With foreign travel becoming more expensive, staycations have become increasingly popular, but have you ever considered a ‘neighcation’? There are many stables/riding centres that offer bed & breakfast for both you and your horse so that you can take your horse on holiday with you! With Cholsey Farm Riding not far from SPILLERS HQ, we decided to join one of their rides to see whether a riding holiday in the UK could beat sunning ourselves by a pool for a long weekend…
When holidaying abroad, to stay in a spectacular location, it can often take hours to reach your destination. Being just about in the centre of the country and only 2 miles to the nearest motorway junction, Cholsey Farm Riding is an easy place to get to in the comfort of your lorry or trailer and being located in the Chiltern Hills, the scenery is simply stunning…One up for the neighcation!
There are lots of wonderful places to ride in the UK with the Welsh coast, Scottish Highlands, the Norfolk Broads and the South Downs often featuring on people’s bucket lists, and the Chiltern Hills should certainly be another one to tick off. With 15 different routes to choose from, there’s enough to keep you occupied for at least 2 weeks! Many of the routes have been conveniently marked which is ideal if you’re not so great at reading a map and there are plenty of places to stop en route for coffee, cake and lunch and you never know you may even end up featuring in a Midsomer Murders episode as they are always filming something in the local area! By this point, on your sun & sand holiday, you’ve probably finished all the books you brought with you and are way too sun burnt to make the cut as an extra in a film.
As we are terrible at following a map and likely to be too busy chatting to follow the marked route, we opted for a guided ride for our visit. Ted Howard-Jones, who runs Cholsey Farm Riding with his wife Jackie was our enthusiastic guide. Based on our need for speed, the scenery we wanted to see and how much road work we’d be happy to do, he selected the best route for us and on board his sensible pony Percy (you only need one to do the gates), he led the way. We rode through several beautiful villages, galloped across fields and up rolling hills, saw a windmill and even a herd of about 60 deer – and after 2 and a half hours we were back at the farm, with homemade soup to enjoy after the horses had been attended to.
In terms of accommodation, Cholsey Farm Riding has a host of options for you and your horse. For the humans there’s The Old Piggery – a twin bedded self-catering bothy with fully equipped kitchen and bathroom, TV and most importantly WIFI. Plus there’s an outside seating area and from the bedroom window, you can watch your horses grazing in the field. As with many other UK riding holiday centres there’s also an option to sleep in your lorry with electric hook up and also tent and caravan pitching options if you really want to get close to nature. For the horses, there’s spacious post and rail paddocks or luxury, airy stables to choose from. In fairness, accommodation choices abroad are also varied and comfortable, but try asking the travel agent for bedding options for your horse and you may get a strange look.
Just like a package holiday, on a neighcation there are also excursions you can take advantage of. At Cholsey Farm Riding, if you get bored of the hacking (as if), then lessons can be provided in the on-site arena or just 5 miles down the road there is an all-weather cross country course to hire. After you’ve finished riding, there’s also plenty of time to explore the area with Henley-on-Thames and Marlow a few miles away and also heaps of National Trust properties nearby. There are plenty of options for dinner with great pubs within walking distance, cooking facilities at the farm or why not enjoy a BBQ on site, watching your horses grazing peacefully whilst enjoying a glass of wine.
We had a fabulous time at Cholsey Farm Riding and we now can’t wait to go back and do another route as well as exploring further afield with other locations for neighcations around the UK. A UK riding holiday offers convenience, glorious countryside and nothing beats pub grub, but the number 1 reason why we think it beats foreign travel is that you can take your horse on holiday with you.
If you’d like to find out more about Cholsey Farm Riding, you can visit their website here.