore!!
After the beach, we rode through several cattle fields (it’s a very strange feeling being allowed to ride everywhere) and popped out onto a little road heading into an equally small village!
We reached Wick at rush hour so mounted the pavement a few times to get out of everyone’s way but no one seemed to mind! We headed through the back of Wick harbour and along the coast and we could just see the lorry when we came to another kissing gate and this time, we asked the ponies to go through and they managed it! That pretty much sums up how our adventurousness grew throughout the day!
Our second day of riding was not such a good day... In fact it was very hard work. However the ponies were AMAZING and we couldn't have been more proud!
Trying to ride down the coastal paths just didn’t work for us, and we spent way too much time wiggling and winding to try to find gates where paths were cut off by stiles, walls or padlocked gates...
Then we encountered some very marshy ground, which led to both Flicker and Amadeus getting in very deep with bog up to their armpits and having to be led back to safety. It was absolutely terrifying, think: Flashbacks of the Never Ending Story! We can’t believe that their Cavallo Hoof Boots, EQU StreamZ and horsehealth.co.uk support boots stayed on but we were so grateful they did! We were all a bit scared after that.
After sticking to a tarmac track which was supposed to lead us on a different route next to the main road but in fact dropped us in a field bordered on all sides by walls, and wasted a further few kilometres, we decided to head back to the main road, mainly to stay on solid ground!
This wasn’t really a bundle of laughs either, as there is only one road to John O’Groats and no connecting roads or tracks higher up so it is very busy and people drive very fast! After nearly 20km on the road, we eventually had to admit defeat a little way away from camp, and call dad to pick us up. Safety had to come first, and we weren't willing to risk our horses.
This fab picture was taken by someone who spotted the ponies on the shore. We were over the road from a harbour in the most beautiful spot, sheltered by a cliff face! The photographer took the picture using an infrared film, which is what gives this picture such an interesting look!
We started off riding round an estate which was great until someone told us that there was no way through to the road as it was an electric gate which couldn’t be triggered by horses. So that was a fun waste of 6km!
We crossed the main road and followed a track along a ridge which took us a fair way but we had to cross a field of heather. We checked the ground carefully but Flicker was hesitant to go forward because of the nightmare bog the day before! Phoenix led the way across a little stream and on through the field which we did on foot, just in case!
We reached the end of the track and a lovely lady sent us on through a neighbouring field which led back to another track and she called said neighbour who came out while we were riding to take pictures and break the news that she’s called the next estate and they said that there was no way through and the track was blocked!
We called the back up team (having waited for an hour for them to come back into signal as they had set up camp in the middle of nowhere), and got bounced down past the hairpin bends on the main road and back onto some tracks further down!
The next leg was pretty pleasant as we ended up on the beach where Phoenix led the way again over all kinds of terrain and rivers as Flicker was nervous on the sand to begin with (because of the give). We also saw a walrus, loads of seals, an albatross and a load of other weird birds, which was really cool!
Our ponies were absolute saints which is a bit of a running theme and they were solid as anything on some more tricky terrain!
After getting absolutely drenched throughout the day, we then had to ride miles and miles off route to find our campsite (it was described as just off the road!).
The boys were redeemed because they had spoken to the local swimming pool about us using the showers. We given free access to the showers, steam room and sauna, meaning we could properly warm up and have our first hot shower in several days!
That night was awful, there was a terrible storm and the weather was mental! We were right on the edge of a loch and really exposed. The tent definitely would have blown away if we hadn’t been in it and we barely got a wink of sleep!
The riding in the morning would have been glorious if it weren’t for the freezing rain and 60 mile per hour winds. We crossed a ford and went down through woodland tracks to Golspie. The ponies were wonderful. At Golspie we jumped back in the lorry to have a lift over the bridge, and the other side dumped back off to ride to Dornoch.
Riding in the afternoon followed the same theme. Less rain, but the wind picked up even more, and the ponies really got buffeted around a bit. They were stoic though, and we finished by being shot across the next big bridge.
We stayed overnight with the amazing people at The Shandwick Inn, where the ponies are grazing on their beautifully manicured front lawn and we had our second hot shower in a row! We even had a nice meal!
Our day started off on small roads with a nice detour on a beautiful forestry track that gave Flix and Amadeus a chance for a gallop and a jump! The A team forged ahead, through the gorse, as our path finders!
We then ended up on a slightly bigger road than we had expected so we used the cycle path that meandered alongside which no one seemed to mind as it was an absolute godsend for keeping us safe of the road!
We stayed with the lovely Suzanne and Ken who let us camp and pen the horses in their field! We had a great chat with them both and met Lindsay who kept her horse there! We just love how many amazing people we got to know on the trip! We are so grateful to everyone for their amazing generosity!
We started out riding to the Kessock bridge, only a couple of hours on nice roads and tracks, but boy did it rain! We were soaked through by the time we met up with the lorry. We had some lunch whilst heating up as the lorry took us over the bridge, and put us on the end of the Great Glen Way, on the outskirts of Inverness.
The afternoon was slightly less wet, we rode a long way, but it was really nice riding on the Great Glen way. We had a good time until about 2/3 the way through, when the heavens opened again!
The ground team, along with the kind people they met, outdid themselves, as the ponies had the run of a field (rather than just a pen) and we had somewhere indoors to sleep, and another hot shower!! We were so spoilt, so much thanks to Claire and Mike and Dug and Kerry.
We had a gorgeous start, with sunshine, bacon butties and tea provided by our amazing hosts Mike and Claire. We started at the end of the Great Glen Way again and made our way down to Drumnadrochit. This was a short stint, but quite hard on the horses as there were a lot of steep ascents and descents.
Drumnadrochit was absolutely heaving with tourists, which was a bit stressful for us but the ponies didn’t seem to mind saying hello to people. We tried to meet Clemmy and Olly in town, but due to the complete lack of signal they missed us.
We carried on the Great Glen Way towards Invermoriston with the hope they might catch us up once we had signal. They managed to walk up from the main road, and we were delighted to see them and be joined by them for a bit of our walking. The afternoon was beautiful, it’s just a bit of a shame that it wasn’t sunny, as there weren't any amazing pictures!
We started the morning by being boxed back to Invermoriston to start from where we left off. A
tree down where we were going to park the lorry made a dramatic start to the day, but some
locals told us another way onto the track so no harm done (other than wasting some time!)
We followed nice forestry tracks down to Fort Augustus, which was very very busy with tourists. After stopping for many people to take photos we set off again, now down the canal path.
Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t entirely in our favour, so the path was very windy and at times wet. We survived though, and it was a beautiful ride, just would have been better with some SUN!
We started with trying to cross at Laggan locks. Unfortunately this was a bit of a big ask. Flicker crossed on the lock and Phoenix went to cross but felt so scared that Meg vetoed the idea, in case of an accident, and took her back. Flix crossed back and we loaded up to cross the canal further up at Invergarry. That set us back a little but wasn’t a huge issue.
The rest of the day saw a glorious ride round Loch Lochy, it mainly managed not to rain, we even had a small amount of sun! We crossed at Gairlochy and rode the other side of the Caledonian Canal, which was also pretty gorgeous.
The ponies had a field again that night, thanks to a lovely lady!
Our first day of the West Highland Way was incredible but gruelling and disappointing in terms of distance.
We started a steep ascent pretty much immediately as we entered Nevis forest, with Ben Nevis on our left. This took us high up into the mountains, and soon we were turning off the nice wide forestry track onto a tiny windy track.
This track spent a lot of time going up and down, including some sets of steps which the ponies negotiated smoothly. There were also many many bridges and fords which again the ponies negotiated with ease. Unfortunately the next (and longest) section of the path was very stony, with the rocks moving under their feet the whole time. This made it really hard going for the ponies and we wouldn’t have made it at all without their Cavallo Hoof Boots which so many of the walkers we passed commented on!
The final bit into Kinlochleven was a steep, rocky descent with gravel, ledges, big rocks, basically anything to cause us problems (and we found later that it’s called the Devil’s Staircase which just about sums it up!). The plan was to push on to Kings House, but we had to revise that plan, as the ponies were tired and fed up and they had to come first.
We spent the night at the back of The Glencoe Inn! Thank goodness, again for people being amazingly generous!
We decided to ride through our rest day to get us all caught up and back on schedule so Dad boxed us back to the West Highland Way and we set of with our little Tess in tow!
The track was pretty tough to start but Phoenix and Amadeus negotiated the rocks smoothly and we got to watch our Tess leaping ditches and having fun. Then we got right out onto the Moore which was stunning with lochs and copses of trees with a back drop of the mountains!
The last leg saw a very tough and steep clamber up a mountain and back down the otherside which would have been tricky even without factoring in terrain but the horses managed and scrambled down through a little forest where Dan met us having walked up to meet us!
Our first obstacle of the day was a set of very small steps after a railway underpass which the ponies probably could have managed but it was a bit much to ask so early in the day without exploring other options so we asked some contractors if they knew a way around and they escorted us over a level crossing and we were on our way!
We got a little hitch hiker in The form of a damsonfly on Flicker’s ear who stayed with us for around 5km!
A lot of our day was made up of fairly nice riding and we even had level enough terrain for a couple of trots!
We had a tough, rocky scramble up to a tiny railway bridge. The bridge was very low but we didn't have time to stop as the ground we were on was very steep and was sliding as we climbed so the ponies were struggling to find a purchase! Flix went straight through without hesitation and Amadeus followed as the ground they were on was more scary for them. Our backpacks scraped across the top of the opening, which got even lower as we went through so that we were flattened against the ponies' necks and just hoping they would carry on safely and we wouldn't get knocked from their backs! Good job the ponies are so perfect!
Then we reached a set of very steep and not particularly wide wooden steps and just gave the horses their heads to see what they thought. Well Flix surged forwards and we positively flew up them! We had a lot of tricky and extremely steep and stony descents and ascents which the ponies negotiated amazingly!
It was a difficult day, ending with us getting absolutely eaten alive by midges! As a whole, it was very rewarding, we were once again reminded what the horses would do for us!
The day felt really long because we forgot our lunch! So we survived on half a cookie and half a bottle of lucozade each.
The actual riding wasn’t too bad at all. Phoenix and Flix were ace, the ground wasn’t too challenging, and we did about 42km without anything horrendous happening!
The scenery was absolutely stunning and we managed to keep ourselves occupied by looking around in awe! We may have been in Scotland but it looked like something from Lord of the Rings!
Riding was a little bit rubbish as we really weren't far from Glasgow and it was basically all road work, not the most fun ever.
The ponies were fab, and the few bits we got onto paths for were absolutely beautiful. We even found some cross country jumps towards the end, which was a lot of fun!
Bit of an irritating one... We started out well, heading down some nice, unused roads which was nice, although hot.
Then, unfortunately, we ended up on a not so nice road, which was marked yellow on the map, but was really not yellow at all.
"It’s okay," we thought, "we’ll be on the Clyde Walkway in a bit, down by the river, it’ll be lovely."
WRONG. It was not lovely, after about 10 minutes we came to a few steps. Well that’s fine, we can do steps, so we carried on. Then we came to a raised wooden path, basically decking, which seemed fine, but when we were about halfway holes started to appear here and there, which really rather freaked us out! Up and down a few sets of steps we went, over another bridge, through two kissing gates... And then we were met by a set of steps which could only be described as a staircase!
So we had to retrace footsteps for some way and go round on roads, very frustrating but we weren’t too grumpy and we cracked on.
Bit of a disappointing day distance wise but an amazing riding day and in terms of ascent it was pretty impressive (1300m!) Amazing countryside and trails which actually were suitable for horses!
We could definitely have made the distance if it wasn’t for the heat, 26 degrees, and it felt hotter on the mountain with no breeze and no shelter. This meant we couldn't do much fast work, despite finally having the trails for the fast work!
Yes, the picture does show our ponies free grazing on top of a mountain... amazing!
We enjoyed a wonderful day off in the sun and splashed around in many different rivers to cool us and the horses off!
We felt a bit more refreshed and up for it and the ponies were ready for another scorcher!
We stayed at the amazing Thorniewhats Equestrian where we were looked after amazingly and enjoyed meeting some lovely new people once again!
Well... WELL. It was a fab day, except... EXCEPT where was Hadrian's wall?! We were meant to see Hadrian’s wall and couldn't even see it where we were supposed to. Rip off! What a massive disappointment!
Just kidding, it was a great day despite that! We crossed into England! We had a mad scrabble down some steps at the end of the Scottish part of the ride (does that surprise anyone?). Over in England we just had riding down little lanes which was rather quaint. It was very hot, hence another steady one!
We were sweating before we even got on the horses and by lunch break we’d got to that point where we really struggled to even get back on the horse.
The ponies were amazingly stoic and were up for it despite the heat, but we held them back a bit so they didn’t kill themselves. We were on top of the mountains again on a bridlepath.
It was stunning and amazing. Then back onto small roads with a little bit of bridlepath through the woods to finish.
We were definitely on top of the world!
At some point around midnight the night before, mum arrived, completely surprising us! So mum joined us for our ride, little did she know that she was letting herself in for our longest day yet!
What a crazy, long, hard, breathtaking day! We not only managed the entire distance, we also managed a total ascent of 1000m. The views were absolutely insane!
It was a good day and we covered a decent amount of ground, especially considering the heavy day they had the day before.
Both the ponies came out a bit tired, and we then had a hideous climb up a mountain on a rubbish path.
Once we got down the other side we had a beautiful quiet road down the valley into Ingleton.
It was pretty great riding, starting out on a lovely little road, and had a nice Bridleway shortly after that.
A tiny stretch on another little road led to a not so easy Bridleway which was very overgrown. But we managed.
We then had some more little roads and some more Bridleway.
Unfortunately at this moment we came to a bigger road up the mountain. But it was all good and we were rewarded with a beautiful track winding around the side of the mountain. And then a last bit of road work before finishing.
Well it would have been a good one, as we were making really good time and the ponies were feeling fresh and fabulous.
Unfortunately, disaster struck, and Flicker went lame in a hind leg. We hoped it was nothing serious, and only from him straining it clambering over boulders (and we were meant to be on real bridlepaths now!).
However, it did mean we had to stop on Flicker. After a little chat about what to do, we decided to swap him for Phoenix for the rest of the day. As well as swap Amadeus’ rest day for Flicker’s, and hoped he's be okay by the day after.
So, we started with a bridlepath which would have been more suited to riding mountain goats than anything else! We then got onto the Pennine Bridleway, which is beautiful, but also quite treacherous in places. Flicker went lame at about 2.30, 2/3 of the way through the ride, and we didn’t get Phoenix until past 4. So, once again we didn't finish until 9pm!
It was a hard day and a slow start, due to the sad death of our beloved dog Shiloe. We are gutted, but very happy she was with us on The Great Adventure, and died peacefully in her sleep.
We talked about a day off but Meg didn't want to stop as she knew it would be nearly impossible to start again.
The Pennine Bridleway started on a nice track through some small towns on the edge of Manchester today. Amazing how quiet it was, except when we passed a couple of schools. There was a herby smell, it smelled a bit like a sauna, if you've ever been in one!
Neither of us were feeling great after the news about Shi, Meg had a bad headache from crying, so we didn’t make good time, but we trudged on.
A little while later we had left the towns and got closer to Saddleworth Moor, where the fires have been. Then we realised that the smell was the moor burning, which was a sobering thought. A few helicopters flew overhead, dropping water on the fires but the ponies didn't fuss. We met a fire engine and the fire fighters told us we were safe to carry on.
The moor was still smouldering and it was very sad to see so much land damaged. The fire crews did so much to protect wildlife, people and houses and we were awestruck as we saw the extent of the work being done.
We had to wait a bit to get through further up and the man told us they were meant to have three engines but only had one so were likely to be going well into the night. While we were there waiting an older man living in one of the houses said they could use his Land Rover to ferry water around. People are amazing!
A little way after we had a mini history lesson about bombings during the war from a man walking his dog. Later we got offered water from the fire support crew, bless them.
We also met convoys of army trucks on their way up to help the fire service. The hills were still on fire in some places further up and there were loads of fire engines pumping water straight from the reservoirs. The operation was amazing and it made us feel a part of something much bigger than ourselves.
The Pennine Bridleway continued as a fairly easy track, around the rest of the moor and through some quiet suburbs. Unfortunately it then dumped us in the middle of a town, with no further tracks. A bit stressful for us but the ponies barely blinked an eye, and said 'hello' to lots of kids! We made it out of the town and finished our day on quiet roads.
Flicker trotted up sound in the morning so he got back on the road.
He wasn't quite symmetrical behind though so still needed Amanda to fix him up!
We started off with a bit of road work, though they weren't too busy, they were a bit boring.
Then we had some nice tracks and a few nicer roads. It wasn’t long before we went through a farmyard and had a steep descent down into a valley before the climb the other side. We had a ford at the bottom which was a nice opportunity for a drink for the ponies.
After that it was all fairly simple and well looked after track. We had a pretty nice time chatting about what we’re going to do with the other horses when we get back.
We started off on the Tissington Trail, which was lovely and shady and quiet.
Unfortunately, as these trails often do, it came out in the middle of a town. A bit more negotiating roads for us, joy!
Onto smaller roads for the rest of the day. And boy was it a long one!
Another tiring day, but a slightly faster one, as we had quite a bit of shade so were able to trot a bit more than we have been.
We started on of those bridlepaths where horses are clearly not welcome, and only walkers are catered for. We had some narrow planks over a bog, and actually had to remove their saddles to fit!
Later on there was a footbridge with a stile at each end, and we had to scramble round and through a ditch.
We then had some more pleasing road work and some nicer bridle paths this afternoon. There was a ford this afternoon which we had to go on and out of several times to make way for cars while trying to give our horses a drink!
It was really really, really hot! We both struggled and fretted about the ponies, although they were amazing and just kept trudging on. There was very little shade, so very difficult to get any trot work in at all.
In case anyone is interested, horse walk averages at 5-8kmph and trot at 12-16kmph, so when we can’t get much trot in it almost doubles our day.
However, the saving grace was the Wyre forest, which was not only beautiful, it had tracks running all the way through it, and, guess what? It also has blessed shade!! Thank you to Emma and Kevin for putting us up for the night, and thanks to The Fountain Inn for the amazing meal!
Not a good one, unfortunately.
Everything was going really well and then Amadeus went lame, causing an early finish as we were just too far away to get a replacement pony driven out.
We started out with a lovely bridlepath, then a bit of quiet roadwork, bridlepath, roadwork, bridlepath.
It was absolutely lovely, not quite as hot as the day before, and the horses made good time.
We stopped for lunch in a beautiful orchard, but when we got back on Amadeus was over-reaching, which is unusual for him. We rode the rest of the path, and a lovely girl came out and started chatting to us.
When we stopped talking, Amadeus walked off lame in a front leg. It was very odd, he hadn’t done anything and was sound before lunch! He had been so amazing and we really didn't want to finish the trip without him.
We were really miserable about Mr A, and not completing our ride, but our silver lining was that we stayed at home!
The amazing Cassie went with Flicker so that Amadeus and Phoenix could have a day off!
5 year old Cassie had only really hacked around our small, quiet lanes so hadn’t seen much traffic and was still quite flighty a few months before The Great Adventure (would try to shoot off if her belly touched grass or pretty much any other time, including when her rider moved), which was really helped by barebacking her and stripping her tack back completely but we weren’t sure how she would cope having not been touched in a month!
We boxed back to our route and parked at the side of the road to tack up and she was noticeably worried but soon calmed down. We got started and immediately had to go through undergrowth with overhanging branches touching her ears and ferns and brambles touching her belly! No worries from Cassie!
Then we ended up on a fairly beefy road because the bridleway was blocked off and Cassie was totally amazing with the cars, bikes and lorries that passed before we found the next bit of extremely overgrown stretch of bridleway.
Our next challenge were three tight concrete steps (at the top of a bridlepath!!) which Cassie had never seen. Hopped off to see if she would carry on down and she negotiated them amazingly and carried on down the slope as the steps got further apart. We decided to turn around when the path got trickier again and found a footpath which was great apart from Meg getting dragged backwards off Cass by a load of brambles (and Cass still didn’t put a foot wrong!) and then coming to another set of steps! Which were even worse than the last. We led Flix down and he negotiated perfectly and left it up to Cass whether she wanted to follow or if we needed to find another way. Nope, piece of cake apparently!
The rest of the ride was a breeze and so much fun! We had streams (which Cassie had never seen before) to jump along with little logs and an ace canter!
So proud of our awesome ponies, baptism of fire for Cassie but they’ll do anything when they trust you! What a clever girl!
we enjoyed our last rest day of 3, throughout the entirety of the ride!
First thing in the morning, we had a visit from our farrier, Tom, to get Cass’ feet filed.
We went to see Kerry over at Scarlett’s, and was well and awesome and was really happy to see us which was nice. Unfortunately, Scarl wasn’t there but it was amazing to see our golden boy anyway!
We finished the visits stopping by Pilstone, where the majority of our horses were while we were away, thanks to Anthea and Nick. None of them were quite as cuddly as Kerry until they got treats! They were all hugely fat, and we were itching to get them back into work to get those bellies off!
Tears before bedtime as unfortunately Amadeus was still not quite right and couldn't finish the adventure with us. He wasn't properly lame, but he wasn't on form and it wasn't worth the risk!
We were not looking forward to being back on the road the following day! Our beds were far too cosy!
Back on the road after a day off at home!
We couldn’t get down our rupp so had to go down the road but Flix and Cassie were superstars!
We crossed the bridge at the bottom of the hill and headed up into the woods around the fields our horses are living in.
The tracks were easy and quiet which is always nice! We went through a field of bullocks (apart from they didn’t look so young) on the bridle way who all made their way over but we kept walking and they eventually got bored of us.
The bridlepath then got tighter and took us down some steps which Cassie jumped down confidently and then under a bridge and back up to the path.
When we got picked up at Howick, it was already getting pretty late and we headed straight to the campsite at Sperrings Equestrian.
Huge thank you to our Chiropractor, Amanda who came to treat the horses that evening!
We started off really well. The ponies felt really good and we had lots of byways and bridleways. We were doing 8-10km per hour which is the speed we originally aimed for!
You know there’s a but coming... we hit a snag! A bridlepath that was so overgrown that we were there for an hour and only got about 100m down. This wouldn’t have been so bad but we were surrounded by main roads so rerouting wasn’t an option!
We rang for a lift but the lorry was still an hour away which ruined our land speed and dashed our hopes of completing 50km as well as ruining our happy mood because we got really soggy!
Huge thank you to Hill Top Equestrian centre for having us to stay overnight and even bringing the ponies hay on top of their lovely big field of grass!
It was one of those irritating days.
We started on some nice roads, but unfortunately Cass just wasn’t feeling great, and we don’t want to push her as she’s only young.
So... our poor dad picked Cass up, took her all the way back to Gloucestershire, went over to Scarlett’s, picked up Kerry, and drove all the way back down to Taunton.
Meanwhile, poor Flicker missed his day off and did the rest of the day. The sun was scorching and it was not particularly pleasurable.
We did a bit of a relay, as mum had come to ride but Flicker needed a day off having been on for 3 days.
So mum rode Kerry and Lauren rode Phoenix in the morning, and mum went home at lunch and left us to finish the day.
The morning was quite nice with a fair few bridlepaths and going across Curland Common. The afternoon however was scorching and was lots of road work!
We rode out from the camp in the morning with Kerry and Flicker.
There were lots of hills again, and lots and lots of roadwork.
We did have an enjoyable stretch of bridlepath through a beautiful wood although it was still rather steep.
There was a bit which was just down an ordinary small road but unfortunately drivers were being a little bit stupid.
Poor ponies were a bit tired, we thought the worst of the hills were behind us!
We did manage to have some laughs, despite being half asleep for most of it!
Pictured is one of those moments, Meg trying to stay off the saddle as much as possible!
45km, half in the wrong direction.
Really not a fun day. The weather decided to break so we were freezing cold for most of it.
We are now not such big fans of Dartmoor, having travelled down several not so pleasant bridlepaths (nothing new there).
We had to make a decision to turn back on the last section of moor today. It was just likely to take too long, and we didn’t want to risk it as there was a bit of fog, making it darker. Having made this decision we did have a bit of fun jumping gorse bushes before meeting the lorry!
1500 total ascent
We rode towards Bodmin, and in general it was pretty good. Some steep uphill and downhill roads, meaning both ponies got a massive work out, and were a bit tired by the end!
We also had our most ridiculously long back track yet, having gone all the way across a moor only to be told we couldn’t get on to the downs. We were okay though, by this point we’ve lost our marbles so thoroughly that nothing seems to make much difference to us!
We rode... then we rode a bit more... then some more.
All of the days were really blurring together by this point, and we were barely even noticing our surroundings.
We started about 10km off our route but decided to ride it anyway and get a lift at the end of the day instead.
We had some good roads and bridlepaths up through the wood which was relaxing. We went through a ford and climbed out of the woods through a farm.
Then came an awkward bit of a gamble. Nearby was a footpath which would take us over onto another small road. If we couldn’t get through we’d have to go through the outskirts of Bodmin which would have been a pain.
For once luck was on our side and not only could we get through, the track was pretty lovely too!
After that it was mainly roadwork although on some nice small roads, we had a little bit on the moor on a bridlepath.
We started off by being boxed back to our route and then bumbled along fairly small roads.
We also had a radio interview with Radio Cornwall which was really cool! We took our lunch break while chatting to the DJ.
We were picked up to take us to a livery yard, at the end of the day. We had kindly been offered a field right next to a little spot to pitch our tent.
As we pulled in, we noticed some ladies trying to load a horse and Dad told us that they had been at it when he left to pick us up.
We offered to help, after untacking, feeding and turning ours out.
Eventually, our offer of help was accepted and we loaded the horse after about 10 minutes of groundwork.
We felt like we had properly deserved our hot shower in the horse wash bay after that!
After the longest six weeks of our entire lives, we made it to Land’s End!!
We had a great ride! It was short and sweet and we spent the morning on quiet roads (and not on the bridlepath we were supposed to be on, that looked like an actual hedge).
Then we ended up on a super trail, even managing some canters! Flicker did the trail twice because Kerry's fly veil fell off!
Then we had a bit of a scramble down a hill and then ended up on the awful road down to Land's End.
For the record, there's nothing awful about the road, just the drivers! We were overtaken by coaches driving into oncoming traffic, a car hit Meg's leg because there wasn't enough space on the road... Yeah, it was pretty bad, even with us pulling off whenever we could!
We were so glad to see our team waiting for us before the entrance to the Land's End car park! We were cheered on as we made our way down to the signpost at the very end.
We found ourselves surrounded by people cheering, clapping and wanting to touch the horses who had made it all the way. The ponies picked up on the atmosphere and they just seemed to know that they were finished and they had done a good job! It may have been because we couldn't stop cuddling them and telling them that they were the best ponies in the world! We were so proud to have finished our adventure with them.
Throughout the whole ride, what has really struck us as amazing is the trust our horses have in us! They are the most incredible ponies and we just can’t believe the feats they will go to when we ask!
We have had the most amazing kindness from strangers, friends and family and we really can’t thank you enough!