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There is no better place to have a canter than in Yorkshire, be it alongside the Heritage Coastline, through one of the three National Parks or along the bridleways and routes specifically intended for the rider. The choice of route is pretty much endless, and with miles of country roads, it is easy to travel between small hidden villages or along riverside trails.
Whether you're an experienced rider with your own horse, or someone looking for their first experience of horse riding, Yorkshire has some of the UK's most spectacular and most memorable places to explore.
This new series of circular horse rides take in some of the most spectacular scenery of the northern Yorkshire Dales covering Swaledale, Arkengarthdale, Lower Wensleydale & Coverdale. The routes cater for a range of abilities and use mainly bridleways, green lanes and some unclassified county roads.
The bespoke guide maps are specifically designed for horse rider use and provide an easy-to-follow route from a start point which can be reached by horsebox or trailer.
A PDF guide map for each can be downloaded for printing at www.northyorks.gov.uk/rides.
The Forestry Commission welcomes riders on its extensive network of tracks in Dalby, Cropton, Harwood Dale, Broxa and Langdale Forests - find out more by visiting the Forestry Commission website.
At Dalby Forest a network of forest roads, including the 9 mile Dalby Forest Drive, provide access to this outstanding landscape. Formed in the Ice Age and shaped by the people from the Bronze Age to the present day, Dalby is very much a forest worth visiting on horse.
You'll be able to follow the routes once trodden by packhorse trains, carrying cloth across the Pennine moors. The first long-distance trail designed for riders, the Pennine Bridleway National Trail is becoming one of the most well-known horse riding trails in the UK. Threading through the Pennine hills, it combines historic packhorse routes with specially created paths. An area of all year round stunning beauty and tranquillity, the Pennines are accessible and a great way of getting closer to nature.
Some of our best circular routes are based around the Bridleway. The Settle Loop in the Yorkshire Dales veers off the Pennine Bridleway to create a novice-friendly 10 mile loop taking in stunning limestone scenery. The Trail incorporates open grassy stretches, limestone outcrops, grass and gravel paths and quiet winding lanes. Still on the Pennine Bridleway is the 47 mile circular Mary Towneley Loop that dips into and out of steep sided South Pennine valleys. For riders of all types, it provides a wonderful curtain-raiser to this ambitious National Trail.
The route through the Yorkshire Dales National Park is now fully constructed, but the National Park Authority are still finalising legal agreements with Network Rail for the three locations where the route crosses the Settle to Carlisle railway line. Technically, anyone going on to Network Rail property whilst using the route is committing a trespass until the agreements are in place.
Agreements should be in place for an official summer 2012 launch, bringing the total distance of bridleway open to 200 miles. Keep an eye on our website for news. Once fully open this trail should take 3-4 weeks to ride in full, though the section through the Dales will probably take a week to 10 days to ride.
If you're in the Bingley area, you can ride to the Pennine Bridleway along the 17-mile Calder Aire Link route. It's the first of three key links planned to improve access to the Bridleway and runs from St Ives Estate near Bingley to join the Mary Towneley Loop near Widdop reservoir in Calderdale on a variety of tracks giving fantastic views. A car park incorporating an area for horse boxes has been provided at St Ives Estate. The route also features a 'Pegasus' (or horse friendly) crossing of the busy A629 Keighley road.
Yorkshire Water has also provided an alternative route allowing Calder Aire link users to avoid the steep tarmac Nab Water Lane and Kennel Lane, by following the track beside the conduit from Nab Water Lane to rejoin the link at Stairs Lane. This alternative is recommended for horse riders who may find Kennel Lane rough going.
Explore the South Pennines on horseback on its network of quiet country roads and farm lanes around Haworth and the neighbouring villages of Oakworth, Oxenhope and Stanbury or climb up to the Pennine watershed on the minor road to Colne. Great routes exploring Brontë Country include theHaworth Circular. The bridleways in the Colne Valley include Wessenden Head which links the Colne Valley to the Holme Valley, Hollins Hall Lane in the village of Golcar and 'The Mile Gallop', as it is locally known, which is along an ancient packhorse route on Marsden Moor.
Kirklees Eastern Riding Route is a 48 km (30 miles) route mainly for horse riders and cyclists which forms a rough figure of eight, having two separate loops of 21 km (13 miles) and 27 km (17 miles) respectively, with Lepton at its centre. The northern part of the route is shorter than the southern section. However, the northern section is much harder and more challenging than the southern section.
The Yorkshire Dales National Park offers ample opportunities for riders of all abilities and experience. By riding quietly, you will perhaps see more wildlife than by any other means, because animals and birds will often not view horses as a threat, and the person on top may not be noticed at all! With a network of over 800km (500miles) of bridleways, byways and green lanes within the Yorkshire Dales which can often be connected into circuits of varying length by short rides along quiet country roads. There's also plenty of areas for horses to stretch their legs so you can enjoy an exhilarating canter through open moorland.
The North York Moors is also perfect horse riding country with an extensive and well linked bridleway network, which means that the horse rider has a fantastic variety of routes to choose from. The diverse landscapes and abundance of wildlife make every ride an experience to remember. There are few gates, few roads and few people (but lots of buzzards, grouse, and curlew). There are long stretches of open moorland and a few steep and stony tracks, so you need a fairly fit horse.
In the west there are rides around Rosedale, Osmotherley, Rievaulx and Farndale. To the east, you can ride around Heartbeat country made famous by the TV series or follow a disused railway line along the coast between Scarbrough and Whitby.
In search of bigger adventures? The North York Moors and Dales Ride is the one for you. Launched by the British Horse Society, this circular route of around 60 miles includes the impressive central and western areas of the National Park. With more than its fair share of spectacular scenery and dramatic views, this four day ride is ideal for anyone with their own horse.
The Trans Pennine Trail is well worth getting on your horse for. The 350 mile route runs from Southport to Hornsea, with links from Leeds to Chesterfield, plus a further route to York. Approximately 200 miles of the TPT is available to horse riders. The off-road sections include many miles on old railway lines as well as existing public bridleways and permissive bridleways.
Yorkshire provides one of the best areas for riding with some circular routes to add to the variety. At many locations there are also car parks suitable for horse boxes.
A series of guides to the horse riding sections of the Trans Pennine Trail have also been developed
The exhilarating feeling of riding along the shore is hard to beat. Whether galloping through the surf or gently trotting along the beach, Yorkshire has some great options for you.
Robin Hood's Bay has plenty of hacking for experienced riders and trotting for novices. The stunning coastal scenery, fields and moorland always make for an interesting and memorable ride. Another great spot is Fraisthorpe Beach, just south of Bridlington. The sands here are flat and expansive, especially at low tides, and are perfect for exploring on horseback.
Or give Easington Beach, near the Spurn Peninsula a try. The rugged and ever changing coastal landscape is rich in wildlife and offers riders of all ages an exhilarating experience of beach riding at its best.